Salford flooding: Councillor argues flood defences prevented further devastation, we assess the environmental impacts

With Storm Frank quickly approaching, Salford locals are preparing for another wave of heavy rain to hit the city on Wednesday morning.

Community spirit against the floods has been inspiring.

And donations are still flying in from all over the country to the SalfordOnline.com Salford Storm Recovery Appeal Fund.

But with an amber weather warning issued against the North West for heavy rain, residents fear that the River Irwell could once again break its banks, and bring devastation to the community just four days after severe flooding across the city.

Prior to the flooding on Boxing Day, the highest recorded river level in Salford was 4.34m. When heavy rain fell down on the 26 December, however, the river level soared to around 4.8m: smashing the previous record.

Did Salford’s flood defences to their job?

SalfordOnline.com spoke to Councillor Derek Antrobus, the lead member for planning at Salford City Council.

Councillor Antrobus told us that the city’s flood defences prevented further destruction, and potential loss of life: “The biggest flood we’ve ever had in Salford in 1946 absolutely devastated the community- there are photos of people wading through the flood water with the water levels at chest height.

“The reason why there wasn’t the same impact as then was because of the flood basins such as those that we had constructed at Littleton Road, and the ongoing building of a flood defence at Castle Irwell. The flood defences did the job that they were supposed to do. And they’ve certainly saved flooding to further hundreds of properties, and likely saved lives. I think that’s something that we should be grateful for.

“You can’t build to every imaginable situation, you have to be sensible about things. If the flood defences need to be strengthened slightly, then that’s something we’ll look at.”

Councillor Antrobus said the greatest areas of risk of flooding in Salford is in Kersal and Lower Broughton, both of which lie in the floodplain of the River Irwell and were both greatly affected by the damage brought to the community on Boxing Day.

“All I would advise is that people should keep an eye on flood alerts, and if they have any questions please go to the environment agency for clear advice of what people should do. If their area is at risk of flooding, they should move their valuables upstairs, or elsewhere away from harm of the flooding.

“The most important thing is for people to keep safe; in past events of this scale we would have had a tremendous loss of life, and we’re fortunate that the defences prevented that from happening.”

SalfordOnline.com spoke to Dr Luke Blazejewski, 28, a local nature conservationist and expert in Salford wildlife. Dr Blazejewski said that the environmental impacts were “gutting” for nature lovers.

“One of the major impacts of flooding in a city is the impact on bird life. Birds such as kingfishers rely on the fish in the River Irwell as their main food source.

“But when extreme weather conditions occur like the flooding that we’ve had, the water flowing speed becomes so fast that the fish stocks are swept away. As a result, fish stock for birds to feed on deteriorates substantially.

“This puts them in danger, because they’re suddenly unable to feed themselves.

“At this time of year, we’re in the middle of hibernation periods of mammals. Hedgehogs and bats, two common species in Salford, are in the middle of their hibernation period- when the river bursts its banks, the excess water feeds into green spaces and brownfield sites, causing them to become waterlogged.

“This means that any mammals hiding in these spaces are sadly drowned out, particularly worrying because hedgehogs and bats are in serious decline around the whole of the UK.”

The floods minister Rory Stewart said tonight that communities in the North West were facing a “very bad” situation with heavy rain set to hit the region from midnight tonight.

You can find latest news updates, requests for help, offers of support and donations in the 15,000 member SalfordOnline.com Facebook group.

This article was written for Salford Online.

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In the midst of devastating floods, Salford’s community resilience shines

Hundreds of volunteers have participated in a city-wide community cleanup to fight against flooding that has devastated Salford homes.

The volunteers have been working tirelessly for the past two days in an effort to clear the wreckage that Storm Eva brought to the Salford community on Boxing Day.

Organizing the community cleanup are Michelle & Sophie Ryan, who have organised the St. Boniface/ Broughton Clean Up Facebook page. The pairing have been taking in donations at St. Boniface Social Club in Lower Broughton, in an effort to cleanup the Salfordian homes damaged by the floods.

Michelle, 31, said: “We’ve never seen any floods like it. When we were walking around the area last night, it was just devastation, some people have lost everything. It’s heartbreaking.

“The floods have impacted everyone in Lower Broughton. Everywhere you go, you meet people who have been affected by the floods in one way or another. It’s absolutely devastating.

In the two days since the rainfall, the community response has been incredibly resilient. Copious amounts of donations of food, clothing, cleanup tools and furniture have been sent in from local residents and beyond, in an effort to combat the destruction that flooding has brought to the local community.

Michelle said: “The response has been overwhelming. Outside the club we’ve had cars queuing up to get into the club to help out- our Facebook page has over a thousand followers on it in just a couple of days. Our phones haven’t stopped yesterday- it’s just a great response.”

The response from the community has been so strong that St. Boniface have been forced to turn away people offering to bring toys & clothing, simply because they have not got enough room. The Social Club are currently looking for a larger storage facility to store the donations from kindhearted givers.

The Social Club is appealing for the community to donate more cleaning equipment- mop buckets, ‘squeegee’ blades, and brushes to help clear the debris from Salfordian homes.

Alexandra Lynch, a Salford resident, has been working on Eddie Smyth’s ‘Pit Stop’ catering van, supplying hot food to volunteers working on the cleanup from the floods, free of charge.

“The response from the community has been amazing,” Alexandra said. “Today we thought we had too much food, but the numbers of volunteers has been so large that we needed another 400 burgers to give to the volunteers

Alexandra said of the response from the council to the floods: “Don’t even go there with them. We know it’s Christmas, and we know it’s a Bank Holiday, but we’re not meant to be in work either and we’re still helping people we don’t know.

“We’ve had no professional help from the council- we’ve just got volunteers and residents. We’ve had no fire engines, no police, no ambulance, it’s just all volunteers. Anyone could get hurt.”

Councillor Jim King, of the Broughton Ward, said: “What didn’t go well initially is that the environmental agency did not get the message of flooding out strongly. That in my view was a significant failure.

“The emergency services and city council did get involved with the rescue operation very quickly. Most people were contacted within a reasonable time, and we got the vulnerable, the elderly and children evacuated as our first priority, and that happened relatively quickly in my view.

“Unfortunately we can’t stop the rain. What we do need to examine, however, is whether our flood defences are good enough- on Boxing Day water was running over our flood defences like a weir: they simply weren’t high enough.

“I would also like to thank everyone who have volunteered their services over the last couple of days, including St. Boniface who actually accommodated some people last night during the floods- they were absolutely fantastic.”

If you wish to donate to St. Boniface Social Club, please visit their Facebook page.

Salford Online is appealing in an effort to raise funds for flood victims. If you wish to donate, click here.

This article was written for Salford Online.

Watch: New Salford war memorial unveiled at Greengate Square for Armistice Day

A new granite war memorial commemorating 156 Salfordians who lost their lives in the First World War was unveiled at 11am today to co-incide with Armistice Day.

Displayed to dozens of attendees, the pillar was installed on a paved area at the junction of Queen St and Blackfriars Road in Greengate, Salford.

The memorial, naming 156 Salford natives who lost their lives in battle, was generously funded by Ordsall-born Betfred owner Fred Done who handed over a £13,000 cheque for the monument to be made.

Support was also given by Pendleton engineering firm GPL, who supplied apprentices to help dig the foundations, while the work was completed by stonemasons at Co-operative Funeralcare.

Attendees spanned both young and old, including children from local schools and military veterans, while the service was led by Reverend Andy Salmon of Salford Trinity Church.

 

Steve Fitt, Area Standard Bearer for the Lancashire Fusiliers Association, said: “I think the monument is fantastic.

“It’s important that people do remember, not only from the First and Second World Wars, but also for military campaigns that are running through to this day.

LLOGS Hayley Hilton, of the HMS Eaglet in Liverpool said: “It’s a great commemoration for all of the local guys, across the First World War and the Second. It’s a great acknowledgement to those who lost their lives.

“One thing you notice on the memorial is how many of the soldiers have the same name.

“You see the same family names all across the monument and it puts into perspective about how many families were wiped out because of these wars.”

Councillor Stephen Coen, who represents Irwell Riverside, and said: “I think the memorial is spectacular.

“It’s an achievement to reinstate something of this scale so many years after we lost the original. I think it’s a great example what teamwork can do.

“Local businesses and workmen can come together to create this monument, and it’s really a great community project.”

In 1919 an original memorial was installed to those who lost their lives in World War One, however it was taken down in the late 1960s to make way for new roads.

After being ignored for another 50 years, the council made the decision to dispose of the monument as the economic costs were too great.

