Today a press release was issued - not by Salford City Council, but by the Salford Labour Party – in which Salford Council's head of planning, Councillor Derek Antrobus, is quoted as saying "On the current evidence I would recommend that the Council rejects the option to allocate green belt land."
He adds "I think it is fair to say that there has been overwhelming public concern about the suggestion."
There certainly was – a 1600 signature petition and a big protest near the site of the potential destruction of green belt land. All of which suggests that people would make their feelings known at the forthcoming local election. Irlam infamously removed Labour councillor Roger Jones in favour of a Community Action Party candidate a couple of years ago.
The Labour Party press release (not sent to the Salford Star) is headed Barton Moss greenbelt plan `to be shelved' (in inverted commas) and states that "A listening exercise to test whether greenbelt land at Barton Moss in Irlam could be used for employment is likely to conclude that the idea should be given the thumbs down"… Likely?
The decision on the future of this green belt land isn't due formally until July. And Salford Council itself has issued no formal notice that it intends to backtrack on the plan.
Meanwhile, there is nothing in the Labour Party press release that relates to a u-turn over the other loss of green belt land in Little Hulton.
Strangely, it was the Council that put forward the loss of green belt option in its draft Core Strategy, yet now its head of planning states that "There are clear concerns about the way the need for employment land has been calculated" and "Another major concern is about the impact on the traffic…We cannot risk the permanent loss of greenbelt land on the basis of evidence that is so uncertain…"
All very strange – until you realise there's an election around the corner.
The Salford Star isn't celebrating until Salford's green belt is protected in black and white – not in spurious press releases from political parties.