Monday, December 20, 2010

Bingham secures Adjournment Debate on the Bypass

Thanks once again to NMB contributor Kirtle Green for another blog, which can be read below.

Andrew Bingham, Enemy of the Peak District, has secured an imminent pre-Christmas Adjournment Debate on the Bypass, which will take place tomorrow in the House of Commons. An Adjournment Debate traditionally takes place as we understand it not before the Full House, but “in camera” as it were with any interested parties present, and a Ministerial representative from the Dept of Transport.

Incidentally, we don’t feel the MP has done much homework on the Bypass, so it will be interesting to know which version he turns up supporting, dependent perhaps on how he has been briefed (by whoever is lobbying him on all of this.) After all, there are plentiful versions of the road out there. Which one he is talking about – something he has never troubled himself to elaborate on up till now - may at last become clear. Mind you we wouldn’t bet on it! Over the past 12 months, Bingham has variously called the scheme the 'Glossop Bypass', 'Tintwistle Bypass' and now the 'Mottram-Tintwistle Bypass'. Little details like “where a particular road is to go” or the probable impacts on his constituents don’t really seem to matter in the remote and somewhat un-thought-out governmental world of Andrew Bingham MP.

At the outset we called the MP an “Enemy” because nobody who is not in some way adverse to iconic countryside would want to touch one blade of grass or animal habitat of the fragile Peak District, let alone plan to drive a road and urban sprawl through it. Its future seems far from secure whilst this guy is touting his trade.

Ironically, Bingham said in his maiden speech that he felt he represented the most “beautiful constituency” in the UK. We would not quite agree with that superlative but it is certainly one of the finest – I moved here 27 years ago and as it stands in a bypass-less state, I have never found anywhere better to live. Go out in the snowy wilderness now and who could be failed by such icy splendour.

I therefore marvel at his eagerness to undermine its status and make it mundane, suburban or desolate like so many of the urban areas it sits between. There is no accounting for MPs really - except perhaps expenses accounting - as it wasn’t any different with the late great Tom Levitt . They seem to talk up the beauty of their constituency and then lay plans for its demise.

Mr Bingham of course with his gracious lady companion, the MEP Emma McClarkin, did a foot tour of the constituency in his opposition days. Those wilderness years were very considerable, so Mr Bingham being a bit of a one trick pony, this may be one one reason why he seeks to placate the road lobby to prolong his sinecure. No doubt in his travels he came across some very scenic and ecologically important scenes which he marked down then with a note “come back and destroy in the future”.

He probably identified all kinds of spectacular areas. Take my word for it, some of the proposed bypass routes under any sane constitution would have years ago been placed under conservation orders or put in the National Park. This should still be the case now, but our elected officials have quite other thoughts in mind. One could perhaps perceive Mr Bingham on his travels keeping his beady bespectacled eye open for particularly important landscapes such as these for some deforestation, or bulldozer work for a road. Now his time has come as MP, and seemingly nowhere is safe in the Peak District as he has pledged “not to let this issue rest”.

Well done Andrew Bingham, statesman and orator, what a great spectacle you are!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Tesco Values: the role of the Highways Agency in the Hattersley Tesco

Many thanks to NMB reader and occasional contributor kirtlegreen for this analysis of the role of the Highways Agency in relation to the Hattersley Tesco:

The Highways Agency are the Statutory Authority for trunk roads in the UK, so where a retail application might impact upon the national network, it is incumbent upon them to form and take a position as a key Statutory Consultee. In this role the Highways Agency duly placed a holding Objection on the Hattersley Tesco Extra application around May of last year, with the proposed store being adjacent to the highly congested M67 roundabout. This hold was pending closer examination of the matter and could, I believe, have been maintained indefinitely until the Agency were fully satisfied that the proposal would have no adverse impact on the trunk route East and West of the location (M67/A57/A628).

Had the Highways Agency Holding Objection been maintained, firstly, it would have been hard for Tameside to even hear the application let alone legally pass it. It would certainly have established the matter as one of national importance for the Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government, Eric Pickles. Whilst accepting there are numerous other issues with this store, I would venture to suggest therefore that their powers made the Highways Agency the “key or decisive witness” and their actions as a public body particularly worthy of scrutiny.

The Highways Agency in their role as statutory consultee employed Halcrow as consultants to review the evidence supplied by Waterman Boreham on behalf of the applicant, CTP (for Tesco). The evidence Halcrow looked at was based on work commissioned by Tameside Council (a retail study by White Young & Green) with projections employed - rather than facts - by Waterman Boreham to make traffic behaviour assumptions. In this rather circular way (considering the multiple involvement of Tameside Council) all the various transport consultants involved - Waterman Boreham, Halcrow and ultimately the Agency - reached the same very surprising conclusion.

Far from being the obvious traffic nightmare there would be a net reduction in trips at the M67 corridor as a result of the application for a Tesco at Hattersley! The more than dubious case, made on the basis of some hypotheses, was that reduction of outward journeys from Hattersley would offset any increase of inward traffic resulting in a benign outcome for the M67 corridor. A particular test of the M67 roundabout in this scenario was, as I have read it, thus considered an unnecessary further step.

This happens to be completely the opposite of what everyone could possibly expect to be the case, as witnessed by letters in the press and objections sent to the Planning Authority and the Secretary of State, who all see things in a far less favourable light. The general consensus in this area is that these findings simply cannot be right and a very sizeable consensus it is too, with over 2,500 people. Everyone apart from these traffic agencies/consultants seem to prefer the evidence of their own eyes, rather than guesswork and extrapolations within a retail study. They seem to think that a store with over 525 parking places in a road system operating at full capacity does not make any sense in planning or any other terms you care to think of. They appear to feel - with it must be said some considerable logic - that they will suffer adversely in many ways, with respect to falling property values, and a very considerable deterioration of quality of life, due to continual slow moving traffic in the area, i.e. gridlock. This is to the extent that people are talking about upping sticks and moving away. However once the Highways Agency, as representative of the Secretary of State, adopted the position given by Halcrow, the traffic implications of the Hattersley Tesco were suddenly going to be virtually impossible to challenge; the influence of the Highways Agency, whether contrary to obvious sense or not, being decisive in these considerations.

The issue therefore seems to be whether the Highways Agency are expected to follow some safe pattern of assessment, and whether that assessment is fully independent, complete and cannot be connected with the applicant in any way and is thus shown to be fundamentally sound - or not. Also, if the Agency has skimped the job -  for whatever reason - by not conducting their own survey, or in view of the congestion have conducted only a low level study, then how are the interests of the public within their remit protected?

