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.