Now, however, a two tonne-plus solid granite block was imported from China, with Co-op stonemasons inscribing the names onto the memorial earlier this month.

Rev Salmon said: “I think it’s a tremendous reflection for the local community of the history of this city.

“The names on this memorial were the local people at the time, but as more people move into Salford this memorial will let onlookers remember the sense of community and history that we have.

“I like the idea that when new apartments go up that people will be able to see this, to see that it has been a community for a long time and has a history.”

This article was written for Salford Online.

Watch: Riot police clash at Bexley Square in Salford ‘is ITV film crew’

Reports of racially-motivated riots at Bexley Square on Chapel Street in Salford have been debunked, as it turns out a production company were filming scenes for the ITV crime drama Scott and Bailey.

Concerned readers posted reports to the 14,000-member SalfordOnline Facebook group that riot vans, police and pseudo-fascist protesters were clashing outside The New Oxford Pub at Bexley Square.

Around 40 EDL-style protesters with their faces covered and draped in St George Cross flags were seen battering police holding riot shields.

But when a reporter was sent down to investigate, it emerged the tensions between the two parties were simply being staged for the camera.

The timing of the filming is somewhat questionable: with commemorations for Armistice Day underway it could be seen as insensitive to stage violent clashes on a day set aside to remember those who lost their lives in armed conflicts.

Watch: New Salford war memorial unveiled to 156 soldiers in Greengate

Bexley Square – home to the former Salford Magistrates Courts – is also a politically-charged scene in Salford.

Read: X1 plans to demolish part of listed Salford Magistrates Court to add nine flats

Exclusive Inside Salford Magistrates Court and the crimes of the 1840s

In 1931 thousands of unemployed people clashed with real-life riot police as they protested welfare cuts which were plunging families into despair.

They were met by a large contingent of policemen, including some on horseback, which resulted in a huge uprising which has gone down in history as The Battle of Bexley Square.

Scott and Bailey is a detective drama series set in Greater Manchester.

Detective Constable Janet Scott, played by Manchester native Lesley Sharp, and Detective Constable Rachel Bailey (Suranne Jones) are members of the Major Incident Team (MIT) of the fictional Manchester Metropolitan Police.

It’s understood the scenes filmed here today will air in January 2016.

Fans up for anything as Salford City FC under microscope in Class of 92: Out of Their League

Millionaire owners, a new fanbase and record-breaking FA Cup success? What could possibly go wrong for Salford City football club?

A documentary highlighting the incredible rise of Salford City Football Club since its takeover by Manchester United’s Class of 92’s will premiere on BBC One tonight.

The Ammies, as they are no longer really known, have brought in new management, new fans, new players and new success, all with the backing of a billionaire Singaporean tycoon and the five most famous men in Salford football.

Ryan Giggs, Gary and Phil Neville, and Nicky Butt all appear in the hungrily-awaited film, which gives special behind-the-scenes insight into one of the most intriguing clubs in football.

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The United lot landed upon Salford like five Roman patrons, dishing out influence, status and power left right and centre (forward).

The documentary showcases their peaks and troughs – from the difficulties of sacking manager Phil Power in January this year, to veteran Ordsall-born centre-midfielder Paul Scholes returning to the pitch to show the players how it’s done, despite his repeated claims that he is “too fat” to play.

Salford is still one of the biggest cities in the country without a professional football team.

Despite taunting chants levelled the Reds over at the Theatre of Dreams – ‘You’re just a small club from Salford’, the city could be on a turnaround now.

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Several Salford City FC players appear in the two-part documentary, including highlights of star striker Gareth Seddon’s cheeky persona both on and off the pitch.

The programme also shows the personal side of life for the part-owners, including Ryan Giggs driving through Salford to relive the areas where he grew up playing football, and when he was first spotted by Sir Alex Ferguson and Brian Kidd.

Salford City FC is the BBC’s honey-pot at the minute, as the BBC announced it would show Salford’s record breaking first round FA Cup tie against Notts County on Friday 6 November from 7.30pm live on BBC One.

We asked Salford City FC fans what they thought of the coverage Salford is getting, and how The Ammies are trending.

Martin Cooper said: “It’s definitely increased the stature of the club, with increased attendances, more press attention, and obviously more success on the pitch. In the past we have had a lot of low points, and this is most certain a high point and a wave we will continue to ride for as long as it lasts.

