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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Roy Oldham's biggest fan: Terry Duckworth


Avid readers of the Glossop Chronicle (yes, there are a few) will have noticed a couple of articles recently that have been incongruent (to say the least) with the current level of outrage at the arrogance of the leader of TMBC, Roy Oldham.

It was this publication that had the first report about the Mottram plaque (featuring Roy's house) , a far from critical effort, published before the furore that started on this blog and was picked up by everyone else.

As if to counter that, and unlike their counterpart the Advertiser, the Chronicle decided not to publish any dissent about the plaque and later on, published an article from Oldham's perspective about the 'fuss'.

The journalist who penned the story was one Nigel Pivaro. Recognise the name? Yes, it's the actor who formerly played the petty crook Terry Duckworth in Coronation Street. Who better then to interview Roy Oldham (far from, ahem, petty in any respect)?

A simple google of his name reveals that Pivaro would appear to like guns, especially those of the illegal variety. But cast aside visions of a portly Travis Bickle for one second - he now has a degree and a career in journalism. So what better place to start than the Glossop Chronicle? - a loyal friend to Oldham who have stuck by him and the council through thick and thin. In this backwater, they are to TMBC what the Telegraph is to the Tories - their house journal.

So last week, we were treated by Pivaro to a fawning, virtual full page-worth of flannel about Oldham's contribution to history. But the best bit of the whole load of drivel is this classic quote about how Oldham would like to remembered by the people of Tameside:

"that I ... protected their open spaces"


Pivaro clearly knows nothing about the area. Either that, or he's lying. For Oldham's history as Council leader has been to preside over the destruction of open spaces around Tameside, most infamously Ashton Moss, a veritable green lung, now a 'retail park'. And he's had his sights on Longdendale for years with this bypass. His kind of 'protection' has more in common with the Cosa Nostra than that of any environmentally conscious individual.

We'll be keeping an eye on Pivaro's articles in future...

Climate Camp - report


Representatives from our campaign attended the Camp for Climate Action two weeks ago after accepting an invitation from the organisers to facilitate a workshop on 'Roads and Climate Change'.

We delivered the workshop alongside fellow campaigners from the 'No Widening M1' campaign to an enthusiastic audience who included members of other campaigns such as Protect our Woodlands (Save Titnore Woods). We talked about our respective campaigns, as well as the history of road construction in the UK, what and whose purposes it serves and discussed methods we can use to fight road expansion in future.

Contrary to the portrayal in the mainstream media, the Camp was a hugely positive place with a vibrant atmosphere, making huge efforts to be environmentally sustainable. The reaction of the government, police and corporations like BAA to this event tells us we are doing something right - that the future does not mean 'business as usual' because 'business as usual' is a threat to our continued existence.

If you missed the mainstream media coverage, and want to view this alongside videos produced by activists (free of corporate bias, lies and disinformation), visit our YouTube channel.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Parking domain


Following on from the last post, inside the Highways Agency booklet, there are contact details provided for comments about the scheme on page 2 - the Highways Agency seem to have based themselves at the Civic Hall.

But what is most intriguing is the email domain of the provided contact person susan.yates@a57mottram.co.uk. Enter that domain into Nominet's 'whois' service, and you get this:

Domain name:
a57mottram.co.uk

Registrant:
Carillion Plc

Registrant type:
Unknown

Registrant's address:
24 Birch Street
Wolverhampton
WV1 4HY
GB

Registrar:
NetNames Limited [Tag = NETNAMES]
URL: http://www.netnames.co.uk

Relevant dates:
Registered on: 23-May-2007
Renewal date: 23-May-2009
Yes, Carillion, the main contractor for the bypass. Seemingly joined at the hip with the Highways Agency. And notice when it was registered. Before the PI even started.

But what's the idea behind the domain a57mottram.co.uk? Are Carillion cybersquatting, banking on the road being built and 'parking' the domain to promote the new road and any new developments alongside it? Developers could pay a lot for that domain in future to help highlight any Ashton Moss-like towers of shit they want to construct in the area.

One thing is for sure - they are convinced enough that this road will go ahead to register the domain. A small cost for a big company, but then they speculate to accumulate.

Greenwash


The Highways Agency's latest publication about the bypass is interesting for a number of reasons.

Several people have proposed alternative road schemes for the bypass, and these have been collected in a booklet which is available as a PDF from the Public Inquiry website.

They range from the interesting and worthy of attention (alternative 1, page 4), to the frankly bonkers (920m tunnel under a hillside! - alternative 2, page 6), to the comparable with or worse than the existing scheme (alternative 4, page 10).

The most interesting aims to circumvent congestion by banning HGVs and creating a 'gyratory flow' system - stopping up some local roads, constructing very little new roadspace and removing traffic lights which create delays.

But the HA is keen to point out next to each one that they do not support each proposal. No matter, it's cost them time & money, and the 1990s remind us that a plethora of such tactics kill road schemes.

