Monday, April 30, 2007

The Highways Agency & your 'Statement of Case'

Those of us who have objected to the bypass should by now have received a letter from the Highways Agency which asks you to provide a "statement of case by the 15th of June" which you "propose to put forward at the Public Inquiry".

Firstly - Don't Panic! You do not have to appear in person if you do not wish to. Your objection remains an objection unless you withdraw it - DO NOT DO THIS & do not be intimidated into thinking you have to do anything else at all.

But if you are willing to come along to the Pre-Inquiry Meeting tomorrow and want to speak at the Public Inquiry itself later on, then you will have a chance to say so. The more people that do this, the better. It's important that the strength of feeling is known (for what it's worth). It could seriously clog things up, and more delays, means less chance of funding for the scheme if the HA win (if, like me, you're cynical and think this thing is all sewn up).

If you want to speak at the Public Inquiry, but can't make it, then email the Programme Officer Chris Banks - - with the following text (or something similar):

"I would like to notify the Inspector of my intention to make a representation as an Objector at the Public Inquiry called into the proposed A57/A628 Mottram to Tintwistle Bypass & Glossop Spur."

Alternatively, there's a form you can download, print and return to Persona Associates here.

Either way, if your confidence disappears later or your busy life interferes, and you can't speak after all, you can decide to be represented by another group (such as Save Swallows Wood) who can take your concerns forward on your behalf.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Roy Oldham: Woodhead chameleon

Those against the Longdendale Bypass are fully aware that its successful completion will make the extension of the M67 motorway much more likely.

Yet it's a little known fact that our very own Roy Oldham was very much against the closure of the Woodhead railway line for the very same reason. And in 1980, Oldham spoke out publicly against the possibility of an extension of the M67 at a Public Inquiry into the closure of the line. It's recounted in Railroaded: Battle for the Woodhead Pass (ISBN 0-571-13909-4), a book by Simon Bain. Text from the passage that deals with Oldham is reproduced below (if you don't believe me, the pages can be viewed here):

On the final afternoon there was an unscheduled appearance by the Leader of Tameside Council, Roy Oldham. He said the GMC was looking at cutting its transport budget by £3.7 million because of government cuts, and the local rail services were an obvious target. But the whole of the Longdendale and west Manchester area naturally commuted west into the city, and without a good service the local road systems could not cope. Worse, the M67 constructed through Denton and Hyde 'led people to believe that it would be extended through Longdendale',

ROY OLDHAM: We have a situation where a major rail artery is about to be removed for ever, with a road construction company having built a bypass that points at it. All that will happen is that it will smash through villages and curve its way towards Sheffield. What is the sense of constructing a motorway when a modern railway links two industrial centres 30 miles apart, and replacing that with something that will destroy the environment and cost huge amounts of capital? We have a procession of bumper-to-bumper vehicles coming over from Sheffield, but many are loads like coal, which should be on the rail line, and our roads are cut to pieces with them.

Another website shows how the M67 may have proceeded through Longdendale.

So why the conversion? Others (ex TMBC Councillors) have spoken about Oldham's possible motives for his concern at that time, but what is clear is there's been a damascene conversion against the possibility of reopening Woodhead - the Translink proposal is shot down at every available opportunity by Oldham & Co, despite the fact that their much vaunted consultant's report which supposedly rubbished the proposal runs to 2 sides of A4 (and they paid nearly £24,000 for it! - you can have it for free here). Yes 2 sides - no supporting research, nothing. Let's hope they have something better for the PI!

The likely truth is they have their own plans. Oldham is the ex-Chair of Manchester Airport, and the Chair of the Greater Manchester Pension Fund (a TMBC owned body which invests heavily in the arms trade). Manchester Airport recently enrolled it's staff in the GMPF, and TMBC, as well as owning a stake of the Airport also underwrites the Airport's debt (along with other Greater Manchester Local Authorities). It suits the Airport & TMBC to have a trans-pennine route which can be upgraded to a motorway, and can carry as much freight as possible to and from the airport.

GMPF's investment portfolio may contain other nuggets of info related to the despoliation of our Valley, yet to be unearthed.

And another likely reason for rubbishing Translink? It envisages a depot near Hattersley, which is not very far where TMBC currently wants to build 800 houses...

Really not very much to do with relieving 3 villages of traffic.

Roy Oldham: 'He wears a Crown and builds a new road'

The Dark Lord has spoken, and Longdendale cowers: our Nemesis, Roy Oldham, has placed himself centre stage at this crucial time with a letter this week to the Reporter Group Newspapers (Tameside Reporter & Glossop Chronicle).

To show how even handed we are, it's regurgitated verbatim below:

'Ban plan has so many flaws'

As we approach the long overdue Public Inquiry for a decision to be made on this piece on infrastructure, the antibodies are still pushing the threadworn and hypocritical suggestion of alternatives such as a HGV ban on the A628.

They are vastly aware that this suggestion is flawed in a number of ways.

First the cross-Pennine traffic consists of more private cars than HGVs.

Secondly, they will not put the argument against traffic that arises in the Peak Park and the tourist traffic that visits the towns and park areas.

A significant traffic flow moves in and out of the Peak Park, HGVs from the quarries and cement works, private vehicles taking Peak Park residents into the Greater Manchester area to work and play and vice versa.

