Tuesday, April 29, 2008
But first, some context. You may remember that in August last year, the Highways Agency published several alternative proposals (opens PDF) to the bypass that had been drawn up in consultation with individuals. We posted at the time about the irony of the way the Highways Agency were concerned to firmly state their green credentials in ensuring the booklet was produced in an environmentally conscious manner (unlike their proposed dirty great proto-motorway through our valley), as well as the content of the booklet, and the bizarre routes outlined within it.
Yesterday, one of the people responsible for two of those routes left a comment on that post to highlight his experience with the people at Hyder Consulting in drawing up 2 of those proposals. We'll let him speak in his own words:
I was 'responsible' for alternatives 2 and 3 in the HA document. I say responsible, but the alternatives presented in this document bear very little relationship to those I actually submitted, and to those which I agreed with the 'nice chaps' from Hyder.
The first point I should make is that I submitted my alternatives as a sort of 'why not consider going in this general direction'. I in no way advocated a 920m tunnel, I realise this is as stupid as everyone else does. However, my 'rough line on a map' has been interpreted in this way, rather than the general suggestion intended. All the traffic control measures were added after I signed the plans off and some changes have also been made after that time. None of the notes I added have been included which explain the thinking behind this suggestion and in general I believe my alternatives have been made to look as bad as possible. I'm also not allowed any comeback on this - unlike the HA I can't revise my proposal and the only way I can 'correct' it is by presenting rebuttal evidence.
My general position is that I feel a Mottram bypass is necessary, but I don't feel that bypassing beyond here is appropriate. However, the other thing I wasn't happy about is that we could only present alternatives that were a 'complete alternative to the proposal'. We could not offer a better route in to Glossop and alternative measures for beyond which is what I would have preferred. My suggestions for a stepped plan including public transport improvements were also not deemed suitable for inclusion.
It seems the only alternative that will be considered to this bypass is another bypass and now that the main alternative route beyond Hollingworth has been built over there seems little point in even considering any alternative.
Well, how interesting is that? It seems that the Highway Agency/Hyder are so obsessed with their project, they even seek to ruin projects that are largely in sympathy, like some kind of jealous lover. It's not enough to change subtle details here and there, they have to embellish and even transform someone else's work without consulting them in an effort to make their own crappy disaster of a road look pre-eminent.
These are actually quite serious allegations (or should be) and we urge 'Stephen' to present that rebuttal evidence to the Inquiry. For all of those who still think the bypass is a project to alleviate Mottram of traffic and pollution, here is evidence that the Highways Agency are loath to co-operate on any other options, even if they are road-based.
How ironic they landed on our site and not the official abortion of a website that our old friend Bob Haycock is responsible for...happy hunting roadmunkeys!
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Not sure how you are managing with the Council Tax increases, plus paying this Winter's power bills, but some are doing fantastically at getting money out of TMBC, to the tune of £500 million plus - yes, £500 million plus! So who is this giant money-making Company, and how is it happening?
Well, nearly £200 million came from the Longdendale Bypass contract, and now another £300 million contract - placed by ONE TMBC Decision maker - for the Tameside Schools programme.
Remember Carillion, the construction Company named last week by the Office of Fair Trading for being associated with manipulating contracts, or otherwise being bent? Their appeal for mercy was obviously lodged to try to get a potentially large financial penalty reduced.
But hang on, within recent weeks Carillion were awarded another massive contract by none other than your Councillor Roy Oldham, who was described (see page 1, opens PDF) as the "Decision Maker", the contract being appropriately signed by him.
Now, to attain this important role Roy Oldham was instrumental in starting another Advisory Quango (see page 9, opens PDF) for the purpose of giving him so-called 'advice' before he took this £300 million plus decision. Now I ask you - do you really fall for this, that Roy Oldham required advice from a carefully selected TMBC quango before he flexes his Dictatorial "I'm in charge" decision-making stance? But he did, and the known contract-manipulating Mowlem/Carillion were handed your money to the tune of £500 million plus in total.
Were there any others considered for this massive contract? Well, the two considered along with the extremely dodgy Carillion were Trillium and Interserve Project Services Limited. Trillium are not exactly a Construction/Building Company, but Interserve Project Services Limited were also on the OFT's named and shamed list last week. Out of interest, their Company Chairman is Lord Blackwell, previous Head of the Prime Ministers Policy Unit, but it gets better because he is also a Board Member for - the Office of Fair Trading!
Now I and others are getting pissed off at these so called revered people who administrate our lives and these known very dodgy Companies putting their hands in my pockets, your purses and wallets to the tune of £millions and laughing at you as you try and make ends meet each week. It's all a bloody disgrace, and that's why you need to know as much as I can discover.
A Freedom of Information request to TMBC, as to who else tendered other than Carillion, did not bring results until the TMBC Solicitor was informed that the information had passed to the Office for Fair Trading - then, lo and behold, the information was given immediately.
Remember how the cost of the Bypass job rocketed skyward after the contract was awarded? - and don't forget the Highways Agency's finger in this escalating financial costs scam.
Now you may well think this is mud raking, but if you are a soft touch to the tune of £500 million with these individuals and Companies doing their thing, then you must have a trusting mind beyond most peoples imagination.
Do you deserve to be conned? - I think not - and you deserve far better than being robbed
by those laughing at you.
I definitely have a feeling some people and some Companies are sitting on an already-lit time bomb. Lets wait and see!
Monday, April 21, 2008
"...It would appear that Councillor Sean Parker-Perry's (nee Sean Perry) blogspot is suffering from a period of inactivity. In fact his one and only post came in late January just after his return from Spain. No doubt this is because he has been busy writing up his research on the aromatic effects of burning olive stones on open fires. The residents of Longdendale are awaiting this vital information with baited breath, and so are we. The story can also be viewed at the Bad Air Sponge
Oh yes. What's more, this attention has apparently led to additional funding and consequently new opportunities to inspire other groups to to start their own clean-ups in areas within the Longdendale Valley. I'll let you, the readers, be the first to give me the news on such inspirational examples that AL has created.
The conversion of the said Railway Arch begins with this planning application to his own council which, unsurprisingly, gave the nod. There are two things of note about the Arch itself. First of all it is not of any use in its present state to act as a secure lock-up for said tools. Basically it is derelict and it will take an awful amount of spending to make it anything like secure.