Either we live in a despotic state, where the the public fund a planning process which is simply a facade, or the Highways Agency as Statutory Consultee to the process for its transport element should be able and willing to indicate adherence to a clear and satisfactory set of assessment guidelines, which are not ad hoc but firmly applicable in all cases. It would seem extraordinary if such guidelines do not exist for them and that in this case it cannot be demonstrated minutely, with full documentation, to show how they have been followed. The public, through representatives or themselves, would seem to have a clear right to scrutinise and test this process to satisfy themselves, particularly where such doubt exists as to the conclusions - as in this case.

There therefore remain questions to be answered, of perhaps both local and national importance here, regarding the transparency of the Highways Agency as a public body. Perhaps answering those questions will help in this particular matter?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Second Siege crossing protest a failure - as their own video demonstrates!

We've yet to write a proper feature on the second pedestrian crossing protest by the Longdendale Siege Committee, although one is in the works along with a video, but in the meantime we thought we'd reverse-engineer their own propaganda. The above video is from the MEN's YouTube page, and is linked to from Siege's website. The only problem is, it clearly illustrates the failure of their protest: traffic is not even queuing back from the lights at the junction of the A628 & A57 in the near-distance for any significant length of time...

'Medieval Dramatists' Longdendale Siege appear on Andy Crane's Radio show - bring back Edd the Duck

Now we're sure there are some readers out there that have fond memories of the BBC's Andy Crane in his days in the BBC's broom cupboard with his sidekick hand puppet Edd the Duck. But after last Monday's lunchtime show, we really wished he was still presenting the junction slots on Children's BBC.

A large part of his show was dedicated to discussing that morning's protest by Longdendale Siege, and Brian Butler from Siege was awarded a slot to call for the bypass. Along the way, we also had a contribution from someone called Pat who lives in Broadbottom, who pointed out that Siege have nothing to say about the Hattersley Tesco and pointed out the lack of local consultation about the plans for the store. Whilst Pat intimated she supported the Bypass, it's clear that her main concern, like everyone who lives in and around the area, is traffic - and she doesn't see how the construction of the Tesco is going to help.

Andy Crane himself revealed his clear bias on this issue by wittering on and on about how bad the traffic was, although it was interesting how he couldn't get the BBC traffic expert to agree that it was one of the worst places in Greater Manchester for traffic hold ups. We're informed that Crane lives in Charlesworth.

Unlike with other audio presentations on this blog, we just cannot be bothered transcribing the key bits - an mp3 of the 'highlights' appears below.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Campaign for Better Transport can't see the wood for the trees

In his latest blog over at the Campaign for Better Transport website, Roads and Climate Change campaigner Richard George makes a convincing case for why Tameside MBC should just give up the fight for any kind of Bypass through the Longdendale Valley. Tameside's silence over recent weeks was this week exposed as not the result of being stunned by the government's cutting of the scheme, but because they are seeking money from elsewhere to fund the road.

But he's missing the point, and big time. Perhaps it's because he's detached from the situation on the ground, but the reason the campaign for a Bypass now has new impetus is because of the issue that won't go away: the issue that has been tracked by this blog for nearly 3 years now, and the issue that most anti-Bypass campaigners are hiding from - Tesco, and their now government approved megastore at Hattersley.

So it's hardly surprising that Tameside carry on with their zombie Bypass - the facts on the ground are changing the discourse. We're aware that it's probably not the remit of the CFBT to campaign against Tesco, but unless a serious challenge is posed to the government's decision to allow Tesco to build this store - and soon - any words against this Bypass will start to ring more and more hollow and lack credibility.

Rant over.

UPDATE: Richard George has replied to this blog, along with other contributors - please see the comments.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Unelected and unrepresentative Lord Pendry speaks out on the bypass cut

Despite Jonathan Reynolds' intervention the other day on the Bypass issue, there has been little noise from Tameside's politicians about the cutting of government funding for the Bypass. The motives for this remain a matter of conjecture, but we're betting that if there is a chance to use other government funding streams to bring about Bypass 2.0, then they don't particularly want to put the government's nose out of joint.

So in the meantime we have Lord Pendry, the former Stalybridge and Hyde MP, being wheeled out to moan and groan. How convenient - someone whose political stature cannot be affected by the whole affair, since he is unelected and can't be toppled.

Pendry gave an interview to the Glossop Chronic's pro-bypass journalist David Jones this week, and a little potted history of his failure to get government ministers of all stripes to build a road over the years.

It's also an example of some of the most contrarian and idiotic reasoning you'll find anywhere. Pendry describes the visit of Fred Mulley, the Labour Minister of Transport between 1974-75, someone who apparently doubted the attractiveness of Longdendale, but agreed with Pendry having stayed there for the weekend after Pendry invited him. Pendry finds it so attractive that he wanted to build another road through it.

Mulley apparently wouldn't be seen driving a car during his tenure as Transport Minister, perhaps to counter any accusations he favoured the road lobby. Perhaps the reason the Longdendale Bypass was never granted during his tenure was because he realised how 'attractive' it was. Nevertheless, he did end up having a road named after him.

We then get another example of Pendry's failure to convince a Minister with the example of Glenda Jackson being almost flattened by a lorry crossing Manchester Road in Tinsle during her tenure as Transport Minister. This is perhaps why the pedestrian crossing later appeared on said road!

But surely the best line here is Pendry's quote about Tesco: “Traffic has increased and it will get even worse in this area when Tesco open their supermarket in Hattersley.” So there we are, there is at least one politician who's prepared to admit Tesco will make things a whole lot worse.

Read the full Pendry interview after the read more link below.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Jonathan Reynolds speaks about Tesco - at last - and calls traffic concerns a 'Red Herring'

As part of all the mewling and puking from the roads lobby last week surrounding the government decision to cut the Mottram Bypass, the Stalybridge and Hyde MP, Jonathan Reynolds, saw an opportunity to burnish his pro-bypass credentials with his disillusioned electorate. He issued a press release and appeared on BBC Radio Manchester's 'Beswick at Breakfast' show last Thursday.

Now we've been lambasting Reynolds over his failure to address the concerns of his electorate regarding the Hattersley Tesco Extra for a while now. For months now, there has been a perfect silence about the issue from him, even through the General Election campaign. But his appearance on Alan Beswick's show left him vulnerable to being asked any question, and the astute Beswick took the opportunity to corner him on Tesco.

You can listen to the segment of the show and read a full transcript of the interview after the 'read more' link below. But what interests us are Reynolds' comments about Tesco, and these need to be highlighted here.