Will the bypass objectors ask for a ban on these vehicles?

Will they ask for a prohibition of tourist vehicles - some 17 million per year? Will the local objectors who live off the village' main roads, who without hesitation add their own vehicles to the congestion, use public transport?

I suggest the answer to all the questions will be met with a mealy mouth, "let's find alternatives", instead of a honest "no" - it's do as I say not as I do.

They pay their lip service to how the problem of congestion is terrible but their care for the school and children or the residents of Market Street, Hollingworth, is second to all others.

The fact seems not to matter that vehicular pollution via engine exhausts, particularly from brakes, tyres and clutch pads, invades the school and resident's homes, be it from the objectors' own vehicles or others.

The support from those elected by the people is immense.

The whole 10 Councils of Greater Manchester (including Tameside), the Regional Councils of the North West and East Midlands, Derbyshire County Council and High Peak Council, and the four MPs.

Let the Inquiry make its decision and it it's positive, get on with the construction, so as to bring relief to those who live with the problem on a daily basis.

Oldham has to rally his troops -or rather 'minions', because they are by and large a truly pathetic bunch totally in thrall to him. This is his greatest battle, and at age 73, possibly his last. His central charge here, is that a HGV ban will not work, because most of the vehicles using the existing roads are not articulated lorries. There's a certain amount of truth in this - after all, anyone who uses the route knows that during the school holidays, the road is remarkably empty.

But it's also disingenuous to assert that HGVs don't make a huge difference. For a start, they're a bloody sight longer & slower than cars. Consequently, a few HGVs can make a difference to congestion and traffic flow. After all, everyone who uses the road knows that all it takes to bring the whole route to a standstill is for one lorry to break down at the top of Mottram Moor, as they frequently do.

But what of local public opinion? It's telling that Oldham falls back on the 'those elected by the people' myth. Most people in Longdendale didn't vote for him in 2006 (63.2% - only 36.8% turned out), and only 51% of those who bothered to vote selected him. Furthermore, in 2006 none of the parties fielding candidates, not even vile opportunist scum like the BNP, mentioned the bypass in their campaign or literature. So he can't say Longdendale backs him.

Indeed, the only people who have gone out and asked local people what they think and what they want are our friends at Save Swallows Wood. In a recent survey, they found that 82% of people questioned thought the problems were due to 'too many lorries', and a further 70% identifying a HGV ban as a solution, with 49% wanting it as a 'first choice'.

In addition the haulage industry itself is indifferent to the bypass. A report by the South Pennine Integrated Transport Strategy found that whilst hauliers didn't oppose the bypass (what tarmac heads don't!), they were uncertain that it was needed. Like most sensible people, they know that's what the M1 and M62 are for.

If you read between the lines of Oldham's letter, the truth emerges. Those who want the bypass are 'elected representatives' - Councillors, Local & Regional Authorities. Because they think they know what is good for us. Take a look at Ashton Moss and Rossington Park if you want to know what they have decided our future holds. This is what the man's greatest achievements are - cultural and spiritual deserts - warehouses and 'living dead' retail parks staffed by those reliant on the minimum wage.

Oldham's assertion that existing pollution is a reason for having the bypass is quickly and easily discounted by the fact that the Highways Agency own data shows that CO2 emissions in the valley will rise by 9% as a result of its construction.

And as for the idea that Objectors to the bypass are authoritarian, this is the proverbial pot calling the kettle black. Oldham's record (which may be the subject of a future post given that his wikipedia page has been locked by lickspittle admins), is proof enough of this individuals nasty, domineering, arrogant & authoritarian style. It's partly why he surrounds himself which such weak-minded cretins - they're the only people who can possibly make him look respectable and worth listening to.

Let's hope the old goat turns out on Tuesday - those present might be subjected to another of his boorish rants and see him for the clapped out one-trick pony he really is.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

John Watson - book signing dates announced

All you engineering students out there, get yourself down to Stalybridge Civic Hall next Tuesday (1st May) if you want your copy of J P Watson's fantastic Highway Construction and Maintenance*

The author will be present and will be happy to record his best wishes for posterity to all his ardent fans (especially TMBC Councillors, Highways Agency et al).

NB - it should be noted that the author intends to proceed immediately afterwards to conduct a Public Inquiry in a totally impartial manner. The fact he has written a book detailing modern road construction methods does not indicate any partiality, and in no way can he be described as a 'tarmac head'.

*Highway Construction and Maintenance (Paperback)
by J.P. Watson (Author)
  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Longman; 2Rev Ed edition (22 Aug 1994)
  • Language English
  • ISBN-10: 0582234123
  • ISBN-13: 978-0582234123

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Miliband: a call for comments

The Secretary of State for the Environment, David Miliband, has a blog too (which, like this blog, has occasional typos). And today, we're treated to a post about the Kinder Mass Trespass.

The intial irony is that he talks about 'responsible ramblers'. Exactly what Benny and Co were not - they dared to stray from the path. But the Minister wants us to keep within the boundaries and behave ourselves. Politicians love their contradictions, and the old guys and girls are conveniently no longer around to tell us the real story.

