Well, the day has finally come. The Planning Committee Meeting to possibly decide the fate of the application for Nutsford Vale will be going before planning today.
We, as a group, have fought with increasing ferocity over the last 14 months as a group of neighbours – wellwishers without legal or procedural knowledge, without funding or specialist technical capacity. We are proud of how we have rallied our community to band together, established a further sense of community ownership of this land and what we have achieved without a promise of any personal and particular material benefit, except a concept – this place of peace in the city belongs to us.
We have trusted elected representatives and learned officers of the Council and their developers to provide a transparent and true account of what their intentions are, how they will be achieved and how it will effect us to the positive and the negative – in short, we have asked them to truthfully sell this project to us.
What has happened from the very beginning of site investigations could be described by some as a campaign of torment upon the residents and volunteer group that has taken this country park to their heart. With misleading information, deceitful consultations, sly amendments to important details and a differing level of disclosure of information based on “who you are”, this has left many of us disenfranchised and defenseless to the onslaught of the professionally administered misery this has brought us. Any attempt to call the Councillors, officers or contractors on the behaviours they are displaying towards the very constituents they should be working FOR results in the dialogue becoming aggressively defensive and contemptible, accusing those who have maintained the park of NIMBY-ism and overreaction, over inflation of the size of the school, the disruption it will cause us and the risk to public safety.
In the middle of all this squabbling, we lost a great advocate for this flagship greening programme, Sir Gerald Kaufman, Father of the House of Commons. Whatever your politics, you can appreciate his vigor to fight for the right to respond and clarity, which we unfortunately lost upon his passing. Our constituency then became a battle ground, with many politicians suddenly interested in ensuring the soundbites of them vehemently supporting our cause were reported. Our cause, and our distressed and vulnerable group was abused by those who wished to make political profit. Now we find ourselves at crunch day, and where is Afzal Khan, Gorton MP? These people happily sat in front of us and charmed us into thanking them for their support, and now our elected representative at the greatest time of need to people of his own constituency has become, almost unshockingly, another flaccid Labourite, towing the Labour Council party line – from his own mouth…
“It’s not all about green spaces, you know” Afzal Khan MP, Dec 8th 2017.
So we have been left to digest a 61 report application, filled with academic language and technical data without assistance or explaination and have been asked to assess and object if we wish. The first consultation on the Manchester City Council website for a secondary school in Central Manchester in 2016 sure has come far, figuratively as well as literally South East.
We can only hope (and pray, should you be of the disposition) that the Committee does it’s duty to the People and turns away this proposal to ensure the certainty of our safety and preserve our right to quiet enjoyment of our area. We would be happy to welcome another school to our constituency should it prove safe, economically and environmentally viable – as Cllr Julie Reid said
“Well where are we going to put the schools then???”
Whatever the outcome today, if the campaign of torment and deception is to continue for a short while, we straight up lose our fight or we succeed in derailing this doomed and dangerous programme, we are and will always be a strong community.
And there’s hard times again in these streets of our city
But we won’t take defeat and we don’t want your pity
Because this a place where we stand strong together
With a smile on our face, Mancunians Forever
Because this is the place in our hearts, in our homes
Because this is the place that’s a part of our bones
‘Cos Greater Manchester gives us such strength from the fact
That this is the place. We should give something back.
Always remember. Never forget. Forever Manchester.
Excerpt from THIS IS THE PLACE written by Tony Walsh