Friday, February 06, 2009

Roger Wilkinson - the potato-headed cuckoo in the Peak District's nest

The Buxton Advertiser has published what is presumably a press release for the Glossop South Derbyshire County Councillor Roger Wilkinson, who has written to Geoff Who? calling for the current Public Inquiry to be stopped, and a new one to commence following consultation

This is breaking new ground, as up until now, it has been Tameside politicians that have been content to urge the Highways Agency to 'hurry up'.  But Wilkinson and the notorious media-tart Councillor Dave Wilcox have now called for a new consultation, as well as a new Inquiry. Curiously, they are using the language of some of the opposition - that the facts on the ground have changed, and that means that if the plans have changed, then the whole process must start afresh. And they are clearly aware that the way the current PI process as been conducted will have legal implications too - "if an attempt is made to simply restart the old inquiry it is almost certain we will be in judicial review and further delay territory".

They've no doubt got their eye on the (now) Planning Reform Act, as we'd predicted in a blog late last year. No doubt they'd want the Bypass to be named as a 'National Infrastructure Project', meaning it would almost certainly be waved through without any kind of scrutiny at all. Wilkinson hints at this - "In the letter to Mr Hoon, a former Derbyshire Euro MP, the councillors have stressed the importance of the A628 bypass in regenerating East Manchester and Glossopdale" - this is coded language for their desire to see Glossopdale and Longdendale to become an enlarged retail strip and warehousing facility, as is already in evidence at Rossington Park in Hadfield. 

Of course, it's never been a secret that Derbyshire County Council are fully behind the bypass. But Wilkinson is a curiosity - he's a cuckoo in the nest of the Peak District National Park Authority -  as a body, they are opposed to the Bypass, but Wilkinson is a member. 

And perhaps some other kind of strange politics are in evidence here? The photo that accompanies the article shows Derbyshire County Councillor Wilkinson stood next to one of Longdendale Siege's 'Dick Turpin' roadsigns inTameside Lancashire, with a Manchester A-Z in his hands. Is he a stooge for Tameside, opening up a new front? Why should he care about regenerating East Manchester - Tameside's backyard? We think the answer is because Glossop's very own Mr Potato Head wants the type of regeneration pioneered by Tameside and Manchester City Council in the High Peak. I wonder what his 'ground swell of local opinion' - an abstract and unquantifiable concept if ever there was one - would think about that?

**UPDATE, 11th February 2009: both the Glossop and Tameside Advertiser are now running the article.

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