Posted by Editor on 14th June 2012 at 10:40 AM
Video: Row erupts over Swinton ASDA
A local councillor has lambasted a political rival for failing to take account of legal issues over criticism of plans to build a new supermarket in Swinton.
Howard Balkind, councillor for Swinton South, says that Michael Moulding who began a campaign to stop ASDA building a new superstore because of a disused burial ground, is not helping the relatives he purports to represent.
Part of the land would be built over an old graveyard of the Swinton Unitarian Church.
An Act of Paliament from 1981 states that because no relatives or any representative has come forward to object any building on the land, a supermarket could go ahead.
As such, the decision over the burial ground is now in the hands of the Ministry of Justice and not Salford Council.
The developer will have to get permission from the Ministry of Justice to exhume the 313 bodies - including first world war hero Private Wilbraham Lomax Blears - whom they plan to reinter at Swinton Cemetery.
Campaigners have pointed to the local families who are buried in the overgrown plot, inlcuding local historian Peter Holland and three casualties of the 1885 Clifton Pit explosion which killed 178 men and boys.
Watch the campaigners in our video here
Michael Moulding, leader of the campaign group writes on his blog: "The land was in public ownership, sold by Salford City Council into private ownership to help the Council balance its books, without the Council undertaking any research into who was buried there.
"The site should have been preserved for our children's education about the town's past and in respect for the deceased and surviving relatives".
The unmarked land has for the past twenty years been used for local people to walk their dogs, says the supermarket. They say they will re-bury the bodies with memorial headstones at the nearby Swinton Cemetery.
ASDA want to build a 35,000 sq ft store "on stilts" on the site of the old car park to the back of Swinton Shopping Centre.
It will involve the "partial demolition of existing retail units, multi-storey car park and residential homes" according to council documents.
A new 347-space ground floor car park will go where the burial ground now lies.
The supermarket claims on its website that 250 jobs will be created by the new development.
Camapigners have made up Facebook groups to protest the move, such as the Friends of Swinton Unitarian, No to Asda at Swinton Precinct and Families and Research Of Swinton Unitarian Burial Ground.
All object to the digging up of the 313 bodies at the burial ground.
Members of the groups have placed artificial flowers on the site along with a white cross and a map of the graves in the former burial ground.
Campaigners also say a new superstore would mean the destruction of a part of the town's heritage.
Mr Moulding was invited to take part in this interview but declined.
A planning meeting takes place at Swinton Civic Centre today from 9.30am to decide on the application.
SalfordOnline.com's reporter is tweeting live from the meeting using the hashtag #asdaswinton
Comment by yestomayor Salford ( member ) 14th June 2012
Howard Balkind is trying to deflect criticism from the Salford Labour Council onto others for their appalling and immoral position of knowingly approving the application of a new Asda supermarket with the devastating consequences that 313 souls will be disturbed. They gladly put their hands up in front of surviving relatives in the most callous way possible by even denying families who attended the planning panel meeting to speak on the matter of the burial ground and their loved ones. The surviving relatives as Salfordonline has clearly illustrated do not want their loved ones disturbed. Councillor Balkind is talking utter rubbish and is completely offensive to suggest to families campaigning for their loved ones to stay to say they believe a memorial is a fitting tribute as long as we dig up your loved ones is the best way of commemmorating the deceased. They are appalling and callous individuals who have no regard for anything even those that are deceased. I did not attend the Salfordonline interview nor did I attend the planning panel meeting because as demonstrated on the interview above this Salford Labour Council will use every trick in the book to deflect criticism to others for their appalling act in supporting something that will ultimately cause immense distress to those families affected by the proposals. Labour controlled Salford City Council and Asda supermarkets should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves and they can be assured their betrayal to bygone Swintonians will not be forgotten. They are all a disgrace. Michael Moulding, Deputy Leader of the Community Action Party
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