Friday, August 22, 2008

Longdendale Bypass 'to reduce traffic in London'

We should be grateful for press coverage - at least according to some we should. After all, in the past we've been constantly ignored, even on the occasions we have fed the press stories. Perhaps if we believed in copyright, this would be an issue for the thieves out there that have pilfered our work and passed it off as their own. However, we tend to believe the most important thing is that the info is out there, but giving someone credit does no harm - we prefer copyleft.

It's not nice to be ignored - even if you are thick skinned and have spent your life being ignored, there's still a little 'ouch' each time it happens.

Therefore, we were astounded that the Glossop Chronic(le) not only quotes a press release we issued about our blog on Monday about the latest Public Inquiry delays, but also gave us a namecheck (if not a full URL) - on the front page of the latest edition (yet to be published online)! Perhaps the fact that the article was not written by the pro-bypass journalist David Jones (big buddy of Mike Flynn of Longdendale Siege Committee/Mentality) played a part?

However, the Glossop/Tameside Advertiser let us down. The journalist in question claims he couldn't distinguish our PR from any other email, but he sees fit to quote us and there is no attribution. We'll let you decide if our PR looks like any other email, but the fact a quote has been used pertaining to an 'anti bypass website' indicates his argument is full of holes and something else it at work. Funnily enough, the same journalist wrote about the installation of the 'Roy Oldham plaque' after we scooped the story.

But what is worse about the Advertiser coverage is the image attached to the article - see the top of the blog. The caption reads "GRIDLOCK: pro-bypass campaigners hope it will make this sight a thing of the past", so we can only assume that the Advertiser considers the 'benefits' of the Bypass will reach as far as London, since the picture is quite clearly of a City street there. What's more devious is that the paper version of this article features a crop of the same picture, which handily removes the giveaway Congestion Charge Zone road markings in the online version.

All of this would be worse if we laboured under illusions about the role and function of the press in a capitalist society, but our reading list includes this devastating institutional analysis.

The no point in twisting the knife further because we feel what we have written so far speaks for itself. We're not about to stop feeding the press articles, but in future, they should keep in mind that each time they deny us credit, we will post a little story here which means it will be preserved for posterity.

Monday, August 18, 2008

EXCLUSIVE: Public Inquiry now put back to May 2009 - TWO YEARS since beginning

Today sees the publication of the first substantial and relatively un-evasive document the Public Inquiry (PI) has seen from the Highways Agency (HA) in a while. You can read it here (opens PDF).

To summarise it is not easy for one not overtly inclined to wade through jargon. But the upshot seems to be that having made a complete balls up the first time around, it's taking them so long now because they're so concerned to get it right this time. All of which will not be good news to this poor soul.

What's bizarre about this whole thing is that in the middle of the Public Inquiry, the Highways Agency are now essentially saying they are taking us back to a process they started nearly 3 years ago, before the PI began. In the document, they reveal that consultations will need to take place on the revisions to the Environmental Statement and that there will also need to be another series of Exhibitions!

But they save the best bit until last - all of this attention to detail (and care) means that the new information will not be presented to the PI until May 2009 - TWO YEARS since this whole thing started:

"Consequently, it is planned to submit the revised Environmental Statement, the Statement of Case, Economic Appraisal Report and Proofs of Evidence to the Inquiry in May 2009" (para 6.3)

We now believe that the PI must now be stopped, and forthwith. Since the whole basis for this PI is built on foundations of clay, and the HA want to re-consult the public on massive subsequent changes to their evidence, there is no need to continue with it - the evidence has moved on, and so must they. This Inquiry is redundant - it is a shotgun wedding to cover an embarrassingly illegitimate & imminent stillbirth that is the government's road policy.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Mottram Show cancelled - & on the move to a new venue

View Larger Map
Somewhat unsurprisingly after the downpours yesterday and generally wet weather over the past few days, it's been confirmed today that Mottram Show has been cancelled yet again.

But the real story about the show follows on from our report at the end of June. We can now reveal that a new venue for the show has been located, and that money has been paid to secure it.

