Appeal Dismissed! A Victory For Us All!!

We have received the decision from the Planning Inspectorate regarding Sky’s applications.. APPEAL DISMISSED, WE HAVE WON!!

Appeal A: APP/U4230/A/11/2162115
1. I dismiss the appeal.
Appeal B: APP/U4230/A/11/2162103
2. I dismiss the appeal.”

After what seems an eternity, this campaign has finally come to a conclusion.  The decision comes in line with planning strategy for the area and has found that although true in many decades past, the area has now cast off it’s heavy industrial roots to become a modern, bustling and thriving residential community.  A plant such as this would very much be “out of keeping” for the area which will now see a future of mixed residential and tourist developments.

I guess it will take some weeks for this to sink in.. the feeling from the community is one of joy but also of shell-shock.. is it finally over? Can we finally take our lives off hold and start building for the future again? I think yes!!

Monton Heroes

While I really appreciate the thanks and gratitude I have been receiving since the news, there are many more people who have contributed to our cause. I ask that everyone makes the effort to find and thank them where possible.  Honour roll follows in no particular order:

  • My Wife & Kids, for all their sacrifices, putting up with my rants, obsessive post-midnight research sessions and re-arranging our holidays to accommodate campaign activities.
  • Kirsteen McGarva, for co-founding Say No, driving campaign formation, rallying support through Facebook and handling member email communication as well as many other significant contributions.
  • Colin Long, for co-founding Say No, assisting with online communications, forensic research into company backgrounds as well as many other significant contributions.
  • Paul Connolly, for being our technical lead and committing countless hours to dissecting scientific materials as well as brilliantly presenting our counter arguments through-out the entire campaign.
  • Hazel Blears MP, for championing our cause from early beginnings, providing much guidance, support and advice for the last 3 years. Without her help, experience and contributions this mountain would have been considerably harder to climb.
  • Phil Austin, for being the voice of both experience and moderation, providing eloquent speeches, poignant messages and much entertainment to keep us motivated. A trusted rock of the community.
  • Cllr Lisa Stone, for providing a much needed sounding board and putting her time, energy and effort into helping us win. Along with galvanising much Council support, Lisa also spoke for us on several occasions to ensure the residents were heard.
  • Micheal Halsall, for providing knowledge and guidance.. especially through-out the inquiry where his experience was invaluable.
  • Jan Phelan, for organising a seriously successful fundraising evening, handling communications and tireless involvement in other campaign activities.
  • Maxine Coyle, for rallying many local community groups, speaking for us at the inquiry, assisting in managing campaign finances and many additional activities.
  • Cllr John Cullen, for being with us from the start. Sadly, John passed away last year so he couldn’t be with us at the end, Rest In Peace John. Hope somewhere out there you are enjoying this victory too.

In addition to the core group, most of which have dedicated the last 3 years of their lives to this fight. I would also like to thank the 30-40 local politicians from all parties who supported our cause, particularly Micheal Wheeler, Peter Wheeler, Karen Garrido and Ian Stewart.

Thank Yous finished? Not likely.

We also have to thank the speakers who spoke on our behalf at the inquiry. Official RULE 6 speakers were:

  • Ben Clayton: Our advocate and legal support who represented us so brilliantly during the inquiry.
  • Peta Williams: owner of the Business & Technology Center sited opposite Sky’s site. We owe her our support for her future plans.
  • Dr Nawar Bakerly: For bringing great expertise and knowledge of local health problems and needs.

Remember to thank the 65 Members of the public for being brave enough to speak out and prepare formal speeches for the inquiry. A special note to Micheal Collins and Betty Morton, your speeches were not only moving but relevant and will be with me for life.

Apologies for the 100’s more I’ve missed, thank you also. This was a real community effort and the victory should be shared by all.

What Now?

The dark cloud cast over the area for the last 3 years is soon to dissipate and while mindful of the struggle we have had, we can now turn our thoughts to the future.

We now need to turn a time of conflict to a time of collaboration. The campaign doesn’t stop here.. We need to work with Sky and the Council to bring a development to the site that works for everyone.  The site can’t stay vacant, it needs to fit into the overall strategy for the area.. which is grounded in providing re-generation around the bridgewater canal which inevitably means re-development of Sky’s and some of the surrounding sites. The campaign group will be making efforts to liaise with both the Council and Sky in the coming weeks so we can work together for the future.

The future is yet to be defined.. but what we can say is that it’s considerably brighter than yesterday. This chapter is closing.. looking forward to the next!!

Well done everyone.

Waiting With Faith

The inquiry has finished and now?  This week was the last of the inquiry. Closing statements were made on Tuesday and the Inspector’s accompanied site visit was on Wednesday.

