Friday, May 23, 2008

Ground Farce: Sean Parker-Perry's right of reply

Last week, the Tameside Reporter published an (unacknowledged) rejoinder to the articles we had published in April about Longdendale Councillor Sean Parker-Perry and his Active Longdendale (AL) project. Needless to say, the article did not acknowledge us directly, nor provide a reference point for where to read any alternative view of Parker-Perry's project.

Cllr Parker-Perry was scathing about criticisms the Active Longendale project had drawn from certain quarters recently. He said: “It has been hard work to set up this project which is for the good of the whole community. For the project to draw criticism from one individual who tries to remain anonymous and whose wild allegations are totally unfounded, is unfair. It is a pity these armchair critics do not utilize their energy by doing community work themselves, rather making outrageous allegations.”

'Certain quarters' is clearly us, and the spoof Active Longdendale blog. Our joint 'wild allegations' are merely a critical analysis of all of the information in the public domain about AL - an anathema to a politician, who hate being put under the spotlight. As for 'community work' we think this blog is just that, and Sean has no idea about what we get up to in our spare time - unlike him, we do not make it everyone's business. But his comments about the 'hard work' of setting up AL are a joke - it's been running for 18 months and in that time has carried out 3 'clean ups', published no material, has not met publicly, and used the services of voluntary rangers and a private company to conduct it's work. A piece of piss by anyone else's standards.

Following the successful retention of his seat as Councillor following the May 1st elections, Sean is clearly now conscious that he has to do a lot to whiten his reputation. However, we believe the article has merely served to bring up more questions than it does provide answers. Let's look at it in detail.

With a budget of £12,000 he has secured premises and a vast array of power tools for the benefit of locals

The article talks about "£12,000" of funding having being obtained - £3,600 more than we knew about. However, note that there's still no mention of the Awards for All Grant. The other implication is that the funding makes AL self-sufficient - that the cost of leasing the Railway arches is included. Sean's talk of negotiating a deal with Spacia may mean that he has negotiated a vastly reduced rent for the first year or two.

If that's the case, then Sean will have to recruit a lot of members to make up a future shortfall. Let's say he does need £6,000 per annum for the arch - that's 600 members in Longdendale renewing annual subs. He's certainly ambitious.

And also note that 'power tools' have crept into things. We understood the original purpose of the grant from o2 was the pay for gardening implements, not power tools. Speaking of tools, there's no mention that the 02 grant was meant to pay for tools - the article says they were 'borrowed from Tameside Council' - so was the grant spent on tools or not?

Residents wishing to benefit from the scheme will pay a token membership fee of £10 and then a small charge to use the tools as they need them

The article is full of the details of membership, but there still no details on how to become a member. And Sean's website still hasn't been updated since January.

Currently, Active Longdendale is seeking charitable status so it can be run more efficiently financially. It has also appointed auditors, an accountant and a committee that is required to comply with charitable status.

Sean's going legit. He'd better get a move on - the income in the last year was £12,000, and under the Charities Act 2006, registration is compulsory for charities with an annual income of over £5,000. We look forward to the AGM, plus the published accounts.

The only other thing worth noting is that the article has been written by our old friend Nigel Pivaro. We already noted the involvement of this (ahem) journalist once before, and he has made himself busy since writing several fawning articles about James Purnell. It seems Sean now has his ear, so we promise to display the banner (modelled on his Tameside Reporter column masthead) at the top of the blog each time he publishes an article worthy of the attention of our readers. Think of it as our bullshit detector (we'd do the same for David Jones, but we're having trouble finding a picture of Lord Longford).

No comments: