This has been an extraordinary week in Salford politics. I was contacted by BBC Radio Manchester to give a radio interview in response to the decision to build an Asda on the former Swinton Unitarian Church burial Ground. Earlier this week I met with campaigners and families and it was decided by the families to take the only course of action they could now and that is to seek a judicial review of the decision.
Many people and families have contributed to this campaign, most notably The Friends of Swinton Unitarian Burial Ground and the Swinton Unitarian Preservation Campaign. The friends Group I helped formed and both groups are doing all they can and between them have hundreds of supporters.
I am now preparing a case to be submitted to Manchester County Court, at some families request to seek a judicial review of the decision to approve the Asda planning application. I have urgently written to Asda, GVA Grimley and Councillor Antrobus urging them to suspend the process of exhumation. It would be an outrage if the process of exhumation continued and the Court agreed the families were treated unfairly afterwards.
What I cannot understand is the crass, insensitive and offensive remarks repeated again by Labour councillors. Last week I gave examples of some remarks made by Labour councillors and again this week Labour councillor Antrobus continued his offence by saying live on BBC Radio manchester that those buried at the former Swinton Unitarian Church have never been in proper graves ?
How offensive is this to the families affected when as a local historian (he says) he knows full well all graves were marked with proper headstones, all now probably laid under the grass before landscaping, up until the church was demolished in 1985 ? Councillor Antrobus offends the sacrifice of the brave World War 1 solder Pte W L Blears who is resting in this burial ground which is a recognised War Grave under the care of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission whom I notified many months ago of the risks to this War Grave. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission have an ethos of preservation even if the brave soldier is commemorated elsewhere which this soldier is at Southern Cemetery, Manchester.
I am calling on Councillor Derek Antrobus to do the decent thing to the families seriously affected by his offensive and desparaging remarks and apologise to the families he has offended in his pursuit of removing 313 people resting in peace at the former Swinton Unitarian Burial Ground. To suggest live on BBC Radio Manchester that he knows best for the families of the deceased and those resting over and above the families affected is a total disgrace.
I am calling on any Labour Councillor's with any ounce of conviction, principle or morality to condemn the comments of Councillor Antrobus and Councillor Potter in his comparison to a "dog toilet" as reported last week and resign from a Labour Party that have absolutely no regard even for the dead ?
RIP All those interred at the former Swinton Unitarian Burial ground and pray for their souls.
On my travels in recent days I have noticed this year two things in relation to our environmental services at Salford Council :-
1) I think some of the grass cutters for Salford Council do not have the adequate equipment to cut the grass properly because all over the place it is clearly not being done properly. Is this as a result of poor equipment, a reduction in cuts and therefore making it harder to do a good job or a lack of skills in the workers ? Either way standards have dropped. Also, it is clear this year many area's are not getting cut.
2) As of today 24th June many flower beds have still not been planted with their summer bedding ? Even in front of Swinton Town Hall many beds have been left and were only started to be planted up this week. Beds all over Swinton remain empty.
I commented last week about the former Salford Labour Leader not keeping his Facebook page up to date in response to Salford's Mayor compelling them all to go on IT training courses at our expense and John Merry contacted me to inform me his Facebook page is no longer in use !
Salford Council has chosen a developer for the Pendleton PFI plan which will result in over 1,000 Council homes being transferred to another Registered Social Landlord. I am opposed to the privatisation of Salford's remaining council housing stock. Privatisation increases homelessness, increases rents extortionately meaning everyone pays more including Council Tax Payers via the funding of Housing benefit. The rents of these properties will rocket once they are privatised.
Having considered the matter further, I am now in favour of Salford scapping the ceremonial Mayor position as clearly the duties are being done by Salford's directly-elected Mayor. What Salford does not need is confusion and more highly paid and funded positions for the political elite in Salford. In times of hardship and in 2012 a mayor all robed and covered in gold chains is not appropriate for our times and the directly-elected Mayor Ian Stewart, a concept which I supported, should do the brave thing and scrap this unwanted and outdated role.
I have read what the directly-elected Mayor of Salford has to say in his periodical blog in the Advertiser. I have to be honest by the time I got to the end I nearly fell asleep ! What is this man doing ? I know some are criticising me because I did campaign for this system of local government. I did this because the people of Salford know when we elect a mayor who is in charge.
Under the old system it was a political grouping in charge albeit Labour with the Council having a Leader. Salford's Leader is our Mayor which is Ian Stewart. The buck stops with him. No if's no buts ! If he doesnt perform and that includes involving all of Salford People in the decisions HE makes he will get voted out. The system allows that. The Mayoral system should not be criticised on the poor performance of a Mayor.
It is clear by this Mayor so far how hes going to operate. So far how many times have we heard "less means more" or i wont "make big promises I couldnt deliver ?" A clever strategy indeed to tell us nothing he is doing or telling us none of the decisions he is making ? Could we have a Mayor in Salford that has already proven in Parliament as MP for Eccles that transparency is not his key quality, especially as evidenced when he voted against an investigation into the Iraq War which he supported that resulted in the death of millions ?
The Community Action Party recently held its annual general meeting and I was delighted to be elected unanimously as their Deputy Leader supporting our terrific Leader of the party Peter Franzen. The Salford team secured many positions on our executive most notably our campaigner in Pendlebury Gillian Welsh who became Vice-Chair of our party.
The Community Action Party in Greater Manchester have agreed to start a campaign to reduce the numbers of councillors throughout Greater Manchester by two-thirds which we believe with the abolition of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority will save over fifty million pounds from the people of Greater Manchester.
This means the number of councillors in Salford should be reduced from 60 to 20. A reduction of this size we believe will produce working councillors instead of idle councillors, will end the local career politicians who do nothing but look after themselves and will end the farce where husbands and wives get elected from the same family and just using the system for their own personal benefit.
Our campaign is in its infancy but we already have a petition on Salford Council's website which people can sign if they click the link and follow the guide. Please sign if you support a reduction in councillors and help us deliver a more streamlined local government in Salford :-
Salford Star publication 26/06/2012 - http://www.salfordstar.com/article.asp?id=1421
My new email address is firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone - 0161 7948483
Michael Moulding, Deputy Leader Community Action Party