Firstly, Reynolds admits that the store "will have an impact on traffic". But later, he seeks to dilute this admission, by saying that "there won't be that different a change to the traffic flows ... in the area". It seems to us that he can't have it both ways. As Beswick implies, Tesco have chosen this site because of the proximity to the motorway and trunk road network, in order to maximise access and thereby profit. As we've always stated, the plan for the store anticipated the Bypass, but with the Bypass now on hold for an indeterminate length of time, it will now seek to precipitate it. All Reynolds can do is to state that the traffic problems of the A628/A57/M67 exist in a bubble, and that development in Tameside cannot make any difference. Isn't it funny that Roy Oldham's refrain was always that 'development in Glossop and High Peak' was responsible for increased traffic on this road? Not Tameside though, just Glossop and High Peak.

Secondly, Reynolds seeks to differentiate the store from the Bypass by stating that the Tesco is part of the 'regeneration' of Hattersley. 'Regeneration' in this context is code for the furtherance of the goals of sectors of private capital over social considerations. So the maintenance of existing housing can only be brought about by awarding massive concessions to a private company. We've seen another example of this today with the revelation that Tesco are secretly funding public infrastructure in Salford in return for being given the go-ahead on massive planning projects.

Thirdly, Reynolds seeks to downplay the scale of the Tesco store. The 525 car parking spaces go unmentioned, and Reynolds says, ridiculously, "There's a lot of controversy as to whether it would be described as a Tesco Extra - the size of the site is not comparable to some of the Tesco Extras we have seen in other parts of the country". There is no controversy - the artists impression of the store shows quite plainly the Tesco Extra logo emblazoned upon it! In addition, the Tesco Extra is the largest type of store that Tesco construct - at 95,000 square feet, the Hattersley store will be only 15% smaller than the store at Portwood in Stockport.

But Reynolds can afford to be blase - because Tesco seem to have won. With that twat Eric Pickles ignoring this issue, it seems the group set up to oppose the store plan have surrendered (at least if the disappearance of their website is anything to go by). With Siege upping their profile again, it seems that the future belongs to Tesco, if not the responsibility for the traffic, and Tameside MBC's silence regarding the road funding announcement is ominous: perhaps Tesco have thrown some money at reviving Bypass 2.0 behind the scenes?

Have the pro-bypass lobby snatched victory from the jaws of defeat? Unfortunately, it now seems that only time will tell.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

STOP PRESS: Government approves Hattersley Tesco

According to a press release issued by Tameside MBC today, the Government Office of the North West have 'no objection' to the plan for a Tesco Extra at Hattersley. To say that this announcement eclipses the quiet death of the Bypass scheme the other day would be something of an understatement.

We'll have more news and opinion as it becomes available.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The last rites for Bypass & Bypass 2.0 - it's over (for now)

Here's a link to the Department for Transport announcement made late yesterday afternoon about the future funding of road schemes.

There's no mention of both the original Bypass scheme, nor Bypass 2.0. Since the statement contains details of all the schemes and projects being considered, that means that both the Bypass 1.0 and Bypass 2.0 projects have finally faded from history. It's all over.

Curiously, there were no questions and comments from the local MPs that have made all the hue and cry over the past few years - neither Jonathan Reynolds, Andrew Bingham, nor Andrew Gwynne made a murmur. Gwynne's silence was particularly interesting, since he's now a shadow transport minister, but not even his twitter carried a mention of the Bypass schemes being given the last rites.

In the title of this blog, we've said that it's over 'for now' - that's because we're still awaiting a decision from the DCLG about 'calling-in' the Hattersley Tesco application. Failure to do so guarantees traffic hell, at least without a widespread and radical plan to halt Tesco, which will doubtless ensure calls for a bypass from certain quarters.

The days are now counting down to that decision. Apart from anything else, if it goes the right way, we get to pack up and go home at last....

Friday, October 08, 2010

Shock horror: previously loyal Glossop Chronicle labels Siege protest a "failure"

We're pretty stunned with the report of the Siege protest in this week's Glossop Chronic. Despite using a similar excuse to the Advertiser that a "fire at the Peniston (sic) end" meant traffic wasn't as heavy as expected (so vehicles heading North on the M1 weren't re-routing via the A616 then?), the papers agrees that "traffic flowed normally through to Mottram and on into Tameside. There were no problems either in Glossop".

Even better, the usual Bypass cheerleader and exemplar of partial journalism David Jones deals a crippling blow to Siege's credibility with the opening paragraph "a demonstration designed to bring rush hour traffic to a standstill failed" (our emphasis).

Worse still, Mike Flynn is quoted as being disappointed that "only five members of the public turned out to support us at Tintwistle".

Well it's hardly surprising - as we pointed out yesterday, Bypass 2.0 offers absolutely nothing to those living in Tintwistle (& Hollingworth) that want a road solution.

But perhaps the real shock here is the complete contrast with the article in this week's Advertiser papers. They said "traffic came to a standstill", quoting Mike Flynn as saying "I think it was very successful and we were very pleased with how it came off" which is the complete opposite of his comment in the Chronic that "it's very disappointing". The Advertiser put the people taking part as "70". On the day, our contact counted around 6 people at Mottram, Flynn himself says five turned up at Tinsle, and the photo of protesters at Mottram in the Chronic has about 14 glum-looking individuals (is that Sean Parker-Perry at the back?), a total of around 25. Now we've always been the first to point out how the virtual TMBC house-journal that is the Advertiser purposefully distorts the news (as well as occasionally stealing our stories, without credit, natch), but the contrast between fantasy and reality can be well and truly appreciated in this little controlled experiment in the manufacture of consent.

We must leave you with a priceless quote from an unnamed Siege protester "we may be back on Monday when the traffic will hopefully be heavier" - from our point of view, if the traffic is too sparse to justify a protest to stop it, then it's clearly far too sparse to justify a bypass to 'solve' a non-existent problem.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Never mind Hattersley, there's already a Tesco in Hollingworth

Bet you didn't know that? It is entirely the case though, that Tesco already have a store in Longdendale. Yes, Tesco own the One-Stop chain of convenience stores, an example of which can be found on Market Street in Hollingworth.

An article in the Times earlier this year highlighted how One-Stop have prices that are often much higher (14%) than those in Tesco stores. These stores flout unfair competition laws, usually because they are often too small to come within the remit of the legislation, and tend to operate in areas where there is less local competition.

Not content with stores in Glossop, Stalybridge and Gee Cross, Tesco have an undercover store in Hollingworth - and are now planning a megastore at Hattersley. The area clearly belongs to Tesco.

Congratulations to Sean & Sian - just don't tell the wife!

Well, it's rare that one of the talked about turns up to talk to us, but it may well be that we have an exclusive. You may remember in a post last week we mentioned that Sean Parker-Perry's mistress - a certain Sian Dominey - has seemingly changed her name on facebook to Sian Parker-Perry (try not to laugh).

