We contacted all the local candidates to find out more ahead of the local elections.
Chris Northwood the Lib Dem candidate has been involved in our campaign from the beginning. She is a local resident who understands the needs of the local people, with a clear plan of what to do with the former Central Retail Park site which aligns with our asks. We believe if Chris is elected then she will be a representative at the council, alongside Alan, who will voice our views and act in the best interest of this group and our supporters. Vote for Chris to support Trees Not Cars!.
Read more details on Chris' plans, priorities and involvement in Ancoats & Beswick below:
Who are you, what's your involvement with Ancoats & Beswick and which party are you standing for?
I've lived in the area [Ancoats and Beswick] since 2012 and I am standing for the Lib Dems. I love where I live and want to give something back. Standing for council is an effective way to do that
I was part of current councillor Alan’s campaign team, I supported him with Save New Islington Green campaign and have supported Trees Not Cars since the beginning. Living here can see for myself how important green space is and actively get involved in helping make that happen. In addition to helping Alan get elected, I've helped spread the word (both online and in person) to raise awareness of these campaigns, attending events, scrutinising and sharing information I've found. I've even gone so far as to provide evidence, as a local resident, for the successful Trees not Cars court case.
What are your views on what should be done with the former Central Retail Park site? Where does a proper park fit into that and what would it bring to local people?
The former Central Retail Park is a big site owned by the council. Over the years there have been lots of things people wanted to do with the site. At one point a supermarket, followed by a cinema then the council bought the land and wanted to put a car park there. That was a bad idea. With loss of New Islington Green, which gets absolutely packed on nice day and there's already not enough space on Cotton Field Park for all the people who want to go and relax there, expanding Cotton Field Park to the site on the former Central Retail Park makes sense. As we know building a park isn't without cost, there is a need to balance that. I'd like to see some affordable housing, something to create a barrier between busy Great Ancoats Street and the green space. There is a big demand for affordable housing in Ancoats & Beswick that's currently not being met. There's such an opportunity to use this large site to help the housing demand. There's also a real demand for green space. A safe place for dogs to exercise, a safe place for kids to play and ride their bike away from the canal.
That’s the dream.
A more realistic view is to look at the plans council have. Half is designated to offices, but the other half is speculative. On the current plans it's earmarked as offices, but that's not set in stone. There is also an option for another Strategic Regeneration Framework - this is the second one in the last few years and it has changed before, even after approval. The town hall had this option, they could have listened to consultation result, but they chose not to and to continue with this plan. It can still be changed. The south side is not yet decided and could be changed to green space. The former Central Retail Park site is important due to the location and the size. This is the last chance in a life time for a significant park in Ancoats. The space is there now and it's publicly owned. There is still time to make this choice. We have a lack of green space in the city centre. Mayfield is great but we need more. Otherwise it’s little pocket parks. Local people need a big open space.
I welcome the investment into Ancoats Green for local people to use. Currently local people are not using the park due to safety issues, with no real plan to solve these. It's a great addition to the area, but there is also a need for more green space at the heart of the community. With a primary school and a doctors sat on the edge, this spot is the natural heart of the area.
Your top three priorities if voted in:
Protecting and extending existing green space.
New Islington Green - I want to see if there’s anything to be done to protect any of the existing green space.
Former Central Retail Park - as stated above there's still opportunity for half of the site to become green space with the current SRF.
There's lots of options with Medlock way.
The Roundhouse site on Every Street could be a good green space if it was properly maintained and cleaned. It wouldn’t take much to bring that back into use.
People are leaving Ancoats - families feel there aren’t the facilities to bring up their children here - it’s really sad. It’s the same for people with dogs.
Lots of road users are using the grid as a rat run. There have been some near misses. I want to come up with a plan for properly filtered neighbourhoods
Parking; a residents' parking scheme so people can't park everywhere, damaging verges and getting in the way. But also don’t want it so that local residents can’t park outside their own property and protecting that.
Listening to people all year round, not just near vote time. Making myself available to discuss residents needs and really making a difference to their lives. Not just flashy press releases that fall apart under scrutiny.