“The future of the club looks bright with getting promoted first time of asking under the new owners, and look to be in a strong position in the league this season. It’s all great exposure for the club, and also for the City of Salford.”

Mark Percy said: “It’s always been a dream of mine since I started watching The Ammies to see them play in the football league- and now I truly feel that with the backing we have this is a real possibility.

“I think the documentary will be a real insight to the non-league world, everyone know about the premiere league but this will give people a chance to see what goes on at a club like Salford and will hopefully encourage people to go and support their local side, as not all of them are as fortunate as Salford City.

“Has it all been good for the club? In my opinion, absolutely.”

What of the original 100 or so fans that dedicated years of support to a club destined never to break out of the Evo-Stik First Division North? Will they go down in history? Does anyone really care?

Flush with success, Salford meet with destiny against the Nottingham side in the FA Cup; the question now is not how they did it, but just how far they can go.

The first part of Class of 92: Out of Their League airs tonight, Thursday 29 October, on BBC One at 9pm

This article was written for Salford Online.

Swinton Halloween House owners vow ‘we won’t quit’ after theft of hospice charity bucket

A couple in Swinton who transform their home every year into a Halloween Horror House for charity have told SalfordOnline.com they’ll carry on even after a woman stole a donation bucket meant for local hospices.

Husband and wife team Martin and Samantha Lee, who live at 108 Station Road in Swinton, give over the run of their home to hundreds of creeped-out visitors at Halloween.

There’s screaming babies, vampires crawling down walls, a zombie in the bath and props that wouldn’t look out of place in a Hollywood horror movie.

After raising a monumental £3,500 for Cancer Research UK last year, the Halloween House has rocketed in popularity, their Facebook page gaining an extra 800 followers in the past three weeks alone.

Watch: Inside the Swinton Halloween House

This year they’re raising money for St. Ann’s Hospice and St. David’s Hospice in Llandudno, after two of their friends sadly recently passed away in hospices.

But last night, Tuesday 20 October they were shocked to find their charity box containing just a couple of pounds missing from the front step of their terraced house.

CCTV shows a white woman in her late teens to early twenties, wearing a brown hooded parka with thick beige fur around the hood, and a bright pink rucksack over her shoulder, take the bucket from the front path and leave in the direction of Swinton train station.

GMP Salford West posted on Facebook: “We are appealing to this person’s better nature to do the right thing and make contact with the Police at Swinton.”

Nursery worker Samantha, 48, said: “We had CCTV donated to us after all of our props went missing last year so we put that up at the beginning of the month when we put all the decorations out. Everything was going fine until last night some girl decided to steal the bucket with the donations in.

“There was literally about £3.50 to £5 in it so she’s stooped that low.

“That tiny amount of money is not our money – she’s not stolen off us, she’s stolen from whoever put that money in the bucket and she’s stolen from the charities as well.

“The bucket goes outside during the day time and when we come back from work we empty it and leave it outside again. And no one has ever touched it until last night.

“If she’d have taken one of the props she’d have gotten much more for it.”

“The front door was open, the porch door was open, we were in, and we’ve got it on CCTV which we’ve taken to the police and they’ll deal with it from there.”

 

Superstores ASDA and Morrisons have kindly donated sweets to give out children for the annual charitable occasion.

Samantha added: “It’s nice to see some smiles on the faces of people in Salford with all of the bad news going on.

“Last year we gave out around 800 party bags to the kids, this year we’re preparing ahead so we’ve made around 1000 party bags because we think it might be even busier this year.”

The Halloween House opens this Saturday 24 October, with donations on the door.

It’s open from 10am to 1pm, and again from 2pm to 5pm on Saturday and Sunday, then 5.30pm to 8pm Monday 26 to Thursday 29 October.

On Friday 30 October the house is open to thrill-seekers from 10.30am to 1pm, 2pm to 5pm and 6pm to 9pm. On Halloween itself, Saturday 31 October, it’ll open from 10am to 3pm.

You can donate to the couple’s JustGiving page online here.

This article was written for Salford Online.

Two Salford men held over Blackpool Pier Jam stabbings

Two men from Eccles, Salford, have been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after a man was repeatedly stabbed at a Blackpool festival.

The 20-year-old and 26-year-old are still being held in police custody for questioning after the attack on Saturday 26 September.

