Campaign groupís fight continues
Date published: 29 September 2011
An emergency meeting of the TBA Working party has been held to obtain facts about the Turner Brother’s site, following recent events, including the news that MMC is no longer involved with the site and furthermore that it has been put up for sale.
At the meeting it was highlighted that:
- Since MMC have withdrawn from the site there has been no contact from ‘the new owners’ to Rochdale Council planning department.
- According to MMC, they had been in a 50/50 ‘joint venture’ with Hawksford Jersey Limited.
Land Registry confirms that the 72 acre site was sold to MMC Developments Limited and Rathbone Jersey Limited (name changed to Hawksford Jersey Limited in 2008).
Under Jersey company law, there is no public register of directors and the only available scanned documents are Annual Returns that have the list of shareholders on the opposite side of the page.
The Estates Gazette advert published earlier this month September gives contact details for a “Renshaw Properties Limited” at the same address as Hawksford Jersey's office. It is understood that “Renshaw Properties Limited” is a company registered in the British Virgin Islands. The BVI does not hold a public register.
Hawksford is a Jersey based group that describes itself as “a leading independent wealth structuring company.”
The website tells prospective clients that Hawksford are: “Leaders in the management, protection and administration of family wealth.”
Save Spodden Valley co-ordinator Jason Addy, said: “Offshore companies may brag about ‘Family Wealth Protection’ but our important local priority must be for ‘Family Health Protection’ - with a permanently safe ‘green lung’ for Rochdale."
A spokesperson for Hawksford, said: “Hawksford acquired the site in Rochdale as trustees in 2004 with MMC. The intention was to clear up the site, making it safe for development.
“While MMC has recently exited the partnership, Hawksford retains its interest in the site through a subsidiary company, Renshaw Properties Limited. The long term objective remains to clean up and develop the site either by seeking another developer or by selling to an appropriate party who will develop it.
“Hawksford is a responsible company and as such, is committed to acting in a responsible way. The firm takes its commitments seriously and has committed appropriate expenditure when it has been required.”
In a statement published in North West Business Desk on 15 September 2011. Mark Russell, is quoted in the article as “Managing Director” of “MMC Land & Regeneration”.
Commenting on Hawksford Jersey's involvement Mr Russell suggested that MMC's joint venture partner had not committed the necessary expenditure to carry out surveys.
The following two paragraphs were originally published in the NW Business Desk article but were removed after it was suggested that the comments were not correct:
“Moreover, an application in January this year to renew the planning consent initially gained by Countryside Properties in 2005 was rejected on the grounds that plans did not provide enough details to prove that a "safe and timely development" could be delivered.
“MMC did manage to secure a Planning Performance Agreement with the Local Authority, though, and had agreed a schedule of works with the council”.
The Save Spodden Valley Group feels this confirms that:
- MMC never secured a Planning Performance Agreement with Rochdale Council
- A schedule of works had not been agreed by Rochdale Council.
- Countryside Properties, or any other applicant, has never “gained” planning consent in 2005 or any other time for the Spodden Valley site. The application, D44701, was lodged in December 2004 and eventually rejected in January 2011. The original applicants were: MMC Developments Limited and Countryside Properties (Northern) Limited.
However, Mr Russell told Rochdale Online that he “stands by” what was published on the Business Desk.
He also disagreed with the points made by SSV.
He said: “There is a Planning Performance Agreement signed by MMC and Rochdale MBC dated 20.04.2011. The Scope of Works Document subsequently agreed between MMC and Rochdale MBC was produced by Environmental Resources Management Limited 13.08.2008.
“MMC has never said that the Countryside planning application was successful, of course it wasn’t, this is a ridiculous quote.”
Mr Addy, said: “Despite their rather personal comments that have been levelled at me in the past, I wish MMC well in their future endeavours elsewhere.
“For SSV the outcome has never been about ‘winners and losers.’ The site's toxic legacy means there can never be ‘winners’.
“Our community campaign has always focused on ensuring there must be facts and open, accountable decisions can made about the site”.
Mr Russell from MMC, added: “MMC has never made personal remarks against Mr Addy. The point in relation to Mr Addy is that he does not have a viable solution for the site.
“His proposal for a remediated memorial park cannot be funded or undertaken. His thinking is very confused and he does not have a deliverable strategy for the site, and his actions in propagating a misinformed publicity campaign have simply delayed a development led privately funded remediation strategy for the site from being delivered.
“This will mean that the site will remain in a dangerous state of disrepair for much longer than necessary, and in fact the outcome is a great disservice to Rochdale rather than beneficial to Rochdalians.”
Chairman of the TBA Working Party, William Hobhouse, said: “For seven years almost nothing has happened on the Turners site. Despite repeated calls, absolutely no site testing for asbestos has taken place to establish whether houses can be built on parts of the site, and how the site can be remediated.
“I’m waiting to see whether Hawksford Jersey embark on a proper agreed site testing program, but I’m not holding my breath.
“In the meantime, the TBA Working Party is now looking at all options for the site, not just housing. We will scrutinize all options equally without prejudice.”
Tony Whitston of the Greater Manchester Asbestos Victim Support added: “Asbestos related diseases take decades to manifest themselves after exposure. It is disturbing to hear of the complicated corporate manoeuvres that appear to be happening with the Spodden Valley site.
“Changes of company name, directors and identity can obfuscate legal duties and liabilities. This is compounded if limited liability companies go “off-shore” and outside the normal jurisdiction of English Courts.
“That said, no amount of future compensation can pay for the human damage and misery from asbestos. The past and current injustices we have witnessed prove that prevention of exposure to asbestos is the only safe option”.
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