Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Who are our David Abrahams?

We've run a whole series of posts where we've asked questions about things that just don't seem to fit right.

The national news at the moment features a whole host of - speaking frankly - shady, bent bastards who are prepared to open almost any door upon which money knocks.

But buried in the story of Labour's relationship with David Abrahams is the matter of planning permission for a retail park he wanted built in County Durham, alongside the A1. Initially, the Highways Agency had blocked the scheme on the grounds it would cause congestion (!). In October 2006, they changed tack and removed their objection. The excellent Paul Mason touched on it briefly in last night's Newsnight.

We are sure there are local similarities to this situation, some of which we've touched upon, some of which we've yet to look at. We've always smalled a rat, and eventually we will corner it and shine a light on it. You're welcome to help us.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Forewarned is forearmed

Are our suspicions about Trevor Mooney's plans for Dinting Road being confirmed? A visitor to the blog today is worth taking notice of.

Regus provide 'commercial real estate' for companies. In other words, if you're a business and want to rent an office and facilities, they provide it. Let their own words tell you a bit more of what they're about:

Companies of all sizes use Regus solutions to reduce costs and remove the burden of property ownership and management and to have a workplace to suit however they want to work.

Today, more than half of the Fortune 500, along with thousands of small- and medium-sized companies, are outsourcing some part of their office requirements to Regus.

Regus office space, meeting rooms, training rooms and conference rooms are located at premier addresses in city centers, central business districts or business parks with convenient access to major airports or public transportation.

Regus...maintains an aggressive growth strategy.

Regus Group plc is registered in England with company number 4868977 and its registered office is at 3000 Hillswood Drive, Chertsey, Surrey KT16 0RS, UK.

And the latter address confirms it's our visitor, if you look at the detailed search engine results. Their search term in Google? - "brownfield site in Dinting". Trevor Mooney must be licking his lips.

With all this local hostility to SCC, Rossington Park and the Bypass, we wonder if they know what they're letting themselves in for?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Sacrificing all the glories of nature

The letter below appeared in last week's Glossop Chronicle, and whilst it's a little twee in places and seems to be a little too overly-impressed with 'the great and the good' it's worth reading and then comparing with the picture above - an artist's impression of what the bypass will look like, crashing through Swallows Wood.

As a walker/rambler for over 60 years, my favourite location is Swallows Woods, the 60 acre nature reserve at Hollingworth, on the edge of the Peak National Park.

Every year I have visited this lovely area in all the seasons and just as I write, the leaves are just turning and falling, and I am left wondering will this be my last changing of the seasons at
Swallows Wood.

One of my favourite spots to start a ramble has always been at Roe Cross, at Mottram Cutting, and onwards towards Rabbit Lane Hamlet, near the Old Hall and via Thornsett Hall.

Around the area of Mottram Cutting we have the frog stone, an entombed amphibian, which is difficult to find.

It's very small, above head height in the east side of the wall cutting. On the A6018 road and almost nearby, stands 'The Elms', the last home of the great artist L S Lowry, and just 100 yards away, a life size bronze statue of Lowry can be found sitting on a bench.

At the Roe Cross Inn, a footpath public signpost on the right hand side, which leads to Rabbit Lane, we have a wild meadow and an old milestone with a plaque, also an avenue of 40 lime trees donated and planted in 1993 for Queen Elizabeth, by a local school.

On the Old Road near the Roe Cross Inn, the white stone can be found located within a private garden associated with the legendary Sir Ralph De Staveleigh of Stayley Hall.

On Dewsnap Lane can be found built in the wallside at the farmgate near No.1 Cottage, a very old milestone reading 13 or 10 miles to Manchester. You can just make out the lettering.

Soon all this lovely open space and countryside around Swallows Woods, which is very popular with local people and visitors, could soon vanish for ever.

Swallows Wood is a beautiful place for wildlife, and also a very important stopping off place for migrating birds on their epic flight from South Africa.