This document (opens PDF - from the 'Executive Cabinet' minutes - delusions of grandeur all round!) spells out that TMBC paid £450,000 for the 'alternative Mottram showground' as they call it on 31st March this year. Except, and as we predicted, it's in Hyde. And if you consult the map displayed above and the map we displayed in June, you can see we were almost right as to the location (wrong side of the road!)

But this news raises a lot of questions too. Our sources tell us that the address of the venue is "Botham's Hall Farm, Moss Lane, SK14 3AW", but this is also the address of a property development company which is listed here - 'Investment Property Istanbul Limited'. Maybe readers can help us out by telling us if they anything about them?

And where does the money come from? Is it 'new money' or has it already been factored into the Bypass costs - indeed, has it got anything to do with it at all? If it hasn't, should it be? That would obviously inflate the costs of the Bypass/Spur still further. The date the purchase was made suggests Tameside wanted to use up money before the end of the financial year/tax year. What are they up to?

Finally, this news underlines what we said in June about the location:

"...the physical Geography of the location suggests that the Mottram Show will belong to neither Mottram nor Longdendale. Along Stockport Road, it's possible to view the hills that form the valley, but not the valley itself - significantly, it also won't be possible to see the bypass. So the Mottram Show is cut off from its rightful home, and it's not even possible to view where it was from its new location. The brutal psychology at work in this deal should not be underestimated"

And since the deal has now been concluded, it's reasonable to wonder whether or not Mottram will ever host another 'Mottram Show'.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Stalybridge tell Tesco to stick their 'Store on Stilts'

It seems that the tide may be starting to turn against Tesco locally if reports from Stalybridge are anything to go by.

An an echo of what has already happened in Glossop some time ago (and as we reported back in May), in Stalybridge Tesco have been 'consulting' (and we use the term loosely) about planned changes to the store. You know the rest: an extended store, 'mezzanine', 'store on stilts' etc.

But last night, 350 people turned out to a public meeting to make clear Tesco's plans are not at all welcome, including both Labour and Tory Councillors. Perhaps understandably, Tesco didn't show up, though they were invited.

So this 'softening up' exercise has manifestly failed so far. Apparently a 'Say No 2 Tesco' group has been formed (shame about the name), but it's not yet clear if this only extends to Stalybridge and not their plans to decimate Mottram as well - we hope some of the people who are concerned about Tesco in Stalybridge extend their concerns to their doorstep and the traffic hell that another new unnecessary store will entail there.

In the meantime, will Tesco now realise their plans in Stalybridge are up against it and plough on? We'll see.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Free speech for the dumb

Following our post last night about the slow movement of this country to a Police State, we felt the need to highlight a very interesting blog post from a fellow blogger, Tameside Eye. This post details his arrest, detention and charging with various offences following material posted on his blog over the past few months - and how local politicians have connived to achieve this outcome.

The blog regularly features articles on politics in Tameside. We should make it clear at this point that the views expressed on this blog are light years away from ours, and are more concerned with the 'left versus right' (of liberal democracy) dead-end arguments amongst sections of the Tameside political class. It's also, to it's detriment, a village pump for all kinds of unsavoury right-wing earthlings (the kindest word we could find), some of whom in our view have egged on the blogger in a particular political direction. So reading it should come with health warnings - we do not endorse the views expressed upon it.

Having said that, it has dealt with the cut and thrust of politics in Tameside in a fairly uncompromising manner. Chief targets have been Dukinfield Councillor John Taylor (a political opponent of most of the readers/participants of the blog, but someone who actually has far more in common with them than they realise - i.e. he's a right wing prick), and our favourite Councillor in Tameside - Sean Parker-Perry.

Coincidentally, just before local election time in May, Tameside Eye (aka Liam Billington) was busted by the local Police, who proceeded to confiscate hs computers whilst he was in police custody - without a warrant we might add. They still have them to this day.

We'll let Liam explain what he was busted for, but suffice to say, it wasn't for dishing all kinds of dirt about Parker-Perry, Oldham, Taylor or any of that lot. So presumably, that was fair game?