And there's also some psychology at work here. The front cover has a photo of standing traffic. The implication could be construed that these alternatives are bad, really bad, and lead to more traffic.

But the best bit is reserved for the back cover. On it, they proudly proclaim 'printed on recycled paper containing 75% post consumer waste and 25% ECF pulp.' Thank fuck they have somehow managed to do their bit for the environment...

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Why Swallow's Wood is so important


The nature walk organised by Save Swallow's Wood took place today on a day of changeable weather. 12 people attended, and the weather was clement enough to hold the picnic afterwards.

The group split into 2, one group led by local expert Pat Ellison, the other by ecologist Phil Martin. We filmed the highlights of Phil's tour of the Nature Reserve & wood, and plan to edit them into a series of short videos for upload to our channel on YouTube.

In this first video, Phil explains why Swallow's Wood is so important and must be protected from the bypass that threatens it.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Climate Camp 2007


The news has been full of the protest camp at this year's Camp for Climate Action. We wholeheartedly support the camp, and believe it is an increasingly important forum for debate and action to highlight the threat posed by climate change.

For those who want to learn more, the Climate Camp homepage is the best place to start. Indymedia also have a page with links to multimedia about the camp and events from a underground & independent viewpoint.

A page of YouTube videos - from activists and mainstream media reports - is featured here.

The Guardian's live newsblog for day one of the camp is here, and their Environment page live blog for Tuesday is here.

Watch this space for more info later in the week...

Thursday, August 09, 2007

'Motorway by Stealth'


A blast from the past - the above cartoon and the following article were from the magazine of the Ramblers Association ('Rucksack') published in Autumn 1974. It's as prescient now as it was at the time.

An unusual amount of attention has focussed upon the inquiry into the Denton bypass, a 1 1/2 mile stretch of motorway near Manchester, designed - so the DOE says - to relieve traffic congestion in Denton itself. The reason for this attention is that it is widely feared that this is the first part of the feared Manchester-Sheffield motorway, which would tear through the heart of the public access land in the Peak District National Park.

As we have seen in the case of the M16 across Epping Forest, the DOE has adopted the familiar old trick of publishing its plans for the whole motorway in short stretches and of securing authority for the least contentious section first of all. This strengthens their hand at the inquiry into the most contentious stretch.

However, this time the objectors have jumped in at an early stage. Led by Gerald Haythornthwaite, amenity societies have objected to the Denton by-pass on the grounds that it could prejudice consideration of that section of the M67 that may be proposed for Longdendale.

Whether the Denton by-pass is actually built or not is not of itself a matter of national importance, but the way the Secretary of State replies to our objection is. Ideally, he would respond by stating that, henceforth, it will be government policy not to build motorways through national parks. This, after all, is a policy which many other countries would accept as being beyond question

Swallow's Wood Nature Walk & Picnic

Save Swallows Wood have organised a Nature Walk and Picnic for Sunday 19th August. Everyone is free to attend either or both events. Details are as follows:

Nature Walk: starts at 11.00 a.m. Led by a local expert and an ecologist who will be on hand to tell you everything you might want to know about the plants and wildlife. The walk will be shown the specific areas in and around the nature reserve that would be affected by the bypass proposals, should they go ahead. Meeting point: at the public footpath sign (just after the entrance to Arnfield Reservoir) Crossgate Lane, Tintwistle.

Picnic: starts at 1.00 p.m. Meeting point: at the entrance to the Swallow's Wood nature reserve, which is along the path from Crossgate Lane. Turn left and follow the public footpath off Crossgate Lane. Go through the kissing gate (kissing optional!), then turn left (through the gate) to Arnfield reservoir. The path bears right then left (keeping the stream on your right). Follow this all the way round until reach another kissing gate, at the entrance to the nature reserve. We will meet here, by the information board.

See http://mlink.org/2c504 for a map the meeting place for the start of the walk and access to the reserve off Crossgate Lane.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Darth Butler


Day 6 of the Public Inquiry, and Darth Vader is in our midst. Yes, it's Brian Butler - Vice-Chairman of the Longdendale Siege Committee.

But hang on, this is the Vice-Chairman appearing? And why has the Chairman - Mike Flynn - come over all shy? Is it anything to do with the fact that Roy Oldham is part of his family? Or perhaps that in the 1970s, he was against a bypass (when the proposed route went through his backyard - such a NIMBY!)? We may never know, because it seems he doesn't want to answer awkward questions...

Anyway, Brian was there, and he and John Watson traded pleasantries, mainly about the size of Brian's petition. Butler was keen to elaborate:

When the Labour Government came to power and announced a review of the roads situation, we raised 9,000 signatures and presented it to the Government (page 16, line 7)

Now we've heard a lot about this petition, but our spies tell us that John Watson needs to pay a bit more attention to it: on the day, Butler trumpeted that it had 9,000 signatures. Which is interesting, because if this is the same petition that Purnell, Levitt and Co were flogging it in Downing Street back in 2003, it had 8,500 signatures.

