Text of a letter in the Stockport Express 12/8/15:

“As Chair of the Friends of Reddish Vale, I write about the proposed housing development within the boundaries of the country park, the stated purpose of which is the regeneration of Brinnington.

Our campaign against this infringement of green belt land has been running for two years. Working with Tameside Group we have attended council meetings, organised demonstrations, written letters and handed in a petition which was signed by around 14,000 people.

All of this was judged to be of no avail at The Civil Courts of Justice in Manchester on Tuesday July 28.

I was in court with another member of the friends group and our barrister, Robert Derbyshire, who was acting pro-bono on our behalf. Without his generous help, we would never have been able to bring our case.

In support of the application, the friends had to lodge the sum of £5,000 to show that we were serious. As Friends of the Vale, our purpose is to protect it, so there was no choice.

We were hoping that the judge would grant leave for Judicial Review of the proceedings leading up to the council’s decision to sell of country park land to Countryside Properties for development.

However, it soon became clear that the protection of green space in a predominantly urban area is of little significance when it comes to developer profit. It has never been adequately explained why including part of the country park was essential to make the development viable.

The moral high ground has no argument in a court of law; a judge’s task is to interpret a case of this sort purely on its legal standing based on precedents.

The result was, therefore, sadly predictable and the judge declared our case ‘hopeless’ and said it should never have been brought He further awarded the full capped costs of £5,000 to be paid to the council as a sort of warning to other groups not to obstruct the work of council officers by futile attempts to protect green belt from development.

As a friends group, our income depends on the dedicated work of unpaid volunteers who keep the visitor centre open seven days a week, selling refreshments. We are going to have to see a lot of tea and coffee to make up for this one.

Thank you to all who have supported our campaign.”

Pam Jones
Friends of the Vale