It is literally an open archway with no doors or any form of security and with rocks and rubble strewn throughout - derelict in every sense of the word.
One can't help wondering why they don't opt for a standard lock-up like an existing garage or shed? Something that is relatively cheap, secure and immediately available for members of the community who actually want to hire some tools, now that Spring is in the air.
The other puzzling aspect of acquiring a derelict archway is the cost. Spacia is the name of the company that rents out these arches and to get some idea of the cost, type 'Stalybridge' into 'property search' on the site - property reference SYB03904 (Unit 3 Waterloo Court) is the nearest example to Broadbottom where there is something available. Wow. £6,100 per annum +VAT. Not cheap then. Admittedly, this one comes fully furbished, but still not cheap.
I would suggest that the £8,000 Awards For All would just about cover the cost of refurbishment plus rental costs for the first year, but then what? They would have to rent out an awful lot of tools to cover rental costs of the archway per annum. Particularly when one bears in mind that this is a not-for-profit enterprise. Awards For All cannot award grants to companies that aim to make a profit! This is made plain on page 2 of their Guidance Notes. Hence, this brings into question the feasibility that this can ever be a self-funding project, something I alluded to earlier...
Readers of this blog may have also noticed a political dimension to AL so at this point I would simply draw your attention to the fact that on page 4 of the Guidance Notes above, it also states quite clearly that they will not fund political activities.
In summary, we have an organisation with an undefined legal status that allegedly hires out tools to the community and has acquired known income to the tune of £8,400 to do so. Yet does anyone know how to contact Active Longdendale, and how to join them? Has even a single person ever actually hired any tools from this spurious organisation and if so when, how, from whom and from where?
It seems certain that had Active Longdendale purchased any tools for the community we would have heard about it in the local press, to whom Sean as a Councillor, clearly has access. It's equally certain that if a rental service had been established, the community would know about it by now.
Apart from the Archway, the only other known expenses that Active Longdendale have incurred come from the Spanish expedition. You may recall that Cllrs Parker-Perry and Jonathan Reynolds went to Moclin in Spain as representatives of AL which brings us full circle.
Moclin, Moclin. Mmm. That rings a bell. Ah, yes. Didn't the Longdendale District Assembly grant 'Friends of Moclin' £500 recently? Yes that's right. In December 2007. Just a month before our local Cllrs went to Moclin themselves. What a rare coincidence! People do say we live in a global village these days and when unfathomable events like this just happen to occur in a quirky manner you just know it's true. Well blow me dahn, who'd of thowt it possible? I wonder though. Is it possible that lightning could strike in the same place twice?
Surely not. Better wait and see though!..."
Once again, we have our own thoughts on this matter.
Firstly, the status of Active Longdendale. It's been variously described as a trading co-operative, a charity, and a small business enterprise. The latter description is of particular interest, since those were the words of fellow Longdendale Councillor Roy Oldham, upon defending AL and Sean and Jonny in the press when the Olive Stones debacle reached the newspapers. As Digger has noted, were AL to be a profit-making enterprise, that would breach the terms of the grant from Awards for All.
To be a Co-operative, AL would have to be either a Limited Company or an Industrial and Provident Society, and there's no evidence it's either of those.
It's clearly not a Charity, as Sean's website and literature would then have to display their registration number.
Also of interest is that Awards for All make it clear that the money must be able to be spent within one year, in this case of August 2007. So this raises the question, how has it been spent? Has Sean in fact bought the railway arch? It would seem not, because the planning application documents make it clear he's the lessee from Spacia. Given that the arch is derelict, it's not yet been spent on restoration. They're in no hurry to spend the money.
We await August 2008 with interest.
Friday, April 18, 2008
Carillion, one of the largest Building Contractors in the UK has now pleaded to the Office of Fair Trading for mercy because its been found to be ripping you off big time for deviously obtained contracts. So who is behind Carillion the rip off merchants? Well, for a start, we have Baroness Vanda Murray: not only an important person at Carillion, but also a Director of the North West Development Agency, who are big supporters of the Bypass scheme which is being built by - Carillion.
Appointed by Lord Sainsbury, the Baroness also declares her interests in the Cheshire Building Society, a Phone Company and, sod me, the UK Audit Commission. And, if you want to see how she manipulates money have a shufty here.
Now try and keep up, because who else is very important friend to the North West Development Agency? Well it's Councillor Roy Oldham of Tameside (who also wants the Bypass) which is being built for you by Carillion.
Now Carillion have been exposed by the Office of Fair Trading, the BBC, and the Press as being crooked and they really are in the shit deep, but never fear it gets better! Who gave the Bypass contract to Carillion (a Company who overcharges according to the OFT)? Well, using Freedom of Information legislation, I asked the Highways Agency in Manchester who the members of the Panel awarding the Bypass contract are. At first, they preferred to say "we won't tell you, it's not in the public interest" - well it's in my bloody interest to know because I am contributing to the soon to be a £200 million Bypass! So then after an appeal - because it is in the Public's interest according to common sense, out came the 4 names who decided to give the contract to Carillion (the crooked company).
First out of the trap is Stephen Greenhalgh, the infamous vanishing Bypass project leader who, everyone knows, became exceedingly skilled at apologising to the Public Inquiry almost every day because his evidence was exposed as absolute crap. But why should he be concerned? It's only YOUR money from YOUR pocket to the tune of £9.5 million to Carillion/Mowlem & Associates spent on totally useless error ridden evidence which stopped the Inquiry 5 times. Not to worry, Carillion and friends will be charging again for the new evidence it's taking a year to produce, so the past lot of evidence must have really been expensive shit thrown at the Public Inquiry.
Next, is another member of the Highways Panel who awarded the contract to the crooks, and another Highways Agency associate of Stephen Greenhalgh - one John Hornagold (funny old Norfolk name but spelt the same as one of the UK's largest Building Contractors owned by an S Hornagold from Essex). He was closely involved with the Cumbrian Bypass scheme, which was handy because it's believed he resides in a very swish area called Arnside on the approach to The Lakes.
Number three on the Panel was Ziad El-Balbisi of the Highways Agency (not really an independant panel as yet!) - no known track record as yet.