Well now the lady in question - or at least someone masquerading as her - left a comment on the post with the following news:

I will be Sian Parker-Perry as of next summer when we get married! Thanks

Of course, this is all very lovely: but there is the small inconvenience in the fact that Sean is still married to someone else - Baron (Tom) Pendry's daughter, Fiona. At this rate, Miss Dominey will be lucky not to be named as co-respondent in the no doubt impending divorce proceedings...

Longdendale Siege's dismal protest failure

Longdendale Siege Committee's protest on Wednesday morning was by all accounts a dismal failure (worthy of failblog, hence the picture). But you wouldn't know it if you'd read the new online article that has appeared on the Advertiser website. They put the apparent lack of westbound traffic in evidence yesterday at Tintwistle down to 'a fire near to Sheffield'. (Incidentally, we love the cretinous banner in the middle of the picture which says "The Best HGV Ban is a Bypass" - HGVs are not planned to be banned from the Bypass).

Skip back in time to this time last week, and Siege Chair Mike Flynn and his mouthpiece at the Glossop Chronicle, David Jones, was predicting gridlock in all directions, in particular from Hollingworth to Glossop via Woolley Lane. Yet pictures taken by a contact of ours show quite clearly, no congested traffic along the A57 at Brookfield at 9.14 a.m.

All in all, our contacts tell us that the road was no more congested than it usually is at this time on a weekday morning. The clear implication for the Longdendale Siege Committee is that if they need to set off pedestrian crossings to cause traffic jams then it suggests the jams are not there in the first place. So what exactly are they campaigning for? If the traffic jams do exist at 9.00 a.m. in the morning, then why the need to activate pedestrian crossings? What difference did it make? The evidence suggests none at all.

But what Siege must also explain, is why they are activating pedestrian crossings at Hollingworth and Tintwistle, when the new plans for Bypass 2.0 offer nothing to either of those villages - it is a Bypass of Mottram only.

Siege are threatening to protest again in a similar manner soon. Perhaps, if they have the courage of their convictions, they should stage a sit-down protest to properly stop the traffic - because the evidence suggests that pedestrian crossings being activated don't make that much difference when the traffic is relatively free-flowing anyway.

No Mottram Bypass would like to encourage all those who feel able to contribute to the documentation of Siege's future protests to send us any pictures, films and reports. We are sure there are some people with time on their hands who would be willing to make the effort!

Friday, October 01, 2010

Longdendale Siege plan 'pedestrian crossing' demonstration next week

Longdendale Siege's Mike Flynn gives the exclusive to this week's Glossop Chronic that he and his chums are planning a novel demonstration next Wednesday morning: they plan to stand at pedestrian crossings along the route of the A57 and A628 throughout Longdendale, constantly activating them in order to create massive tailbacks of traffic between 9.00 and 9.30 a.m. Siege realise that time is running out for Bypass 2.0, since the Comprehensive Spending Review that is due on 20th October may well cut this scheme, as well the original bypass program, which is currently shelved.

This is not a new idea: similar protests were reported in May in Dorset, where some people used the tactic to protest about HGV traffic going through small villages. Now Dorset is one of the few English Counties that has no motorways running through it, and it's not clear that the protestors in that case were calling for new roads to be built. But is must be remembered that Longdendale Siege have continually refused to back calls for a HGV ban along the road, which demonstrates their insincerity about seeking a solution to the problems with congestion.

Of course, the irony is that Longdendale Siege's main constituency has been a mythical one - 'the motorist'. But although we don't believe there is such a thing, from their perspective, it seems a bit daft to alienate those you most rely on for support. If they agree with the government that money is tight, and if they are so desperate, then why not call for a HGV ban? In the Chron article, Flynn mentions the Hattersley Tesco almost as an afterthought, no doubt hoping to attract some passing anger and link the two up.

In the Dorset case, the response to the protest from persons unknown was swift. The button that activated the pedestrian crossing was glued tight. Now there's an idea...

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Local Tesco ructions, Local Elections and Local morons

Regular readers may have noticed that some time has passed between the last post and this one. We can only apologise for that, but it’s obvious that posting to this blog has become occasional of late, so you know what to expect in future.

Well, there’s lots to catch up on. But rather than split all of this material up into different posts, and be pushed to provide a customarily apposite image for each one, we’ve decided to ramble on at length and weave it into one continuous thread. So here goes.

Since we last reported on the Hattersley & Mottram Tesco, we’ve been treated to one of the most hilarious official documents we’ve had the pleasure of witnessing since the days of the Public Inquiry into the Bypass 1.0. As part of their application, the developer for Tesco (CTP) published their mammoth transport assessment. We won’t bore you with an in-depth analysis, but suffice to say, they found that overall, constructing a 95,000 square foot supermarket with 525 car-parking spaces would actually reduce the traffic flowing through the area! Furthermore, they also decided that since the impact on traffic would be negligible, there was no need to conduct a pollution assessment. So there we are. Tameside’s Planning Committee duly ratified the plan three weeks ago.

Thankfully, that’s not the end of the matter. Because Tameside have effectively torn up their own Local Plan and therefore have to ask the Secretary of State, Eric Pickles, for a decision. Will he ‘call in’ the application for a Public Inquiry? Or will he wave it through, like his decision this week to reverse a call-in and allow a Tesco Extra at Trafford (yet another one tied into other development, this time Lancashire County Cricket Ground)?

Last Sunday saw the start of a popular movement against Tesco, under the auspices of the newly-formed Longdendale Community Group, with a packed meeting in Mottram full of people venting their feelings. And whilst we wouldn’t support the paragraph in their standard ‘call-in’ letter that suggests locals want a bypass, the irony is that by fighting the Tesco, they are making a future bypass far less likely. One announcement at the meeting seems to suggest that a more notorious group – the Longdendale Siege Committee – have not fully realised this: although it’s not exactly a secret, they have not so far chosen to openly publicise that they are planning a protest march – ostensibly against the traffic the new Tesco will bring – from Hollingworth to the building site at Mottram on Wednesday 6th October, the date being chosen in order that it doesn’t upset their usual power base in the local Labour Party, and confirming rumours we’d heard before that some of them are very much disenchanted with Labour. You heard it here first - although, as we were writing this blog, a comment popped up from a Mrs Bradley announcing it! In that case, they announced it here first!

More irony comes in the fact that this whole kerfuffle has broken out towards the end of a local election campaign, for the vacant Council seat previously occupied by Roy Oldham (the candidates addresses can be seen here). The silence of the local Labour Party on the Tesco issue has been deafening, although the local MP, Jonathan Reynolds, brought Eric Pickles’ opposite number John Denham to look at the ‘regeneration’ of Hattersley, with much trumpeting of ‘government money unleashing private investment’, a veiled reference to Tesco getting exactly what they wanted for peanuts (it’s also untrue because no government money is being put directly into this - they simply underwrote the deal). Meanwhile, the local Tories have come out strongly against the Tesco, after testing the water with this leaflet: the responses they got seem to have convinced them that campaigning against it could work in their favour, although only a few weeks before, one of their Hattersley members expressed support for the Tesco proposal (the same individual has seemingly had a damascene conversion and set up the Tories’ anti-Tesco group on facebook). The latest leaflet goes for Labour's jugular on the issue, as they've clearly smelled blood here.

At the ‘not a cat-in-hell’s’ chance end of the candidates, we find the BNP and the Green Party. The Tameside BNP Führer, Anthony David Jones, wants to give people a local ‘plebiscite’ on the bypass (presumably because he thinks they are plebs). How this would resurrect a dead road scheme he doesn’t explain. Jones can regularly be found over at the Tameside Citizen blog, which serves as a village pump/water cooler for all the assorted right-wing pricks in the area. Jones fancies himself as a historian, and is a regular on the Nazi stormfront message board. If all else fails, Jones probably proposes to resurrect the Organisation Todt to and use ‘untermensch’ to build it by forced labour.

Melanie Roberts of the Green Party doesn’t mention any local issues – such as the Bypass or Tesco – at all in her election address, following the example of Ruth Bergan during the General Election campaign, giving no one a reason to vote for her.

Lastly, it wouldn’t be a decent NMB blog post if it didn’t mention our favourite Longdendale Councillor, Sean Parker-Perry. He now lives on Back Moor, perhaps hoping that some of Roy’s magic will rub off on him. But if the BNP had an arboreal wing, it seems he’d been a leading member. Those perusing the press of late may have noticed that he called for the felling of the much-loved Stockport Road Monkey puzzle tree on the grounds it was ‘an alien species’ from Chile. A war then erupted in the press in which Bill Johnson put him right about many other well-known ‘alien trees’ which are and have been part and parcel of our landscape and ecology for hundreds of years. Never mind, Sean has other things on his mind, specifically his latest girlfriend, who seems to have re-named herself Sian Parker-Perry (surely-shome-mistake?), despite the fact that he’s still married. Even better, Sean is planning a ‘Long Way Down’ style trip to Kenya on his motorbike, to raise money for Roy Oldham’s medical centre – and he’s created a lovely website which tracks the frankly appalling progress so far. It’s a laugh a minute. Why anyone would give Sean money given his past track record is beyond us, but stranger things have happened. He’ll need some ideas for a future career though, because we’ve heard on the grapevine that he won’t be selected as a Labour Party candidate next time he stands. Enjoy it while you can Sean!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Oldham's Wood - the new name for Swallow's Wood?

If you've been paying a certain amount of attention to the local press in recent weeks, you may have noticed that there have been tentative ideas mooted about naming a Tameside Nature Reserve after the late Council Leader, Roy Oldham.

A local person, Margaret Smethurst, proposed that Haughton Dale Nature Reserve, near Denton, should be renamed the Roy Oldham Haughton Dale Local Nature Reserve at a recent District Assembly Meeting. The idea seems to be receiving serious consideration, in that the local rags are talking about it. Now whilst our friend John Hall may have something to say about the contradictions of the man most responsible for environmental pollution and the destruction of Green space in Denton being memorialised in the name of the local Nature Reserve, we feel we have a compromise solution that will keep everyone happy.

How about Roy Oldham's name being attached to the Nature Reserve at Swallow's Wood? We are serious! He never got to see his bypass built, but let's remember - this is a man that supposedly was 'aware of the beautiful countryside on his doorstep' - so what better tribute to his ultimate success in keeping Swallows Wood and the surrounding countryside preserved for the future (through his failure to erect a bypass)? Who knows, in decades to come, Roy Oldham may even secure his place in future 'Legends of Longdendale' as the man who saved the wood from the clutches of the evil road-men. After all, if the wood was to bear his name, what Tameside politician would ever dare to support a plan to put a road through it!

Sod Denton - let's have Roy Oldham's Wood here in Longdendale!

Monday, August 02, 2010

Reynolds rants about Bypass 2.0 in Parliament - and threatens civil disobedience!

Last Tuesday, the new Stalybridge and Hyde MP Jonathan 'Jonny' Reynolds saw his opportunity to once again raise the profile of the doomed Mottram Bypass, this time in the House of Commons. The occasion was the Summer Adjournment of Parliament. The full text of his speech can be read at the link above, or by clicking through to the 'read more' link below.

We've taken some time to study what he's said, and here's our potted response:

This speech is the kind of 'debate' that a politician loves - because it's not a proper debate. Indeed, as far as we know, Reynolds has never taken part in any real, open debate about either the Longdendale Bypass, Glossop Spur or the new Bypass 2.0. Like many other politicians, Reynolds can rely on parliamentary privilege to effectively say what he likes in the House of Commons, without granting those whose opinions differ the opportunity to hold him to account.

As we remarked upon nearly 2 and a half years ago, Reynolds failed to put in an appearance at the Public Inquiry at the time (along with every other local politician who supported the Bypass). It would therefore be difficult for him to credibly point to his 'support' for this scheme at that time, for he didn't take an opportunity to speak up for it, and face questions from objectors. This is extraordinary - all the more so for the fact that no other politician took the opportunity to do so either, which would have put in ahead in the credibility stakes were he to have taken to opportunity to speak.

And for that matter, neither did the members of the Longdendale Siege Committee that he namechecks in his speech: neither Mike Flynn, Bob Haycock, nor David Moore could be arsed to speak in favour of the road that will remain forever 'virtual', and left it to other members of Longdendale Siege to stand up and be counted, individuals who are not among those that he points out. We're reliably informed that Siege are so disappointed with Reynolds performance, they're threatening to link up with the local Tories.

Longdendale Siege did not submit a petition with 9,000 signatures to Downing Street. By the counts conducted by our contacts who have viewed the petition, the number was just under 7,600, and a large proportion of those were from people outside of the area. This means that Reynolds has consciously inflated the figures by more than 15%. Furthermore, as he points out, the petition was submitted to Number 10 Downing Street in what was a public relations exercise, which also means that it is not available for public scrutiny, unlike petitions presented to Parliament. We blogged before on the yo-yo nature of the numbers for this petition.

