THE FIGHT FOR LONGRIDGE WOOD
2006 - 2013
In the late 90s, M’bro Council accepted a gift of 500 trees from a conservation charity. The trees were planted in a field next to Stainton Way on the Marton/Coulby border. As houses were built all around, the fledgling woodland known as Longridge became a precious green space. In 2004, M’bro Council suddenly announced that the site was called ‘Site 44’ and had been “designated for housing since the 1970s”. If this was true, why did they plant trees all over it decades later? The truth was they were lying because there were two pylons on it and it couldn’t be built on. In 2003 however, the powerlines from Wilton happened to be re-routed over Flatts Lane and away from the site. Suddenly Robocop Mayor Ray Mallon and M’bro Council ditched conservation and plans for 72 houses were announced. Local residents were outraged and ‘The Friends of Longridge Wood’ was formed to save it. I got involved in 2006 to help them get the word out using video via the new YouTube website. Nature has always been one of my great loves and the legacy of planning blight by transitory bullshitting politicians one of my absolute pet hates! The campaign built up huge public opposition over 7 years but this was sadly ignored. The woodland was ripped out and 79 houses are now crammed on the site. This page and the films are a testament to The Friends’ hard fought campaign and the gross hypocrisy and eco-vandalism of Mayor Mallon, Cllr. David Budd and their “Green Beacon Status” Council.
SAVE LONGRIDGE WOOD !
A First For Teesside! A political doco filmed, edited and online in a day via the new website YOUTUBE.
PLEASE SHARE, SHARE, SHARE!
For two years, a group in Marton have been fighting Middlesbrough Council’s plans to tear down a young woodland and build yet more houses. After all Mr. Mallon and the council have said about the environment, reducing traffic on Marton Road and combating anti-social behaviour, it struck me as hypocrisy beyond belief. I got involved to help get the word out and show how easy it is now to get broadcasting worldwide via the new website YOUTUBE.
MALLON & THE COUNCIL
IN THEIR OWN WORDS...
“Middlesbrough’s tree cover, at 1%, is TEN times lower than the national average. The council therefore seeks to conserve, improve and expand the tree population / We as the council need to improve the quality of our green space; improve in areas, the provision of our green space; protect our green space; involve people in our green spaces”
GREEN SPACES, PUBLIC SPACES Action Strategy 2006
“Middlesbrough emits 800,000 tons of CO2 every year, over half of which comes from houses and road transport. Responding to climate change is the most important environment challenge of the 21st century” MAYOR MALLON ‘Taking the Lead’ 2002
NEW VID & VILLAGE GREEN BID
The campaign to save Longridge Wood in Marton from the bulldozers continues with the group fighting to get Village Green Status as it has been used by the public for over 20 years and is therefore eligible. PLEASE WATCH & SHARE OUR NEW VIDEO! Help us get more people behind the campaign. They will all moan if it goes, the kids will lose out, nature will be trashed and the roads will be an even bigger nightmare!
ON YOUTUBE NOW – PLEASE SHARE, SHARE, SHARE!
PUBLIC INQUIRY REPORT
TOTAL RESPECT TO THE FAB FOUR CAMPAIGNERS: CHRIS, JEANETTE, JOHN & JIM for taking on the legal might of Middlesbrough Council’s hired guns – George Laurence QC and assistant PLUS the Middlesbrough Council solicitor Bryn Roberts plus a grey assortment of council officers whispering in their ears.
Chris and the witnesses put forward the case for the site’s importance over the years and its growing importance as the trees and population grow. Laurence laid into them with the argument that they live in a bunch of estates built at different times with changing boundaries and is therefore not strictly a ‘neighbourhood’ making them ineligible to apply for a village green. The undermining of community in order to take away something that builds community – how utterly repugnant !!!
