Thursday, May 31, 2007

Persona non-grata

It seems that we're not invited to the Party at Persona Associates Public Inquiry Website.

But I guess there would be a certain delicious irony in the bureaucrats using our lovely hand-picked email address to contact us to ask permission.

And if there's psychology to the way a list is ordered, then someone clearly favours Longdendale Siege Engine's veritable abortion of a website above all else. Not to mention the website - last updated nearly a year ago!

It seems that if you have friends in high places, it really does make a difference.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

By their words shall ye know them...

The only thing worth taking seriously on the letters page in this week's Glossop Chronicle was a little nugget buried in the otherwise standard bleating of a pro-bypass supporter:

"The Longdendale route needs modernising and that is a plain fact and it also needs linking to the M1"

Of course, the A628 is already linked to the M1 (via Junction 37). But this is clearly an expression for something else entirely - the wish for a motorway to be built in the near future. It seems some people are not only greedy, but also can't wait. These (barely) latent plans can only strengthen the will of those against the road and reveal to those naive enough to think the construction of a bypass will end our traffic problems, or quell the calls for further construction from certain people.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Money talks, bullshit walks...

A little snippet from last week's Glossop Chronicle:

Store signs may be here to stay

Tesco looks like keeping the signs it erected without advertisement consent at their Glossop store.

High peak Development Control Committee is poised to let the supermarket giants keep them.

If the company gets the go ahead however, it will be a blow to Councillor Ivan Bell.

The Old Glossop Independent claims they on the edge of a conservation area and "out of keeping".

The two red, white and blue gantry signs, double sided and externally illuminated, are next to the petrol station and adjacent to the Wren Nest Road store's car park.

Council officials say they are not on listed buildings or in the conservation area.

And as such are signs normally expected at a large supermarket and are not out of keeping with the general street scene.

Do we really need a point-by-point rebuttal? Words fail me (and Ivan Bell contradicts himself again).

Public Inquiry Premonitions...

Today's Guardian carried an interesting item on the progress on the Thames Gateway Bridge Public Inquiry.

The assistant Inspector at this PI is John Watson. It seems that despite the fact that the Inspector has yet to issue his report, and the Secretary of State yet to make a decision subsequent to that, Transport for London can't wait, and are putting tenders out already (Cue press releases to the appropriate publications and much excitement, particularly here).

Welcome to the world of Design, Build, Finance & Operate (DBFO). The battle lines drawn in the 90s are being drawn again.

It seems that days after Ruth Kelly's announcement that the government intends in future not to consider Public Inquiries for 'infrastructure projects' and thereby tear up the 1947 planning act, those without any illusions about how things work anyway can't contain their glee.

You can expect similar developments about the bypass machinations to be reported here, as and when they arise.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

New documents on the Public Inquiry website

TMBC have published their Environmental Statement (ES) on the Public Inquiry website.

The ES covers the 'Glossop Spur' only and it's nearly 2 years old already. As we've pointed out previously, there is no ES for the 'Bypass & Spur', since that scheme does not actually exist, other than in the minds of John Watson and the Secretary of State.

It will be interesting to see how this 'mashup' plays out at the PI

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Bounced out of Tintwistle - the pitfalls of campaigning on a 'pro-bypass ticket'

One of the more spectacular casualties of the local elections was Joyce Brocklehurst - a Labour Party Councillor, former mayor and very vocal in her support for the bypass.

She made no secret of her support for it, and unlike many of her fellow Councillors (and candidates for that matter) campaigned on the bypass.

And she was duly dumped by the electorate in Tintwistle.

If you read this article in the Glossop Advertiser, she's very contrite:

I am going to crack on and do what I can to get a community centre for Tintwistle, work to improve our traffic problems and most importantly see what can be done about these unsightly buildings.

The 'unsightly buildings' are of course, Bridge Mills and Rossington Park.

But people in Tinsle know all about her. Back in 2001 at a public meeting, she was mewling and puking openly about the need for a bypass, and also revealed some contradictions:

We have quite a lot of factories on the waterside. We are trying to get funding from the Government to help [such development] and the traffic problem is not helping our case. The local economy is suffering and local traffic is hindered.

What a surprise. She supported 'developments' at Waterside, but 'wanted to do something about the traffic'. Where did she think the traffic was headed?

And now of course, she wants to do something about 'unsightly buildings'. Built in anticipation of the bypass, which she supports. How will she get out of that one?

