The horse racing world has a term to describe our local election contest—a “walkover,” where the result is a foregone conclusion.

Tameside went to the polls last Thursday and, even before the official count, (which took an extraordinary amount of time to be announced) most of us who take an interest in local matters, knew that the outcome was a foregone conclusion.

Therefore, even with the upsurge of UKIP and the despite the gallant efforts of a few ‘independents’ the results came as no surprise.

However, the result can hardly be considered a resounding vote of confidence for those career councillors who’re still languishing safely aboard the council gravy-train.

The lack of fervent debate together with a politically constrained, democratically challenged election method has once again led to a record low turnout of 31.97 per cent of Tameside voters, who were presumably weighed down by the depressing certainty, that however they cast their ballots, public services will continue to be delivered by a cross section of hard-working, underpaid civil servants supplemented by facilities management staff who are under the yoke of a cabal of overpaid bureaucrats whose guidance and control still remains firmly wrapped in local government ‘red-tape’  and with the political priorities of such services resting in the hands of several incompetents’, more than a few narcissists and the odd petty tyrant.

Here are the round numbers of non-voters; out of Tameside’s 220,000 population; 20 per cent weren’t eligible to vote and 50 per cent stayed home. The remaining 30 per cent who took part in the circus, about half of those (15 per cent of the whole,) voted for Labour, who then claimed the right to govern all 100 per cent of us for the next 4 years; only in the fairyland of democratic theory can this be called "majority rule" by our career councillors.

The council’s own published figures for last Thursday’s local government election bore this out.

Out of a total of 172,479 people who were registered to cast their vote in Tameside, 117,324 chose not only to not vote for a Labour candidate! But, showed that they were not receptive to any political message whatsoever! 

Those numbers can hardly be described as support for Tameside council’s method of seeking the “public will”

And as for the council leader now claiming an overwhelming mandate to proceed with his preposterous plans, the figures get dramatically worse!

In total, only 26,666 residents voted Labour candidates into office, which means that 145,813 Tameside residents didn't!

But now it’s all over, at least until 2015 when the next round of pseudo local elections take place; if we are ever to regain some semblance of a level electoral playing field, the questions we must ask are - Why did all those people abstain? What can be done to encourage more to turn out and restore some appearance of democracy?

Because the main consequence of low voter turnout is that the true will of the people is not and never will be heard.

Not until we get the voting turnout way above 50% - 60% will this happen!

I firmly believe therefore, that the time is now right for 'the people' to consider a form of ‘compulsory’ voting!

By that, I don’t envisage actually forcing people to vote, but rather that those eligible should be required to participate in the process of an election.



Occasionally in life, one comes across fits of forgetfulness or deceit which terrify; you open your ears, you rub your eyes, not knowing whether you are awake or asleep. When the imperturbable individual to whom you owe such assertions, metaphorically leaps, with monotonous regularity  from the pages of our local press with such barefaced cheek you are unsure whether the man has not received some authority from nature giving him the power to recreate or annihilate the truth.

On a day when he will probably be ‘out there meeting people on the doorstep’ he published a letter in the local paper in which he quotes, “ …I don’t care how many cameras follow me around” followed by “I suspect there are more people like me who have no issues with CCTV in private or in public!”

And he goes on to invite people’s views!

How on earth can anyone contemplate voting for such person?



Only a Tameside councillor who purports to represent the residents of Mottram & Longdendale would have the 'brass neck' to publish an election leaflet, promising ‘a strong voice for Longdendale on Tameside council’ in which they tell of their introduction of a ‘shop local loyalty scheme’ to protect the independent retailers of the area; especially when one considers that it was only, 4 years ago that that same councillor chose to totally ignore her constituents; many who had lobbied and pleaded; despite over 3000 letters being delivered to Downing Street and hundreds of letters from local independent traders, emails and personal calls from residents for the local Labour councillors to stand with them  and refuse planning permission for TESCO to build a business destroying superstore, on their doorstep!

(Less the councillor forgets, we are still waiting to hear her explanation as to her 'promise' that once the giant superstore was built, 450 jobs would be created. However, once built, it turned out to be only 300!)

This was followed by yet another spurious election claim of; ‘Getting tough with pay-day lenders’ this again is total nonsense as ‘local councillors’ have no power what-so-ever to ‘get tough’ with anyone without primary legislation, which again is totally dependent on (a) the subject being included in a future Labour Party Manifesto and (b) Ed Miliband winning overall power in 2015.

Therefore, provided Labour wins an outright victory, it could well be 2017-18 before the law curbing the business ethics of pay-day lenders could possibly be passed and the councillors ‘promise’ realised. – In fact just in time to be released for the next bout of local election fictitious ‘promises’!

How these people have the audacity to make ‘promises’ at election time over which they cannot possibly have any influence, could be interpreted as being deliberate voter deception.



Welcome to Tameside, I hope you 'went' before you left home?
…a phrase which when applied to the ‘bosses’ of Tameside council, means: Even those without much ability or talent are still viewed highly by those with no ability or talent at all.

On reading Tameside Executive Leader’s blog the other week, Kieran Quinn quite rightly pointed out; with Bank Holidays on the horizon and good weather forecast - that a visit to Stamford Park on the Stalybridge – Ashton border, which, he pointed out, most people would view as Tameside’s flagship green space, would be a great family day out.

In trying to sell the venue as a great place for family entertainment, he explained how the park had recently undergone a multi-million pound refurbishment to give it modern facilities such as the Highfield Pavilion now with a cafe, modern toilets and the spectacular water feature, while preserving its 19th century features and monuments.

He went on to say, “I’m delighted to tell you that Stamford Park, which already holds an award from the Royal Institute of British Architects, now has another piece of “silverware”. It has come first in the restoration and regeneration category of the British Association of Landscape Industries Awards.”

“It’s very satisfying to know that Stamford Park is gaining national recognition. It is a place for the term “much-loved” properly applies. On sunny weekends it’s packed with hundreds of people.”

So, here we have a massively restored public asset, funded by the Heritage Lottery to the tune of £4.5million which included the new construction of the park's main pavilion. A pavilion that is so good that as well as it being awarded the BALI Principal Award, during 2013, the pavilion also achieved a RIBA Regional Award, and 'Best cultural, sport and leisure building’ at the Manchester Society of Architects Awards, it also tells us that this major undertaking has been completed with expertise and sensitivity by the contractor, resulting in excellent client satisfaction."

However, placing this valuable award winning public asset in the control of Tameside council, knowing the total mess they make of everything, is like giving a brand new Rolls Royce to a Stock Car driver and asking him not to scratch it and therefore if we, the taxpayers are to enjoy the full benefit of this major investment, the facility needs to be run by experienced hospitality retailers and marketed with expert guidance.

Nevertheless, despite my pessimism, last weekend, sun shining and with the grandchildren in tow, we set off to spend a fun day in Stamford Park.

It was evident that others too, had thrown caution to the wind and indeed the park was crowded with lots of families all set to enjoy their day.

Now some time ago, having dispensed with the services of the once loved and well respected ‘park-keepers’ who looked after our public parks and maintained its buildings, some bean-counter in the Town Hall decided it better to hand over the vast majority of council property to be run by private ‘contract management’ companies; a decision that is proving to be such an expensive shambles, it couldn’t be made worse if the councillors concerned had all washed their Gremlin’s after midnight!

Award winning pavilion closed due to H & S issue!
So, there we were, after spending an hour or so playing footie, found ourselves parched and ready for a cuppa and cold drinks, so off we went to refresh ourselves at the ‘award-winning architectural marvel, the park’s grand Highfield pavilion’ However, on pushing through a grumbling crowd, we found that ‘due to an apparent accident with the doors at the pavilion entrance, the cafe had been closed by the ‘management’ for ‘Health and Safety’ reasons
So, here we have a busy park, packed with hundreds of thirsty visitors on a nice warm sunny day, now leaving this flag-ship recreational facility in droves all because it has closed its refreshment and toilet facilities,  although, to be fair, there was a notice saying ‘the toilets on Darnton Road were in use, but apparently for ‘ladies’ only!

