The battle to save Salford green belt from housing development has led married couple Darren and Paula Goulden to seek election in the new ward of Higher Irlam and Peel Green on Thursday, May 6 as Core Independents.
The local party Core was created out of the campaign to stop homes being built on green belt land around Irlam and Cadishead.
Mr Goulden said: “We started out as a few people who had concerns with the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF). We then set up a Facebook page called Planning for Our Future to directly oppose any plans to build on Salford’s green belt.
“The Facebook group gained a lot of support from the local community and eventually we had 300/400 people showing up at meetings and we were letting everyone know exactly what was happening.
“From the discussions on Facebook, it became apparent that the only way that we could change this was for someone to stand up and run against the local Labour Party. At this time all six Labour councillors for Irlam and Cadishead were in favour of the plans to build on the green belt.”
The framework is a plan which identifies land use across Greater Manchester up to 2037, including land for homes, employment space and infrastructure.
Mr Goulden and others registered the ‘Core Independents’ as an official party meaning their candidates looked more official on the ballot paper with the party’s emblem.
He stood in Irlam in 2018 but missed out by 167 votes. However, on his second attempt in 2019, he beat Labour’s Peter Taylor by 125 votes, making him the Core Independents’ first elected councillor.
“I was only supposed to serve one year before being called for election again but obviously the election was postponed due to Covid.
“I run again on Thursday alongside my wife, Paula, and Nigel Perry. We have four Core Independents candidates running in total, with Dave Pike running in Lower Irlam and Cadishead.”
But the boundary changes may affect his chances of re-election.
He said: “I would have been confident if the boundaries hadn’t changed. It would probably have been an easier thing for me to run in Cadishead and Lower Irlam because that’s where I am known and that’s where the houses are being built. It’s just the unknown bit really of Brookhouse, Peel Green and Barton because obviously, I’ve not campaigned in those areas before.
“I didn’t want to leave the post because the people voted me in, so I have shown some loyalty to them. In fairness, the other parties’ candidates are just as unknown in the areas that have been added to the ward.”
The pandemic has changed the way political parties have been able to campaign in the lead up to this election with traditional canvassing off the table.
Mr Goulden said: “About two years ago, we drew a line when it comes to knocking on doors during campaigns. We’ll leaflet and if anybody is there, we’ll have a chat, but we don’t really see the benefit of going door-to-door and putting pressure on people having their tea. So, on this occasion, we can’t use the pandemic as an excuse because we didn’t do that in the first place.
“People are not going to tell you their real thoughts on the doorstep and a lot of the major parties only visit houses they know they’ll get a positive response from. I find it all very false really when you see politicians taking opportunities for photos when campaigning. We would rather get involved with the local community and charities.
“We’ve only made one leaflet with our campaign fund for this election, so we want to give some money to the Cadishead charity the ‘Jamie Horrocks Trust’ which offers support to those affected by suicide. We want to get involved with the local community and that’s what we stand for. It’s not about national politics because the main parties just blame each other for one thing or another.
“Salford council have got to do better with the money that is available to them. So much is wasted, and money is being unevenly distributed to different areas across Salford.”
His time as a councillor has inspired his wife Paula, who runs a cake shop in Irlam, to run alongside him in this Thursday’s election.
The full list of candidates running for the three seats in Higher Irlam and Peel Green are:
– Edson Ferreira (Con)
– Darren Goulden (Core Ind)
– Paula Goulden (Core Ind)
– Javaid Hussain (Con)
– Roger Jones (Lab)
– Tracy Kelly (Lab)
– Nigel Perry (Core Ind)
– Peter Taylor (Lab)