And they weren't convicted for trespass - something which was not a criminal offence then, but is very much so now, even more so under New Labour's raft of new laws - but for 'riotous assembly' and 'breach of the peace' (for scrapping with the Duke of Devonshire's gamekeepers, the police of the countryside in those times). Another myth that allows Labour to blather on about how good the the CRoW legislation is.

You'd expect him to trawl out some comments about Benny Rothman, as indeed he does. After all, it's good to butter up the Labour Movement, and there might still be a few votes amongst the CPGB. But I doubt even Miliband knows that Benny was at Twyford Down, or his history of opposition to road schemes. And even if he does, there's no chance of it popping up to spoil this picture of harmony that the blog post presents.

At the end, Miliband displays his knowledge of Ewan MacColl's 'the Manchester Rambler', which I wager someone mentioned to him on Saturday. And although the first verse mentions Crowden, the last verse is a battle cry for environmentalists:

So I'll walk where I will over mountain and hill
And I'll lie where the bracken is deep
I belong to the mountains, the clear running fountains
Where the grey rocks lie ragged and steep
I've seen the white hare in the gullys
And the curlew fly high overhead
And sooner than part from the mountains
I think I would rather be dead

MacColl's scene of tranquility, which can be found (relatively) at Swallows Wood and on the hills around Longdendale has nothing to do with this government which plans to wreck it all. The local MPs and Local Authorities all want to massively increase the traffic and pollution. Indeed, CO2 emissions will rise by 9%.

All of which will perhaps make interesting reading for this week's paper - because we're aware that local Green campaigners were invited to meet Miliband in Glossop. What did they say, and did the bypass get a mention? We wait with baited breath...

If you have the time and you support us, pop over to David'd blog and leave a comment. But going on the record of some other blogs like this, and websites like this (both coincidentally run by Labour Party people), a request for a link or a debate will not even yield a response.

(Oh, and by the way David - there were 400 Manchester ramblers, not 4000)

Monday, April 23, 2007

Watch out Mowlem 'road men' - we've got Edward & Tubbs!

I've got the treacle if you've got the bongos!

(Cheers to the Witch for finding this)

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Kinder Mass Trespass & Labour's Greenwash

Today and Sunday, people will gather to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the Mass Trespass on Kinder Scout.

Much is being made of this anniversary. Indeed, there are several guided walks, exhibitions as well as a 'celebration' evening at New Mills Town Hall tonight. The Trespass is rightly celebrated as a hugely important event in a struggle in which ordinary people strove to reclaim land which was once held in common, that which has been stolen by the ruling class and policed and treated as if it were their own back garden, leading eventually to the creation of National Parks.

The local MP, Tom Levitt, is making the most of the limelight at tonight's event. You wouldn't expect anything else from such an opportunist, always eager to be seen in the foreground at a photo opportunity.

But if Benny Rothman (one of the best known Trespassers jailed for riotous assembly in 1932) were here, I'm pretty sure he'd have cause to object to Levitt's presence. Putting to one side the issue of Levitt's lick-spittle like (continued) backing of the Labour Party's war in Iraq plus his advocacy for the spending of countless billions on the replacement of Trident Nuclear weapons, he is a leading advocate of the Longdendale Bypass. But doesn't an MP love a contradiction? It's called having your cake and eating it: the man who will be introducing tonight's soiree, celebrating the trespassers and the National Park, is also the man who is declaring war on that same Park. He's brought the Environment Minister with him especially. As if we need our noses rubbing in it.

Why am I sure that Benny Rothman would object? Because he dedicated his life to society's struggles, not least that of the destruction for the environment by the forces of conspicuous consumption and capitalist accumulation. He played his part in objecting to and campaigning against many of Manchester's road schemes, as well as the destruction of Ashton Moss byTameside MBC. But in 1994, at age 83, he took part in another Mass Trespass, this time upon what remained of Twyford Down, where construction of the M3 motorway was underway after protests and mass actions against it. At the time, he wrote an article for publication in the Countryman magazine about his day. He saw no need to make a fuss about his actions - for him, this protest was the natural thing to do and he was energised by the then nascent radical environmental movement whom he regarded as comrades in the same fight, a parallel that went completely over the heads on many so-called radicals on the left.

Although Benny's presence at the 1994 Trespass is not widely known, the relevance of this event to the situation we face in the Longdendale Valley andGlossop could not be clearer. Just as the Tories carved up many of the green places in this land in the 1990s to built pointless and ultimately fruitless roads, the Labour government and their Barons in local government are proposing a new wholesale onslaught on the countryside, and all of this at a time when they preach to us about preserving the environment, curbing carbon emissions, and consuming less. This road and others will fundamentally contradict each of those so-called priorities. It's a lie -Greenwash masquerading as 'business as usual'.

The Mass Trespass was a tactic in the strategy of reclaiming the land from those who accumulated it as conspicuously as they did their wealth. In the times of the 6 day week, Sunday held a chance to walk the wild land in order to defeat spiritual poverty and leave aside material poverty, even if only for one day. 75 years later, the struggles we face are about preserving what we have fought for as well as the land itself, and about advancing a movement to change a mode of production that threatens our very existence as a viable species.

