1. Consultation – the council says the vast majority of local people support the plans
– but provide no proper evidence whatsoever to back this up. We, on the other hand, have 2400+ names on a petition objecting to the scale of tree felling
– because the council failed to disclose the full details of tree felling and shrub clearance when telling people about the renovation plans, people may have voiced their support without being fully informed of the destruction involved and the impact this would have on the trees, plants, birds and animals that live in the park
– in a MEN article 12/1/13 the council are quoted as saying that “Another exciting part of the project is finding a model where the community have more of a say in how the space is used and money is spent, which will be a first for Manchester” but all the important decisions have already been made! So this is not real community empowerment
2. Public safety – the council says people are afraid to go in parts of the park, and that is why they are cutting trees and removing shrubs in those areas
– the council’s own survey with the public in summer 2012 shows that 96% of people said they felt very safe or safe in the park in the daytime. So where is their evidence of all these people that are afraid?
– the Police have told us that shrubs are generally used for sexual crimes but there are no incidents of this type being reported in the park, and that therefore removing trees and shrubs will not make much difference to how safe people are (in the day or at night) in the park. Removing trees and shrubs to reduce crime and increase perceptions of safety is not a real reason, its an excuse.
3. Council has public duty to conserve (enhance) biodiversity – under the NERC Act 2006
– Actions speak louder than words and it is clear from their actions that the council couldn’t care less about nature – they didn’t produce a Biodiversity Masterplan as an integral part of their renovation plans submitted for Planning approval, they only produced one because they were forced to as a condition of planning approval.
4. Council not taking responsibility for its decisions – the council keeps saying it has to fell trees as a condition of HLF funding
– The Heritage Lottery Fund have told us in writing that this is not true and “can confirm that at no point were the council told that HLF would withdraw the grant based on individual design decisions, including tree felling”.
5. Council bullying attitude
– The council attitude towards wild nature is one of wanting to control and dominate it, they want to get rid of what little wild nature there is in the park in favour of a tamed manicured version that they are hilariously calling the ‘Natural Zone’. And this bullying attitude can be seen in their treatment of local citizens too – they are dismissing and ignoring the objections of 2400+ people and are forcing through their plans regardless. This is hardly a good example of participatory democracy!