The fourth member of this Panel who awarded the multi-million contracts for the Bypass was Irvin Peacock of Mott MacDonald (the Employers Agent), again one of the largest Contractors in the UK. Now Irvin is shown as being from Mott MacDonald Group Ltd Sheffield as a Project Engineer, so it's likely he knows all the major contractors such as Carillion (i.e. the bent ones) and he was also directly involved in the traffic surveys concerning the Bypass scheme via Mott MacDonald, which as we know turned out also to be crap.
So of the 4 members of the contract awarding Panel, 2 have created incorrect evidence for the Public Inquiry. Yet they are deemed able to award a £200 million contract to Carillion - is their efficiency to spend that £200 million of any merit ?
Well, it can only get more confusing regarding who knows who and in what context.
In addition to all this, the Public Inquiry Witness Brian Witten is also a Director of Matt Macdonald, so obviously it must presumed knows Irvin Peacock, the person involved in awarding HA contracts to large Construction Companies. Another Witness at the PI is Adrian Rowe from Carillion.
Then we have the assortment of Public Inquiry witnesses for the Bypass including:
John Greiller, a Director of Hyder Consulting
Stewart Lowther, another Director of Hyder Consulting
Robert Kitch of Hyder Consulting
J Hunter of Hyder Consulting
Sergio Solera of Hyder Consulting
Andrew Bean of Hyder Consulting
Adrian Rowe of Hyder Consulting
Now Hyder Consulting has connections with Carillion but let's leave that for the next time we blog.
But the following facts are also interesting:
At a Bypass Public Meeting in 2001, the Chair stated "SPITS have a remit to reduce traffic on quite a number of routes (in the Park). SPITS is responsible at the moment for the strategy on these routes. SPITS have explained how this improvement can be done. SPITS are seeking to transfer traffic onto the A628 to improve other areas of the Park." Does that mean that SPITS knows the real truth is being hidden?
The SPITS Business Plan (opens PDF) identifies the following aims:
"Traffic restraint e.g. speed reduction measures and traffic calming on all Trans-Pennine routes and class A And B roads south of the M62 and north of the A50 except the A57/A628/A616 corridor" (our emphasis).
So here comes your Trans Continental Road Route from Ireland, Liverpool, Manchester, M67, M1, Humberside Ports, Germany, Poland, Netherlands, Baltic States, your Northern Corridor NETA Plan. So please don't tell me it's for the 3 Villages, that's pure spin as they force their route through the Peak District National Park and along the Longdendale Valley.
To end with a laugh: Peter Bibby, one-time Tameside Councillor for Longdendale stated at a Public Meeting in 2001:
"The Council supports a bypass ... this has been going on for 70 years and the M62 is overloaded".
Now which of you had a Car or a HGV in 1938 which was clogging up Mottram Moor? I want photographic evidence please!
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Interesting news today that the Longdendale Bypass main contractor Carillion are one of the 112 construction firms accused by the Office of Fair Trading for colluding to inflate the prices of public sector contracts.
Could this go some way to explaining the ever-rising costs of the bypass? And is it also significant that Carillion also won contracts worth £164 million to transform secondary schools in Tameside (now valued at £300 million)?
This is going to be an interesting development to keep our eyes on...
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Sean Parker-Perry - along with the other Longdendale Labour candidates that support the Bypass - have always made much of their 'mandate' in the area. They trot out the typical refrain of politicians, that they 'campaigned on the bypass issue' and therefore they were also elected on the back of it, as if it is the only point in their manifesto, and as though the electorate have a huge choice to vote for those who oppose it (or at least actively oppose it, eh Green Party? - NOT).
Indeed, both Johnathan Reynolds and Parker-Perry have made their views known to the Inspector at the Public Inquiry, as has Roy Oldham (although rather oddly, his evidence has yet to appear online, though it is available for all to see in the library). So let's take a look at what they say.
First Reynolds. You can read his letter here. The best bit reads:
"...In addition, I would like to make a point about the democratically expressed wishes of the people of Longdendale. As a newly elected Councillor in 2007, who had until very recently lived on Mottram Moor, I made clear my unequivocal support for the bypass during my election campaign and the reasons for this. My support for the Bypass was the subject of a specific leaflet I produced and distributed in Hollingworth and Mottram. Despite claims from the organised opposition that local opinion is not in favour of the project going ahead, I received more votes than all the opposing candidates combined. If local people are against the bypass, as some would claim, then they are certainly not registering this view through the ballot box. In fact, quite the opposite is true."
Of course, as we've pointed out before, most people in Longdendale don't vote, and since most of the candidates are for the bypass, there's not really any choice if you don't support it. No doubt Reynolds would point out that if you don't take part then 'tough', but you can't crow about a 'mandate' if the majority of a minority of the total population voted for you.
And then we come to Sean's letter to John Watson, which you can read here. He doesn't waffle and come over all pro like Johnny, but here's his bit:
"The elected members of TMBC who represent the Longdendale Ward have done so on a mandate from the electorate of supporting the bypass. Both I and my ward colleagues have run campaigns of clear support for the Bypass at each election and we have been returned with increasing majorities." (our emphasis)
Well, it seems that isn't the case this time. Because we've had Sean's leaflet through our letterbox. We've looked high and low, and there's no sign of any mention of the Bypass, let alone transport. Most of it is about how low the Council Tax is and it brags about vile crap like ASBOs and IKEA, as if they are laudable achievements. If you want to scrutinise it, we've produced scans below (click through for larger versions).
No doubt a lot of canvassing is going on, but you can bet that most of it is concentrated on known Labour voters. So if Sean wins this time, he won't be able to talk about a mandate, at least not with a straight face. We''ll be there to remind him - and everyone else at every opportunity...
Monday, April 14, 2008
Last week's Glossop Chronic showed how desperate the Longdendale Siege Committee are to keep themselves in the paper. Last week's article about the 'hacker' that somehow broke into Robert Haycock's email to send a message to his mate David Jones was reprised again!
It's often said that if you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes true, and that's what Siege and the Chronic are up to here. So we've decided to write to them both, and we'll display our email below:
Hello Bob & David
Well, it's very interesting to see how you are spinning the story of the 'hacker' who broke into Longdendale Siege's email address. Trying to stretch this story across 2 whole issues of the newspaper seems pretty desperate to us.
