The council held the first of the two video calls on the Active Neighbourhood last night (Thursday 13 January 2022). This was an opportunity for people to ask questions about the current proposals / plans.
The Project Team has responded to the request by Levenshulme Community Association and Levenshulme Traders Association for an extension to the consultation. The new deadline is Sunday 30th January 2022. The deadline was extended to 28 January on 13 January and then extended to 30 January on 14 January. Full information on how to comment is available HERE.
The Project Team has finally provided a plan for Grangethorpe Drive (available HERE), another request of the LCA. Unfortunately a summary of the Randolph Street / Balleratt Street proposals is still missing. The online Feedback Survey is still inconsistent with the proposals listed on the website or on the overview map but at least it is now possible to comment on more than two proposals. The Project Team refused to take comments or questions on any of the 14 trial blocks / filters in Levenshulme which have inexplicably been left out of the consultation.
Although the proposals were broadly welcomed by people commenting on the video call there was frustration that the proposals were disjointed and disconnected and opportunities had been missed. The Project Team said they would look at several locations where issues were raised although it seems we are unlikely to see any revised plans before the council starts implementing them if it secures funding.
Data, evidence, reports or analysis to support the proposals have still not been released and it seems unlikely that Manchester City Council or the Project Team will ever publish this information. The claim by the council from the outset that this would be an evidence based, data driven and community led flagship project ring slightly hollow if members of the community are not allowed to see any of this data or evidence.
We still think an extra four days for the consultation is insufficient to allow people to comment and engage fully when many people have still not received letters informing them the consultation is even happening, posters and hard copies of the plans have only just been made available (we don’t know where these are yet) and the online survey has been changed without informing anybody. All these corrections have been made almost three quarters of the way through the original consultation period. This means a possible six week consultation period is effectively only a consultation of two weeks at best with partially corrected information.
Wesley Evans, the Project Manager, announced the new deadline and summarised the process from this point at the end of the video call:
“Just to say I think we’ve heard loud and clear that the consultation should be extended. There were a few technical issues and what we would do is instead of closing on Monday 24th January we will try and now close it on Friday 28th January.
The reason we don’t want to extend it too much is we want to try to get this works completed really and to do so we’ve got a window of opportunity in order to obtain funding there’s a March 2023 deadline so the next step now is we’ll have the further consultation event next Thursday [20 January 2022] and we’ll close the consultation say the 28th January which give us then time to digest and there’s gonna be a lot of people with different views, different recommendations and we need to at least consider that really so there’s gonna be, er, we need to sit down and go through what people are making recommendations.
Then following on from that we’ll take what we call these outline designs and work on what’s called detailed designs so some of the designs may change but I don’t fundamentally see things changing significantly but there may be tweaks there could be some things we have missed and stuff so as I say we’ll work on what’s called detailed designs next.
Following on from that we move into procurement and then once we’ve got a contractor appointed that’s when we’ll look to start construction of the works. The only thing I would also like to highlight the trial say for Phase One was like an 18 month trial and that ceases I think, I can’t remember the exact date, right at the end of June so we may try to look to do some early work to make what we call the temporary filters permanent, erm, so it may be that we start early works on those to make them permanent and then following on from that hopefully not long after it starts to make the actual works permanent with what you’ve seen today how that evolves really so the next stage is very much we try to enter into detailed designs but like I say we will consider everything and try and do as much as we can.
Like what people say we all wish we had billions of pounds to do absolutely everything. Unfortunately we can’t but all we can do is do our best. We have tried to do our best from the word go but unfortunately we can’t do everything but like I say all I can say is we will consider everything and try and do as much as we can.”Wesley evans, Active neighbourhood project manager, 13 January 2022