Manchester and Bury councils had already given permission for the creation of a `Manchester Eruv' when the scheme came to Salford Council's Planning Panel yesterday.
An Eruv is defined in planning papers as "a formally recognised continuous boundary…that designates an area whereby orthodox Jewish people are able to carry out day to day activities on the Sabbath whilst observing the requirements of the Sabbath".
The physical line of the Salford Eruv goes from Cheetham Hill through Higher Broughton to Lower Broughton and through Kersal, and while the majority of the boundary makes use of existing walls, hedges, fences and buildings, it was necessary to erect 64 poles and six archways joined by thin wire. It was for these that planning permission was needed.
Salford Council's planning officer said at the start of yesterday's meeting that "an Eruv itself does not need planning permission" and that "ideological and philosophical matters are not relevant to planning."
This was challenged by the first objector to the proposals, David Milne from Higher Broughton, who argued that "maybe this committee should not be the formal decision making body". He went on to point out that the Eruv was not supported by secular Jewish people, and questioned Salford Council's authority to transform walls, fences and posts, which were originally constructed for non-religious purposes, into religious artefacts.
Speaking on behalf of orthodox Jewish people, including rabbis, who oppose the Eruv, Zelda Jacobson said that having been subjected to anti-semitism herself, the construct would likely lead to reciprocation as people would find it threatening.
She added that the Eruv is "an invasion of public space by a private group…If one faith group can place their items on our pavements, other groups can come along with their objects…the sky's the limit."
Speaking in support of the Eruv, its committee chairman Simon Logan said that 98% of the requirements were already in place and that the planning application was for "the few gaps that exist". He added that the 64 poles and six archways would be "totally unnoticed" and would allow mothers to push prams and the elderly to be pushed in wheelchairs… "There would be no detriment to those who don't want to avail themselves of this facility" which would be "non-intrusive and inconvenience no-one".
Also speaking in support of the Eruv was Councillor Howard Balkind, who called the objections "disgusting" and said that fears of a rise in anti-semitism were a "red herring".
Chair of the Planning Panel, Councillor Derek Antrobus, while recognising that the Eruv was "an emotional issue", explained that the committee had to decide only whether the 64 poles were out of place or not. Councillors were thus restricted to questions about wildlife and heritage concerns, and the need for so many poles. At the end of the discussion the plans were passed unanimously…
Coming soon - are we creating a ghetto in Salford?