He also argued that the public didn’t use the land for the last 20 years in its entirety because there were crops in the field in the late-80s to early-90s and people could have only used the 2 public footpaths on the site. Perhaps they should have ran amok and trampled the crops?! The video formed part of the evidence to which Laurence apparently scoffed “not another video to watch” and didn’t bother. The inspector, Vivian Chapman QC, did watch it and his decision, expected in February / March, is the one that counts. Let’s pray for a miracle…
The spectacle made me realise how grossly unfair the public inquiry process is… MBC can hire top legal experts with PUBLIC MONEY TO FIGHT THE PUBLIC IN ORDER TO TAKE AWAY A PUBLIC AMENITY. THE PUBLIC BY CONTRAST ARE NOT ALLOWED A PENNY OF PUBLIC MONEY TO HIRE ANYONE TO REPRESENT THEM, unless they are on benefit. And that ladies and gents is just one instance of how the public are kept in their place, in our fair and just society. I also emailed Mallon and Budd last week and promised them: FROM THE FIRST CHAINSAW TO THE LAST BULLDOZER, WE WILL BE FILMING SO YOUR STINKING HYPOCRISY IS DOCUMENTED ONLINE AND FOR ALL TIME.
VILLAGE GREEN APPLIC. REJECTED
The Public Inquiry rules against Longridge becoming a protected village green. It was decreed that the site could not have been used freely by the public constantly for the last 15 years as crops were grown on it for a couple of years in the 90s. The Campaigners vow to fight on !
QUOTE OF THE YEAR 2007:
Congratulations Cllr. Budd !
“The only reason that this land hasn’t been developed before is that there were pylons growing out of it” (North East News 3.12.07)
MORE HOT AIR!
(NOT what the planet needs)
“TREES can bring great benefits to us all. The majesty of an oak tree or the elegance of a silver birch enrich our daily lives and their beauty can relieve the dullest of days. And it’s well known that trees are in the frontline of tackling global warming. Trees have the dual benefit of reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and they provide shade within built-up areas. Tree cover in an urban area such as Middlesbrough can have a substantial cooling effect and will make the town a much more pleasant place to live in our (almost certainly hotter) future”.
BUT 500 SILVER BIRCH IN MARTON DON'T COUNT ?!
18.03.08: BBC TEES interviews campaigners Chris Hobson & Craig Hornby plus Cllr. Budd of MBC
15 DEC 2008:
Despite the developer having pulled out due to the recession, Mallon and the Council sent in the bulldozers without warning to residents! Arriving at first light, they sealed off the site and bulldozed a third of the wood (Felling regulations prevented felling the whole site in one go). This stunt was designed to demoralise the campaigners but it FAILED. It cost Mallon & MBC their green credibility and they cost the taxpayer £25k in the process! THE FIGHT GOES ON…
NO WARNING TO RESIDENTS
A GREEN BEACON AUTHORITY?!
CLEVELAND POLICE’S ‘ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR UNIT’ ARREST ME FOR STANDING ON A FOOTPATH !
10 FEB 2009:
The New Longridge Film - Premiere
plus 3 Other Eco-Campaign Films
“We would love to hear from you and hope you share in our enthusiasm”
Middlesbrough Council – ‘Green Spaces Action Strategy’ 2006
YOU GOT IT!
1,000 DVDS & FLYERS GIVEN AWAY !
Thanks to a generous and anonymous sponsor, a 1000 dvds of ‘Bulldozing Democracy’ and a 1000 flyers were pushed through letterboxes and sent out to the media just days ahead of Middlesbrough Council’s ‘Local Action on Climate Change’ conference. THE TRUTH IS NOW OUT THERE !
10 MARCH 2009:
COUNCIL CONFERENCE AMBUSHED!
M’bro Council held a conference called ‘Local Action
on Climate Change’ so we held a demo outside called
‘LOCAL ACTION ON COUNCIL HYPOCRISY’
100s of DVDs and leaflets given out to the Council’s guests!
BBC POLITICS SHOW, BBC TEES, NORTHERN ECHO, EVENING GAZETTE all show up as Ray’s spin doctor and bodyguards look glumly on…
BUT WHERE WAS RAY???