By us, I mean our blog - known either as 'No Mottram Bypass' or 'Stop the A57/A628 Bypass' - we've been writing on the bypass for over 12 months now and you've done your best to ignore us. Even when we provide you with material for stories, as we often do, we get no credit.
But there's no hard feelings. By the way, as you know, it was us that pulled the April Fool hoax. But before we look at your accusations about hacking, we must first remark that if Mr Haycock is so concerned about his email address being used by others, then why is it still displayed on the Longdendale Siege website as the contact address? Furthermore, the Bob contacted us with the exact same email address you say we 'hacked' and not the new one you mention in the article.
As for the 'hacking' - well, we wish we had such abilities. In truth we created an email address - email@example.com - and then placed Bob's real email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) in the 'account name' section of the settings. All this meant was that instead of displaying a 'name', the email address was displayed. Merely a confidence trick.
You see David, we know you are trying to wind your readership up by taking more potshots at those opposed to the bypass. But we don't care - I'll wager more people from Glossop and Longdendale search Google daily than read the Chronicle each week. And if they search for information about the bypass, they have an excellent chance of landing on our website and reading all about the things that you ensure don't reach your readership.
We know there isn't a cat in hell's chance of you printing this email. But it exists on our site, and anyone searching for Glossop Chronicle, Robert Haycock, Longdendale Siege and 'Hacker' will land here and read it.
Isn't all this such fun?! Until next time...
PS - David - how about a weekly column in the Chron? We'd charge much less than Anthony McKeown does to get his face in the Advertiser, as long as we can wear our balaclava for the photoshoot, it's OK by us...
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Tonight, we present the evidence we have accumulated that the Longdendale Labour Councillor Sean Parker-Perry is more actively involved in the fight for the Longdendale Bypass than the occasional letter to the press or election leaflet would suggest.
Exactly 12 months ago today, a new weblog appeared called 'Support the Hollingworth Bypass'. Over the next 61 days, a series of posts appeared which attempted to lampoon and contradict posts appearing on this weblog, all the while displaying a cavalier sense of design and poor grasp of grammar.
Posts to the blog were signed by the contributor 'Roadmunkey', who left a comment on our very first blog post (scroll down to view). The link to his profile clicked through (and still does) to display info about him. Our first warning as to the existence of the blog came from a comment left on one of our posts by someone anonymous who wanted to bring attention to it (they plugged it again later on that month on this post). We kept following the link back to the profile, and eventually, on April 13th 2007, the blog appeared (the roadmunkey profile used to link to the blog, until it was removed).
With the appearance of this blog, the evidence started to form into a picture of the culprit. We had been tracking edits to wikipedia for some time, and it was clear that someone with a particular IP address - 220.127.116.11 - had been making lots and lots of edits, and had obsessions with subjects familiar and unfamiliar - but unsurprising (we later found out that someone else had decided to chronicle these edits on a separate weblog here).
In one of the more entertaining edits made by this IP address, someone purporting to be Sean Parker-Perry complained vigorously (highlighted in green) about edits made to his (and other fellow Councillor's) pages on wikipedia. The language and tone matched that of an article about these edits that appeared in the Glossop Chronicle on 7th June 2007
But all the while, we had the crucial evidence. Going back to the 'Roadmunkey' blog (since restored by us so anyone can read what he said), the user profile featured an email address - email@example.com. We set about sending spoof emails with tracers attached to all of the email addresses linked to Sean as well as this one. They all came back with the following results (click through to see the tracer results):
We also sent an email to Sean's secretary at Tameside, and it was then forwarded to him, as this tracer shows. All the enquiries returned the same IP address - 18.104.22.168, the same IP address that edited the wikipedia pages. If you click through to this IP address, you get a login screen. This is because it is the server at James Purnell MP's office and presumably allows remote working (from home), and Sean clearly uses his office computer for all his activities, under whatever pseudonym he chooses.
So Sean was Roadmunkey and did edit wikipedia (and still does as far as we can tell). Whilst none of this is illegal, it certainly raises questions about his methods - he'll no doubt do all that he can to disassociate himself with anything that makes him look devious and spiteful.
And what about us? One of roadmunkey's accusations was that we are cowards - largely because we are anonymous. As far as we are concerned, the difference is that we are not running for office as a Councillor and do not claim to represent all the people in Longdendale.
It is far too easy for Politicians to say one thing in public, and do another in private. They are quite rightly held up to scrutiny, though not often enough in our view. It's not our fault that Sean chooses to leave dirty great skidmarks all over the internet, but why should those who point out that the emperor has no clothes have to take huge personal risks to do so?
The information is out there, and all that we are doing is bringing it to light. Watch out for more Sean Parker-Perry stories this month.
Word has reached us that something fishy is going on over at James Purnell's website. You'll remember our post some days ago now included some links to James' website and his involvement with Sean Parker-Perry's Active Longdendale project.
Strangely, those pages have now been taken down within the past few days. We'll chronicle the changes below:
Firstly, a page promoting Active Longdendale's work at Lymefield on July 1st 2006. The original URL no longer displays the page, but for the time being, Google's cache has a version. To be helpful, we have a snapshot of the page to record it for posterity.
Secondly, a report on the work at Lymfield. Again, the original URL is now blank, but Google's cache is still there. And once again, we will keep a snapshot here for as long as necessary.
Lastly, the PDF of the AL flier that we mentioned was available on this URL, but that too has now vanished. We grabbed the flier and you can download it here.
Saturday, April 12, 2008
Our comrades from Manchester Critical Mass have organised the iBike MCR Festival, which has been taking place since 28th March and winds up on 25th April. Full details of all planned events can be found here, but tomorrow (Sunday 13th April) they have organised a special 'Beer Ride', making it's way between New Mills and winding up in Glossop.
If you are interested in joining in, meet at the Beehive Pub on Albion Road in New Mills at 13.30 p.m. The ride will take in various drinking establishments before winding up at the Globe, Glossop on Sunday evening.
(Hopefully, this will inspire people to plan for the next Critical Mass in these parts, following the inaugural one last year - although the weather is contrary at the moment, it's lighter in the evening and long overdue!)
