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 F├╝hrer, 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!