"The M6 and the M62, all near Salford's boundaries, are sometimes on the route of this lethal convoy..."
Two Salford councillors, Roger Jones and Bill Hinds, have joined over two dozen Greater Manchester politicians in signing a letter to Theresa May expressing "concern about the risk to public security posed by the movement of nuclear weapons on British roads..."
Convoys carrying nuclear bombs routinely travel on local roads, taking Trident warheads from nuclear facilities in the south of England to naval bases in Scotland, sometimes via the M6 and, if diverted, via the M62.
"Travelling along roads that pass near hospitals, workplaces, schools, sports grounds and people's homes, the warhead convoys may be subject to accidents and attacks, as have occurred in the recent past" states the letter "...We don't have to live in a world where an accident, mistake or decision involving nuclear weapons can cause a devastating human catastrophe..." (see full text here).
According to a new report by investigative journalist Rob Edwards, titled Nukes of Hazard, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has confessed to eight accidents involving nuclear convoys between 1960 and 1991.
In response to requests under Freedom of Information, the MoD has also given outline details of a further 180 safety incidents affecting the convoys between 2000 and 2016 (read the report here).
The signatories of the letter also include the Green Party GM Mayor candidate, Will Patterson, Liberal Democrat candidate Jane Brophy and Julie Ward North West MEP. Anti-nuclear campaigners are determined to bring the issue to the wider Greater Manchester public.
Andrew Gibson from Greater Manchester Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, says: "Nuclear weapons are dangerous. An incident involving these convoys, particularly if there is a fire, could put thousands of local people at risk. We are glad that local councillors are taking it seriously and want to work with anyone interested in reducing the risks."
Salford CND member, Alice Searle, adds: "As a member of CND for forty years, involving a spell at Greenham Common, I have followed the history of our dangerous involvement with all things nuclear, especially weapons designed to annihilate thousands in a flash, and leave others burnt and fatally sick.
"Now, I am concerned that convoys of lorries carrying nuclear waste and even Trident warheads, travel our major roads" she explains "The M6 and the M62, all near Salford's boundaries, are sometimes on the route of this lethal convoy.
"I have written to the Salford Mayor, Paul Dennett, and my MP, Graham Stringer, asking what precautions are in place if an accident should occur" she says "The Mayor's response was to say there is an Emergency Plan but few details*. No response yet from my MP.
"The general public are ignorant of this death convoy" she concludes "These 'Nukes of Hazard' travelling our roads are a well kept secret. The policy maintained is public `ignorance is bliss.'...What the public don't know about they want object to! My policy is very different... 'Get them off our roads! Get them off our land!' They are not independent. They are part controlled by America - and with Trump at the American helm I don't feel reassured."
For further details of this and other campaigns see the Greater Manchester CND website - click here
*Salford City Council does have a 'major incident plan' which, it states, "sets out how the City Council would deal with a major emergency in partnership with local emergency services such as police, ambulance, the Environment Agency, etc". Unfortunately, when the Salford Star tried to click on the link to read it, the link didn't work...
** Salford has successfully won 757,000 Euros to `help better prepare areas for disasters'. It's been selected to lead the EU-funded city-to-city peer review (UScore2) project which will see the city develop a tool that can be used by cities across Europe and the world to check how prepared they are for a disaster.
Salford will test its tool on Amadora in Portugal and Viggiano in Italy to find out if the findings will help make them better prepared, and will be used to help Salford to find new ways to strengthen its own disaster plans.
"By creating the tool and working with partners from across Greater Manchester we will learn and sharpen up our own plans so the region benefits" says Salford City Mayor Paul Dennett "And Salford and Greater Manchester will then play a big part globally in teaching others about disaster relief and resilience. Disasters can happen in many forms, from natural disasters to mass migration, so we all need to be in a position to react."
Two things here – firstly getting convoys of nuclear warheads off our roads might help avert a disaster and, secondly, perhaps the Council should use some of the 757,000 Euros to make the 'major incident plan' link work on its own website...