For many months I have been campaigning to help preserve the Swinton Unitarian Burial Ground for reasons that are well known. The Community Action Party is opposed to the removal of the burial ground. We believe Salford Council should have negotiated with Asda supermarkets to ensure that the burial ground is retained and to have the supermarket. We believe this was possible. Unfortunately, on the 14th June Salford Council approved development of the burial ground and within days the notice of intention to exhume the remains of 313 Swintonians has been published by Asda Supermarkets.
In view of this and after consulting with families who we have been in direct contact with we have decided to end our campaign. I advised families that the only way the decision to approve the development of the burial ground can be changed is by a Judicial Review of the decision at Manchester County Court. We stand ready in the event any family wants to pursue this course of action.
In our campaign, I have always had the interests of the families first and whilst I am happy to continue campaigns on a point of principle sometimes there are more important factors to consider. After consulting with families, I decided to stop the campaign because it is obvious no amount of noise is going to change anything and most importantly I felt it is now right to let the families have the space and time, dignity and respect to deal with matters privately, in what is an distressful period for them.
The majority of families I contacted fully supported the decision I took and my reasons. It was an extremely difficult decision to make but I believe in the circumstances, to be the correct one.
As the Community Action Party are no longer involved in the campaign, we look forward to Councillor Howard Balkind, Labour Councillor for Swinton South to keep to his promise to campaigners and ensure that Salford Council reverse the decision and send the planning application back to the Planning Panel. On such a serious matter, it is a heartless thing to do to promise to do something to campaigners who have passed this information to affected families and not stand by your word ?
The Community Action Party cannot and will not take any credit in the event the burial ground is saved by a change of heart from either Asda or Salford Council.
Our campaign achieved much :-
Improved reburial rights for families.
Acknowledgement of those resting via a commemoration plaque.
Reinterrment of Swintonians in their home town at Swinton cemetery rather than the planned Peel Green Cemetery, Eccles.
Education of the burial ground and hence improved respect for it.
I am extremely saddened that I could not do anymore but I acknowledged my limitations and I would never promise what I cannot deliver when real families are affected. I am not an elected representative and I am not a member of the Council that approved development of the burial ground.
It has been publicised this week that Salford Council have lost £130,000 through what seems to be deception. I cannot believe, from the few details that have been made public that so much money can be conned from the Council so easily ? I went public to say that Councillor Bill Hinds who has been Lead member for Finance for many years, should resign and if not be sacked by the Mayor. Councillor Hinds has no excuses, the Councils systems and procedures were not up to scratch to prevent this huge theft, in times of austerity, when Council workers are losing their jobs, he should do the decent thing and go. The people of Swinton North will be informed of my views on this over the coming weeks.
I want to finish this weeks article on a recent publication in the Manchester Evening News on Friday 6th July written by their political reporter Deborah Linton. To be fair to the reporter I am going to write he full article then respond.
Title - "Setting the Pace - and powerful even without an elected Mayor."
"Greater Manchester has always been ahead of the game in taking on more power from Whitehall, says political reporter Deborah Linton".
"When it comes to regional devolution, Greater Manchester has been ahead of the game. After years of collaborative working, our ten Councils were put up by the government as the first super council pilot in 2009, achieving Combined Authority status, and heralding joint policy-making powers the following year.
Other cities have paid close attention and now Sheffield and Leeds - who, behind the scenes, have been especially impressed with the Manchester model - announcing they would follow suit.
When Manchester went a step further and agreed the first city deal with Ministers in March, the powers bestowed upon Council Leaders to shape local transport, housing, investment and employment policy, and the unique tax earn back model at its heart, went further than many expected and significantly further than neighbours in Liverpool.
All this and Liverpool elected a Mayor. The Communities Sectretary, Eric Pickles claimed it would take a directly-elected leader for a city to win a place at the table. But Manchester, which joined other major cities in rejecting the idea at a referendum in May, has proved it is not so. Our Leadership is powerful enough to command the attention of Ministers and, as the new city deals have proved, to set the pace for its counterparts." END
On the same day I sent to the editor the following letter which I doubt will get published :-
"Dear Editor, (Manchester Evening News)
I must correct the article written by your political reporter Deborah Linton, (MEN 6/07/2012) indicating that Manchester is still setting the pace as a major city, even without an elected Mayor simply because the Greater Manchester region has secured government support through its Greater Manchester Combined Authority.
Greater Manchester is not a city and nor will it ever be if the true people of Salford, Bolton, Trafford, Wigan and others have their way. Indeed, in Salford we have a directly-elected Mayor, voted in by the people at a referendum and a subsequent election. Manchester did not secure the millions the article suggests. It has been given to the whole Greater Manchester region which includes all ten authorities Manchester being only one.
The City of Liverpool did elect a Mayor as the article said but in doing so this city attracted the same source of funding for this city alone. Therefore, it could be reasonably argued that Manchester has in fact lost out as government support has gone through the Combined Authority only.
We believe any funding should go direct to the cities/towns themselves and therefore Salford should have been treated the same as Liverpool in our endeavours to meet the aspirations of other major cities in the UK."
In my blog I want to examine the article because it becomes extremely revealing and confirms much what I have already known. In doing so let gets some facts and not inaccuracies as reported by the Mmanchester Evening News.
Greater Manchester is NOT a city.
Manchester is a city.
Salford is a city.
Greater Manchester Combined Authority is a new tier of government that is made up of ten Councils - Manchester, Salford, Bolton, Wigan, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, Rochdale, Oldham and Bury.
The new devolution deal was achieved and given to the Combined Authority not the city of Manchester.
The city of Salford has an executive Mayor.
The Labour political elite in Greater Manchester, which includes Salford Labour are all opposed to executive Mayors for cities. They campaigned against it in Salford and Manchester Labour came out against it in Manchester too. Manchester said NO and Salford said YES.
The government support the policy of directly-elected leaders and the people of Salford in a referendum agreed with this, hence why we have a Mayor.
As part of the deal Liverpool has been promised tens of millions in support because of the decision they made, am led to believe around 150 millions (Not 100% sure). With manchester voting NO they got nothing. In Salford voting YES we even got nothing. But the devlotion package has been given to the Combined Authority.
The Manchester Evening news completely ignores the fact that Salford is a city in its own right, that we elected a Mayor and instead of shouting up for Salford in the fact our city has been discriminated by not being treated the same as Liverpool, they in their publication regard Salford as irrelevant and even imply we are now part of Manchester.
The Community Action Party has solid support throughout Greater manchester, most notably in Wigan too. I am absolutely certain that many Wigan people, as well as Salfordians, true Bolton people and many others will never agree that their town or city is a part of some extended Manchester, through a manufactured region by the Labour political elite whom this newspaper has praised so highly.
Michael Moulding Deputy Leader Community Action Party & Proud Lancastrian (pictured right)
Email firstname.lastname@example.org 0161 7948483
The Deputy Leader of the Community Action Party Michael Moulding publishes his weekly blog about all things Salford.