Several families affected by the proposals by Asda supermarkets to remove the former Swinton Unitarian Burial Ground containing the remains of 313 deceased Swintonians have formally requested Michael Moulding, Deputy Leader of the Community Action Party to act on their behalf in relation to trying to save the burial ground from destruction and in any dealings with Manchester County Court.
The former Swinton Unitarian Burial ground has resting victims of the 1885 Clifton Pit Disaster, a World War 1 soldier who sacrificed his life for our country Pte W L Blears, a local historian Peter Holland whose work has been used by Councillor Antrobus in his role as a local historian and is named in his bibliography, as well as over 300 more Swintonians.
Many families of the deceased whom Michael Moulding is now representing, local community groups, local historians and others have all objected to the removal of the burial ground and those resting in peace.
The families affected by the proposals feel that they have not been treated fairly hence the reasons why further action is being taken.
Michael Moulding, Deputy Leader of the Community Action Party states "I have been asked by some families to represent their concerns as they have no-one else to turn to. They feel that they have been treated badly and therefore I am prepared to help these families the best way I can to ensure their rights and concerns are heard, which so far, they feel they have not been."
The affected families have now instructed Michael Moulding to initiate an application to Manchester County Court to challenge the decision by submitting an application for a judicial review. The grounds of the application will be presented by Michael Moulding at the court.
The families and all those affected by the destruction of the former Swinton Unitarian Burial Ground are now urging Asda Supermarkets, GVA Grimley and Salford City Council to suspend the process of exhumation.
All those affected are extremely distressed by the notice of intention to exhume bodies asÂ advertised in this weeks Salford Advertiser and at the site itself.
The families via Michael Moulding will not be asking Manchester County Court for an injunction preventing removal of bodies pending the application for a judicial review. The families accept that in law they have the right to remove bodies albeit whether for profit or not it remains immoral and wrong, in their view.
Michael Moulding says "I have written to Asda Supermarkets representative Mr Bartram, Mr Mercer from GVA Grimley and Councillor Antrobus urging them to suspend the process of exhumation to allow the judicial review hearing to take place."
"It would be an abhorrent situation where Salford Council where proven in court not to have taken all material facts into consideration when they approved the planning application for Asda in Swinton, were instructed to start the process again by the court and the companies involved had proceeded to remove the burial ground and the loved ones of the families affected."
A copy of the email sent to the persons above is as follows :-
"Dear Mr Bartram
I am writing in relation to the planning application for the proposed Asda Supermarket for Swinton which involved the development of the burial ground at the former site of the Swinton Unitarian Church.
As you are aware many families of the deceased have made very strong objections to having their loved ones removed from their final resting place and despite their personal plea's to you and Salford Council and others, you have done nothing to take their views into account to ensure preservation of this small piece of Swinton.
Therefore, these families have formally requested that I act on their behalf in relation to the matter of trying to stop the destruction of this local heritage site that contains their loved ones and have requested that I represent them in their dealings with Manchester County Court . Your proposals for the new Asda store in Swinton does involve the destruction of this burial ground and no amount of PR exercise by your company will dissuade many people that your plans of destruction is nothing short of repugnant.
The families have asked me to inform you that they believe the process which led to the approval of the planning application for your Asda supermarket for Swinton was procedurally flawed are therefore going to challenge the decision made by Salford City Council at Manchester County Court in the form of a judicial review. The grounds for the request of a judicial review will be presented to the court.
The families accept in law that the owners of the land have the right to exhume the bodies even if the act whether for profit or not is immoral. However, you on behalf of Asda have said to me and others that you will only notify the Ministry of Justice of your intentions to exhume 313 bodies if the planning application to Salford Council was successful.
It is not our intentions to ask Manchester County Court to order an injunction preventing removal of the remains pending an application for a judicial review being heard.
The families have asked me to make contact with you to inform you of their intentions and to request that Asda and/or GVA Grimley suspend the process of exhumation voluntarily pending the judicial review hearing.
On examining the evidence, I believe there is a case to be heard in relation to how Salford City Council arrived at the decision to approve the Asda planning application in that due consideration was not given to all the material facts of the case.
It would be unforgivable and I believe there would be further public outrage if Asda/GVA grimley proceeded with exhumation of bodies and to remove the burial ground and then Manchester County Court approved and upheld the families complaints to the extent that Salford Council were instructed to start the process again, instructed to ensure all material facts were considered which includes the material fact the plans include the development of what is currently a burial ground and that had been removed which had been supported by Asda supermarkets.
The families affected have also made formal complaints to Salford City Council and unless they are resolved will be escalated to the Council's independent regulatory body.
On behalf of families who have loved ones buried at the former Swinton Unitarian Burial Ground I am confirming to you that the decision to approve the planning application for a new Asda at SWinton is being challenged by an application to Manchester County Court in the form of an application for a Judicial review hearing. In view of this I am requesting on their behalf that you suspend the exhumation process until the judicial review hearing is heard.
In the event you proceed with exhumation, the families will still continue with their application for a judicial review and if successful and you have destroyed the final resting place of 313 Swintonians by your failure to take the feelings of all the families into consideration, all those involved no doubt will have some very serious explanations to make to the town and city and all those that are disgusted at you, your company and Salford City Council.
A copy of this email has been sent to Councillor Antrobus, Salford City Council, Mr Mercer, GVA Grimley and to all local media organisations.
I look forward to hearing from you in due course.
Community Action Party
92 Wyndham Avenue
Tel No - 0161 7948483"
Campaigners and families are so distressed about the proposals they wrote as a last ditch attempted to seek the help from the Duke of Westminster as they believed he would be concerned about the final resting place and War Grave of Pte W L Blears being disturbed. The Duke of Westminster has wrote back to campaigners and families urging them to continue the fight and offered the families comforting support.
A copy of the Duke of Westminster's reply is as follows :-
"Dear Mr & Mrs Bamford,
The Duke of Westminster was saddened to read your letter.
This is a very upsetting situation for your family and many other families, but other than the many avenues you have already explored there is little more that the Duke is able to suggest. You will understand that he is unable to involve himself or try to influence local planning decisions.
As a past Commissioner of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission His Grace is aware of the difficult and diplomatic work that they carry out in order to protect war graves, they are a remarkable organisation but they are also constrained at times in what they are able to achieve.
His Grace is sorry not to be of any assistance to you, but sympathises with your cause and encourages you to keep pressing the planning authorities and people with local influence as it is they who are in a position to help you. If you would like to let him know the outcome of your campaign he would be pleased to be kept informed.
PA to the Duke of Westminster"
Michael Moulding, Deputy Leader of the Community Action Party says "I will do all I can to help these families. It was I that got a guarantee that any remains if removed would be reinterred at Swinton cemetery. Without my intervention Peel Green was the chosen place of reinterrment by the companies involved. They clearly have the support of extremely influential people to continue their fight and we believe Salford Council have acted unfairly and urge all those responsible to suspend their activities and get back around the negotiating table to ensure the burial ground is preserved for them and future generations of Swintonians." END
Contact details for Michael Moulding are 0161 7948483 or 07593908699
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