How many times have we heard it said, “Lessons must be learned.”?

It's said that in life, there are no new mistakes and poor decisions, just old ones repeated. It's also said that we don't learn the lessons from past results and this must also be true, otherwise why would politicians, civil servants and our career councillors keep making the same old mistakes?

John Taylor, the long-standing Tameside councillor who claims total responsibility for Markets, has announced that he will be holding meetings with Tameside council officers to discuss plans for another Christmas Market next year, and has asked for the public’s constructive comments’ on how they can improve on the ‘success’ of what was a very successful event.

However, reading between the lines, any negative criticism or awkward questions relating to the Christmas farrago’s financial success, will not be tolerated and therefore the whole question as to whether Ashton’s Christmas Market was a success, will again become, just a lot of hot air! 

Lessons can only be discovered by asking three basic questions:

1.What went right?                              
"Anyone got the number for rent-a-crowd?"

2.What went wrong?

3.What could have been better?

First of all, if this de-brief; has to have any real meaning, should not be chaired by a councillor, especially not the councillor nor the council leader who purports to be its initiator; but by  an independent ‘facilitator’, if it is to unearth valuable lessons.

The council employees (the events team) who were responsible for implementing the event should then be invited to make recommendations. What would they do differently if they could go back and start over again?

This is where the whole exercise will become a complete farce because for the council to learn lessons’ it needs to display a degree of honesty that some team members may find uncomfortable. Their feedback needs to be constructive and avoid getting personal. But, that is now impossible because the principle councillor has already gone out in the media, telling all who’ll listen, that he is the person responsible for Markets and the Christmas Market was indeed a success!

In Tameside, as in many other types of council where committees are involved, you may have noticed that the blame for any failure is never aimed at the person who was behind it; instead it is laid at the door of the people who executed it.

In my opinion people in public life who constantly shower themselves in praise and claim ownership of concepts and publicly congratulate themselves for their foresight and resolve to make tough decisions, should also be big enough to take full responsibility for any abject failure that may occur.

In this case, a minimum financial loss of £63,500!

Therefore, if the council really want to understand how things could be done better in the future, this de-brief should be carried out by autonomously polling the public, with the results scrupulously analysed by an independent financial reviewer.

For this to work effectively the council's leadership needs to remove themselves from this inquiry, if only to demonstrate it will not have a negative impact on individual careers

But of course it won’t happen.

Mark my words, in a few weeks, John Taylor will announce that following on from the success of last year’s Christmas Market, the council have decided to repeat the exercise!

 – They’ll have to. What else are they going to do with 30 Log Cabins?



"It's easier to swallow with a cup of tea!"
I believe it was William James (1842-1910) the father of modern Psychology, who said, "There's nothing so absurd that if you repeat it often enough, people will believe it."

But no matter who first conceived of this repetitive method of utterance, it’s something that certain Tameside councillors have recently discovered to be ‘Tailor made’ to influence the simplistic minds of modern social media junkies. 

"There'll be one or two more here next year!"
These day’s a mere whisper in the ears of the right people in the right places and you’ll soon be hearing the propaganda from all corners. In effect, if not in reality, the story becomes true.

For instance, in a recent council Press Release - Date Released - 17/12/13 Tameside Council deputy Executive Leader Cllr John Taylor, who is responsible for markets, said: “We’ve received lots of wonderful feedback from people who have enjoyed the market and the lovely, festive atmosphere.

In a Council Press Release - Date Released - 23/12/13 Executive Deputy Leader Cllr John Taylor, who is responsible for markets, said: “We’ve received lots of wonderful feedback from visitors who have enjoyed the market and the lovely, festive atmosphere as well as from businesses who have seen an increase in trade.

The exact, word for word, statement was also published in The Reporter on 2nd January 2014.

A letter by a Mr Roger Coates, published in last week’s Advertiser, said it all.

Councillor John Taylor’s praise of Ashton’s Christmas Market reminded him of Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy story ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes!’



First of all may I wish you all a very Happy New Year and hopefully one where the winner of the council comprised of ‘The Most Condescending Councillors’, is awarded to any other authority but Tameside! – However, I won’t hold my breath.

Sadly, but exactly as predicted, the council’s foray into attempting to create a Christmas Market has been reported by the council's PR people and certain career councillors; (one of who purports to have responsibility  for 'markets') as a resounding success; - despite costing £69,500 to fund the procurement of materials to build 30 ‘log-cabins’ when these could have been hired; fully lit and heated for a total of £7620.00. Not to mention the cost of the 'entertainment and event management fee, which is still undisclosed!

So, the 'success' certainly was not a financial one!

Entering the council website, one read with total disbelief the usual self-congratulatory praiseworthy Press Release which was repeated ‘word for word’ in the local press.

As your eyes scanned the words, especially the parts where dubious statistics were being bandied about like confetti, one could once again sense that a flagrant example of their well-practiced talent for avoiding the truth was being amply demonstrated.

The thing that really galls me is the way in which they think they can fool us with misleading information.

For instance, they tell us, and I quote; “Ashton Market Hall saw an increase in trade during the Christmas Market, with over 3000 more visitors through the doors during the first week than the same period last year!”

Sounds good, doesn't it? But how do they know without actually employing people to stand at every doorway and exit and physically count them. - Not only this year, but last year too. And that was before this year’s Christmas Market was even on the drawing board!

I’m also sure you will be delighted to learn that unnecessarily having lost all this money on funding these ‘log-cabins’ Tameside council is now intending to carry out a "targeted consultation with identified stakeholders within the business community, (Traders) statutory organisations, (Tameside College) and and key representatives from the voluntary and community sector" (Charities) to ensure that their next Christmas Market builds on the alleged ‘success’ of this one!

More “double speak” from the council.

What we want from the council leaders is straight talk, not prevarication, evasion and pure bull. We have experienced subterfuge and deceit for years now, which is only marginally better than no answer at all.

Is it really too much to want the bare truth. The council officials are wrong if they think we are fool enough to believe them and their spurious statistics and sneakily guarded statements.