Closing Statements

I don’t want to go into depth on the statements, but we were happy with both ours and the Council’s closings. Regarding Sky’s closing statement and subsequent decision to attempt to rebut ours on an almost paragraph by paragraph basis, we should consider this the sincerest form of flattery.. there must have been something of value to rebut? It seemed in my subjective opinion that instead of pushing the benefits of the application and standing behind the strength of their experts technical evidence, they spent much more time trying to cast doubt over the expertise of the witnesses the opposition had presented. I guess this is just one of those planning inquiry “games” that the barristers occasionally referred to during the process.. if you fail to disprove the evidence, attack the witnesses credibility.  Either way, the Inspector has all the evidence now and given the thorough and fair manner in which he has conducted the inquiry, we can expect the decision to be made on the basis of the evidence rather than petty snipes at our witnesses.

Site Visit

Both myself and Councillor Stone attended the site visit, along with representatives from the Council and Sky. During the morning we walked the Canal and had a good look around the Green Lane area. There was one thing that we didn’t see that struck me as important and that was HGVs. In the 2-3 hours (9am-11:30ish) we spent around Green Lane.. we only saw 2 HGVs.  This presented a stark contrast with the 800-900 HGVs per day Sky suggested were currently using the road. It was also good to stand on the site too. While much focus has been put on discussing the stack, the enormity of the other buildings becomes much more clear. The sizable buildings on the O’Connor site are actually only half the height of the proposed buildings and that doesn’t include the height of the stack. They really would dominate the area.

Going to JWS in Salford confirmed this too, the processing buildings are huge (about 20-25m high). The visit re-enforced some of our concerns around the proposal. On arriving we were given a Health & Safety presentation where we could see all the processes and procedures the company claims keep it compliant with regulations. Immediately after, we walked out of the office and were met by a JWS collection truck carrying a skip full of rubbish, open and un-sheeted. When noticed, the Operations Manager for JWS told us that it should have been sheeted and that the driver should get a disciplinary for the non-compliance. The driver obviously hadn’t read the numerous policies and procedures neatly pinned all over the JWS office walls. It begs the question, if an operation fails to get it’s own employees to comply with such regulations, what luck are they going to have with contractors? Not the greatest start to the visit and with the following display of an overfilled processing building, with waste pouring out of the door into the open air.. things didn’t get much better.

The end of the JWS visit formally concluded that part of the inquiry.

The Wait

I’ve had countless people approach me in recent days to ask whether or not the development will be stopped.  The answer is that we simply don’t know.  Starting the inquiry it seemed like common sense. Of course the Inspector will dismiss the appeal.. when you look at the area, it’s aspirations, existing traffic, air quality and health problems, the development just doesn’t make sense.  But, having heard Sky’s witnesses skillfully massage statistics and selectively include/exclude information to present their message in the best light.. the water becomes somewhat more muddied.

We have done all we can now. We have presented our evidence and shown the signifcant level of opposition to the plan. While we haven’t had the same financial resources to throw at this, we have had something that money can’t buy.. the truth. Thank you to everyone who took the time to attend and speak at the inquiry, as well as those who submitted written representations. It really motivated us to work harder as we knew how important this was and is to the community.

There’s not much more we can do now, except wait. We are at a critical cross-roads for the future of Monton, Eccles and Salford. One road will drag us back to a time of heavy industry where we can once again “take one for the team” and have our quality of life diminished for the sake of those who want to make their money regardless of the impact on others. The other road, is the one we’ve been travelling for the last 10 years. One where we not only continue to regenerate our community, but also take part in moulding the future of our area and aspire to bringing “real” sustainable developments like those envisioned by the Bridgewater Masterplan.

This is a momentous decision which will affect not only our futures but our children’s futures.  While we have no evidence of which way this will go, we have to have some faith that common sense, democracy and humanity will prevail.

Now we wait.


Request for Speakers To Come Forward To Thursday

Hi All,

The inquiry is progressing ahead of schedule. So much so that in order to best use the time available, the Programme Officer has asked if there is anyone registered to speak on Friday, who could speak tomorrow (Thursday) afternoon?  If you are able to bring your statement forward, please attend the inquiry tomorrow and let Frances know that you are willing to come forward.



Note to Community Speakers

If you have registered to speak at the inquiry, or would like to register to speak. There will now be two sessions dedicated to members of the community.

The Inspector has asked us to get in touch to let you know that he has now clarified the schedule and will be holding two sessions where you can have your say.  The following two sessions at Monton House Hotel have been set aside:
Wednesday May 16th: 6pm-9pm
Friday May 25th: 9:30am- 1:30pm

If you wish to speak and are unable to make any of these days, please contact the Council’s Programme officer Frances Taylor on 07545 422 714.

Inquiry – Conduct, Schedule and How to Help.

It’s just a few days until the start of our long awaited inquiry. The venue is set, the dates are set and the schedule is teetering on being finalised. This will likely be my final post before we begin. We have some additional information for you and also some last requests before this event, that will be so critical to the future of our area, begins.

