5 April 2018
Trafford Green Party is pleased to note that Trafford Council has extended the period of consultation on its planning application to create a training facility for Salford City FC, a professional football club, on Green Belt land at Turn Moss in Stretford untill the 18th April. The likely date for the Planning Committee is now Thusday 17th May, conveniently falling after the local elections on the 3rd of May.
The proposal will involve the Council financing the construction of a specialist building for use by Salford City FC, to include changing rooms, offices, physio room, break-out areas, coaches room and boardroom, as well as creating 3 high grade grass pitches for use by the club. The Council envisages recouping the costs of this investment through leasing the facilities to the Football Club. No details of the proposed lease have yet been formally released, although we understand that it will be a 10 year lease with a 5 year break clause. In our opinion, this is an unacceptably high risk investment. If the football club implement the break clause then there is no guarantee whatsoever that the monies spent will be recouped. Even if the club remains for 10 years, the Council will then be left with a highly specialist facility for which there is likely to be no demand and high maintenance costs. All this will take place on a Green Belt site within the Mersey Valley which is currently providing free and unrestricted access to the general public.
We cannot support such a high risk venture when the planning and thought processes behind it are so inadequate that the consultation period has had to be extended because of incomplete, inaccurate and inconsistent information and documentation. The Council is effectively gambling with public money on a poorly conceived proposal. We have no confidence in the Council having the competence to borrow and invest public money safely and wisely for the benefit of the local community, if this is an example of its approach.
The proposal has apparently evolved out of the desire of the Council to risk even more public money supporting a scheme for a private, for-profit University in the north of the borough, to be run by a group of ex-footballers with no experience in such a venture. The University project is labelled as “high-risk” on the Council’s own risk register. We accept that the Council is cash-strapped due to government austerity measures over the past 7 years, and due to its own mismanagement of local authority finances. We also note that the Council is having to increase Council Tax by a very large amount this year to deal with Social Care issues that have been very obviously growing over a long period of time. The Council has abjectly failed to prepare for this worrying development and is now resorting to a programme of gambling with our money to try belatedly to deal with it.
We call upon the Council to come clean and give full and accurate publicity to its proposals for these risky ventures. In particular it must release the details of the proposed lease relating to Turn Moss and withdraw the planning application until a fully worked out and consistent set of proposals can be prepared, in full consultation with the local community who will have to deal with its outcomes.
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