Benny Rothman's Twyford Down Mass Trespass recollections

The following text is copied verbatim from a piece of writing Benny submitted for publication in the Countryman magazine after taking place in the Mass Trespass at Twyford Down on July 4th 1994:

I arrived at Twyford a day before the scheduled Mass Trespass in opposition to the Criminal Justice Bill, and this gave me the opportunity to look at the site where such destruction of the environment had taken place and where history of the fight to oppose this devastation had been made. It also gave me the opportunity to meet up with the people who had led this now famous campaign of opposition.

The cutting to carry the road stood out glaringly white, broken chalk rock in the surrounding sea of green vegetation. Already some of the road had been surfaced and work was in progress with tarmac carriers, rollers and earth movers moving in the new surface. What was most outstanding was the constant movement of four wheeled vehicles carrying Group 4 security guards patrolling the road endlessly. No wonder the contractors are putting millions of pounds aside to maintain this picture of warlike hostility to any opposition. Hardly a sign of consumer friendly cooperation at this stage, more like an army of occupation in hostile territory.

My guide to the site was a young chap who was on the large list of people who had been served with injunctions prohibiting them from setting foot on the cutting and road, or with a hefty fine or term of imprisonment or both. The manner in which this group of 'injunctees' had been identified is a story in itself. Some of them had already served terms of imprisonment, for violating these injunctions. Many of them including young women have already been in jail and in some cases badly beaten up.

We walked into the surrounding countryside, rich in chalk down flowers which had grown there undisturbed for hundreds of years, many varieties of orchids, masses of dropworts, poppies and a host of flowers new to me. I also had pointed out to me the eroded roadways used by early inhabitants called dongas.

I wondered as I walked whether or not this rich harvest of flowers could survive the pollution which would come with the opening of the motorway.

When I was taken to the offices of the campaigning body called Road Alert, I could see how difficult it was for them to carry on, with only scrap furniture no real tables, old gift computers and office equipment.

They had very little more than tremendous enthusiasm to carry them forward. They were young in years but already old in accumulated experience, in touch with protest groups from all parts of the country.

I met ... an attractive young woman who had already served sentences of 28 days and 10 days for contempt against the trespass injunctions. She like many other young people had abandoned their jobs and degree courses at university to take part full time in the many protest groups. They were answering calls from all parts of the country. Organising and arranging press interviews drawing posters, checking arrangements for the 10001 minor events which were due to take place. Far from being eccentrics they seemed to be very down to earth intelligent youngsters.

I looked through the masses of photographs and press cuttings that they had accumulated, and saw some of the excellent posters they had made and mounted for exhibitions. It was of course all done on a shoestring.

I later hurried out with my guide who was due to give an interview to a local television station, after which I was driven to a little village by the river Hamble where I was given overnight hospitality, fed like a lord, and next morning transported down to Twyford where after helping in the general erection of a small marquee and odd tents and posters, I took part in a large press 'conference' I think it was called.

As speakers and representatives from many organisations were being interviewed photographed and videoed, more and more were arriving. I had already given an interview to a local radio station by phone the night before, and I met up with many more papers magazines and television crews at that gathering in the open at the hillside of St. Catherines Hill.

Then the crowds grew, and the temperature rose. Percussion bands played, music from a variety of instruments throbbed, chanting and signing from different groups all unrehearsed and spontaneous arose from all sides, and amid all this hubbub interviews were taking place. At one point I was in discussion with Joan Bakewell on camera but whether or not anything could be made out in the general explosion of activity and noise I don't know. Cameras were clicking, video and cam corders were clicking, and vast crowds were milling around. A platform of sorts had been erected, and I was meeting up with old and new acquaintances. Friends I had not seen for years came forward. I knew some, but could not remember others but it was all one happy determined band.

And still the sun blazed down and the temperature rose. I don't know if I was showing signs of distress, as unfortunately I had left my sun cap in my rucksack which was buried in an immense pile of bags and rucksacks so I had to take the full impact of the sun. Many good friends brought me water which dozens of the audience were drinking from plastic bottles, lukewarm but very welcome, fruit was being handed around, especially strawberries for which the area (Hampshire) was famous before many of the strawberry fields were converted into Posh housing and of course offices.

The Chairwoman of the meeting was doing an heroic job. Literally hundreds of speakers were coming to the platform and wanting not merely to be introduced, but wanting to 'say a word or two'. Still she coped marvellously and as I was saying my own word or two, the banners wee being picked up and an immense crowd set off onto the trespass along the main footpath with dozens of other groups from the hillsides following on along other footpaths.

Meanwhile I was being taken care of by the father and mother of one of the committee, with instructions to make sure I got to Winchester Station in time for my train. The masses of protestors walked on, with no signs of police or security guards, unto we reached a pushed over fence onto the Twyford Down Cutting. There was a small group of police and security guards assembled at that point wisely standing way back and looking on. A short distance beyond that point it was going back time for me, and together with my escort we turned back and after a long walk finishing off by the riverside reached a road where I was given a lift down to the station.

I was in good time with minutes to spare, only to hear an announcement from the railway loud speakers that the train to Manhchester would be late owing to a fire close to the line. Ultimately, I got back to my home about an hour later than I had expected, tired and sunburnt but very pleased to have been in such good company and for such a worthy cause.

The anti climax came on Monday when I looked through the Sunday and Monday papers to see what coverage had been given to the event. There virtually had been a complete blackout of the event either in the newspapers and on radio and television.