Also in the Longdendale Valley, Tameside Council is to install four new boundary stones, one in Hollingworth Woolley Lane, and Roe Cross Mottram, and we must not forget the blue plaque which is situated at Etherow Lodge in Longdendale, the former home of the gardener Mr Bill Sowerbutts, of Radio 4's Question Time fame, situated near Arnfield Towers, another one of Longdendale's famous buildings, on the Woodhead Road.

All the things I have mentioned could be lost forever once the bulldozers and earthmovers move in Swallows Woods must be saved for future generations.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Say Goodbye to Woodhead?

Regular readers will be aware that we've written several times over the past few months about the plans that National Grid have to move high voltage cables into the 1954 tunnel at Woodhead, thereby ending any possible future use for the purposes it was built for - train travel and freight on the rails.

Over the past couple of months, things have got worse. In July, a variety of organisations joined with the Peak District National Park Authority to make representations about the threat posed by National Grid's intentions.

But by September, the Government had indicated it had no intention to intervene in the issue. Whilst this was reported and lamented over the other side of the Pennines, the local press over this side has been silent, until prompted by local campaigners. Indeed, the only other reference we can find to this issue locally is on Councillor McKeown's blog (upon which we blogged pointing out the contradictions inherent in the argument the Councillors put forward).

You don't have to be as cynical as we are to see how these delays have conveniently coincided with the Highways Agency's successful attempts to stall the Bypass Public Inquiry. The delays have meant that the timetable for the discussion of alternatives like the Translink proposal has been set further and further back. To those following the PI, it has been clear that the Inspector is keen to hear all about Translink, and he has made a lot of room for them.

But the clincher lies in National Grid's timetable for the planned legal vandalism. Whilst the PDNPA hint that the work will begin within the next 5 to 10 years, we have it on good authority that they are in fact due to start in February 2008. With the latest PI delays, there is no chance that the case for the alternatives will be held before then.

What is at stake in this veritable game of chess should not be underestimated. There is an already existing transpennine route that would require little comparable effort and expense to resurrect, utilising a comparatively environmentally friendly and sustainable mode of transport - which is badly needed. All of which is under threat from a multinational corporation whose only concern and responsibility is returning profits to shareholders. All of which is based on promoting the growth of unsustainable energy use.

We've already pointed out that the Government has indicated that it wants more roads and is indifferent about Rail. The High Peak MP, Tom Levitt, is busy attaching himself to a green energy project that's a drop in the ocean as to what's required to turn things around. But at the same time, he fully backs one massively environmentally damaging project (the Bypass) and remains silent about environmental vandalism (the closure of the Tunnel). What is accrued through this 'business as usual' approach is a huge pile of bullshit that the State is inclined paint bright green. But it still smells like bullshit to us.

There should be a huge head of steam built up around this issue (pardon the pun), not just here, but throughout the North West of England. But time is short. Bold action and initiatives are needed to prevent the destruction of a badly needed form of sustainable transport. Will we show willing? If you want to help, please get in touch. And watch this space for more news.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Re-post: Do We Need More Housing?

We're consistently providing scoops for the press, so when the Glossop Advertiser today published an article on the disaster area that Glossop is becoming, we feel the need to remind them and our readers in the real world of a post by kirtlegreen from nearly 3 weeks ago. Before reading, take some time to look at High Peak Borough Council's new 'Core Strategy Consultation'. You might like to ponder how this 'strategy' will affect planning and consultation in the future, but bear in mind that this is the same Council that gave you Rossington Park, SCC and Trevor Mooney's car park (that no-one uses). And the same crew that will no doubt roll over and have their tummy tickled by Tesco...

At the moment Glossop is a construction site. Wherever the humble pedestrian ventures in this erstwhile quiet market town is impeded by building site fencing, dust clouds, and infill building sites which block their way. Not to mention the random removal of mature trees, followed by the obligatory desultory apology, and swift pinning of blame on other parties. Hitherto pleasant open areas to shop such as Smithy Fold and the Bulldog Shopping Precinct (coincidentally prey to an overnight robbery) are all probably being conducted in the name of Glossop Vision.

