A veteran councillor is quitting the Labour party after accusing it of treating FC United’s neighbours ‘like dirt’ in a row over the new stadium.
Henry Cooper says the council’s decision to back plans for a 5,000 capacity stadium in Moston is ‘ridiculous’. He claims the Labour party has ridden roughshod over the views of his constituents in Moston.
Coun Cooper, who was first elected to the council in 1991,said: “I have never seen anything like that before.
“The residents who live around here, in the Charlestown and the Moston areas have been treated like dirt.
“If this was any other development in any other area of Manchester with this level of opposition, they wouldn’t do it.
“It wouldn’t even have been considered. But there’s something about this development that the Labour party want to get through and all other opposition is being ignored.”
The planning application for the club’s £4.6m project on the Ronald Johnson Playing Fields in St Mary’s Road was passed by council bosses last October. The bitterly-fought campaign divided the community, with campaigns both for and against the plan. More than 2,200 objections were received by the council’s planning committee – with 1,369 of those from people who lived nearby.
Even the three ward councillors were split, with Paul Murphy and Rita Tavernor in support and Coun Cooper against.
Coun Cooper said: “I will be very sad to leave the Labour party. I’ve been a member for 25 years and a Labour councillor for 21 of those. But there are certain times when you have to stick by your principles.
“All the ward councillors were against Oldham’s football ground coming just down the road, so I don’t understand why this is different.”
Coun Cooper will also lose his seat as deputy chair of the fire authority as a result of the move.
FC United, formed in protest at the Glazer family’s ownership of Manchester United, says work on the stadium will start in the next couple of months.
Coun Pat Karney, speaking on behalf of the Labour group in Manchester, said: “I have spoken to Henry to tell him that this is the wrong decision both for himself and for the people of Moston.
“The council has gone out of its way to listen to all the views on both sides of the debate on FC United.
“I am confident that Paul Murphy and Rita Tavernor will do an excellent job in representing the people of Moston.”