The largest event against the Public Order Bill which will probably become law during this month unamended in all its injustice, its attacks on liberty, and its probably effects in the future was surely worth some coverage somewhere. Dozens of journalists were in attendance, with cameras and television crews why the blackout on news.

Could it be political, or economic. I can only see that frustration and bitterness at such treatment of the public affected by many of the matters which the government was endeavouring to bottle up with this Public Order Bill will blow up in the faces of the inept politicians, and their 'politically correct' supporters in all quarters. They might get the genie in the bottle but can they keep it there. I have seen the determination and courage of the young people in this campaign, and my prediction is that even although the legislators might win on paper, they will lose on the ground. The more support we can give to campaigners involved in the numerous battles for social justice taking place the sooner we can end the farce of so called democracy and the abuse of power...

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Public Inquiry Website published

It's all getting rather real now: the Public Inquiry Website is up and running.

The site and Inquiry itself is run by Persona Associates, who are 'Statutory Process Consultants'. As the more cynical of us know, a consultant is someone a company employs at huge cost to provide the answers that they want. And whilst none of us have a crystal ball, the homepage of this company has a rather long and grim list of Inquiries that seem to go 'one way', albeit with minor modifications from time to time.

Elsewhere, they proudly list their 'clients', who contain some of those very notorious to us: the Highways Agency and Mott McDonald to name but two. How independent will this Inquiry be? And will those who are responsible for running it really 'bite the hand that feeds' this time around?

Monday, April 16, 2007

Tin-Foil Hat at the ready

tin-foil hat2
In case anyone else was in any doubt whatsoever, the last post was largely humourous. Whilst it is true that the site meter showed a visit from the PM's office, I am fully aware that the 'Office' in this case is the institution (rather than the room that Tony Blair sits in), and no doubt a lot of people work for it, some of whom are bored enough to find us, rather than having any malevolent intent.

The reason I mention it is because a rival weblog has emerged (more of which later) which has lapooned my post as a pseudo-conspiracy theorists case of over-inflated egotism. Or something. Except the poster is so inarticulate that the blog is virtually sub-literate and reads ridiculously. Indeed, as shit websites go, it ranks alongside that of the Longdendale Siege Committee.

Yet whilst it would be fun to post the link to the site here, doing so would only help the site's Google rankings at the expense of ours, which are doing very nicely thank you. Indeed, having a generous 2 links from this site means that our rankings on Technorati have shot up by 1 million (yes one million!) overnight. Having no links to your site means Google oblivion, as he/she is finding out.

But if you really want a laugh, go to the comments section of the last post and have a look at the link provided. It really is fantastic entertainment.

Oh, and by the way Mr roadmunkey (with a non existent email address). Bacofoil is a brand - tin-foil hat is the phrase you're after.

If you think you know who 'roadmunkey' is, send your answers on a (e)post card. We have our own ideas...

Friday, April 13, 2007

Big Brother is watching you

PMs Office

Well, we've hit the big time. This afternoon, we had a visit from Tone's office. I bet our good friend Cllr McKeown's jealous - we're not even in the Labour Party and the government's looking at us!

We must be doing something right. Whilst we're on the subject, we've also had visits from Tarmac Plc, but strangely yet to hear from TMBC. Shit rolls downhill I guess...

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Purnell's bleating in the Chronicle again

Purnell 'prematurely' begins work on the bypass. Is he premature in other respects too we wonder?

But he can't quite manage a front page like last week's article on the Peak District National Park objecting to the bypass. Though I'm in danger of boring you all to death, here's his letter in full:

"Bypass is now the only answer"

I write in response to your front page story last week regarding the Peak District National Park Authority and the Mottram-Hollingworth-Tintwistle Bypass.

I must insist that the record is set straight on the issue of possible alternatives to the bypass. All alternatives - including an HGV ban and major public transport improvements - have already been carefully analysed and rejected as being inadequate.

The forecasts showed that an HGV ban would only reduce the traffic flow in Mottram by two per cent. It is no longer enough for those who oppose then bypass to offer empty rhetoric in place of a solution. My constituents need relief from the traffic coming past their homes, and the evidence is clear that only a bypass will solve this problem.

As you'd expect of a politician, Purnell is using the research selectively. A response by the Highways Agency (HA) (opens PDF) to a Freedom of Information request in April last year shows his 2% reduction in traffic figure applies to the Hyde Road A57. Mottram is said to be 'negligible' (no figure given), but Tintwistle (not in his constituency of course) showed an 18% drop.

What he's not telling you is that the model the HA used was for a HGV ban on the A628 from the summit of Woodhead between the A6204 and the A616 - i.e. not the entire route. Unsurprisingly, the model showed HGVs using other routes to avoid it. And at the end of the FoI response, the HA trumpet that they are conducting a study into an 'Area Wide' HGV restriction in the Peak District National Park of which "the conclusions are not yet known".

So where is this study, and will the HA have it ready in time for the Public Inquiry? Or will it be conveniently be buried? In the meantime, Purnell's 'smoking gun' is clearly only 'half-cocked'.

Isn't it time for Fiddler's Green?*

Etherow Park 2

Further Googling has revealed Rossington Park's own website, where they are promoting the properties they are selling in a curious manner.

Apparently, the location affords 'idyllic views' - indeed, it did before the same crew turned up with their warehouses.

More revealing is the telling phrase which boasts that "access (to the M60) is shortly to be improved ... following the recent announcement to progress the Tintwistle bypass". Do they know something we don't? And what did I say about this whole project being in anticipation of something else?

Best of all is the map, which shows a strangely grey area to the East - that'll be the huge sheds then. Best not to mention that, nor the hugely increased lorry traffic in this 'idyllic' part of Hadfield that the developers themselves are responsible for.

Etherow walk 1

(and lets not mention that the whole website is strewn with sloppy typos/spelling errors)
*first comment to nail the origin of this phrase wins a prize

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Rossington Park - the thin end of the wedge

An angry public meeting in Hadfield recently saw upwards of 70 people express frustration at the catastrophe that is Rossington Park, that mysterious, grey collection of huge carbuncles that dominate the landscape in our valley.
Rossington Park1

How this has all happened, seemingly without warning or any kind of informed public debate is at the root of that frustration. Following the suggestion in the witches post, I popped 'Rossington Park' into Google Maps, and found not only the clearly visible grey rooves of these monstrosities (see image above), but also references in the column at the side to companies based there.

Flowers-Plants2go Ltd
Unit 7, Rossington Park, Graphite Way, Hadfield, Glossop, Derbyshire, SK13 1QG

Audio Visual Link
Unit 3, Rossington Place, Rossington Park, Hadfield, SK13 1QG

But all of this is the thin end of the wedge. There are those that labour under the illusion that this bypass is being built to relieve three villages of traffic. The truth of its purpose can be found writ large in Hadfield, amongst those grey corporate bunkers where minimum-wage-slavery rules. They're anticipating something, and something big.

Questions need to be asked, ones to which we'll try to find answers for as time goes on:

  • Why place traffic lights along the length of the bypass (interim answer - because you have them at junctions - again, something is being anticipated)?
  • What's the link between the bypass, the Greater Manchester Pension Fund and Manchester Airport?
  • What plans are there for a huge supermarket near Hattersley?
  • Who benefits from mooted plans to build 800 houses along the A57 through to Hyde?
If you thought Rossington Park was bad, you've seen nothing yet. In the meantime, I suggest a new paint-job for visitors to Hadfield from outer space (where High Peak Borough Councillors seem to live).
Rossington Park2

Fighting the Public Inquiry...

...requires money. Yes, that which makes (the current incarnation of) the world go around is needed to help us fight our corner in just over 2 months time.

People need to take time off work, but more importantly, money may be needed for legal advice, advocacy and representation. TMBC have Council Tax payers money, and we have ... hardly a pot to piss in ...

Below are links to payment services for 2 groups planning to actively fight the PI. Please give what you can: even a small sum is not unwelcome and furthers the fight to stop this road.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

An On/Off Romance

The Bypass and the Spur: An on and off romance

Firstly apologies for what at times might appear a somewhat dry article. My excuse is that I was asked to write it, and sometimes the devil is to be found in the detail. I have tried to be brief, and hope that what is written will if a little technical ultimately prove to be of interest.

Bypass route


Historically these two road projects have had an off and on romance that has lasted for about 15 years, when the first public consultation surfaced in 1992. At that time the proposed Brown Route actually included the Glossop Spur, and they both formed part of what became known in Highways Agency parlance as as the “preferred route”, so called because it apparently it was the public’s choice from the strictly road based solutions on offer at consultation.


Money concerns and the Labour regime replacing the Tories in 1997 held things up, and then things changed fairly dramatically around 2004, when the Bypass was uncoupled from the Spur for what were given as administrative and funding reasons. At the time James Purnell MP for Hyde and Stalybridge appeared to be outraged, saying in the Glossop Advertiser of 23/12/04 :-“I’m just amazed at the way the Highways Agency have taken this decision – they smuggled it out hidden in a letter and didn’t even spell Glossop correctly”. Although Tom Levitt MP for High Peak took a similar view, the Spur Road has remained a separate project ever since because it did not fall under the remit of being part of the National Trunk Route network.

Therefore the Glossop Spur ultimately had to be put forward as a planning application as the baby of Tameside MBC, through consultants Mouchel Parkman in autumn 2006. Unsurprisingly the Planning Committees at both authorities, Tameside and High Peak upheld the Spur application despite registered public opposition for the road outnumbering support quite significantly - 4 to 1 we believe was the case in the High Peak at least. The A628 Bypass consultation followed in the spring of 2006 at St Mary’s Church, Hollingworth. Perhaps inevitably Tameside’s chief engineer put in an appearance in a small ante room with a set of boards describing the Spur, but it was made adamantly clear by Highway Agency Officials in the main reception, that they were consulting on an independent scheme, the A628 Bypass which they viewed as part of the core trunk road network.

So things then proceeded to the current state of affairs, where the schemes are divergent, although paradoxically in funding terms to some degree there has been a slight re-convergence. This is because the introduction of regional government meant that funding for the bypass ceased to be conditional on central government approval and returned to a local budget in the North West. Thus the 2 schemes would once again seek funding from the same transport funding pool allocated by the the North West Regional Assembly.

