Purely, in terms of cases, we’re hitting a new peak. Locally, the number of Covid infections has gone through the roof compared to how it was just a few weeks ago. Your chance of coming into contact with the disease in Gorse Hill or Lostock is greater now than it’s ever been.
Whilst the numbers being admitted to hospital are low, they are growing and worryingly the northwest’s number of covid patients requiring mechanical ventilation has risen six-fold in the past 6 weeks. So these are stark figures.
Get your jab
Maddeningly, we know that the vaccine works to reduce hospitalisations. So this is a plea to you to get your jabs. The vaccine is available to everyone 18+. If you’re registered with a GP, you can book through the national booking service. For those that can’t use the booking service, there are vaccination drop-in sessions advertised on the Manchester City Council website. https://secure.manchester.gov.uk/info/500362/covid-19/8079/covid-19_vaccination_programme/5. You can just turn up and will usually get your jab.
In less than two weeks most of the restrictions we have had imposed on us to combat Covid are lifted. I desperately want July 19 to be a success but you need to get your jabs if you’ve not already done so.
Cricket Ground – new Red Rose stand incorporating hotel
The Red Rose development at Lancashire Cricket Club was allowed at planning committee. Essentially this is reduced size hotel compared to a previous application. I’m not exactly bowled over by the plan. I’m quite proud of Old Trafford cricket ground and this does not seem up to their usual standard. Doesn’t seem to have attracted opposition from the cricket club’s membership, but I think they could have done better.
Warwick Road Development Refused by the planning committee
The development on Warwick Road was refused at the May planning committee. The grounds for refusal are listed as primarily that its site coverage, height, scale and massing, would have a dominating and adverse impact on the streetscene, fail to integrate with and complement neighbouring development, fail to make the best of the opportunity to improve the character and quality of the area.
Discussion at the planning committee centred on the development providing no parking whatsoever. This seems to be a growing phenomenon and we saw something similar in Sale town centre this week. The feeling expressed is that there should be ‘some’ parking even if it’s not a space per apartment. My view on that is that it’s better to provide none than ‘not enough’, otherwise you’re creating an inbuilt tension within the development and with existing residents. Having said that, I do think that the massing in particular was inappropriate to the street and support the refusal.
New application Surfing Centre on Barton Dock Road
The proposed redevelopment seeks to transform a previously developed industrial site, now vacant, into a new regionally significant leisure and sports facility focused on providing surfing, skate, climbing and other associated activities including food & beverage.
The site has already been cleared of previous light-industrial employment buildings in 2014, leaving only concrete hard-standing. More recently the area has been used as storage for containers. The proposal will also utilise a 1.3 ha site on the east-side of Park Way (A5081) that is currently underused residual land from the former rail line through Trafford Park, linked to the main site via a tunnel under the road.
The proposal, known as ‘Modern Surf Manchester’, is centred around a large outdoor shallow lake known as the ‘Cove’ which creates artificial waves designed for optimum surfing conditions via a central mechanical ‘Pier’. The system is powered by technology provided and managed by ‘Wavegarden’ (WG), whose systems are widely regarded as the most realistic artificial surf technology to have been developed globally to date.
The Modern Surf facility at TraffordCity will form part of a wider network of Wavegarden surf coves around the world, with four open presently and a further 30 planned including at least three in the UK.
I love this proposal and hope it progresses. The car parking is actually provided in Gorse Hill Ward using the container base sidings on our side of Parkway. I’ve been in touch with the developer to plea for them to look at the route through Lostock Park to improve the juncture with St Modwen’s Way as a planning gain. There seems on the face of it to be a good symbiosis with Lostock Park’s renowned skate board facilities and it would be beneficial to improve links.
This is an application for 126 apartments on the corner facing Old Trafford Metrolink spot. We’re waiting to see what they’re proposing with their contribution to affordable housing but as it stands it looks as though this is for private sale and rental.
It’s hard to see that this won’t be a highly saleable site. It’s a location calling for development for a long time and I’m pleased to see things beginning to move. I’ve actually been trying for a long time to have the Ayres Road corridor included in the Civic Quarter Masterplan and it’s a shame that we aren’t in a better place to determine shaping the plans and supporting placemaking. That said, the outline application already submitted looked attractive and they seem to be sticking with those aspects.
This has been a big issue for me. To be honest, I’ve ruffled a few feathers and got a ticking off at this month’s Labour group meeting, but hey-ho.
In the wealthy belt across the south of the borough the GPs seem to have worked through the cohorts at breakneck speed, way ahead of the Government’s schedule. It’s paying off. The rates of infection are now too low to measure across that area which hitherto has consistently had amongst the highest rates in Trafford. Trafford’s vaccination rate is very, very good in general except for the Stretford/Old Trafford area.
Vaccine rates in the north of the borough (the wards of Clifford, Longford, Gorse Hill and Stretford) continue to lag. We didn’t get off to a good start – the Delamere Centre is not a convenient location to serve the whole of the area and it took too long for Limelight to be brought alongside in Old Trafford to provide a second centre.
Nevertheless, we are where we are with centre locations. We still have a problem with vaccine take-up. Vaccine hesitancy in poorer areas, particularly amongst the BAME population is an issue across the country and it’s something we need to take seriously.
The Government is not paying it very much attention yet, but I think we should in Trafford. I logged on to a Local Government webinar last week on this issue; and it was clear the Government’s take was just to concentrate on the numbers, get through the willing as quickly as you can. I get that. The numbers matter. However, leaving less protected populations will matter too.