No doubt the similar vision which brought Glossop the visionary burnt out Wrens Nest apartment block, the pinnacle planning masterpiece that has brought High Peak Borough Council its flagship planning award.

No question what the vision for Glossop is: eradicate its heritage.

More worryingly this is part of a greater "vision", the strategy of that well known "visionary" and "conviction" politician Gordon Brown, to get rid of the country's rural heritage by abolition of the green belt.

There is an enormous threat to the greenbelt and rural beauty of Great Britain which will be detailed in future blogs.

In the meantime let us ruminate in what is happening in Glossop at present and draw this conclusion. The Council and its Planning Department want building and construction action. They are hooked on it more than any junkie on his daily fix. They do not care about pedestrians or the public, as long as they are able to set records for the most number of yellow clad safety jacket operatives in a single market town, and enhance their reputation for so called "regeneration". Currently frustrated by the Bypass impasse and the Green Built ring fence they are concentrating on making the town a pedestrian no go area with obstructive and burnt out flagship planning projects that do not take human factors into account and are therefore doomed from outset. Even their only other toy, Rossington Park is running into trouble, so they are really going for Glossop as the best place to play Meccano, though Rossington Park watchers need to be very alert as well.

But be warned. In our view like irritable children they will get tired with that game of Glossop as building site, and want further action outside the town before long.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The dangers of Dinting Road

Over the past few weeks, the Glossop Chronicle featured several articles by the pro-bypass journalist David Jones, both focusing on Dinting Road, between Glossop and Hadfield.

The first article was a feature about the latest instalment in the saga that is the 'Park & Ride' next to Dinting Railway Station. A businessman, Trevor Mooney, has blighted the area with this useless lump of tarmac and was moaning in the article that High Peak Borough Council have withdrawn permission to use it for Car Boot sales on Sundays. Apparently, he has had a premonition that the car park is doomed. There have been a succession of similar articles like this over the past few months - Mooney is eager to portray himself as an honest-to-goodness businessman (there's an oxymoron - as well as a moron - in there somewhere) hamstrung by bureaucracy. But the truth is more complex than that.

Firstly, prior to the construction of this park and ride, no one parked their cars halfway down Dinting Road. The mere fact that it was free to park on it for the first few weeks meant that the selfish idiots that now leave their vehicles down the road knew about it in the first place because of the car park (that they no longer use). Where do these people live? If it's near to Glossop - walk to the Railway station there and use it. The same for Hadfield. Surely if you live within 15 minutes of Dinting Station, you can walk? Is it really too much trouble?

That aside, these individuals are creating a very dangerous situation on Dinting Road. The vehicles are parked on one side of the road, from the top of a blind summit which snakes round a bend to nearly halfway down the road. If you're using the road in either direction, you have to hope that no-one is travelling at more than 40 mph (the speed limit on the road) and is paying a lot of attention to the route - it's even more precarious at night and in bad weather. With lorries from the nearby quarry travelling hell-for-leather (time is money) down the hill leaving mud all over the road surface, it is a dangerous route: and all the more so now for Mooney's useless car park.

But the fact his car park is not used suits his plans. Why? Well because after his development, it's now a brownfield site, so he can build on it. If his little venture fails, he'll move on to something else - either 'developing ' it himself or selling it on to someone else who will. As local people know, one of the great things about the Hadfield side of Dinting Road is the view from the Station across land which is unfarmed and uncultivated - and therefore very ecologically diverse. Mooney has done his bit to ruin it.