We're wondering exactly what kind of statistical survey Reynolds has undertaken to support his bold statement "many objections were also raised by people who had never visited the area"? As far as we know, no-one has ever said that before, and it is utter crap. It may well be the case that a fair number of people do not live in the immediate area, but that is not the same thing as having never visited the area.

We stand to be corrected if we are wrong, but our recollection is that the PI did not fall on the fact that the Highways Agency (HA) had miscalculated the length of the Stocksbridge Bypass. The fact is that the HA's traffic figures and basic mathematics were an utter mess, a point rumbled by Save Swallows Wood in a devastating submission very early on. In any case, the PI remained adjourned for months on end, enough time for them to get it right one would have thought. The fact of the matter is that the promoters of this road simply failed to make a case for the bypass - they presented their case to the Inquiry and then admitted the plans were at fault, not even allowing objectors to state their case.

Mr Reynolds would do well to remember that the Longdendale Integrated Transport System - that he seems to think is only about a road, thanks for reminding everyone - is still a consultation exercise. Tameside MBC is asking for people's views, and Reynolds is effectively attempting to prejudice the consultation with his invitations to a Minister to come and view the congestion. And if he did that at the moment, it would be the wrong time from his point of view, for the fact is that now is a good illustration of the effect the 'school run' has on traffic, and the roads are very quiet indeed.

The most hilarious bit though is where Reynolds threatens civil disobedience if a new road is not forthcoming. Let’s be clear about this – he has threatened it, not merely intimated that some of his constituents (i.e. the three he mentions plus assorted hangers-on) may take part in it. If any of us were to have threatened civil disobedience in objecting to the road, no doubt the authorities will have come down on us like a ton of bricks. Yet Reynolds’ tough talk is possibly shielded by his parliamentary privilege.

Ultimately, as we have recently pointed out, this is all just politricks. Reynolds is well aware that he was returned with the smallest majority in his constituency for many years. He is eager to show that he has done all that he can to keep the Bypass alive, knowing full well that a Labour government would have had to have killed it off, as the Tories are about to do. By seemingly taking up Roy Oldham’s mantle as the political flag bearer for the Bypass, he thinks this may boost his popularity, at least among the few people left that both take politicians seriously and do not view them with contempt.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

How much did Tameside spend on their 'virtual' bypass?

It's a question that needs answering, especially in the light of the revelations today (which are now reaching a national audience) about how Tameside MBC spent £36,000 to create a 'virtual council' on the online game Second Life.

It's hard to fathom exactly what they thought they were doing by throwing money down an online drain, but in reality Tameside spent much much more on their own 'virtual bypass', the Glossop Spur, to much less complaint in the media. The last we heard, the costs were £7 million.

Perhaps they should have planned to build a virtual bypass in their Second Life zone? Having spent a small amount of time mooching around their zone in SL ourselves before it was shut down, we could find no trace of it.  Which is a shame, because it would be the perfect place for an avatar of the late Roy Oldham to hang out: he could cast his gaze over his bypass forever and ever - he could find the success for his project in his Second Life that he failed to find in reality.

Well, to a certain extent, the powers that be did create a virtual bypass. They employed a company to construct a virtual bypass (though not a Glossop Spur - you can see a screen grab from the virtual map above, showing the plans they had for Swallows Wood). If, like us, you are curious person(s), you will find a way to download the file that contains this map, and viewing software from the site.

On the map, there's a little car that permanently traverses the route - whizzing by every now and then. How misleading: the Highways Agency knew full well their new Bypass would be chock-a-block from day one. Tameside's virtual bypass was a lot like their zone in Second Life: no-one used it. It was an expensive waste of time, money and effort.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

What is the closing date for objections to the Mottram Tesco?

Visitors to the TMBC webpage for the Mottram Tesco application will be under the impression that the official closing date for objections is 15th July. This is also the case for those who saw the advert in the local newspapers.

But if you visit the potential building site for the store, the notices posted on lamp posts around the site make it clear that the closing date is 26th July. We think Tameside need to make clear to the public the relevant date. Given that the public notices mention the 26th July, we're pretty sure you are safe leaving it until this date to object if you cannot do this sooner. 

Friday, July 09, 2010

Bypass 2.0 now placed on hold - coup de grace please?!

With the Greater Manchester Transport Fund hitting the buffers, the good news today is that Bypass 2.0 has been named as one of the first schemes as part of that project to be placed on hold, according to the MEN.

We now all have to wait until the government's spending review in the autumn to discover if the axe is truly to fall. But it's interesting to contrast this news today with our blog three days ago that the old Bypass scheme still seems to be accruing more costs at an unprecedented rate.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Longdendale Labour Party member breaks ranks on Mottram Tesco

Today's Tameside Reporter contains a letter from a Mr S Naz, voicing concerns about the proposed new Mottram Tesco store. We'll reproduce the letter in full below:

It'll cause chaos
Disgrace! That is the opinion of 99 per cent of people I have spoken to in regard to the plans that have been put forward for a new Tesco Extra on Stockport Road, Hattersley (at Mottram roundabout opposite the Macdonalds). 
How, after decades of campaigning for a bypass due to severe traffic congestion in our area, can we allow this to happen?
This is one of the THE traffic hotspots in the UK. To build this store in this location would make the traffic situation much worse, leading to misery for thousands of commuters every day.
For the promise of around 200 jobs for local people? How can you balance that equation?
The other thing to consider is that there are small retailers in the Longdendale villages of Hollingworth, Mottram, Broadbottom and Hattersley whose livelihoods will be under severe threat from this development, some of whom will close forever.
Tesco will not hold out the hand of friendship to those local people and offer them compensation for the loss of their income and the goodwill of their businesses. These small business owners have invested their life savings, redundancy money and taken out huge loans to buy their businesses. 
How many people working in these businesses will become unemployed?
Balance that against the number of jobs on offer! When the 80 per cent of local residents in Hattersley said 'yes' to the superstore, were they made aware of the repercussions?
How man residents in Hattersley attended the meetings in Hattersley? And why were the residents of all Longdendale not made fully aware of these meetings and why were they not held at times when a larger representation of residents could attend?
It makes me wonder; how about you?

Now many of the points of concern is Mr Naz's letter are things that we've been pointing out for some time. But what makes this more interesting is Mr Naz's political affiliations: we are reliably informed that he is a member of Longdendale Labour Party. Not only that, he is a delegate to the Constituency Labour Party. Now we can't assume that everyone within Longdendale Labour Party is in favour of the Tesco development, but we can assume that Roy Oldham is, since it was under his administration that the deal was done to bring this Hypermarket to the area, in return for the regeneration that is linked to it. No doubt Roy losing power has made members more confident to speak their minds. Has Mr Naz put his head on the chopping block, or will others now speak out?