Friday, April 11, 2008
The full implications of the Government's response to the WAIT e-petition are now becoming apparent. As ever, John Hall is leading the charge, and he has asked us to publish his email to Public Inquiry Inspector, John Watson:
"It appears that the Public Inquiry which you are overseeing has definitely been pre-judged by the Prime Minister as shown in his latest news release on the No. 10 Internet site.
The Press are also compounding the situation by now referring to Gordon Brown`s statement as "PM refuses to give way over need for a Bypass".
I believe this declared decision has completely usurped the Public Inquiry and your requirement to deliberate on the findings which would result from a properly conducted Inquiry,which as yet has not occurred.
No cross examinations of the proposers of the Road scheme have taken place, and no evidence produced by those objectors has been introduced into the Inquiry Public forum, therefore it is my belief that not only have the Highways Agency and Tameside MBC failed to produce credible suitable evidence in support of their proposals, but a close examination and scrutiny of what they still intend to produce as evidence will now seemingly not be accepted as cause for the Bypass Inquiry disclosures to be considered by the Secretary of State or the Prime Minister.
It can only be concluded that a deliberate attempt to negate the Public Inquiry has been shown by the recent announcement,in which case this also now reflects on your own credibility to produce a report on your findings knowing the issue has been pre-judged already.
The declaration signed by the UK Government accepting the Aarhus Convention Protocols have now been breached and disregarded,and the following is but "one small component" of what has been usurped by Gordon Brown MP"
The press article mentioned is predictably the Glossop Chronicle which, as usual, slavishly regurgitates the government's drivel.
glossop.com are also carrying John Hall's line, and though we try to avoid repetition, their quote is good enough to merit inclusion here:
"In view of the intervention by Gordon Brown who has decided to usurp the process of the Mottram Bypass Public Inquiry and seriously undermine the Public Inquiry Inspector, he has also chosen to completely breach the Government ratified Aarhus Convention Agreement which clearly denotes the importance of total participation in a Public Inquiry with Supporters and Objectors involved in the decision making process.
This therefore has exposed the Prime Minister's intention to not comply with existing protocols in an existing Public Inquiry which will result in the European Justice Complaints Organisation in Geneva being made aware of this irrational and declared pre-judgement of an existing Public Inquiry, without the objectors having been given an opportunity to openly disclose their evidence and scrutinise in depth the evidence again being produced in October 2008 by the Highways Agency which this time it's hoped is not seriously flawed and unsuitable evidence before a Public Inquiry.
The Public Inquiry Inspector has been informed of the announcement by Gordon Brown which has completely destroyed even the credibility of his observations and opinions which should have been considered by the Secretary of State when the Public Inquiry is concluded"
Article 6 of the Aarhus Convention deals with public participation in decisions on specific activities listed in Annex I which would include proposals for nationally significant infrastructure projects such as the provision of energy, water, wastewater and transport systems. It obliges the Government to inform the public in a timely and effective manner about a proposal and the procedure for dealing with it. Public participation should be early, when all options are open and when public participation can be effective. Procedures must allow the public to submit any comments, information, analyses or opinions that it considers relevant to the proposed activity at a public hearing or inquiry. Due account must be taken of the outcome of the public participation.
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
Councillor Ivan Bell is the Independent Local Councillor and prospective Independent parliamentary candidate for the High Peak. He hopes, as I understand it, to "break the mould" in local politics and offer High Peak voters something different and perhaps more meaningful to put their cross against than the rather remote and weary traditional options of Liberal Democrat, Labour, or Conservative.
Now nearly every time I read a statement in the press made by him for some reason the word “demagogue” springs to mind. So I decided to look to look it up and found the following definition: “leader of the populace; political agitator appealing to desires or prejudices of the mob” (The Concise Oxford Dictionary). Bearing mind Cllr Ivan’s favoured headgear I was led to ask “Does the cap fit?”
Cllr Ivan was recently quoted in the Chronicle with regard to the Glossopdale Housing Moratorium as wanting :-“Local houses for local people built by local people”. The article also said “Cllr Ivan Bell… supported local people being allowed to build small numbers of houses on their own land.”
The statements of the demagogue put under scrutiny usually prompt the question "what does an apparently significant populist statement mean in real terms", if anything? Does Cllr Ivan mean that he wants people to build freely or on top of their existing dwellings, or in their back gardens, without hindrance or interference from development control and irrespective of consideration of their neighbours? Or does he mean any large developer who has bought up agricultural land at a knock down price should be free to develop it, on the proviso that he is of “local origin”? Again it is possible, but we cannot be sure.
Does his emphasis on local extend to “local materials” manufactured by “local manufacturers”, and even to running on “local energy” or does he wish draw a line on his “local” concept at that stage and if so, why? I am afraid I suspect the only real content of the quoted statement is that the speaker wants to appeal through simplistic utterance to the self-interest of the man in the street.
This leads me on to the problem with so called “plain speaking”, which is another “hobby horse” that Cllr Ivan has championed in the local press. The problem is that this principle of “plain speaking” or “clear English” might seem appealing when forwarded against the mealy-mouthed “bureau speak” of the modern world, but it can lead to the equal pitfall of clarity achieved at the expense of meaning.
Unfortunately, much as we might wish otherwise it is true that many issues in today’s world are complex, but I think we can draw some hope and say that whilst not as simple as envisaged by the demagogue and/or the childlike desires of our hearts, they need not be as ridiculously complex and intangible as the mealy-mouthed utterances of self-promoting officialdom would suggest.
However I would stress that to flee from this obfuscation into the arms of simplistic utterance, and appealing to simple self-interest is also a mistake. Politicians who spoonfeed the frustrated populace with what they want to hear irrespective of considered content are not in my view to be trusted, and perhaps need to be treated with something like contempt. If they have opinions, let them be well and fully thought out, and then clearly articulated. Just because Town Hall cannot speak clearly that does not mean that this is an impossible goal. It simply requires clear analysis of an issue, a draft statement or two, followed by a publishing a considered point of view.
We favour such an approach over either the “obfuscation” of officialdom or the “plain speaking” rhetoric of the demagogue.