We awaited Ray Mallon’s arrival but he didn’t show BUT then he was in the building at 9.30 to give his speech so how did he do it?! He told BBC Tees that he went in his “usual way via the back gate” BUT we checked the back gate just after 9am and it was padlocked. We were also told that the back gate had never been used since the front entrance was put in a year or two ago! So he must have come in the back of the police van that sped through around 9.15 ! Either way he knew we were there and avoided us! When everyone had all but left, he did send someone out to tell us that he was coming out to speak to protestors but it was too late. The protestors had left and I was off to film the fence coming down at Longridge and got there just in time…
With VIP speakers and 250 invited guests in town, MBC were busy saving face taking down the fence at Longridge and the day before the conference were also pictured in the Gazette planting trees in Coulby Newham! Timing…the secret of comedy 🙂
BBC FILMING FOR THE POLITICS SHOW
THE COUNCIL’S COUNTRY CODE ?
‘Take half the trees, leave tyre tracks, broken fencing and any remaining trees on death row’
15 MARCH 2009:
MALLON DESTROYED ON BBC
From the Scottish borders to Cumbria, Northumberland and all the way South past Whitby, the BBC Politics Show breaks the Longridge fiasco and licences Pancrack footage to do so! In the face of a no-nonsense BBC journalist, Mallon is knocked off balance, his arrogance and ignorance revealed to the region !
Ray told the BBC that environmentalism is all about “balance”. In fact he used the word a staggering 10 times! Ironically, at 1%, M’bro’s tree cover is 10 times below the national average. So I agree Ray, it is about “balance” as M’bro hasn’t got any!
QUOTE OF THE YEAR 2009:
“People have often said to me that the air in M’bro is actually cleaner than probably on the Cleveland hills for one reason and another” (Ray Mallon – BBC Politics Show 15.03.09)
20 JULY 2009:
LONGRIDGE TO THE LORDS
On Mon 20th July 2009, ‘BULLDOZING DEMOCRACY’ was screened in THE HOUSE OF LORDS. Afterwards, the Longridge Campaigners discussed the green hypocrisy of Middlesbrough Council with Lord Michael Bates of Langbaurgh, Greg Clark MP & Shadow Minister For Teesside, Paul Bristow Conservative candidate for Ashok Kumar’s seat plus Kay Brennan from The Woodland Trust. Lord Bates added his support to the campaign commending “the power and wit of the film” and remarking “I’m glad I’m not on the receiving end of that!” He also told us that while the film was showing, Ray Mallon had been on the phone complaining! Ashok Kumar, Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, chose NOT to attend BUT was in the building as he walked past our delegation in the Parliament lobby and looked a little surprised to see us!
Special thanks to Lord Bates for hosting the screening and thanks to all who attended.
25 JUNE 2010:
PANCRACK DOUBLE BILL
AS SHOWN IN PARLIAMENT
'COATHAM - A COMMON CONCERN'
'LONGRIDGE- BULLDOZING DEMOCRACY'
@ ARC CINEMA, STOCKTON
Friday 25th June 2010 at 7.30pm
Plus Speakers from
Coatham & Longridge Wood Campaigns
Also showing – Sat 26th June: 2pm & 7.30pm
TICKETS: £5.50 / £4.50 conc.
JUNE 25 & 26 2010:
COUNCILS FAIL TO STOP FILM SHOW
M’bro Council and Redcar & Cleveland Council have again tried to stop screenings of the COATHAM and LONGRIDGE films. Just like last year when the films were screened in Parliament, they have again tried to get the venue to pull the show and again they failed. Absolute respect to ARC for standing up for free expression by fully backing the show and inviting both councils to come and take part in the Q & A. The councils didn’t show again but have vindicated the very point of both films: Free Speech and Demoracy !
THE FIGHT GOES TO DOWNING ST.
Well Done The Hobsons – Petition and DVDs delivered !
Let’s hope Mr. Cameron & Company respond to the Marton branch of ‘THE BIG SOCIETY’ …
SITE SOLD & WOOD DESTROYED
Sad to report, but no surprise: The remaining half of the woodland has been destroyed by Middlesbrough Council who have sold the site for the building of yet more houses. 79 and not 72 as initially planned.
THE ART OF LYING...
Welcome to The Art of LYING… Where the signage depicts what used to be: TREES, WILDLIFE & KIDS ON BIKES; Where the house designs are named after TREES and one of the streets is actually called EVERGREEN! You couldn’t make it up!