4th July 2014 | In House Training
Here we are in July and the plasterers are already moving in at the library. It’s amazing once studded walls are plaster-boarded just how much physical space there is. We can get a real feel for the layout of rooms, corridors etc. Very shortly the external signs will be in place and an even greater number of Mossley folk will know what’s going on.
Speaking of “in the know”, last Wednesday, St Georges Church Mossley was packed (and I do mean packed with standing room only) to hear the latest developments about the Hem Place market ground. Over the past few months there have been many rumours about commercial/residential development on the land. I attended this meeting and like everyone present was disappointed that only one local Councillor was present and angered that neither the Leader of Tameside Council nor Deputy Leader had offered any significant input into what is a matter of concern for many people. Following the meeting, Councillor Paul Dowthwaite contacted anyone who had left an email address, with a brief summary of next steps. If you wish to express an opinion you can do so in the following ways:
Several people have asked for email addresses of the people who were invited to speak or send a statement on May 23rd. So here they are:
firstname.lastname@example.org – Cllr Kieran Quinn Leader of the Council, did not reply but sent a brief statement on 24th June
email@example.com – Cllr John Taylor Deputy Leader with special responsibility for managing Tameside’s land and buildings who did not reply nor send a statement
firstname.lastname@example.org – Frank Travis, newly elected cllr for Mossley sent apologies late on Wed 25th and a joint statement with other Mossley cllrs.
email@example.com – Cllr Ellie Shember-Critchley, Mossley cllr did not reply but sent a joint statement
Idu.firstname.lastname@example.org – Cllr Idu Miah was present and spoke at the meeting. He also sent a joint statement. He is a member of the campaign group.
email@example.com – Jonathan Reynolds MP replied to the invitation immediately saying he was committed in Parliament but would and did send a statement.
It was suggested that we get specific commitments from our Mossley cllrs and from the MP to fight against and to vote against any plans to commercialize our market ground and that we appeal to Cllr Quinn and Taylor to take into account the importance both culturally and economically to the community of our market ground. Since the meeting, Cllr Dowthwaite has issued a summary:
Mossley Market Ground – SOCS (Save Our Community Space) Public Meeting on Wednesday 25th June in St Georges Church
THE STORY SO FAR as told at the meeting by Paul Dowthwaite Chair of SOCS
In February this year, the toilet block on the market ground was demolished because some roof tiles were missing and “it was too expensive to repair.” I became suspicious and went to ask the Leader of Tameside Council, Kieran Quinn about future plans for the market ground. He made no bones about the intention to sell it and said several supermarkets were interested. He did not mention TESCO.
A week later Cllr Idu Miah met him and asked the same question and received the same answer with additional information following Cllr Quinn’s telephone call to the council officer responsible for inward investment. Booths and Waitrose were interested.
Weeks later at a meeting of the chairs of Town Teams, Cller Quinn repeated his intention to sell the market ground and added Sainsburys to list of those interested.
The Council’s official line from the press office during this period has been that “the council is minded to sell.” In the Reporter of May 29th it said “the market ground is one asset the council will consider for disposal.”
Some councillors have been responding to residents’ queries with “The Market ground is not for sale. It is not on the for-sale-list in the Estates Dept. To understand this reply you have to understand that the Estates Dept is like an in-house Ryder & Dutton estate agents. So if you cannot say keep up the mortgage payments and need to sell your house but have not yet put it in Ryder & Dutton’s window, some might say your house is not for sale. Your intention is very clear. Cllr Quinn’s intention has been clear from the outset.
Cllr Miah and I were horrified by the intention to sell the market ground as were many residents and local businesses. A campaign group of 20+ like-minded people was formed and called SOCS – Save Our Community Space. We are determined to prevent the sale of the market ground or indeed any commercialisation of it.
The market ground is our only civic space. It is a gathering ground for the community to come together to celebrate, to protest, to fund raise, to set off on processions and walks, to deliver our children safely to school, to visit the health centre, churches, and concerts at the George Lawton Hall and to use the shops and local services.
So far SOCS has done the following
We researched the deeds and covenants back to the initial sale to Lancashire Council by Stamford Estates. An original covenant preventing development on the land appears to have been removed. Even with the help of the Coop’s legal department we cannot find a legal block to these proposals.
A petition has now got over 2000 signatures. This is against any commercialisation. You will remember that as a community we fought off pay and display parking. We do not want it to appear via the back door.
On 3rd March a letter was delivered to Tameside Council’s Chief Executive, Steven Pleasant asking for the market ground to be declared a community asset which under the provisions of the Localism Act gives the community first right to buy. We did not get a reply until June During these three months Tameside devised a procedure and form to deal with this sort of application. It then informed us that our letter did not comply with the form Tameside had devised. The Mayor of Mossley will speak about these difficulties later but there is a clear intention to have the market ground listed as a community asset.
We have had good publicity but we require personal contacts in radio and television.
That is the story so far except to challenge the probable use to which the cash from the sale our market ground would be put. Tameside couples its intention with the need to protect frontline services, it is certainly true that the central government from whom 75% of Tameside’s income comes has made drastic cuts to the money Tameside has to spend. It would however be bad financial practice (Tameside has a good reputation for financial management) to use one off receipts from the sale of land to pay for on-going services. This would be like selling the furniture to pay the rent. It is much more likely that the cash would go to pay for the redevelopment of Ashton marketplace.
From the statements submitted we appear to have the support of our local councillors and our MP. We need to get their commitments clearer about how they intend to respond and to vote faced with proposals to sell. Rent out or otherwise commercialise the market ground.
Our main problem is to persuade the decision-makers of the importance to this community, both culturally and economically of the market ground in its present state.
We need to write letters and send emails.
Another surprise event will take place in Ashton market on Saturday 12th July at 2.00pm. Rehearsals will take place at Mossley Community Centre on Roughtown Road at 6.30-7.00pm on Thursday 10th July.
On Tuesday morning this week, our Uppermill practice welcomed about ten children from Diggle Day Nursery, along with teachers Linda, Stacey and Laura. Our vet Jill, nurse Kylie and PM Ian were very impressed with their behaviour, enthusiasm and many questions about what it’s like to work in a vets. At the nursery, the children have made their own vet practice with seemingly the biggest (toy) dog in the world! During their visit the kids learned what a stethoscope is used for, got to check a microchip and lots more. I think and hope they left with some good memories and methinks that at least two of them will be applying for vet school in a few years time. It’s worth mentioning that if you belong to (or know someone who does) a school or nursery, we’d be happy to arrange a brief tour of the practice in the future. Just get in touch with the practice manager on 01457 837900.
Sometimes, the most commonly available technology such as mobile phones can surprise. This photograph of a rabbit mite was snapped looking down the lens of our lab microscope without any “jiggery-pokery”
Can we remind you of a very important message from the RSPCA and many other animal welfare organisations, especially whilst the temperatures are balmy: