Saturday, April 28, 2007
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.