As a footnote I would like to add that I have found Cllr Ivan when speaking publicly to be far more plausible and to live up rather better to the clear speaking principles that he avows. I do think however that if he is to stand as a convincing and refreshing alternative to the traditional parties of spin in the next General Election he has a lot to learn about policy making and its proper expression in the media.
Right of reply exists on this blogsite and there is a published email address, which I am assured will honour this according the true principles of fair debate.
Monday, April 07, 2008
The Government has published a response to the (now closed) e-petition against the Longdendale Bypass today. We'd rather comment on it before we publish it here, then you can choose to read it if you can be bothered.
Let's face it, you know how it reads, you've heard it many times before. But what is a real slap in the face is the last two paragraphs that appear to stamp out any hope that the government will listen to reason about Woodhead. Clearly, the time for polite campaigning and asking the government to do things is drawing to a close. Only today, NASA (of all people!) have pointed out that the EU's Carbon Emission Reduction targets are set far too low. In a phrase that should send a chill down everyone's spine, Dr James Hansen from NASA said further cuts were needed if "humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilisation developed".
Clearly, the future does not lie with those who will not change radically, nor their institutions. This veritable 'Gas Chamber of Commerce' that seeks to place the economic considerations of a few rich bastards above every other poor victim on this planet cannot state it's 'business as usual' - Rome is Burning.
Read it and weep...
The Government remains committed to a safe and reliable trunk road network as part of the overall provision of transport for the country, and will provide improvements to the network where they are shown to be required. However, this is subject to the need to show that alternatives to road building have been investigated and where appropriate can be implemented.
Any improvements to the road network need to provide the highest levels of environmental mitigation, particularly in environmentally sensitive areas such as the Peak District Park.
The Highways Agency (Agency) was asked to identify a Scheme that considers all these issues. A history of the scheme can been seen on the website http://www.highways.gov.uk/roads/projects/16360.aspx
The Agency does not believe that it is necessary to withdraw the A57/A628 Mottram-Tintwistle Bypass scheme as it remains firmly of the opinion that a bypass is the optimum solution to the problems of congestion within the villages of Mottram, Hollingworth and Tintwistle.
However, the Agency is currently considering the alternatives proposed by other parties and will be responding to these matters during the Public Inquiry.
In Mottram, Hollingworth and Tintwistle there are 446 properties immediately adjacent to the Trunk Road. These properties are mostly residential but also include commercial, community use and recreational facilities. These residents currently have unacceptable levels of traffic noise, visual intrusion and severance, poor environment, air quality, safety and accessibility problems.
The proposed scheme would remove a significant proportion of traffic including HGVs from the trunk road within these villages and the journey times for travellers on the trunk road would be improved. The Route Restraint Measures on the A628 would reduce the attraction of the route to long distance traffic, and the Safety Measures would offset the effects of additional traffic on the trunk road network.
Mitigation measures would include new speed limits, additional traffic signals at Flouch junction, Langsett and Midhopestones, signs, rumblestrips and safety cameras.
There are no plans to re-open the Manchester to Sheffield route via the Woodhead Tunnels (known locally as the Woodland Pass). The Government's strategy for the development of the railway is contained in the White Paper 'Delivering a Sustainable Railway'.
Although the White Paper seeks significant increases in capacity on Trans-Pennine routes, this can be achieved by running longer trains and by Network Rail proposing capacity enhancements on existing routes, should this be required.
I have read the refusal - supposedly by the PM - to the petition to stop the plans for the Bypass, and unless other issues are still ignored completely, the Bypass will happen and no Woodhead rail scheme will be implemented.
The evidence substantiated by facts has been completely ignored up to now by most parties as to how the Bypass will impact once increased traffic is funnelled down the M67 towards Manchester.
The campaigns so far have not related to this problem, which surprises me because it's too obvious for words what will happen, not just based on rhetoric, but the recognised facts concerning the M67/M60/A57 major interchange. Could I remind all campaigners that Ministers and Supporters have completely focused on their continued themes of improvements for Tintwistle/Hollingworth and Mottram.
But how strange that there's no mention whatsover on the following substantiated and already known facts.
Denton & Audenshaw, adjacent to the M67/M60/A57 major routes, have 47,000 residents in a compact urban location, with no open environments for leisure or recreation, whereas
8,000 residents are spread throughout the Longdendale Valley which has vast areas of open land, vistas and recreation facilities, ALL of which need protecting.
In the main, the Hollingworth/Mottram region experiences 2 lanes of slow moving vehicles, but why ignore the 23 lanes of already heavily congested traffic encountered at the M67/M60 interchange?
If you check the HA/TMBC Map Evidence you will note the extended areas that comprise their evidence. But also note the deplorable & devious manner in which it draws a line straight through the M60 Motorway at the M67/M60 interchange - deliberately and disgustingly axing 11,000 people out of the picture in Denton West who live directly adjacent to the Interchange and Motorway. Compare this with references to Flouch etc, which are considerably further away in an extended area than Denton is to Mottram (5 miles).
Note how the DfT/HA/TMBC have deviously written off 11,000 people who live within metres of a daily minimum 220,000 vehicles, most stopping and starting at the interchange.
I am not deriding any part of the objectors concerns whatsoever because I support 100% all their claims, however I'm not sure whether everyone is aware of the substantiated facts - not by me, but by the HA/TMBC, that the largest Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) which presently exists is in the M67/M60/A57 region where it's confirmed that Government Pollution targets will "Never Be Achieved".
If you check the AQMA maps provided by TMBC during the past 8 years, you will note how TMBC have used duplicity and devious methods to create false AQMA locations in the Mottram/Hollingworth location by falsifying comparisons between various localities and this is FACT beyond contradiction, as my evidence to the Public Inquiry will (eventually) show.
How Ministers can plead the case for Tintwistle/Hollingworth/Mottram residents experiencing 2 lane slow moving traffic as "their reason for the Bypass" and completely and totally ignore the impact on the location and residents in Denton/Audenshaw is an absolute scandal. Why should we have to daily ingest daily pollution from 220,000 vehicles with a further 35,000-40,0000 added on with the Bypass? Can anyone tell me that it is fair and provide any form of case? I think not, so why have all the aspects of the Bypass completely ignored such a deadly serious issue?
The Highways Agency's reports over the past 6 years repeatedly state the insurmountable difficulties which exist at the M67/M60/A57 interchange, and my evidence contains the reference numbers of their detailed references, so why add to the existing tremendous congestion without a mention in their evidence?
