GARY NEVILLE FINGER IN PIES AWARD
SALFORD CITY COUNCIL
This Award recognises the very strange manner in which planning permission was obtained for Salford City FC to redevelop its Moor Lane stadium in Kersal...In the redeveloped words of Mrs Merton, `What was it, Salford Council, that attracted you to the millionaire Class of '92 and the billionaire Singaporean Peter Lim?'...
Amongst lots of other things, the redeveloped stadium would see the capacity increase from 2,163 people to 5,172, which would add up to 1,603 cars trying to park on match days – with no particular solution from the club.
Over six hundred local residents objected to the plans, while Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) also objected and proposed £250,000 worth of improvements to `mitigate the impact of additional traffic'.
However Salford Council's own Highways Engineer disagreed and reckoned the club should pay a one-off cost of just £1,500 together with an annual fee of around £2,000. Incredibly, the day before the planning meeting TfGM withdrew its objection, much to the residents' bemusement.
Also, well before the planning meeting, the Salford Star understands that Gary Neville had a very amicable meeting about all sorts of development stuff with Salford City Mayor, Paul Dennett. Everyone knows, of course, that the Mayor has absolutely, definitely, no influence on the planning system...
...And everybody knows, of course, that Gary Neville and his ex-Man U mates have definitely turned major property developers, particularly pissing off everyone in Manchester with plans to demolish the Abercromby pub and shove up two 30 storey skyscrapers in its place.
Gary Neville is also a director of Zerum Construction Management Ltd, which has had helped planning fee avoiders like Middlewood Locks (£6million avoided), Peel Holdings (£millions avoided - lost count) and Pegasus M6/Vermont Construction Ltd, the developers putting up two blocks of student accommodation on Frederick Road (£400,000 avoided). Some might say that Zerum knows only too well how to play the Salford planning system.
Indeed, Salford City was so confident of getting planning permission that the club actually started work on its stadium before the planning meeting. Meanwhile, a Salford Star article on residents' concerns, which gave no particular opinion from the Star itself (see here), was slated on Twitter by one of the club's supporters as `very poor journalism'. Fair enough. We can handle that. Problem was that it was `liked' by the official Twitter account of Salford City Council.
Both the Star and residents officially complained about Salford Council bias – it's supposed to be neutral in such affairs. The Council subsequently refused to apologise, writing the tweet off as a "genuine error in the use of software", adding that "There was no intention to comment in any way on this post". Who are they trying to kid?
When the planning meeting actually took place, despite a bag of litter being handed to Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs by a resident, objectors soon knew that they didn't stand a chance (see here).
The lack of consultation was ruled offside as planning officers said there was no `absolute requirement' for one. Parking and traffic problems were kicked into row Z when Gary Neville said he would "put measures in place" and it was made clear that TfGM had withdrawn its objection (`Who's got to them?' asked one resident).
Even the local Kersal Councillors Peter Connor and Ann-Marie Humphreys put up a limp wristed opposition to the redevelopment, saying they were merely representing residents.
Add to all that a sprinkling of fading footie legends on their best `we love the community' behaviour, awe-struck councillors sat on the planning panel saying it was "too fantastic for Salford" to turn down, and Councillor `Change the Image of Salford' Antrobus, deciding that the only way to be fair to residents was to approve the application!
Residents were hammered like an expensively assembled Salford City FC team playing Bradford Park Avenue. In the end it just wasn't a contest.
David Mintz, on behalf of Kersal Moor Residents Association, was furious... "It was a gross miscarriage of justice on a huge scale" he said "It is the saddest day for democracy in Salford. People came here to show their feelings and they've been ignored. They've been ignored in two reports, ignored in over 600 petition signatures, ignored in over 300 live objections to the application, as the Council has actively sought ways in which to push this through.
"In my opinion they've been wowed by celebrity and taken the opinion of people who live outside the area instead of listening to the residents" he added "This makes me truly ashamed to be a citizen of Salford today.
"...I've never seen a planning panel so hell bent on pleasing celebrities" he fumed "The chairman actively sought to twist a way around every objection, and actively stood there and tried to disprove them. The decision was made before we turned up here today, and that's the only thing that gives me any kind of comfort, to know that it was actually bent from the beginning."
So, ladies and gentlemen, please raise your cup of Hotel Football coffee, get in bed with Ryan Giggs (everyone else has) and sing `We'll get what we want, we'll get what we w-a-a-a-nt, we're the Class of '92, we'll get what we w-a-a-a-nt...' for the winner of the Salford Star Mary Burns Gary Neville Finger In Pies Award...
Salford City Council!
If Salford City (FC) Council would like to make an acceptance speech, please use the comments box below...
This is the final gong and concludes this year's ceremony of the Salford Star Mary Burns Awards...
Winners of the 2016 Salford Star Mary Burns Awards
*Nice Work If You Can Get It Award – Hazel Blears – click here
* Green Fingers Award - Salford City Council - click here
*Ethical Hypocrisy Award – Co-operative Group – click here
*George Bush Read My Lips Award – Hazel Blears, Phil Mayall and Councillor Derek Antrobus - click here
*Services To Heritage Destruction – Fred Done – click here
* Pimp My Poverty Award - Salford City Council - click here
*Feed The Rich Award – Peel Holdings – click here
*International Award – Manchester City Council – click here
*`How The Fuck Did You Manage To Ignore Almost 3 Million People?' Award – Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) – click here
*Services To Social Housing - Salford City Mayor, Paul Dennett – click here
*Affordable Housing Hypocrisy Revolving Door Award - Councillor Paul Longshaw – click here
*Uncle Joe Stalin Award for Open and Democratic Government – Salford City Mayor Paul Dennett – click here