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.

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