That day, 2,000 people descended on Blackpool pier for the closing party of the Pier Jam electronic music festival.

At around 10.30pm a fight broke out on the North Pier in which a 23-year-old man from Manchester was stabbed multiple times.

He was taken to Royal Preston hospital and remains in a serious but stable condition.

Two other victims, a 30-year-old man from Bradford, and a 15-year-old boy from Manchester, were also stabbed in the attack. Their injuries are not considered to be life-threatening.

Lancashire Police recovered a knife from the scene and arrested the two Eccles men on suspicion of attempted murder and wounding.

Det Insp Gareth Willis of Blackpool CID said: “We are continuing our investigation into this extremely serious incident which could easily have cost at least one young man his life.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank those witnesses who have already come forward to help us with our on-going enquiries.

“We are still keen to hear from anyone who witnessed the incident and has not yet spoken to us.

“If anyone has any information about what happened or has any information that could assist with our investigation then please do get in touch.”

This article was written for Salford Online.

Winton community raise £1k for 12 year-old boy in mystery coma

Locals in Winton, Salford, have donated almost £1,000 in support of a 12 year-old boy who fell into a coma last month.

Lewis Pierce, a student at Salford City Academy and huge Manchester City fan, suffered an unexpected seizure on Thursday 13 August, the night before the family was flying to Majorca for a holiday.

Lewis was taken into Salford Royal Hospital and placed in intensive care in a medically-induced coma.

Six weeks later, Lewis hasn’t awoken and is still suffering seizures daily, with medical staff unable to diagnose the cause of the illness.

“When Lewis fell ill we were absolutely devastated,” said his mother Michelle Pierce, 35.

“That was a crazy time, especially when we were meant to be going on holiday the day after.

“We still do not have answers and know we have a long road ahead to try and get Lewis home where he belongs.”

With the help of family and friends, Michelle and Lewis’ father Matthew Pierce have been taking donations and organising fundraising events including bike rides, sky-diving and a huge fundraising event at the Trafford Soccerdome on Saturday 14 November.

Lewis’ GoFundMe page has rocketed to £920 in just six days – almost double the target set by the organiser, family friend Chrissy Corps, 32.

Michelle said: “The response has been absolutely amazing. We cannot thank everyone enough for what they’ve done for us and Lewis.”

Chrissy said: “We wanted to raise some money to donate to the intensive care ward because they’ve been fantastic.

“We also wanted to raise money for any medical equipment that Lewis might need when he gets out of hospital.

“The response has been amazing so far. We’ve got pub crawls, football matches and sky diving going on soon to raise money for Lewis, and we can’t wait to do them.”

Find out more at the We Love Lewis Fundraising Facebook page.

This article was written for Salford Online.

Three drivers escape injury in Boothstown crash

Three drivers were lucky to escape injury after crashing in Boothstown last night, Tuesday 29 September.

Police were called to a Y-junction between between Ellenbrook Road and Leigh Road at 7.40pm.

A Porsche Cayenne, Nissan Micra and Vauxhall Astra were all involved in the collision on the three-way junction.

Firefighters from Eccles were also called to the scene after fears the drivers may have been trapped.

Emergency crews worked on clearing the wreckage from the collision and moving the vehicles to safety.

But Greater Manchester Police confirmed today that no-one was injured, and they are treating the incident as an accident.

This article was written for Salford Online.

Operation Olympus: Police arrest 11 from Salford in wanted crackdown

Greater Manchester Police have announced they have arrested 11 people in Salford in a crackdown on wanted offenders.

10 men and one woman – the youngest of whom is 19 and the oldest 57, were brought in by police on a range of charges including domestic violence, breaching restraining orders, ABH and common assault.

Those arrested are expected to be named in the coming days when charges have been arranged.

Tactical Aid Units and police dogs backed up local officers in 24 hours of home raids throughout the city on Tuesday 23 September.

Chief Inspector Chris Hill said: “The only target we set ourselves for the day was to make the communities of Greater Manchester safer and I think we have achieved that with a great return of 88 wanted people arrested in 24 hours.

“It was brilliant effort from everyone involved and, although the day of action has finished, we will continue to pursue those wanted by police, day and night.

“I hope the results here will send a clear message that it doesn’t matter what you are wanted for or where you are hiding, we are coming for you.”

This article was posted to Salford Online.