Manchester eruv applications lodged

By Jonathan Kalmus, August 26, 2011

Planning applications have been submitted to Bury, Salford and Manchester councils for the north Manchester eruv.

Organisers say the chief executives of the three authorities have provided assistance, and there has been encouragement from the Bishop of Manchester and interfaith groups.

Within the Jewish community, supporters include Manchester Beth Din and Rabbi Menachem-Mendel Schneebalg of Salford's Machzikei Hadass community, widely acknowledged as Manchester's most authoritative rabbi.

A map of the planned 13-mile boundary was put up on council planning websites this week. But the final route will be influenced by the response to hundreds of consultation letters being sent to residents living in affected areas. Due to technical complexities, the north Manchester eruv would not link with the one currently under construction in nearby Whitefield.

Application documents make the case that a religious boundary covering Prestwich, Broughton and Crumpsall would allow "the very young and the elderly in the Jewish community" to join communal and family gatherings on Shabbat. It would also allow residents of the Heathlands care home to use wheelchairs to get to family members and for the King David School campus to be used on Shabbat.

Plans indicate alterations to 50 areas of pavement across the three boroughs. In most cases, two poles, designed to resemble street signs, would be added to streets and would be topped by a single piece of wire to fill gaps in the boundary. However, around 75 per cent would be comprised of existing structures such as the walls of Prestwich's Heaton Park, one of the largest municipal parks in Europe. One of its park gates, along with roadside boundaries to Prestwich Golf Club and Prestwich Bowling Society, would benefit from modernisation funded by the Jewish community if the plans are approved at council planning meetings in October.

Shimmy Lopian, chairman of the Manchester and District Council of Synagogues, which is behind the eruv, said rabbinic consultations, surveyors' input and architectural plans had taken seven years and cost £50,000.

"The eruv will change thousands of people's lives," he said. "Mothers will be able to go to the park with children, people can carry to synagogues and people who are disabled will be able to go out on Shabbat. Manchester is one of the last major Jewish communities in the world that doesn't have an eruv. I'm hoping there will be a positive response. It isn't going to affect anybody who doesn't want to use it. It will be practically invisible."

Holy Law South Broughton Synagogue's Rabbi Yossi Chazan is another passionately in favour. "There are 101 reasons to support it - for the elderly, the infirm, the disabled, young children," he maintained. "Everyone should care about other people who need it and support the eruv. Even people who won't personally use it."

Salford Council leader John Merry said: "We will study the applications carefully. I am concerned about doing anything that would disturb good community relations."

Meanwhile, the Whitefield eruv project - which received planning permission from Bury Council last year - is facing delays. A problem in erecting fences adjoining residential properties required a new planning application this week for five additional poles. The delay will mean it will not be completed before December.

Last updated: 1:46pm, August 26 2011