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Jonathan Reynolds snubbed by Transport Minister over Bypass plea

Actually, that's the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, Norman Baker. Stalybridge & Hyde MP, Jonathan Reynolds, submitted a written question to him recently:
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will visit the villages of Hollingworth and Mottram-in-Longdendale in Stalybridge and Hyde constituency to observe traffic congestion on the A59 (sic).
Norman Baker's reply yesterday was just about the biggest snub it was possible to deliver:
I understand Tameside metropolitan borough council is currently looking at options to address congestion in the villages of Hollingworth and Mottram-in-Longdendale in the constituency of Stalybridge and Hyde. I do not think it would be appropriate for me or the Secretary of State for Transport to visit the area to observe traffic congestion whilst this work is ongoing.
This is in stark contrast with the likes of Alistair Darling who visited the area to show support for the Bypass when he was Secretary of State for Transport . Putting aside Norman Baker's record in the past over environmental concerns (he turned up at at least one Climate Camp in the past few years), the signals are clear - the axemen at the DfT are not ruling anything out for the cuts, and to turn up to essentially show support for a possible road to then later on 'down the road' cut future funding for it would be a huge own goal.

Now all of this suits the likes of 'Jonny' Reynolds, who's been very busy since he was elected desperately trying to look like he's doing something about the bypass. So if a Con-Dem government nix it, then he's able to blame it on his political rivals and 'Con-Dem' them...

Politricks, politricks, politricks.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

New cost estimate for 'withdrawn' Mottram Bypass - £19.6 million

Our old friend John Hall has been doing some digging. He recently requested from the Highways Agency information about the total cost of the original Bypass scheme to date in a Freedom of Information request.

Now you may remember that we have covered pretty much every twist and turn of the issue of costs over the past 3 years. The last time we reported was in May last year, when the accumulated cost was £17,176,000, this figure having leapt up by £1,176,000 in less than 6 months.

In this context, the reply to John Hall's Freedom of Information request in somewhat staggering - the cost now stands at £19.6 million (or £19,600,000 in longhand), meaning that £2.4 million has been added to the costs in just over 12 months. Whether this is as a result of a re-audit of the accounts, or that the abandoned scheme is still accruing costs is unclear, but you may remember that in March 2009, 4NW allowed the Highways Agency £1.1 million over the next seven years towards 'ongoing administrative costs'. For 2009-2010, the HA were apportioned £100,000 for this.

So one way or the other, the costs the scheme seems to have accrued have already swallowed up more than double the next seven years money in 12 months.

Now think about this: the media and politicians keep telling us that there's no money left, and that we must all face cuts to jobs, wages, services etc. At the same time, executive pay is up, banks are still paying bonuses, there's loads of money for useless wars - and the Highways Agency are still swallowing horrendous amounts of money for an 'abandoned' road scheme. You couldn't make it up.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Mottram Tesco poll results

The results of our poll regarding the proposed Tesco Extra store at Mottram are in with 48 votes having been cast. We asked 'How do you feel about the possible new Tesco at Mottram?', and our respondents voted as follows:

Good idea - 3 (6%)
Bad idea - 35 (72%)
Don't care - 2 (4%)
Good idea, but worried about traffic - 8 (18%)

So not exactly a ringing endorsement. Now our poll is not exactly scientific, and you might not think it has much credibility, but then Tesco themselves also carried out a survey on Mottram and Hattersley, holding two 9-hour exhibitions, several static displays over a week, and delivering leaflets to 2,700 households, alongside posters and articles in local community newspapers. After all that money and effort, only 92 comment forms were received by them - and we received more than half that. You can read more details of the Tesco survey in this document they have submitted to the planning department at TMBC.

We'd like to receive your comments about the Tesco plan - please feel free to comment on this post, or contact us if you live locally and are concerned enough to want to do something about it.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Poll: how do you feel about the possible Mottram Tesco?

According to our sitemeter, we're getting a lot of people visiting the site who are looking for information about the possible new Tesco at Mottram. So we thought we'd run a straw poll, which we think covers all the possible responses! It's in the top of the left hand column, so vote away...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Mottram & Hattersley Tesco plans are online

The planning documents can be found here. Above and below are some images from the application which give you an idea of the absolutely massive size of this development which will have huge traffic implications for Mottram and the surrounding area.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Bingham makes his maiden speech - now it's the 'Tintwistle Bypass'!

The new Tory MP for High Peak, Andrew Bingham, made his maiden speech in Parliament this week (which can be viewed on the video above). Bingham clearly had an attack of nerves, as he fluffs and stumbles through the 7 minute speech (The transcript (which reads much better than it was spoken) can be read here). But unlike his predecessor* Tom Levitt, he marks his card and mentions the Bypass.

Only this time it's the Tintwistle Bypass. Showing his unfamiliarity with the TMBC proposals, he states that "Tintwistle shudders and resounds to the thundering of wagons as they cross the Pennines" and therefore needs a Bypass - which is why Tintwistle does not form any part of the current plans! You may remember that during the election hustings on High Peak Radio, Bingham continually referred to the Bypass as the 'Glossop Bypass'.

Other than that, this speech surely ranks as one of the most embarrassing things we've heard in a long time, especially his shtick about being the 'Member of Parliament for Royston Vasey', FFS...

*at the beginning of the video, Bingham describes virtually everyone as his predecessor.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Kieran Quinn and the power of political double-think

The new leader of Tameside MBC, Kieran Quinn, is making his mark already, giving an interview to the local press (otherwise known as issuing a press release). He's setting his stall out for his priorities.

Now pause there for a moment. Hands up who thought the end if the Oldham regime would signal some real changes? Did we think that Bypass 2.0 (aka Oldham Way) was only Roy's pet project and obsession? If you did, then look at what's second on Kieran's list:
"His priorities will include cutting the borough’s carbon footprint, pushing through the Mottram bypass..."
And then look at the first - cutting carbon footprints. One would have thought them mutually exclusive, but he wouldn't be the first politician to attempt to hold two contradictory views.

But is it any surprise? Quinn lives in Droylsden, at the address illustrated on Google Street view below (his are the evergreens in the garden). Have a pan around to see what his vision for Longdendale is (hint - the Snipe Retail Park and Ashton Moss are not too far to the East).

View Larger Map

Tesco planning application due in June for Mottram & Hattersley site

Long-standing readers of this blog will know that we've been following the story of a planned Tesco development in Mottram & Hattersley for over 2 years (previous articles can be read here and here). But in the intervening period between writing our two articles, there's been very little news, and the site alongside the A560 Stockport Road has remained undeveloped since then, with virtually no signs of activity.