Inquiry Conduct

Firstly, let me say that the conduct of campaign supporters and the wider community has been exemplary throughout all of our engagements with both Sky Properties and the Council.  For what is clearly an emotive situation, we should be proud that we have adopted a considered approach and should be commended for an open minded assessment of this application.

On analysis of Sky’s witness statements, we have found there are a number of inflammatory claims about residents behaviour which appear to serve no other purpose than to attempt to aggravate the attending residents in order to disrupt inquiry proceedings.  These claims are of course untrue and we have around 400 witnesses + 2 TV cameras which prove otherwise.  During the inquiry, we will not be dignifying this kind of provocation with a response.  We have come to expect goading from Mr. Hirsch and it goes without saying that we will continue to ignore his baiting in favour of our clear, rational statements of truth and fact.

Current Schedule (may be subject to change)

The latest draft schedule for the inquiry has changed slightly. It currently looks like this:
Week 1:
Wed: May 9th AM – Registration
Wed: May 9th PM – Sky Witness
Thu: May 10th AM/PM – Sky Witness
Fri: May 11th AM – Sky Witness

Week 2:
Tue: May 15th AM/PM – Sky Witness
Wed: May 16th AM/PM – Sky Witness
Thu: May 17th AM – Sky Witness
Thu: May 17th PM – Council Witness
Fri: May 18th AM – Council Witness

Week 3:
Tue: May 22nd AM/PM – Council Witness
Wed: May 23rd AM/PM – Say No Witness
Thu: May 24th AM/PM – Say No Witness
Fri: May 25th AM/PM – Reserved for Member of Public

Week 4:
Tue: May 28th – Closing Statements From All Sides
Wed: May 30th – Inspector’s Site Visit.

How to Help

Attend, attend and attend.  There is clearly a massive amount of opposition to this development, as was displayed by the unanimous decision of the Council to reject the application. In over 2 years, that opposition has neither diminished or lost momentum. This is our final opportunity to show how strongly we feel about our homes and the future of the area. It looks like we are going to have a good turn out on May 9th, but we also need to retain a presence for the remainder of the inquiry. If you can attend any other days, please make best efforts to be there, even if you can only take part for a couple of hours.  On May 9th, we will be meeting at Monton House Hotel between 9-9:30am, if you have not already sent your availability through to us, please find a campaign representative and leave your details so we may contact you should we need assistance over the period of the inquiry.

Thanks all, See you there.

Appeal Attendance

Whats happening:

The Planning Inspectorate has asked that we facilitate the process of gathering information on attendees at the inquiry.  The Inquiry is currently scheduled to run between 9th May – 24th May.  Please make every effort to arrive on “May 9th” at “Monton House Hotel” to register.

The process will span multiple weeks, which will make it difficult for most people to attend everyday, so we would like to schedule attendance where possible. This should make it much easier for holidays to be booked from work and arrangements to be made.

What Information Do We Need:

Please send us the following information for each person who will attendee the inquiry:

Your Name: ****** ******

Your Phone Number: 999-9999

Your Email Address: ***@***.***

Do you want to speak at the inquiry?: YES/NO

Availability to Attend:
May 9th – YES/NO
May 10th – YES/NO
May 11th – YES/NO
May 14th – YES/NO
May 15th – YES/NO
May 16th – YES/NO
May 17th – YES/NO
May 18th – YES/NO
May 21st – YES/NO
May 22nd – YES/NO
May 23rd- YES/NO
May 24th – YES/NO

The Say No campaign will be presenting formal evidence in the later half of the inquiry.  If you want to speak as a member of the public, this will happen towards the end of the inquiry.  We encourage everyone who wants to, to speak. You have a voice and we want to ensure the inquiry hears your unique perspective on the application.

Where to send the information:

Please email the above information to:

Thank you for your continued support.

Resounding Fundraiser Success. Thank You!!

Last night saw Worsley Golf Club invaded by campaigners, residents and the wider community for the Say No campaign fundraising evening.

With the lulls in activity associated with such a long stretched campaign (2.5 years to date), it can be difficult to predict the outcome or attendance of ongoing events. When I arrived at the Golf Club at 7pm, there were two cars in the car park and around 5 people in the provided room itself.  As time rolled on, more and more people arrived. First the tables around the dancefloor filled, then the tables towards the back of the room until eventually we needed to request more chairs to be brought out. In turn, they filled too.. leaving only standing room around the bar. It looked a little like this:


Sorry about quality; It was dark and there was wine involved.


The outcome and attendance was nothing less than phenomenal.  A ridiculously big THANK YOU to Jan, Kirsteen, Paula and everyone else who contributed to the event.  While the task of raising funds in by no means over.. last night brought us within reach of the funding required to progress with the inquiry.

The evening has reminded me exactly how much everyone cares about this issue.  It’s time for us to collectively double our efforts, go that extra mile and put this application where it belongs.. in the trash!!