However despite this relative convergence in funding the situation is very different in planning terms in one key respect, from how it might have been if the unravelling had never occurred in 2004. Stated very simply planning approval for the Spur was granted as described above but that approval was and remains wholly conditional on the bypass being successfully in place. Conversely, and this is perhaps key, should the Bypass survive its many statutory hurdles, it can proceed to construction with or without the Glossop Spur. This effectively means in fairness to Stakeholders and all affected parties, the A628 bypass must be considered on its merits and impacts alone.


As we know the size and nature of Objections from many significant quarters, led to a resubmission of the bypass application this year 2007, which has just closed. There is no material change in the status of the bypass as an independent project - it can still proceed with or without the Spur.

However all interested parties will now be mindful of the imminent Public Inquiry, and with this in mind, possibly it is worth considering if there has been a significant if slight repositioning attempt made by the Highways Agency with regard to the Spur.

That the position for the bypass as an independent project remains no different can be assumed from the Environmental Summary Non Technical Summary which must be comprehensive with regard to the scheme’s scope and intentions. It describes a scheme that traverses a route from M67 to Townhead Farm, and involves a single side road that ends with a t-junction at Mottram Moor. No mention of the Spur there at all therefore.

The wary bypass watcher will perhaps be wondering therefore why the Highways Agency supplies extensive traffic modelling within the full Technical Environmental Statement for the Bypass with the Spur. Moreover with figures that are by the Highway Agency’s own subcontractors, Mott McDonald, which differ from those of Mouchel Parkman the contractors and traffic modellers for the Spur application.

Traffic modelling is at the heart of any road proposal. Words only half describe the impacts and benefits of any scheme, and traffic models, whilst needing to be treated with caution as only hypothetical, may be said to be the surest evidence upon which the scheme’s proponents and opponents must rely on to make their case.
For the bypass alone the Highways Agency has submitted as core evidence in Figure 1.8, sheets 1 and 2, something in the region of 200 separate AADT assessments of HGV and traffic flows in various scenarios from different locations in different years. This substantial body of evidence meets the general expectation for statistical traffic modelling evidence in connection with such a scheme, and forms probably the centre of the Highways Agency case for the road.

However why the HA have also chosen to submit an equal comparable body of evidence of about 200 traffic models/scenarios for the Bypass with Spur in the adjacent figure 1.9, sheets 1 and 2, raises many interesting questions and perhaps a few eyebrows as well. It is almost as if this was evidence the Highways Agency might choose to rely on, although as has been pointed out, the bypass does not require the Spur to gain building approval, and the Non Technical Summary gives the public no indication that the project has any relationship to other schemes at all.

Looking beyond this fact, the way that the recent announcement of the Pre Inquiry Hearing was made might seem to suggest a further re-positioning on the part of the Highways Agency and various Government departments. In the full Environmental Statement the Spur is referred to as an “other scheme” which could be “interacted with” by the Bypass. However the author of this article received a Pre Inquiry letter from Newcastle regarding the Spur Road, where the bypass was described as a “related” scheme, and the Pre Inquiry hearing in early May will determine simultaneously over how these schemes are Inquired into.

Are these issues of repositioning with regard to the Bypass and Spur technical subtleties of no great moment, or pivotal issues, which decide if bypass opponents have to deal with a single headed monster or some kind of hydra.Or to put it less colourfully will the Highways Agency rely on bypass evidence alone, or do they have so little faith in their case here, that they may try to introduce Bypass with Spur figures in the hope of pulling the wool over the Inspector’s and Public eyes.

Should they try to do this, who is going to point it out, and will they be listened to unless they have a loud enough legal voice to be heard? In the view of the writer, these are matters of serious concern to anyone trying to stop this road, and its poor relation, which is the Glossop Spur.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Set your video: Longdendale Bypass TV feature tomorrow

Attention Bypass campaigners (both for and against!): tomorrow morning at 11.40 a.m. on BBC1, Countryfile have a slot about the Bypass. They have filmed both sides making their case in a programme which largely dedicated to the Peak District. The Countryfile website blurb, entitled 'Peak District Roads', is as follows:

The Labour Government has been accused of breaking pre-election promises because of controversial plans for new roads in some of Britain's best-loved landscapes. In the Peak District, there are proposals for a £184m bypass to relieve traffic congestion in three villages on the edge of the National Park. Critics say new roads planned for the Peak District and other protected areas will encourage greater car use.

It would be useful if anyone with the technical know-how could record this portion of the programme and upload it to YouTube, to enable us to feature it here. Please let us know if you can do this by leaving a comment on this item.

Happy Easter From Rossington Park

Well, I was enjoying a couple of bypass activity free days when a small but powerful reminder of the impending doom reared its sweet but ugly head. Seemingly innocent Easter gifts sent to my kids purchased in Northampton arrived. Disgusting Lollypops manufactured in China, air freighted by the millions landed through our letterbox - you guessed it, they came via Rossington Park!
The new lorry hub of the North West built in anticipation of the bypass - R.i.P. Hadfield is now the major HGV drop off point and warehouse zone of the North West. The gigantic buildings can be seen from space (look up Hadfield on Google Maps) aliens might be wondering what on earth are we doing to the Peak District National Park. Uncle Roy, his alleged siege brother in law Mike and Mr Perry know exactly the plan. Warehouses and industrial parks for "economic generation" and f*ck the environment in the process!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Elementary my dear Watson*

"Watson, you amaze me. How did you get yourself into this mess? This infernal scheme must not progress any further. Do the decent thing old chap..."

Our friends at Save Swallows Wood have today's exclusive: the Highways Agency (HA) have announced dates for the Public Inquiry (though as yet, only in letters to those who wrote in to object/support - a Press Release is yet to appear on their website). The timetable is as follows:

1st May 2007 -
Pre-inquiry meeting at Stalybridge Civic Hall, Trinity Street, Stalybrige, SK15 2BN, starting at 10.00 am. The meeting will be presided over by Mr John Watson BSc, FIHT, MICE, MCMI (appointed by the Secretary of State and soon to be Google'd and dissected here mercilessly!)

26th June 2007 -
Start of the Public Inquiry

First thoughts - if John Watson is in on this, does that mean we get Sherlock Holmes too?

Secondly - the HA have acted very swiftly since the close of the consultation, although TMBC's trumpeting of a May date for the PI a few months ago shows the timetable has been put back yet again.

Thirdly - they surely haven't counted all those new objections yet?!

Expect more comment and analysis soon.

(* incidentally, this phrase is incorrectly attributed to Holmes, as all his real fans know)

Trespassing in the Peak

Kinder Mass Trespassers in 1932 (Benny Rothman indicated)

I'm in favour of trespassing.

Let me qualify that statement. When 75 years ago, a group of young socialists trespassed upon Kinder Scout, they struck a blow for real freedom. In defiance of the law and the privileged landowning class, they showed the way to a possible future where people could wander to their hearts content upon mountain and moor, leaving behind the city and the worries of that other, crazy world.

If we are to be truly free, we need to maximise the time we can truly call our own. Theirs was, and still is, a truly profound vision of freedom, still to be realised.

But for these brave, principled individuals, we would not be able to enjoy the Peak District. They were the 'eco warriors' of their day, and people younger than them would do well to respect and understand the real meaning of that.

But, I'm not in favour of trespassing.

Again, I'll qualify that statement. This bypass is the thin end of the wedge for encroachment and trespass into green spaces and National Parks by road schemes and developers. That is good enough grounds to oppose it if nothing else is. Some of the more idiotic Tameside Councillors have argued that building more roads through the countryside allows us all to see more of wildlife. I can only presume they mean roadkill.

The whole point of a National Park is that you get out of your bloody car and walk! The fact that some people prefer to remain atomised and alienated from life in general is not an argument for a lifestyle which is slowly turning us into bloated, alienated machines.

Better late than never, the Peak District National Park have renewed their opposition to the bypass. They know full well that they would not exist without those Manchester lads and lasses who took to the moor in 1932. And those who value and cherish our National Park must move mountains to end this scheme.

The Highways Agency could not have chosen a more apt anniversary to try to gain legal backing for this scheme, through a Public Inquiry. They need to be clear that for every legal measure there are counter-measures, both legal and illegal. Our justification for such activity? Our heritage...

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Free speech (the limits of)

We note that Councillor McKeown has replied to our previous post on his weblog. He has demanded that I declare my real name, on condition of allowing my comment to be published.

Putting aside that the fact that I am Mr Lewin (Junior), there's an issue of free speech here. Plenty of ordinary people have good reason to protect their anonymity from politicians. In certain other local authorities, openly revealing your opposition to this road scheme carries serious risks. Given that the Glossopdale Councillors are completely willing to follow the Tameside Labour Party's line on the bypass, cautious individuals are wise to tread carefully.

Demanding that I reveal my identity before I can access my rights smacks of the Labour Party's plans for ID cards, which no doubt Councillor McKeown is four-square in favour of.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Glossop Councillors march in step

Councillor Anthony McKeown's truly riveting weblog reported last week that Glossop Councillors have parroted Uncle Roy's line on the bypass - quelle surprise. After all, this is the same lot that have afflicted Glossop with the likes of Next, Argos and other such godforsaken places, as well as approving plans to turn Hadfield into a vast network of industrial units.

But what really chafes is that Mr McKeown's blog has no right of reply. When one attempts to leave a comment, it's clear that they are moderated. And when yours truly left a message on his little bypass item, I was shaken to the core when it failed to appear.

Please post your comments Ant - the right of reply does exist here!

Petition pissing contest

MPs and other collected non-entities politely requesting something...

On a personal level, I'm dubious about the kind of activism that promotes petitions. Whilst compiling one is often an excellent way to create a mailing list (which is hopefully used properly), the kind of politics that politely request the government to reconsider are not mine.

But you have laugh at how pathetic the Longdendale Siege Committee are. The Bastard children of TMBC, who in days gone by managed to persuade their brother-in-law to fund their 'Highwayman' signs along the 'gateways' to Tameside are falling by the wayside if their latest propaganda effort is anything to go by.

They've raised at petition on Tony Blair's website - with 10 (count 'em), yes 10 signatories. God, I bet they're embarrassed they put their name to this 'mother of all petitions'. Whatever happened to the 8000 - the figure who, they're always keen to point out, signed their petition years ago? That's the one presented to 10 Downing Street, as opposed to the House of Commons, which means there's no public record, and therefore no evidence for its existence.

But you can't hide these figures. Neither can you hide WAIT's rather more impressive roster of 114 on an opposite petition.