Sunday, 27 September 2009

Manchester Green Spaces - fighting on all fronts

We have a range of battles to protect our Green spaces in and around the City of Manchester at the moment.

In Hulme, Manchester Metropolitan University are proposing to build on the Birley fields (pictured below) in the heart of Hulme. The ‘consultation’ period is well advanced, but has never asked the basic question “Do you want this land to be GIVEN to MMU to develop?”. A campaign to protect this space has been set up under the name ‘Our Hulme’ which is a successor to the previous long running ‘Save Birley Fields’ campaign. More information can be found from Manchester Permaculture and the Facebook site Our Hulme.

A few miles to the south Chorlton Meadows are under threat from football pitches, including floodlighting. The location is the Hardy farm meadows area which is the route into the valley for residents in the eastern areas of Chorlton. Further information can be found here. Strength of feeling in the area against the plans can be judged by the size of the Facebook group which grew to over 5,000 members in the space of one month.

Meanwhile in the neighbouring city of Salford, the battle of Albion Green has been launched by local residents in the Poet’s Corner area of the City. More information available via 'The Mule'.

In the far north of Manchester a longer running campaign is seeking to save Charlestown Woods. Here Green activist Michael Prior is working with local residents and others to secure village green status for the threatened area.

Village Greens:

The qualifications for these are:
- Free and untrammelled access by the public for 20 or more years
- Used by a significant proportional of local people for informal social activity (including conversations)
- Unregulated access

The legislation comes from the 1906 Open Spaces Act and more information is available from the Open Spaces Society. It only requires one or more individuals to raise an application. A key requirement is to get verbal statements from local people that the land was used by them 20 years ago.

I understand the Charlestown application is proceeding well. An application for a village green for Ryebank fields on the Chorlton Stretford border ran into difficulties so it is not the right solution for every situation. It is however a useful potential tool to protect some of these remaining green spaces and one which campaigners may increasingly consider.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

'Ethical Consumer' - another Manchester success story

Twenty years ago (yes that heady year of 1989 again) two publications started out to help consumers apply ethical considerations to their purchases.

The more heavily promoted at the time was ‘New Consumer’ a relatively glossy publication based in London which I seem to remember folding in the 90’s (however I notice that the brand was revived in Scotland as a website + magazine – see here).

The other publication was the ‘Ethical Consumer’ based since its inception in Hulme, in Manchester. Founder members included a couple of Manchester Green Party members at the time, including Paul Harrison, the brother of Rob Harrison, who remains the editor of the magazine to this day. Deliberately less glossy than its rival, the Ethical Consumer survived the 90s and this month celebrates its 20th anniversary.

Associated with the magazine is the Ethiscore site where paid subscription opens the door to detailed reports on pretty much every type of product under the sun.

Unlike ‘New Consumer’ the Ethical Consumer refused to take paid adverts for a long time; when commercial pressures resulted in a change to accept advertising, the company entered a minefield of which advertisers it could accept and stay true to its position.

I have been a subscriber since it started, and found it useful on a number of occasions; I hope to join workers and other subscribers at a 20 year celebration. I also look forward to it continuing, and being around for the 40 year celebration!

Speeding up after the holidays

With August out of the way, the list of possible meetings to attend grows almost by the day.
Today, I am thinking of applying careful timing to attempt 3 in one evening:-.

Firstly a group called
OpenSpaces Co-op
are holding a Networking event in Hulme.
Then, there’s a meeting for the
Call to Real Action
campaign, and to round things off a meeting concerned with the threat of a massive Tesco development at the Old Trafford cricket ground, with people from Trafford Green Party and ‘Keep Chorlton Interesting’.