A call to arms...
Since we submitted our “Save Royton’s Greenbelt” group response to the revised GMSF 2019 draft plan, we have not stood still. We have been very busy behind the scenes continuing to gather evidence and lobbying our local politicians, our Council Leader and The Mayor of Greater Manchester—Andy Burnham.
We secured a private meeting with Andy Burnham and his ‘Head of the GMSF’, Anne Morgan. We presented a paper to them which included many alternatives to building on our precious greenbelt and highlighted some glaring misgivings of their so-called plan. Andy Burnham gave us some hope and arranged for us to meet with his GMSF team at the GMCA headquarters in Manchester to look at a way of incorporating our ideas and findings into the next revision of the Plan. However, we were met with a distinct reluctance from them to run with any of our proposals. Sean Fielding at OMBC has also avoiding further engagement with us, despite several promises he had made to us, to meet again to discuss the final Draft of the plan. This Final draft was originally delayed until July this year, but the Covid 19 pandemic has further delayed this until October or November this year. This delay may also conveniently take the timeline of the next draft consultation to coincide with the Christmas break, when people are expected to be busy concentrating on family issues, rather than on scuppering their plans to steal our greenbelt. This, combined with the authority’s seeming resistance to further engage with us, convinces us that they have little or no intention of backing down and the so called consultations are designed purely as a ‘tick box’ exercise, pretending that they value Royton residents’ opinions.
We are continuing, as a team, to negotiate with these authorities to remove ALL of Royton’s proposed sites from the GMSF. However, it is looking far more likely that it will come down to Legal Action and possibly a Judicial Review. A Judicial Review can typically cost between £25,000 and £50,000 and we have been advised we would need at least two of them (one for Hanging Chadder/Thornham Old Road and one for Beal Valley/Broadbent Moss). This is based on the facts that, in addition to these four sites being in two different geographical areas, there are different sets of ‘material considerations’ that apply to each. For example, there are no tram line links for the two North Royton sites, but there are strong pollution and ecological conditions that make a stronger argument in Royton South. Moreover, raising the funds to legally contest all four sites creates a potential conflict of interest within our group: if we raised only enough money for one judicial review then it would create a dilemma over which one to back, if residents from both Royton North and Royton South have contributed to the legal fund. Simply put, it would not be fair to any Royton North residents to spend money they have contributed, only legally challenging the Royton South sites and vice versa. The only solution to this is to raise the legal funds separately and ring fence them. With this in mind, we need to form two separate funding vehicles to hopefully build up sufficient funds for two potential legal representations.
We already have volunteers, including myself, to front up and co-ordinate a Royton North fundraising committee and invite offers from some residents of Royton South, that are committed to saving Beal Valley and Broadbent Moss, to form a similar fundraising committee. We are resident in Royton North and know the local community well, so we ideally need folk with a similar connection in their locality. Your roles would be to involve as many of your local community as possible in organising and holding fundraising activities to build up sufficient funds to bring any necessary legal action against OMBC and the GMSF. We would broadly welcome such individuals or teams and would gladly support and advise them on fundraising ideas and help them to form a dedicated fundraising platform. Both fundraising group activities would be promoted here on the “Save Royton’s Greenbelt” Facebook site.
Please contact us if you are willing to take up a role as Fundraising Co-ordinator for Royton South or if you are willing to commit to helping to organise fundraising in that area. We will put up a separate appeal for Royton North fundraising, once we have got a little more organised. Please though, it is no good to leave this until the eleventh hour, we need to get fundraising now! We would suggest an initial fundraising target of £25,000 per group. If we start now, we can raise these funds and show the authorities that we really mean business.
We are all still very much opposed to building on all of Royton’s Greenbelt and the main campaign group “Save Royton’s Green Belt” will continue as normal. We will just be better prepared, with funds in place, to take the fight to the next level.