And over the last two weeks, we've seen Mooney in the Chronicle and the Glossop Advertiser again. His latest wheeze is to promote an idea to build a Golf Driving Range adjoining his car park. Jesus Christ! But hang on - didn't he once have the same wheeze about Wimberry Hill, above Hadfield? And there are rumours flying that there's a link up between Mooney and another businessman who made a Cemetery Road in Glossop a muddy deathtrap for weeks owing to earthworks they created for some ill-fated project a few years back.

Reading these articles, you could almost close your eyes and remember the time when Chris Woodward used to occupy the Chronicle virtually every other week. At one point, that charming individual plumbed the depths by using racism - he threatening to allow Gypsies to park on land he owned that HPBC had refused planning permission for. In a similar way, clad in his undertaker's jacket, Mooney is prone to portraying himself as the victim and using the local press at every opportunity. Who knows what depths he'll eventually plumb to keep his Slobodan Milošević-like fizzog in the local rag.

If anything, High Peak BC have not hindered this moron - they have in fact helped him to create this situation in the first place. Why did they allow his car park to be developed? This crew are continually making idiotic decisions about the environment in the area. Where will it end?

Another recent feature penned by David Jones highlights the hazardous nature of Dinting Road to schoolchildren who have to cross it to get to Hadfield School. They have for years - but now the road is recognised as being far more dangerous. All owing to Mooney - and High Peak BC.

But wait - one of those moaning about the road is Andrew Byford. Remember him? Is this the same guy that had his (best left in the loft) ideas for a Glossop Bypass and plugged them in the local papers earlier this year. So he wants less traffic now?

That's the trouble with the 'leading advocates' of this road, like Jones and to a much-lesser Byford (who is also a Neighbourhood Watch coordinator - thank god!) is that they live in a world full of contradictions. They want less traffic and less congestion, but more roads (is there such a thing as a new road that remains unused by traffic?). They want to shout about the special place that Glossop and the High Peak are (or increasingly were), but froth at the mouth with excitement about the plans of developers whose business plans bring nothing to the area that enhances the environment - and on the contrary makes it worse to inhabit.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

"It seems to me it is, in the literal sense of the word, an extraordinary situation in which we find ourselves..."

Those of you that have been following this farce that calls itself a Public Inquiry know the drill by now. The Public Inquiry re-convened today. So, right on cue, the Highways Agency admit that even more of their figures are wrong. Over to the Inspector, John Watson:

Yesterday the Programme Officer had a telephone call from
Louise McCawley, who I understand works for the

Highways Agency. She told him and asked him to tell me, which
is why I am mentioning it now, that more errors had been
found in the traffic modelling and that there may be a delay
in presenting the Environmental Statement later than
30th November. I know nothing more about this. (p.3, line 22)

'lah-de-dah' Charles Calvert for the Highways Agency professed his client's complete incompetence (or wilful tactical ploys...):

it is nigh impossible for us to achieve the date that was set at the last meeting. (p.4, line 10)

And guess what? This also means that their amended evidence, submitted since the last adjournment, is now invalid. Great.

John Watson's view on this (and a priceless quote):

It seems to me it is, in the literal sense of the word, an extraordinary situation in which we find ourselves (p.9, line 21)

Do you think he's pissed off with this charade? He must be at least simmering. But he went on to say that 'the rules' can cope with this situation. The bourgeoisie will always cling to their 'rules' when all else is clearly lost.

The fact of the matter is that the State, represented here by the Highways Agency and their local manifestation TMBC, is playing a game to frustrate the Objector's case. They clearly do not want to the evidence to be heard, but the cold hard fact is that the longer this thing stretches on, the more diminished the resources of the 'official' opposition become.

This is now an all but official war of attrition.

Latest in the roll call of visitors

We love it when our enemies visit. So after our recent post in which we mentioned how 2 of the UK's biggest roadbuilding firms are looking to consolidate into one mega-company, Carillion (not to be confused with the 1980s prog-rockers, Marillion) popped by today.

The best bit is that they landed on the label 'cynical bastards', presumably to look at the good company they are keeping.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Does Ruth Kelly wear a hair shirt?