Monday, May 14, 2007

Ivan Bell...again

Further to yesterday's post, Councillor Bell's letter in the Chronicle is markedly different than that in the Advertiser. Again, here it is verbatim:

I wish to thank all the voters in Old Glossop for supporting Independent Councillor Chris Webster and myself.

There have been a lot of changes to the High Peak Borough Council this election and I hope that the 'in power' Conservative Party will recognise the expertise and commitment of two hardworking, honest, non-party councillors who have been returned virtually unopposed in Old Glossop.

Unti April 7, 2006, our unelected Peak District National Park Authority Council had supported the Longendale Bypass.

However, the officers of this quango had decided that the residents of Tintwistle, Hollingworth and Mottram should continue to suffer the continuing traffic problems by brining (sic) a motion before the April Council 2006 meeting to change policy and object to it.

Unfortunately, no recorded vote was taken, indeed the names of the proposer and seconder were not recorded and only a Cllr Mrs J Bevan (a Derbyshire Dales councillor) requested that her vote against the motion be recorded.

I have requested under the freedom of information act that these people's names and the full vote count be made available to me so I can name and shame them in a future letter.

I have also asked for a full list of all the expenses that these people are getting for misrepresenting the majority of Peak District residents.

Some of the more responsible environmental groups and councillors are pressing for wetland and tree planting (to replace the areas required for the bypass), to take place now so that when the bypass is constructed these will already be established and if the bypass is not constructed we will have gained extra wildlife areas

I would have thought that if the park authority were genuinely concerned about the area they would have been at the forefront of such a move instead of being swayed by negative thinking of non-park members.

I do not know how our two Labour Derbyshire County Council representatives voted, but I am rather concerned because their addresses listed on the Peak District website are very misleading, non-Post Office approved which could be construed to make people think they lived in the Peak District.

I really think that until such time as the Peak District National Park Authority is made up of elected members from the Peak District and not from selected members, its views on non-park issues should be treated with the contempt they deserve.

One of the things I will be hoping to cure now I have been re-elected, are the council speak gobbledygook documents and reports. These are designed to cover up secrets and hide the truth from the public by using terribly written buzz words, and jargon etc.

It seems that not only the HPBC and DCC are guilty of this, but a recent consultation document issued by the Park Authority is full of this gobbledygook and could do with a makeover from the Campaign for Plain English people (sic).

It's interesting that the Advertiser clearly chose to judiciously edit this rant to within an inch of it's life, but also how the Chronicle have excised all references to Rossington Park.

Perhaps he should have his own blog and give everyone a laugh on a regular basis?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Join the dots

Whilst we know that Labour Party Councillors (if not their members) are fully behind the bypass (and we needn't even talk about the Tories), some people might have hopes of independent councillors.

But that's all dispelled in a letter from Ivan Bell to this week's Glossop Advertiser. Once again, we will reproduce it verbatim below:

I wish to thank all the voters in Old Glossop for supporting Independent Councillor Chris Webster and myself.

There have been a lot of changes to the High Peak Borough Council this election and I hope that the powers that be in the Conservative Party will recognise the expertise and commitment of two hardworking, honest, non-party councillors who have been returned virtually unopposed in Old Glossop.

I have many things to do as a councillor, but most importantly, at the Public Inquiry on the bypass at Stalybridge I will be asking the inspector to give weight to the opinions of people who live in the villages of Mottram, Hollingworth and Tintwistle.

And to only note the opinions of unelected bodies like the Peak District National Park Authority and people who are not resident in those areas.

Some of the more responsible environmental groups and councillors are pressing for wetland and tree planting to replace the areas required for the bypass so that when the bypass is constructed these will be already established.

And regarding the eyesores of Rossendale Park (sic) Hadfield and Bridgend (sic) Tintwistle, I am sure the residents would applaud the Peak Park authority if it helps to curb the ravages of the council planners in allowing such unsightly developments to take place.

This plonker wants to have it both ways. He wants a bypass, but not Rossington Park. He's a fool - as we've shown, RP has been built in anticipation of the bypass, and the clear (but latent) plan to create a strategic transportation route will entail further development of this kind in the area.

Who cares if the Peak Park isn't an elected body? Councillors are, and look what a shower of shit they are. The fact of the matter is that the Peak Park are the only institution fighting this road. If they were elected, they no doubt be lobbied by corporations to bend over and give them want they want. Either that or they would be comprised of people who have a past career amongst those behind this road - hauliers for example, or even former councillors who've taken a bung at every available opportunity.

