This week, Manchester University published a report which slammed the collusion between what it called 'business and political elites', concluding that "Local authorities lost their public service compass and came to serve property developers not citizens..."*
...Last night saw the embryo campaign of those citizens fighting back. At a packed public meeting in Salford Civic Centre, residents heard speakers absolutely slating Salford City Council over its attitude to planning and development...
"There should be thousands of people outside the town hall" said Pauline Atkinson, whose group is trying to stop development at Duncan Playing Fields off Lancaster Road** "...We all need to stick together or there will be nothing left."
Noel Gaskell, of RAID, which has been fighting Peel Holdings' plans for massive development in Broadoak***, spoke about developments making traffic problems even worse...
"Nobody will say the traffic is severe anywhere in Salford" he said "They hide in a corner and say nothing is wrong...You call yourself planners, so where is the plan?"
Indeed, on display were massive projected slides stating it all large in black and white, particularly relating to the dodgy goings on that resulted in Bellway Homes getting planning permission to build hundreds of houses on Campbell Road Playing Fields in Swinton...
'...Lip service paid to our objections...Councillors prevented from asking valid questions...Freedom of Information requests ignored or partial responses …Complaints to Council solicitor ignored for 11 weeks then whitewashed...Letter from MP to Mayor ignored...'
One particular slide summed up the sentiments... 'This is not about party politics... It's about holding elected officials to account...'
Residents were angry that planning permission was given to Bellway Homes and the subsequent affect on their homes of heavy plant machinery trundling down Thorn Road, while clogging up the already congested road; the affect on wildlife and the environment, and wider traffic and public services issues.
Normally, once planning permission has been granted, the protests die off but for the residents living near Campbell Road Playing Fields it's only just beginning, and they are urging other groups fighting development on inappropriate land to join them.
"This Council's planning panel creates the future of Salford and they don't have a plan, except to approve everything they possibly can" Carol Boyce, Chair of Saving Our Neighbourhood, told the Salford Star after the meeting.
"Our strategy is to protect our interests, to make life difficult for the developers, and to make life difficult for the planning panel going forward; because it's not just us, it's loads and loads of neighbourhoods that are being impacted by this situation."
Speaking about the Campbell Road planning permission which was granted in May this year****, she added that "If they had read the submission we put to the planning panel nobody who had any nous or intelligence could have approved it. The whole thing is ludicrous. They railroaded it through, and even Salford MP Rebecca Long-Bailey wrote a letter about the bullying of certain panel members.
"We're not naive about what goes on, but the question is how are we going to stop it, because everybody is going to be affected in a negative fashion" she explained "How are we going to deal with four years of heavy plant machinery going up that tiny road? People power: local action to protect our own spaces and houses.
"We're looking at legal options" she added "But a politician is only as good as the next election, and at the end of the day it's what they really care about and that's where we have to hit them; and I say that as a lifelong Labour voter.
"We are going to do all kinds of direct action, petitions, demonstrations, until they get the message that people are not happy" she said "And we're going to join forces with other neighbourhoods so that it becomes a city-wide movement. We have to hold elected officials to account and stop what happened to us happening to other neighbourhoods. We all suffer the impacts of this rampant development. A lot of people are really upset."
That showed at the meeting as residents took turns to absolutely slam Salford Council, its politicians and officers.
The Manchester University report slating Greater Manchester development stated that the answer lay in "small groups centred on places or issues" and put forward the concept of 'civic futures' that would "reassert social priorities". But it could only happen through "political mobilisation"...
With residents in Irlam and Cadishead also up in arms about possible future development on green belt land, that city-wide movement could be slowly but surely be coming together...
For more details see the Saving Our Neighbourhood Facebook group - click here
For a full background see previous Salford Star articles...
* Manchester University Report Slams neglect of 'civilised life for all' in Greater Manchester – click here
**Over 4,000 Residents Oppose Houses On Duncan Matheson Playing Fields – click here
***Peel Holdings Told Not To Insult People's Intelligence at Broadoak Inquiry – click here
****Swinton Green Space Development Sees Over 300 Objections – click here