TAKING ON THE STRETFORD END
In this issue, we publish a letter from a Stretford resident stating some of the objections from local residents to the siting of the new UA92 in the middle of their community (see Letters below). This is symptomatic of the growing – and strengthening – opposition in Stretford to the plans announced with much fanfare in September. Shortly after that announcement an online petition was launched which within days attracted over 900 signatures. The petition – addressed to Trafford Council – highlighted the environmental and social impact of having a 6,500-strong ‘student village’ built in the area. Local people have long campaigned to have the damage caused by previous ‘regeneration’ schemes to be put right, and were hoping that the current Stretford Town Centre Masterplan would at least begin to address this. Instead, they are having to deal with a scheme which, in their view, would make their situation worse.
Residents are particularly incensed that all this has been presented as a fait accompli by Trafford Council. There had been no consultation with residents and even local councillors had been kept in the dark. Since the plans were announced there has been one public consultation meeting, with another to come. However, some of those who attended the meeting are of the opinion that the Council is simply going through the motions and that it was all a done deal. At this stage, it is not clear if it was UA92 that first approached the Council for a piece of the Trafford Masterplan action or if it was the other way round. What we do know is that MediaCity in Salford was under consideration as the UA92 site when, late in the day, the Stretford option appeared on the table, suggesting that it was Trafford Council who made the approach. It would appear that the star appeal of the Class of 92 was such that the Council was prepared to make a significant change to its own development plan in order to accommodate their wishes.
Trafford is not the first local authority in the area to be dazzled by the glamour of these footballing legends. Earlier this year the Salford Star announced the winner of one of its annual awards for ‘the most deserving individuals and organisations in the city for their stupid statements, dodgy dealings and iffy activities over the last twelve months’. And the winner of this accolade for 2016 was Salford City Council for ‘the very strange manner in which planning permission was obtained for Salford City FC to develop its Moor Lane stadium’, the same club that’s 50% owned by the Class of 92. And who owns the other half? Why, none other than Mr Peter Lim, who already controls 75% of the said Class of 92. The Salford Star also highlighted the role of a company called Zerum Construction Management Ltd, which seems to specialise in helping development companies find the cheapest way through those pesky planning regulations. A quick search of the Companies House database reveals that Zerum is 75%-owned by a Mr Gary Neville. Not for nothing has the Star decided to name its annual prize the ‘Gary Neville Finger in Pies Award’.
GIGGSY THOUGHT ON HIGHER EDUCATION WITH FOOTBALL CHARACTERISTICS IN THE GETTING RICHER ERA
The UA92 website continues to astound with its philosophical pronouncements and its steadfast refusal to be bound by niceties of syntax and logic. Its ‘Vision’, we are told, is to ‘educate preparation to realise dreams’. And what does this mean? Apparently, it’s about ‘giving our graduates the tools, challenges, support and confidence to make amazing happen.’
Ryan Giggs, long-experienced in giving 110% effort when he played for Man U, gives his own prescription for ‘making amazing happen’. ‘Here at UA92’, he states, ‘we believe that tenacity, preparedness, passion and hard work play an equally important role. Add commitment, inner fire and the right preparation, and you can compete at a level far beyond your inborn potential…’
While we at the Mother Campus limit our ambitions to helping students develop to their full potential, at UA92 they will be encouraged, nay enabled, to go ‘far beyond’ that potential. To infinity and beyond, indeed. And all this, in the closing words of the ‘Vision’, will be ‘underpinned by the academic rigour of top-performing, world-renowned Lancaster University.’
We have been warned.
Aside from lauding its ‘good character building’, UA92 has also been publicly committing itself to a widening participation agenda.
Presenting educational opportunities to people from marginalised communities requires tact, empathy, and an understanding of the barriers that people face, and who better to smash stereotypes and level the playing field than the Class of ’92? A body whose commitment to ‘closing the gender pay gap’ and ‘generating… public interest in the women’s game’ culminated in their sponsorship of the Lingerie Football League (http://tinyurl.com/yce32ouz)
We look forward to UA92’s positive presentation of poor, disabled, and ethnic minority students. We suggest a flashmob of soot encrusted children in Victorian dress, Joey Deacon impressions, and a black and white minstrel show [that’s enough – ed].