But then again, his contradictory logic condemns the 'unelected' Peak Park for opposing the bypass but commends it for anything they can do to stop Rossington Park. To cap it all he lives in and represents people in Old Glossop, not Hadfield, Tintwistle, Mottram and Hollingworth.

There's clearly something else at work here which merits further examination.

Those fighting Rossington Park have common cause with us. If this road goes ahead, it will be almost impossible to prevent Rossington Park and other such schemes.

Thursday, May 10, 2007


It seems that following our post on Saturday last, Longdendale Siege Mentality have been going all out to make up the numbers in the largely redundant respective online petitions.

Have a look now and spot some (in)famous names (& thankfully not faces) from Siege meetings, as well as the creator of this static, moribund website (where time truly stands still). Tameside Councillors are strangely absent though, as is the 'Chief' (copyright D Jones, Glossop Chronicle) Mike Flynn. The presence of 'Deputy Dog' also clearly lends credibility to the efforts of this shower.

Someone should mention to them - TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE. According to certain contrary souls, the supporters numbers are 'unprecedented'* in any Public Inquiry. Well, that must make the objection numbers 'un-fucking-precedented', because we have 30% more, as we demonstrated last week. Do your homework sonny!

*The term 'Unprecedented' can be applied to the objectors to the Weymouth Relief Road, where there are nearly 6,000. Makes us both look rather weedy by comparison but the government continue to push on regardless. Plus ca change.

Meat & Potatoes

At last, the respective cases case for the Longdendale Bypass & Glossop Spur have been published today. The Highways Agency Statement of Case can be found here and here, and the TMBC Statement of Case here (all links open PDFs).

It should be noticed that these are not 'proofs of evidence' which the HA openly admitted may not be submitted by the deadline. TMBC could also not give a firm commitment to having their evidence ready in time. The deadline is 5th June (3 weeks before the start of the Inquiry) - we await it with baited breath.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

At last, somebody fed the slot meter...

...on Persona's ISP yesterday morning. Subsequently, the Pre-Inquiry Meeting notes and transcript of the day are now available (both links download PDF).

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Problem loading page

Who smells a rat? For the past few days, activists have been trying to access the Public Inquiry website, in particular to find out if the minutes from Tuesday's Pre-Inquiry Meeting are available yet. Try it and this is what you get:

We know it's a bank holiday weekend, but this is ridiculous. And the same goes for anyone else who's having their Public Inquiry managed by this crew because the whole site is down.

Whilst we're hardly likely to point out that it's a conspiracy that one can't access the site, it certainly suits those in favour of the scheme.

Objectors are still unclear about exactly what they have to do to ensure their objections are valid for the PI, and at the same time we are all receiving confusing & intimidating letters from the Highway Agency with their own instructions.

And for the cynical amongst us, it begs the question exactly what kind of result we can expect to result from this whole charade when the consultants are incompetent and the Inspector's whole career is based upon facilitating & building roads...

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Numbers game

Unlike this week's Advertiser, yesterday's Glossop Chronicle doesn't treat us to a report of the Pre-Inquiry meeting. In fact, the tables set aside for the press on Tuesday were strangely empty. It's even more odd given that the offices of the Reporter Group Newspapers are a 2 minute walk away.

But to compound this odd behaviour, there's a large article this week on the relative pro and anti bypass petitions on the PM's website which we highlighted in an earlier post. And clearly, some people read the paper, because the numbers on either are rising.

Longdendale Siege Mentality (their new name around here) do have a long way to go though. This is because the latest figures for letter of objection and support for the bypass have been published, though not as openly as the Highways Agency proclaim in this letter (which the wind blew into our hand). Indeed, at the date of writing, the information is yet to be displayed on their Freedom of Information pages, as promised (presumably because it doesn't suit what they're trying to achieve at the PI). So we thought we'd help them ease their workload a little.

Here it is then:

Objections: 2601
Supporters: 1377

You may remember that in June last year, the numbers in press releases were roughly 1400 objections and 1000 supporters. That gave us nearly 60% then, and we now have 65%. But whereas we have increased our objections by 85%, Siege have managed only 37% (the fact that we didn't rely on a couple of dodgy looking old blokes shuffling door to door in Mottram to try to chat people up might have helped).

Of course, this may only be a Pyrrhic & moral victory at this stage, but unless Siege enlist the help of all Top Gear petrol heads and congestion charge petition types for their petition, we think we have won this particular argument...

Friday, May 04, 2007

Counsel for TMBC: Martin Carter

First up in the 'establishment spotlight' is TMBC's barrister at the Pre-Inquiry Meeting (PIM), Martin Carter.