I have asked 6 Councillors in this region (2 in Longdendale) and 3 MPs, plus 2 Longdendale Siege members, to accept my invitation to meet with me on the pedestrian road bridge at the M67/M60/A57 to observe the reality. But unfortunately, sheer cowardice resulted in no acceptances and no replies which tells me the type of cretins I have been communicating with.
I doubt if even one person in the Longendale Region has a clue as to how pedestrians in Denton West - 11,000 of them - have been "cut off" from a reasonable access to their local Denton town shops because the alternative is as follows:
Cross the A57 near the access to the Denton Golf Club and walk towards the M67/M60/A57 interchange, then halt at pedestrian signals before crossing onto the M67/M60/A57 major traffic island, surrounded 23 lanes of dense traffic circling around you. Imagine the elderly, infirm, children, mothers with babies having to walk onto this Major Interchange Island, then walk around the Island perimeter until you reach a further designated pedestrian traffic signal crossing, and then once again stopping the numerous vehicles circling the traffic island and exit to yet another route still at the interchange to again cross the M60 to then access the A57 route to Denton. I can state with confidence that this pedestrian route is amongst the most dangerous in the UK, so what alternatives are available? Well, a road bridge which entails a steep climb to traverse the M60 Motorway, then descend to a croft area and finally access the A57 approaching Sainsburys. Now I challenge mothers with prams, the elderly or the disabled to get across this enclosed road bridge known to the locals as "muggers alley" because of the climb to cross the road bridge.
There is just one remaining route - by walking through Denton West to its other side near Windmill Lane: walking along a 2 foot pavement on one side only (no pavement on the other side) and being within 2 feet of 2 lanes of fast (and I mean fast) moving vehicles travelling under the rail bridge tunnel on Windmill Lane.
Now if anyone wishes to make the short journey to what I have totally accurately described as our only pedestrian routes to "our shops", then I challenge anyone to see what the real road dangers are compared with Longdendale. It really is a pity that no-one (to my knowledge) has considered that the region I have described is worthy of a visit - some 15 minutes from Mottram - and recognise that the problems described are a valuable asset to halting the Bypass proposals, but it seems that we deserve no recognition as a completely justified objector because the problems have been ignored by some of those opposing the Bypass, whereas it could have been a tremendously useful tool in the armoury of the objectors.
At the Public Inquiry, my evidence will prove conclusively all my past statements, and it's because of the deliberate sacrifice of many thousands in this area by local and national Politicians that my intense contempt for these cowardly bastards exists. Hence my intention to prove conclusively what absolute shysters these beings are.
You may not have an interest in the major problems of others, but to fight effectively all battle fronts should be respected and utilised.
(posted on behalf of John Hall)
Saturday, April 05, 2008
The less cynical amongst you may have noticed that this story that we published on Tuesday was actually an April Fool wind-up. That fact notwithstanding, we did spend a certain amount of time carefully crafting it so that it sounded quite convincing. Personally, we think we have Siege's Mike Flynn off to a tee, we even managed to bring the petition up - like they do at every opportunity.
To make the joke somewhat funnier, we tried to get it published. We're unsurprised to report that David Jones of the Glossop Chronicle (known round here as 'Chronic' from now on) didn't fall for it, and there's a feature in this week's paper about our 'hoax' (viewable here). It doesn't name us - after all, why give us free publicity - so we're adding this post to ensure that those curious enough to search the internet may land on this site.
But for us the funniest part of this story is the accusation that we 'hacked' into Siege webmaster Robin Haycock's email address to send the release. We only wish we had such powers, as if we did, we'd have got up to all kinds of mischief by now. So to slay this dragon and spell things out for the unimaginative (or the downright thick as pigshit) this is how we did it:
We created a (free) googemail account as close as possible to 'robert haycock' (firstname.lastname@example.org - someone has already taken email@example.com). We then placed robert's actual email address (firstname.lastname@example.org - lots of spam coming your way Robert) in the 'account name' bit, so that that would be the first thing anyone would see when they got a message from the (anti)bob. No hacking involved, just a confidence trick.
We subsequently received a message from Robert Haycock on the same day, it goes thus:
just like to say thanks for hacking into my email and sendind (sic) the spurious email to the Glossop Chronicle. If you are this desperate then no wonder that you do not have the support of local people. If you would like to contact me for any "quotes" please feel free to contact me and I will be glad to have the debate or meet face to face.
A long time resident of Hollingworth who lives on the A57.
Longdendale Siege Secretary
Whatever... we're game for a laugh, unlike Siege and their resident hack at the Chronicle. The spoof press release follows:
Longdendale Siege Committee call for donations large and small to ensure construction of the A628 Bypass
The Longdendale Siege Committee, who are campaigning for a Bypass to be built to relieve Longdendale of traffic, have today called for the general public to donate money to their campaign to ensure that the bypass is built.
Siege chairman Mike Flynn outlined the plan:
"We're obviously concerned about all of the delays to the scheme that seem to keep cropping up, plus the mounting costs. Although we think the potential benefits outweigh any costs, we're aware the government might not see it that way, so we're asking our supporters and anyone else who wants this road to donate what they can."
Mr Flynn envisages that a Private Finance Initiative could seal the deal, "a PFI is increasingly in favour in government circles, so rather than the taxpayer stump up all of the £184 million, we'd like to encourage companies, private investors, institutions and the general public to dig deep and help form a PFI to make sure the road is built."
Mr Flynn was hoping to meet with Tesco representatives, who are planning to build a store at Mottram over the next few years to ask for their support and possible donations: "as Tesco say, 'Every Little Helps'. They stand to benefit greatly from the increased custom at the Mottram site for their new store which the bypass will bring, so they might not be averse to helping us out a little".
"We've got 9,000 signatories to our petition that we presented to Parliament, and over the next few months, we'll be contacting them all to ask them to give what they can. If everyone who has signed our petition gave us £20,000, we'll be well on the way to paying for the scheme by ourselves. Obviously, we don't expect people to give that much, but the point is that some will be able to give more than others, and we may be able to reach our target before the Public Inquiry is over".