Plus, it wasn't presented to the Government - it was presented to No. 10 Downing Street. This is important - there's a public record of petitions presented to Parliament in Hansard, but no equivalent for No. 10. That's because it's largely a PR exercise for the cameras. Furthermore, there are very specific and detailed rules about the format of petitions presented to Parliament. But it would be too risky for Siege to subject their petition to proper scrutiny, so they stuck to the 'Rock Star' petition approach.

Further back in time (2001), the petition was said to number 6,900. Now you might say 'time has moved on, it's grown, they've got more signatures', which could be true. But if it was submitted to No. 10 Downing Street in 2003 with 8,500 signatures, then it cannot have grown - unless this is not the same document.

But if, as the Vice-Chair of the Longdendale Siege Committee, Brian Butler has said there are 9,000, then there must be. After all, if it's a serious petition, it will have been collated correctly. Surely, a serious organisation must be conducting their own evidence to rigorous analysis? One hopes so, because otherwise, Butler and the rest of the Siege will have been misleading the Inspector...

And the accuracy of the petition was questioned in John Hall's cross-examination:

Q. Of these 9,000, signatures, Mr Butler, do they all denote postcodes?
A. I believe so.
(page 22, line 10)

Hmmn. John Watson might want to go back and have a look. If the other examples of petitions submitted by this crew are anything to go by (here and here), there are few postcodes provided...

Oh, and if their data isn't sound, Purnell and Levitt will have been lead up the garden path by them as well. Oh dear...

Anyway, more braggadocio issued forth from Butler's mouth in the shape of his comments about the (oft-quoted) 90% of residents supporting the Bypass. Here he is again, in his element:

This support was also reflected by a poll at the Highways Agency meeting held in Hollingworth in 2001 and was estimated to be supported by 90 per cent of the several hundred who attended (page 16, line 14)

Well actually, it was 250 people (section 2.3). So 90% of that is 225 - hardly 90% of Longdendale as has been stated elsewhere, and it wasn't a poll in the sense of a secret ballot, without the intimidation factor from goons like Darth Butler or 'Harry Potter and the Duncan Hollows' et al.

From then on in, Butler's speech is one big rant, chiefly aimed at the CPRE, who he seems to have a fixation with. Plus the well-worn 'objectors are all outsiders' whinge - & this from a relative incomer (who's only lived in the area for 30 years!). Anyway, we dealt with this hypocrisy here, and we'll be having a look at the petition to see how many names it contains that are from 'over 30 miles away' (his words decrying objectors - page 17, line 30).

But the clincher from Butler was given out under questions by Chris Eldridge from Friends of the Earth when asked if Siege had asked Longdendale residents about what they wanted as a solution to traffic problems:

We had already decided that we wanted a bypass and that was what we petitioned on. We were not there to discuss alternatives with people (page 32, line 15)

Of course 'we' means relatives of the Leader of Tameside MBC, and their campaign meetings are attended by local Councillors and members of the Highways Agency and Carillion (contractors), their lavish 'Dick Turpin' roadsigns being funded by TMBC. We know full well who wants this road - and nothing else - and now Darth Butler has had the front to stand up and admit that they are blinkered to a road 'solution'.

(article edited to aid reading, 08/08/2007)

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Differences of (medical) opinion

There are 2 interesting documents to compare at the Public Inquiry website, as is usual, one in opposition, and one in support of the bypass.

Firstly, the objection supplied by the Directors of Public Health of Greater Manchester. This is a lengthy, comprehensive and damning critique of the lack of consideration given to the effects on human health of this road scheme. They also supply a fantastic quote (para 13):

"It follows that once a road has become part of a saturated road system attempting to solve traffic problems with road construction is as sensible as trying to dig a hole in the surface of a lake"

And then you have a letter supporting the bypass from a local GP surgery, the Smithy Surgery in Hollingworth. This is the best they can offer (emphasis added):

"We are a GP Surgery at the intersection of the A628 and the road that goes to Glossop. We have many patients within the Longdendale valley and are fully aware of the present high pollution levels and emissions caused by the local road congestion. We have been told that the proposed by-pass will reduce these levels which must be beneficial for many of our patients particularly those with chronic diseases such as chronic lung disease. We therefore as GP's support the Mottram/Tintwistle By-pass."

So who told them that the bypass will reduce pollution levels? Whoever it was, they were lying - even the Highways Agency's own literature makes it clear that pollution levels will increase (p.12), as the DPHGM have also pointed out above. But even more worrying is why 3 highly qualified health practitioners would simply accept what they were being told without looking into the matter, and then parade their ignorance for all to see. Even worse than that is that the above paragraph is the sum total of their supporting document - all typed onto an A5 compliment slip.

One wonders what their relationship is with local councillors...