Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Out with the Oldham and in with the new

Readers may have noticed that our letter to the Glossop Chronicle eventually made it into the letters page a week last Thursday. Even better was that it was juxtaposed with a letter from Roy Oldham which managed to represent all of the things we'd criticised in our letter.

In the letter, Oldham goes to great lengths to explain all of the measures Tameside MBC put in place - which somehow still resulted in a traffic nightmare. Here's a priceless quote from Oldham (the lack of punctuation is his):

"Prior to works commencing the Council as the Local Highway Authority was involved in extensive consultation with the Gas Alliance and other affected Local Authorities (High Peak and Derbyshire) together with the Emergency Services and the public in order to minimise disruption and inconvenience"

...all of which failed completely spectacularly on 27th October! It's clear he arrogantly feels the problem is everybody else's perception but the final two paragraphs spell out what he thinks people should do - call for a bypass to end traffic problems.

With his views on this and other matters, Roy Oldham increasingly represents a take on the world that is archaic, outmoded and of the past. This letter should be his epitaph. Indeed, there's a certain irony that his letter was published on the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Preston Bypass, Britain's first motorway, which eventually became the M6.

But can anyone but Oldham and the Longdendale Siege Committee really believe that it's possible and desirable to keep constructing motorways for another 50 years? Well, we've some bad news for them. Only yesterday, the International Energy Agency said that Oil production would most likely peak by 2020 - only last month, the same notoriously conservative organisation said it would be 2030. Others believe it will come about much earlier, such as 2013.

The effect of Peak Oil upon societies that are dependant upon it will be a rapid and steep decline that will have the most grievous effects where there is least preparation for it, such as ours. Many things we take for granted are dependent upon oil.

Whilst only the most vicious misanthropes would relish such a scenario, there are opportunities now to create a different kind of society that is not dependent upon oil and is radically different, and all but the misanthropic can involve themselves in bringing it about. But that society should not involve cars, the road industry or even capitalism itself. Nor should it include such people as Roy Oldham - like oil, he is peaking, his time is running out.

The flawed rhetoric and actions of these 'throwbacks' belong to a different age, not the new one that is potentially within our grasp.

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