At the PIM, Carter (a member of the Planning & Environment Bar Association) announced that he would be appearing only at the PIM, and that his colleague, John Barrett would be conducting the Inquiry.

Of course, we all know that lawyers accept all kinds of cases, sometimes appearing as advocates for both sides of a particular cause. And Carter is no exception. Although it is interesting to note that he has backed some causes we'd approve of and that are somewhat relevant here: resisting Compulsory Purchase Orders and fighting cases where Village Greens are under threat.

On Tuesday, he came across as somewhat less incompetent than Charles Calvert (for the HA), but admitted that TMBC were 'working towards' submitting their evidence for the deadline of 5th June. He also said he 'didn't know' what the extent of the information that was available on the combined environmental impacts of the Bypass & Spur together. Such an admission may mean a number of things, though as one objector remarked it's not possible to comment on information that doesn't exist...

Pre-Inquiry Meeting: TV news item

Thursday, May 03, 2007

More visitors

After the Prime Minister's Office popped in a few weeks ago, we're now getting visits from our principal opponents. Today, it's the turn of Mouchel Parkman, who stopped by twice today.

This is the crew that TMBC and Derbyshire CC employed to produce an Environmental Statement for the Glossop Spur, which was the subject of much debate on Tuesday. This is because it's now out of date and there currently doesn't seem to be any reliable data for the environmental impacts of the Bypass & Spur together, so the boys and girls at MP must be hard at work trying to scrape something together for their deadline.

So much so that they've decided to concentrate of the real work of building a road instead, and promptly left this blog to head over to Amazon, perhaps to get hold of John Watson's "text book" (his words on Tuesday).

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Post Inquiry Meltdown...

Yesterday was a rather ominous portent of things to come in this campaign. It's easier to make a list of the issues and comment on them:

An Inspector seemingly out of his depth - unaware of crucial aspects of law such as PPS7 (calling it 'PPS5'), clearly inexperienced and without an assistant to help. Less than firm with the Highways Agency who had the gall to admit they might miss a (statutory) deadline for submission of their evidence. Expressed only mild dissatisfaction that Inquiry Libraries were at either end of the bypass (Stocksbridge & Stalybridge) and nowhere near those most affected by the scheme - Mottram, Hollingworth, Tintwistle & Glossop (the Highways Agency showing their utter contempt for those of us who want to do research, both for and against the scheme). He clearly reads this blog though, because he declined to sign copies of his book!

Unsuitable venue - a large old stone-floored market hall. Appalling acoustics. Much time wasted passing around a microphone. With a partial glass roof, meaning the sun's rays burned those present and removed any hope of seeing the projection screens.

Private rooms for the Highways Agency & TMBC - quelle surprise. They had comfy chairs and tea & coffee laid on - and swiftly evicted anyone whose face didn't fit. This was a pretty blatant exercise in making themselves comfortable at the expense of everyone else. Although food and drink was not allowed in the Inquiry Room, water was not provided: the heat was clearly meant to be a test of endurance for everyone but the elite who are well provided for.

Poor preparation for the issues at hand by the Highways Agency & TMBC: Barristers doubtlessly earning a fortune clearly 'winging it' while enthusiastic amateurs run rings around them by pointing out the complexity of the issues at hand. They barely seemed to have considered them & expressed ignorance of the availability of data on key parts of their case. Perhaps TMBC are on a tight budget in preparing for these matters, but it beggars belief that the HA are.

Members of TMBC's team laughing at someone relating the stress and emotional torment of having their home subject to a compulsory purchase order.

Longdendale Siege (mentality): the cheek of the twinset and pearl brigade calling an objector a 'dinosaur' when they probably have fond memories of the Jurassic themselves (except for the lack of roads no doubt). They all shuffled off early, quite impatient that the whole thing wasn't being wrapped up today, but probably more likely because they needed their regular afternoon kip before the evening's Ovaltine. Equally bizarre was one Siege chap who said the reason he moved to Longdendale was "because of the proximity to the Motorway and the Airport" - because he can't wait to get away quickly? (see last post on Mr Oldham's intentions for the valley).

Smile, you're on candid camera: TMBC decided to stream the meeting live from their website. How many people watched that do you think?

Spooky people: someone (who will be identified soon) asked for a copy of all the people who attended today. He was summarily refused, but it's spookily similar to a Freedom of Information request (also refused) on the HA's website.

Yes, it really was THAT interesting.