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Gloves are off! Furious Sale residents battle ‘inflexible and inconsiderate’ Manchester Metrolink plans

By Tui Benjamin

There is uproar among residents of a Sale estate after Metrolink extension works have seriously impacted on their home lives, creating an unsightly eyesore in their estate.

Eight houses in the Nurseries Estate on Pimmcroft Way were knocked down for the line to Manchester Airport to be laid, leaving a huge gap.

Sale Moor Councillor Philip Gratrix has criticised Transport for Greater Manchester as ‘stubborn and uncompromising’ on the matter and has said that they have not behaved fairly to the 80 residents who have complained.

The enraged residents want TfGM to shield their properties from the tram line with a 30-40ft earth mound planted with mature trees, but have found them to be ‘inflexible, uncaring, and inconsiderate’.

Cllr Gratrix is working with Trafford Council planning to force TfGM to consult the community before they submit new landscaping plans.

“They seem to think that the people who pay their wages can’t challenge their ideas,” he said.

He added that Councillor Andrew Fender, TfGM Committee Chair, has refused to discuss the matter him, calling it ‘petty’.

“I and other Trafford councillors told Cllr Fender he could forget our political fraternity in this matter,” said Cllr Gratrix.

“The gloves are off and we are fully behind the residents.”

Graham Roe, of the Nurseries Estate Homewatch Association, is one of the homeowners affected.

“What residents are asking for is not unreasonable in a scheme which is costing probably £900 million,” he said.

However, according to Cllr Gratrix, the TfGM have refused to consider the earth mound as an alternative, instead proposing a two metre high fence surrounded by planting.

The TfGM have also made it clear that the land will not be available until 2015, as it is currently being used for construction purposes.

A TfGM spokesman said: “We have agreed to market the site for housing development in advance of it becoming available and, if a buyer is not found within 12 months of putting the site on the market, to look at the matter again.”

But residents, who feel their lives have been blighted by disruption, noise pollution and a negative impact on house prices, want a commitment now.

“Supposedly it’s wasteful of public funds, but there’s no mention of the cost to us in terms of the destruction of our environment,” said Mr Roe, slamming the ‘appalling’ public relations of a body who have visited the site just twice.

He added: “It’s very hard getting any sort of cooperation out of them. They seem to have the mindset of ‘go away; you’re just being a nuisance’.

“Well, we’re not going to go away.”

TfGM refused to comment on an estimated cost of the residents’ landscaping proposals in comparison to the cost of their proposed solution.

MP for Wythenshawe and Sale East Paul Goggins, who residents say has ‘fought tooth and nail’ to assist them, is disappointed that there is still no agreement.

Criticising TfGM’s response as ‘too dismissive’, he said the problem could be solved if they respond to residents’ concerns and if both parties negotiate.

“Metrolink must be delivered within budget but the residents should also be able to enjoy a good quality of life when the trams start to run past their estate,” he added.

Tony Hannah lives at 1 Farmers Close, which backs onto the construction site.

Labourers ripped down brambles at the end of his garden, leaving his conservatory, which was left totally exposed, to be smashed by vandals.

Site workers also told him that ‘he’d known about this for years’ and ‘if it was going to bother him this much he should have moved’.

Mr Hannah, who called the comments ‘disgraceful’, said this uncaring attitude is repeated ‘all the way up the chain’.

“It was just ‘big deal, I can’t be bothered with somebody mithering me,’” he added.

TfGM, claim they have been clear and courteous in all communications, said they have listened carefully to the views of residents and their representatives.

“We have amended our proposals for landscaping on more than one occasion to take into account concerns they have raised, including twice enhancing our landscaping and planting proposals and improving temporary and permanent fencing arrangements,” a spokesman for TfGM said.

“With regards to any further consultation in relation to the provision of a mound planted with trees we have explained to residents that the land in question is unavailable for final landscaping until it is no longer required for construction purposes. This is expected to be early in 2015.”

Referring to the fact that the area was currently being marketing for housing development, the spokesman continued: “Under these circumstances, it would not be appropriate for us to conduct a consultation into proposals which could not currently be delivered and which would restrict the scope of our commitment to look at the matter again in 12 months’ time if a buyer isn’t found.”

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