We see that covid is not affecting people equally. My concern with the vaccine is that the very people that have a right to be concerned about safety for historical; and to be honest, contemporary systemic reasons are the same group of people at greater risk of exposure and death from the disease. So, it is really worrying and highlights the importance of having these conversations; and going beyond just saying ‘trust us, it’s safe’ to really engaging and listening to people; and understanding where people come from and taking the time to address those concerns. Because otherwise, you have a further widening of the inequality you want to avoid, where the vaccine coverage also ends up being unequal with lower coverage in areas of black and minority ethnic groups which would be such a tragedy.
Dr Tollulah Oni – urban epidemiologist at the Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge
The quote is from a video interview with Dr Oni published by the Voice newspaper and is well worth watching in full. https://youtu.be/2oE3IGOMXc4
There’s not enough acknowledgement that there are genuine issues. The video quoted above was released in December so it’s not as though we weren’t warned. We really need to listen to people, to be patient, to go the extra mile. It’s not simply a case of going through the Imams. I think there’s more we can do. I want to learn from places like Birmingham who have nearly 600 community covid champions – volunteers from within the community. We need to break through that lack of trust and it’s not going to be easy. The ‘hesitancy’ rate in the north of Trafford is at least double of any of the other areas.
However, I think we can do it and when you see the improved covid rates for Hale, you have to say we have every incentive to make this work.
I was contacted in June in respect of an infestation of rats at a property on Gorse Street. This was an exceptionally large and bold infestation that were moving openly on a lean-to roof of the property’s outbuilding.
Whilst the infestation of rats was the trigger for the contact, there were a lot of separate issues in connection with the alleyway.
The Chester Road businesses are generally keeping their commercial waste bins in the alley. Most are unlocked, but increasingly we’re seeing commercial bins locked shut. This is welcome, but has implications for the flats above shops. Bags of household waste are routinely thrown into open commercial bins.
An issue as recently as June was the blocking of the alley drain due to congealed oils and fats. There have been long periods of the drain being blocked and a large milky white sludge collecting as a large puddle in the alley. Responsibility was disputed between the council and United Utilities, but I understand that that is now clarified with the council taking on responsibility.
However, residents understandably are keen the takeaways undertake their business responsibly and it has not always been the case.
When a business ceases trading
At least one of the takeaway businesses ceased trading during the first lock-down and essentially shut-up shop, leaving their commercial waste uncollected and un-invoiced.
This was unresolved for months. The bin was left festering whilst accumulating even more black waste bags alongside it.
Eventually this bin was removed, presumably by the contractor; and the Council removed the bags (as fly-tipping) a week or so later.
As a minimum, I’m arguing that there needs to be clear indications as to which business a bin belongs to. If a business does ‘a runner’ and ceases trading it should be made relatively easy for a third party to contact the waste contractor. On this bin I couldn’t do that, all I could do was tell the waste contractor it was one of theirs and it was unlikely they’d get paid for removing it.
We should therefore expect it to be standard that all commercial bins in the alley should have an indication as to which business they are contracted to. We would hope that the council would make this a condition of keeping bins in the alley.
We would also expect that commercial bins in the alley should be locked so as to avoid accumulating fly-tipped waste and overflowing.
Flats above the shops with no bins
We’ve inherited a situation where it’s commonplace that no bins are attached to the flats above the shops there. Even if they had bins, it’s not clear where they could be kept.
Quite sensibly in many ways, the residents use plastic bags to take out and dispose of the waste. However, it’s not efficient and encourages pests; and it’s never been part of the waste contract whether Amey or their predecessors to collect waste in bags. We do not want to change that.
But it’s completely unacceptable to have the situation we had with the commercial bin in the photograph. Most of that waste is domestic ‘fly-tipped’ waste put into a commercial bin that was abandoned.
We’ve got to get to a proper scheme of waste disposal for these flats. They’re council tax payers and they’re entitled to a proper scheme. I don’t know whether that will be bin stores in the alley or some form of communal bins, but the current situation is not tenable. We need to work with the residents to come up with a solution.
Although we made massive strides since June, we’ve still got a way to go. I want to get to a situation where rats go hungry and move on by, that there’s not a ready supply in the alley.
The long term issues could be much more than a few bad decisions
The Trafford Centre’s status as one of the north-west’s biggest attractions is under its biggest threat. The imminent collapse of Intu, the company that owns it is bringing uncertainty.
Whilst it’s difficult to conceive of a situation in which the Trafford Centre is not rescued by new ownership – the retail market will hit hard by recession and the long-term impact that covid-19 has on shopping indoors in these large super-malls might be severe.
The jobs that the Trafford Centre provides are an important part of the local economy. The business rates levied on the Trafford Centre as a whole are a large component of Trafford’s income and it’s already certain that these will be reduced significantly.
A lot of people don’t like the Trafford Centre but this adds to the blows that are raining down on us as a community.
The good news is that Gorse Hill Ward has fared slightly better than the places around us according to official statistics. We don’t have within the ward those elderly peoples homes that have suffered so much. This probably improves our figures. Nevertheless, it is good news that our adherence to the lockdown is paying off. We’re coming out of this in a lot better state than we might have done.
The three output areas that approximate to the make up of Gorse Hill Ward total 12 covid deaths since the start of the pandemic. Clearly this is absolutely tragic and my thoughts go out to the family and friends of those we have sadly lost. However, it could have been so much worse.
You can enter your postcode into the top left hand corner of the map to zoom into your area. Or you can go to the Office of National Statistics by clicking on the link below and accessing the data directly from their site.