But what makes us curious is his revelation that the cops are very interested in this blog - amongst others - and who publishes it. But what exactly has that got to do with them? If digging the dirt on Oldham, Parker-Perry et al is fair game on Liam's blog, then it must be OK here. So why do the powers that be want to know who we are?

We can only assume that it's because they want to try to harass and intimidate us in a similar fashion.

And Liam tells us that what seemed to have been the catalyst was a Freedom of Information request he sent to James Purnell and his links with Active Longdendale. Keen readers will know that this was around the same time that Purnell had details of Active Longdendale removed from his website. Liam tells us he was warned off by Purnell, and that Parker-Perry then emailed local PC Susan Moss to complain.

What cannot be overlooked is the fact that the arresting officer in this case - PC Susan Moss - is a member of the Longdendale District Assembly. These idiots couldn't even choose a copper who had no connection to Parker-Perry and also who worked in the area the 'defendant' lives. No, it's clearly a blatant parading of power.

But it's one that must be doomed to failure. For Liam has stated his intention to fight his case at a Trial if he is prosecuted by the CPS, and we're sure that Councillor Parker-Perry would not relish appearing to give evidence, especially given his track record with the Police and CPS.

This is certainly one to watch, and it will be interesting to see if the media goes anywhere near it in future.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Climate Camp 2008 & the State's slow creep towards Fascism

This week has seen the (now annual) Climate Camp, this time taking place at Kingsnorth, Kent, near to the site of an existing (E.ON owned) power station, also the site of a proposed new coal-fired one. The event organisers decided to focus on the subject of burning fossil fuel and how the government is giving way to plants like Kingsnorth, but doing effectively sod-all for renewable energy. You would have thought that a common-sense approach to the huge problems we face in future would be to at least try to mitigate CO2 emissions - but this government is not interested, and for the terminally naive, it's looking less and less likely any future ones will be.

We attended Climate Camp last year, and gave a workshop about government roads policy and the Longdendale Bypass, alongside the No M1 Widening campaign. For various reasons, we couldn't go this time, so we've been following events from afar with much interest.

Anyone who has been following the coverage this week will have seen a lot about how this event has been policed. From mass incursions by riot police (something to do with 'health & safety'!), to continual night-time harassment, to the use of mass stop-and-search tactics (now extended via s.60 of the Criminal Justice Act to the whole of the Hoo peninsula - the Police no longer need to have 'reasonable grounds' to do so), to police Forward Intelligence Teams photographing and videoing everything. People being searched were having loo roll and soap confiscated, on the basis that they could be used as weapons - for fuck's sake! The videos at the bottom of this post demonstrate some of these instances, and other activities such as Police stealing people's bicycles!

Tonight, the Climate Camp website has details of a revelation that the government - and not the Kent Constabulary - are to underwrite 90% of the costs of policing the camp. It is now perfectly clear - or at least should be to those who harbour illusions - that the State and E.ON are acting as one - that multinational corporations enriched by using the dirtiest and least appropriate forms of energy given the current crisis have the power of the State at their disposal to carry on business as usual.

In this country, the State is quickly moving towards a Fascist regime - as time goes by, it increasingly acts that way and is slowly becoming it in all but name. What more proof do people need?

It seems to me that the options for responding to and dealing with this are becoming more and more constrained. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as it makes all the reformists and liberals look more transparent and foolish. Indeed, the environmental movement is full of bourgeois liberals who are always asking for the government to do something, or planning to lobby ministers, or even ploughing time and energy into cosmetic bullshit. They are wasting our time as well as their own, and time is running out.

But that also applies to us - meaning those who want to change things and make a difference, for real. You have to question the wisdom of tactics that mean you're couped up in a field surrounded by robocops for a week, and then face massive force and violence (as is likely tomorrow) when trying to undertake Direct Action. Indeed, it's a repeat of the tactics of the London Mayday protests which meant 1000s were effectively corralled by Police.

One of the much photographed slogans last year was "we are armed only with peer-reviewed science" - if that's true, then we are fucked! New tactics are needed for new realities. To all those taking part in Direct Action tomorrow - good luck, and here's to new ways to defeat old enemies in future.