AN East Lancs residents’ group leader, who also spent many years working in trade unions across Lancashire and beyond, has been thanked for 30 years of voluntary service to the community.

Michael Murray, aged 80,  has been presented with a certificate and gifts from the Grane Residents Association (GRAss) in Rossendale for 30 years of service to the group, including 16 years as chairman.

Now retired, My Murray is originally from Burnley. Over the years his trade union activities focuses on engineering workers in Burnley then footwear workers in Rossendale, Fylde and overseas in Europe. He also sat on employment tribunals in Manchester later in his career.

But the presentation for his community services came from the association during its AGM at Sunnybank Social Club in Helmshore.

GRAss has roots going back to 1991. Its activities have included lobbying Rossendale Borough Council on the future of countryside and former industrial ‘brownfield’ sites around the Grane, Helmshore and Haslingden areas.

This has included the recent controversial planning application for 131 new homes by Taylor Wimpey, on land off Holcombe Road, which was granted permission by the borough council last winter.

Through planning agreements, Taylor Wimpey is to contribute £314,000 towards local school places, £74,000 for local outdoor sports and £64,000 for other local amenities.

GRAss members are now monitoring the Helmshore Road site to see that 30 planning conditions, before and during building work, are followed.  Rossendale councillors from different political parties are attending its meetings too including Conservative, Labour and Green Party councillors.

The group has done many other activities too over the years, including environmental improvements, promoting awareness of the area’s history and holding social events.

Road safety is another issue with concerns about traffic on busy routes such as the Grane Road between Rossendale and Blackburn. The road is seen as short-cut between the M65 and M66, and traffic pollution levels along some sections near local homes have been concerns for local authorities.

Mr Murray said: "Local councillors of all parties come to our meetings and have been good.

"But the planning system, in effect, means the borough council is giving away our land in a haphazard way.

"It’s our land. That’s how we see it. Our children deserve to have green fields and places to walk in the future.

"There are brownfield sites everywhere which can be regenerated and should be.”