"Plus we'll be taking to the Streets all around the area again on Saturday mornings with our bucket if folk want to donate".
The Longdendale Siege Committee have a website at http://www.longdendalebypass
Thursday, April 03, 2008
Now it certainly could be said that this MP should have pulled his finger out yonks ago for his constituents because in Denton West all 11,000 suffer in the worst air polluted locality in Greater Manchester, and he wants even more pollution stuffing into his constituents lungs (including children and babies) with the extra effects of the Bypass.
But what contempt is this when a Labour MP, whose party created a war in Iraq under false pretences, requires his bloody finger being photographed in all the local press, and the poor sodding Armed Forces sent out there are returning with missing limbs, in wheelchairs and with shattered bodies whilst this MP seeks public sympathy for his sodding finger. This is not an April fool, it's fact isn't it Mr Gwynne? - and being a disabled Army bloke myself, you can stick your finger where the sun doesn't shine.
Should you want another grotty Labour story read "labour kicks out the Councillor who disappeared" by Rochdale Labour group in the M.E.N April 3rd 2008 - where did he vanish to? Sod me it was Spain again, the home for quirky Councillors.
Come on Tameside Reporter, would you like pictures of my 14" scars as an ex-squaddie, or are you waiting for Andrew Gwynne to get a sodding cold at an election?!
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
"... Just what is the point of Active Longdendale? What is its role or raison d'etre? What values and/or aspirations underpin its foundation? More intriguingly, how does it differ to already existing groups that provide a similar service?
Trawling the Internet in an attempt to find some answers reveals that information on Active Longdendale is very thin on the ground. What little information that is available tends to be somewhat contradictory.
Nevertheless, buried in the Minutes (paragraph 42) of the Longdendale and District Assembly, which was chaired by Cllr Sean Parker Perry (Labour) held on 07/12/2006, lies the following nugget in which the Town Manager appears to provide a succinct definition of its aims and purpose:
(Active Longdendale is a) "project that provides an opportunity for community groups and members of the public to participate in clean ups in the area". He qualifies this by quoting an example of their alleged work at Hurst Clough on 18/11/2006 which he states was "successful in dealing with undergrowth and flytipping". In a nutshell it's a tidy campaign group.
So far so good. This all seems to be innocent and innocuous enough - in fact it appears to be positively praiseworthy. Unless and until one realises that the local council (Tameside MBC) already provides a Countryside Ranger Service which is responsible for the management of the Borough's countryside and helps the local community and visitors alike to appreciate, enjoy and care for the natural environment.
Moreover, the Countryside Service comprises not only of full time rangers, information officers, admin support and an estate team but also has an additional 60 Voluntary Rangers that provide invaluable support and assistance to the Service.
The work of the Voluntary Rangers is of particular interest since the type and scale of the projects they tackle is quite comprehensive and usually of high conservation or amenity value. This link to the official Tameside MBC website lists many of these projects and explains the scope of their work more fully.
Suffice to say that it includes:
* Litter picking and rubbish collection
* Footpath and bridleway clearance and improvement
...which in itself appears to nullify any reason for the creation of Active Longdendale.
In fact it rather begs the question as to why its only known members Councillor Sean Parker-Perry (Labour) and Councilor. Johnny Reynolds (Labour) don't just simply join the Volunteer Ranger Service where, throughout the year, there is an opportunity to participate in conservation tasks with the countryside rangers and their team of dedicated volunteers (as opposed to showboaters).
If SEAN or JOHNNY would like to get involved they can apply online here or by phoning 0161 330 9613. Alternatively they can snail mail to:
Chief Rangers Office
Park Bridge Heritage Centre
Yes, that's right, they have their own premises (and tools) so no need to lease expensive railway arches or to tap up the lottery for funds! ..."
We have our own take on this, with a little more background info. Firstly, below is a photo of a poster promoting one of AL's clean-ups in July 2006 (click for bigger version):
None of this is transparent. There's no suggestion you can participate in any other way than to simply come along and dig when you are told to do so.
Whether or not anyone turns up is another matter. In fact, we've been told by a reliable source that AL's work to clear Himalayan Balsam from Lymefield was actually carried out by contractors, who were paid for the work they did. Was this because not enough volunteers showed up? And who paid for the work to be done? It can't have been cheap. Or was this activity that was being done by TMBC anyway, and Sean decided to stick his 'Active Longdendale' badge on it? At the time, this work was fêted by Sean's boss, James Purnell, on his website. So he's implicated too.
Watch this space for more articles this month...
Today is All Fools Day, and for the next calendar month we'll be focusing a lot of our attention on one fool in particular.
It's the local elections on 1st May, and the Longdendale Councillor, Sean Parker-Perry is up for re-election in 2008. Readers of this weblog will be more than familiar with this individual, but not so much with what we will be revealing over the next few weeks.
As a Longdendale Labour councillor, Parker-Perry has marched in step with his fellow councillors, and has always backed plans for the bypass. But his activities have always gone beyond those of a traditional Councillor. Last year, we revealed our suspicions that it was he that was the blogger behind the (now deleted) weblog 'Support the Hollingworth Bypass' (since restored to the internet by us). This month - a year on - we'll present the evidence.
Plus, we'll be looking in depth at Sean's own 'environmental' organisation 'Active Longdendale' - who and what are they, and what do they do? You've already had a taster.
We'll also take a look at Sean and fellow Longdendale Councillor Johnny Reynolds trip to Spain earlier this year - under the Active Longdendale banner - and the 'Friends of Moclin'. What kind of (self-proclaimed) environmentalist imports Olive Stones from Spain? We'll find out.
There are plenty of candidates standing for election in Longdendale that support the bypass, and very little to choose between them, but the few people that actually bother to vote seem to prefer this moron. In the hope that the open minded may Google Sean, there are plenty of results from pages with info that might put you off voting for him. We'll be adding to that tally over the next few weeks. Stay tuned.
Word has reached us that the Longdendale Siege Committee are getting very worried about the PI delays. So much so, they have decided to do what they can to raise money in case the government decide the scheme is too costly.
In what must be a clear indication of discontent within their ranks, an anonymous source inside Siege has emailed us a copy of a press release sent out last night which reveals the plan. You have read it here first (click on the thumbnail below to get to the larger image). We'll see how this one runs...