So it was with a little surprise this week that we learned the plans are moving forward. It seems that Tesco have begun one of their classic 'softening up' exercises by holding 'exhibitions' about their plans in certain parts of the affected locality. As is too often the case with these exhibitions, a press release about it is published in the local papers on the day it takes place, with the hours of the exhibition excluding most people anyway (8.30 a.m. to 9.30 a.m and 3.00 p.m. to 4.30 p.m.). Then there's the question of how they find out - it seems that NMB contacts on the Eastern side of Mottram have not had any kind of notification. Since the latest exhibition appears to have been held at Arundale Primary School, one wonders if the only people who do know are the parents whose children attend that school.

The press release tells us that a planning application will now follow in June, hoping for a decision in October. The artist's impression tells us straight away that this will be a massive store - Tesco Extra stores are much bigger than a standard sized supermarket. It is bound to generate massive amounts of traffic, all adding to the calls for a bypass.

We will post links to the plans as soon as we find out more information.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Tameside Council dumps Roy Oldham - Kieran Quinn is now leader

The breaking news is that Tameside Council has dumped Roy Oldham from his leadership post and selected Kieran Quinn. Does this mean all bets on Bypass 2.0 are now off?

Friday, May 07, 2010

Jonathan 'Jonny' Reynolds wins in Stalybridge & Hyde - lock up your virgin daughters...

No surprises here - Jonathan 'Jonny' Reynolds wins in Stalybridge & Hyde. We've heard that James Purnell didn't even stick around to congratulate his successor and is already hanging out in London, but the son of Dracula now holds his safe seat after all kinds of dubious shenanigans to get him there and attempts on his political life from pipsqueaks in the same Party, albeit with a vastly reduced majority (hardly a massive endorsement).

Andrew 'Tweedledumber' Bingham wins in High Peak

High Peak Councillor (and blogger) Anthony McKeown broke the news of the High Peak election result first on Twitter - and the winner is the Tory Andrew Bingham. It's High Peak Labour Party's own fault - they failed miserably by not taking swift and decisive action over the expenses fiddles of the crook Tom Levitt.

We're sure some very odd people would like to extend their congratulations to Bingham, 'Tweedledumber' in our parlance due to his non-difference from Tom Levitt regarding the Bypass, but the choice on this issue between all the three main candidates was a non-choice for us. Nevertheless, this writer regards Bingham as the natural enemy and we intend to be ruthless.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Oldham in desperate "I'll deliver Bypass 2.0" pledge - the Old Goat has shot his bolt

Predictably, Roy Oldham is using his secret weapon in a last ditch move to shore up any wavering voters in Longdendale. The best bit about the leaflet is that Oldham is saying that Bypass 2.0 will follow public consultation, almost like night follows day. Now we think this seems to be a case of him prejudging the issue, which could have serious consequences for him. We understand both Longdendale Siege and Longdendale Labour have chosen this moment to pounce because the Tory candidate Peter Hayes has been making it quite clear that he can't make any promises regarding Bypass 2.0

Meanwhile, the man who made all the promises for years on end and didn't deliver is making more of them. The Old Goat has shot his bolt.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Labour, Conservative & Liberal Democrat High Peak candidates declare war on their constituency

Well, we did promise to examine last week's High Peak Radio hustings in more detail, so we're returning to dissect the words of the three main candidates that featured in that debate (the audio is once again at the bottom on the post) - Labour's Caitlin Bisknell, the Liberal Democrat Alistair Stevens and the Tory Andrew Bingham.

47 seconds in, the debate turns to the housing targets imposed by the Government of the East Midlands upon High Peak Borough Council. All three candidates turn this into a call for affordable housing, but readers need to be aware that this is coded language and does not necessarily mean the same thing as Social Housing (which is actually being slowly dismantled), with affordable housing actually meaning affordable to those on an average wage, something which those in most need of housing can only dream about. It also increasingly means that these homes are 'shared ownership' (i.e. mixed mortgage/rent), a sector which is currently somewhat problematic given the complete lack of mortgages available to anyone on a low income (something which is likely to continue long into the future). In addition, readers should know that the housing targets specify that only a small proportion of the planned units must be 'affordable'.

Thus what we're seeing here is an attempt to justify large scale development on Greenbelt land for a 'projected need', and not necessarily current need, which could arguably be accommodated by the occupation of existing empty homes and the use of recognisably brownfield sites.

The contributions can be summarised thus: Bisknell calls for building on the Green Belt (contrary to local development plans), Stevens thinks the targets aren't high enough (but then he's an estate agent!) and calls for a political united front.

At 2:28, the issue of Cowdale Quarry is raised. In essence, this is a crackpot scheme which, on the surface, seeks to turn a long disused Quarry (over 62 years) into a bottled water plant, but is actually an asset-stripping environmental outrage. Both Bingham and Bisknell decline to comment on the basis that a planning decision has yet to be made, and if they are not elected as the High Peak candidate, as members of the Council they have to make a decision about it.

Which is interesting. Because keen readers will also know that the planning permission awarded by HPBC for the High Peak end of the Glossop Spur has now expired and, if Roy Oldham and Co. are serious, will need to be renewed again in future. Since later in the debate, they both declared enthusiasm for Bypass 2.0, we can only assume they have prejudiced this application.

At 3:39, we get a long rant from all three candidates about the need for Bypass 2.0. Bisknell's support seems not exactly unequivocal, but she goes on to mention the need for a Bypass for Fairfield near Buxton, which is a new one on us ('No Fairfield Bypass' anyone?). Bingham refers to Bypass 2.0 as the 'Glossopdale Bypass', and speaks in favour of it, but makes no promises about funding, saying he will 'fight very hard' for it if elected - Game On then Tweedledumber! The Estate Agent agrees.

The final section is the one we mentioned in our last post - yes, it's our question which we emailed in (though High Peak Radio chose not to mention that, or the blog), and it went as follows:
The 3 main candidates go on and on about reducing Carbon emissions, yet they all support the construction of a Bypass, along the lines of the discredited Longdendale Bypass, but now through Mottram and down into Glossop. The old plan would have seen Carbon emissions increase in this area by 15,000 tons each year. Doesn't this make a nonsense of their claims to be 'environmentally friendly'? Surely the best way to be green is not to pollute the area with more traffic and CO2?
And of course we then had Alistair Stevens telling us to 'get real' because the road would be used for 'green cars' (apparently powered by wind turbines). He must know about these things, after all he's an Estate Agent...

That just about wraps up our little contribution to the 2010 General Election. Just remember: whoever you vote for, the government always gets in. Voting for any of this lot ensures business as usual, which also means a war on the local environment, and that's a war that will not go unanswered in the years to come.