Perhaps more than any other in recent times, this government's attempts to resolve the inherent contradictions of capitalism through spin - if not concrete reality - are becoming less and less credible. Last week* saw the release of a discussion paper by the Department for Transport that is a perfect illustration of a new and what will prove to be intractable conundrum - how to expand road, rail and air networks whilst seeking to curb CO2 emissions.

The paper signals a disdain for the rail alternatives and sees a future where 'decarbonised' automobiles will need to be accommodated on an ever widening and expanding motorway and road network. Furthermore, they are seeking to fund this expansion through private investment - a logical conclusion to the 'Design Build Finance Operate' initiatives of the 1990s. It's perhaps not so coincidental that two of the largest private road building firms have been courting each other in recent weeks and now look like they will merge shortly: Carillion (contractors for the Longdendale Bypass) & McAlpine (whose 'Green' claim-to-fame is that they built the Eden Project).

Let's be clear: even if all motor vehicles became carbon neutral first thing tomorrow, we'd still be against the expansion of the road network. The motor industry has been a key staple of capitalism since the end of World War 2. Automobiles are the pre-eminent product in this economic system, and the motor industry itself is a key locus for the expansion of capital and the accumulation of surplus value (the primary preoccupation of capitalism). Nothing can stand in it's way, whether it is carbon emitting or carbon neutral, and it could quite conceivably be the latter within the foreseeable future.

The freedom that the car offers is an individual freedom only, and one that can only exist without taking away the freedoms of everyone else. In this way, the State makes a bargain that in return for the ability to go anywhere at any time you choose, unspoilt communal spaces will be increasingly tarmacked over. But now it seems the bargain is going to be even more bizarre than that - the State will guarantee both the freedom to travel and the freedom from anxiety that one will not be polluting the environment. As long as one closes one's eyes to the fact that the landscape around us is being destroyed, it will be possible to have a clean conscience about levels of CO2.

In this case, the empress who has no clothes is Ruth Kelly. In the recent past, she has had the gall to say she receives 'spiritual support' from an organisation that provided both spiritual & political support for the formerly Fascist governments of Spain and Chile. This presumably makes her well qualified to promote the cause of irrationality in the style of the Cosa Nostra, a hallmark of this government's authoritarian approach to almost any issue.

After all, if she has a pang of conscience, she'll no doubt just pull the cilice ever tighter.

*on no more a conspicuous date than All Hallows Eve!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

A Toot and a Wave for 'not so Sir' Oldham

Apologies, apologies, apologies - sorry for my absence over the latter part of our glorious summer. There's been 'trouble at mill', & I will inform comrades on a need-to-know basis - basically it's family problems, illness and it's impending doom. Seems to have been hanging over my dad's head like the Sword of Damocles. I only have one head and it has been needed elsewhere - a thousand apologies to all those who matter. I think you know who you are. Anyway, back to business.

On a recent visit to a certain drinking establishment I bumped into a friend of mine, and as is usual when we meet, he sold me a copy of the very excellent periodical NORTHERN VOICES. For those of you who are not familiar with this little literary gem, it tends to offer the reader good, honest, journalistic attempts at some home truths, as well as issues/stories that may be of interest to local people - something our local rags fail in the most miserable fashion (unless of course you are in the market to purchase a conservatory, house, or motor car).

I noticed this little story. I quote directly from source:


A regular reader of NV contacted us recently with a juicy bit of information. It seems that he had heard from a council employee that a certain councillor who leads a Greater Manchester Local Authority had gone ballistic when he had learned that the leader of Manchester City Council, Richard Lees, had been honoured with a knighthood. It seems that that the councillor - who covets a knighthood - was so incensed that he'd been overlooked in the honours list that he turned purple with rage and was seen to kick a door in at the council offices where he works. Our source told NV that he was seen 'kickin and a spitten' and shouting, "They're my knighthoods, the bastards"

I'll quote again from Northern Voices:

Next Knight Of Tameside

The voters of Tameside would do well to heed the words of American poet Walt Whitman who once said "rise at once at the never ending audacity of elected persons". That politicians are inclined to become brazen and arrogant the longer they are in office was recognised long ago by the ancient Greeks in Athens, who tended to exile those elected persons that they felt had got too big for their boots. In Tameside, the local Council has been Labour-controlled and led by its leader Roy Oldham since 1979. Mr Oldham, now aged 73, likes to boast that he holds the record for being the longest serving Council leader in the country. Indeed, he has now been in power longer than Robert Mugabe who leads the Zanu PF party in Zimbabwe and seems almost as difficult to get rid of as the ageing dictator. However, in spite of his political longevity, it seems that Councillor Oldham is becoming something of an embarrassment if the letters in the local press are anything to go by. It seems that some people feel that his ego has become almost as inflated as his council salary. This summer (August) he was accused by the leader of the Tory opposition, councillor John Bell, of being on a "massive ego trip" after it was discovered that his house on Back Moor had been etched into a bronze map showing places of historical interest in Mottram. The map, which shows the homes of L S Lowry and the old Post Office, is the first in a series of bronze maps which are intended to showcase the jewels of Tameside's cultural heritage.

Some members of the public have reacted angrily, accusing the council leader of arrogance, megalomania, and of being an embarrassment and a laughing stock. But councillor Oldham, who already has a bridge named after himself in Stalybridge, is unrepentant and insists that placing his house on the map was "just a bit of fun". He told a local newspaper "It's like when a carpenter works in a church and carves a little church mouse on the bottom of an emblem. I don't see why any one should make a problem but there are sad people in all walks of life". Some politicians on Tameside council are not impressed, believing that the leader's arrogance gives politicians a bad name and undermines local government politics. Councillor Bell said "Councillor Oldham's ego has run away with him ... a few years ago, he had CCTV installed at his home at tax payer's expense after a bomb hoax. Now he's drawing attention to himself by putting his home on a map".


How to deal WITH THE BIG O. No folks, I'm not talking about Roy Orbison, I'm talking the real BIG O. Our glorious leader, the 'not so Sir' Roy Oldham. In my humble opinion, the only rise Roy needs to hear (a rise sir Roy) is possibly in his trousers - I would not wish the alternative on man or beast, so I suppose that covers Roy in one way or another. Anyway, how can we as a group of like-minded individuals best draw attention to our glorious leader's plight? Well, one idea I've had is to contact all our friends, comrades, political alliances etc and start a campaign to get Mottram renamed Oldhamgrad (I quite fancy the bypass being called the Oldhamgrad/Tnitwistle Bypass). No, only joking - about the bypass, not the new name for Mottram though. I think we should start a campaign to help Roy obtain the accolade and the big 'thank you' he deserves. There it is, the name of our campaign - THE BIG THANK YOU. A campaign from the good and fair people of our land to pay homage and respect to a dedicated local politician who, through his selfless acts and betrayal of local communities, thinks that the needs of us green 'n common folk, are best served by the greed and backscratching of the grubby and vile speculators that follow the Highways Agency long after these middle pigs have concreted over another piece of our green 'n pleasant land.

At the very least I propose we adopt a new strategy: let's take our campaign to a new level, or different direction. Lets help the Big O. I propose at the very least a TOOT AND WAVE POLICY. Let me explain. Was it not Councillor Oldham who was BRASS faced enough to have his home address cast in the same, so that all and sundry will know where the 'not so Sir' Roy resides? Let's ask all our allies - everybody we know - let all campaigners be emailed with his home address and politely ask/invite them to take part in a campaign against this road scheme by tooting and waving as they pass by Roy's house . A cheap, effective campaign that fights on a different front. Lets hope it becomes a relentless barrage of noise and car horn blowing. He seems to like roads and the motor car so lets use them against him. In life you sometimes get what you wish for...