If this had happened at say, Alton Towers or some other such popular family venue, do you think they would have closed the facility? No! They would have had someone there to fix the problem,' toute suite' and devise a solution to keep the facility open whilst it was being done.

This was another missed marketing opportunity proving once again that political righteousness and commercial insanity doesn't just run through our council, it positively gallops!

It would be nice, if just for once, Tameside council ‘bosses’ could focus their collective brains to work against the nature of things, and at least try to present a temporary lack of chaos to visitors.



You probably know the quote "keep your friends close and your enemies closer"

Now I don’t consider Kieran Quinn an enemy as such; he’s merely a person whose decisions I strongly disagree with, and like most politicians, who find it easier to be economical with facts in order to advance a particular point of view, I feel the need to expose the omissions and falsehoods. In order to do this, I like to monitor his blog, so I know his steps, which enables me expose his Achilles heel.

Now I don’t know if the council leader actually writes his own blog; and with all the pressures on his shoulders in planning which cuts to introduce next; which piece of land to transfer to some Social Housing Group; having to attend board meetings and appearing for weekly photo-calls in the obligatory ‘Day-Glo’ jacket, whilst having to cope with the loss of Michael Kane, his political assistant, little helper , who is now polishing a seat in Westminster with the seat of his M&S whistle, it wouldn't surprise me if he's now had to employ another council wordsmith to pen the regular column.

Whichever, in his latest musing, like most sensible politicians whose party is again seeking election, he informs us that he has always had a keen interest in local history, particularly regarding the town he represents and its surrounding area, and as if he feels he needs to prove his sincerity, he goes on to describe the time when Droylsden’s Lumb Mill was demolished and how he organised the preservation of an engraved monument to Droylsden’s proud manufacturing past when ‘Cotton was King!’ namely the mill's name stone.

In his blog he tells us, “I’m sure many Droylsden residents will have fond memories of the mill and working there before it was finally demolished in 1991.” 

He then goes on to tell us, “…This is why when the building was being demolished, along with residents and my fellow councillors, I organised for the Mill’s entrance stone to be saved and, initially, displayed at Littlemoss School!” 

So by implication, and taking his words at face value, we, the residents of Tameside, should be eternally grateful to Kieran Quinn and those philanthropic councillors of yore, who had the foresight to save such a rich historical piece of our industrial heritage.

Now the story so far is all very commendable, but after cursory research,  perhaps the councillor could explain how he and his fellow councillors arranged to rescue the mill’s entrance stone as the once giant factory was being demolished in 1991, when, according to his council profile, he did not become a member of the council until 1994?

He also might like to clarify how it is that on Cllr Jim Middleton’s blog dated 2009, he too tells the story of what is rapidly becoming another Tameside council ‘mill-stone’ but he recalls it rather differently.

According to Cllr Jim's blog, written 5 years ago, it appears that it was local people like Susan Marsh who wanted to make sure that they saved a part of the Mill in remembrance of their town’s heritage.

So it was a lady called Susan Marsh and her colleagues, with the help of Tameside Labour Council, who saved this entrance stone and not Kieran Quinn after all!

So, the mystery deepens! - Or does it?

Because this is typical of the egotistical attitude that is all too prevalent in today’s politicians.

They often claim credit for something they had nothing what-so-ever to do with, or re-release a story, a policy or an idea, that that has been released several times before in belief that the gullible will swallow it. 

No wonder people no longer trust politicians!



The other day someone pushed a Labour Party election leaflet (Tameside voice) through my letterbox.

If you live in Tameside, you'll probably get one through your door too.

Their opening salvo was predictable! ‘Unfair Tory cuts are hitting Tameside hard – Really?  No mention of last year’s £7million under spend, whilst the council were cutting front line services and flogging off land and buildings!

Then, blazed in red across the front cover was a list giving 7 reasons to vote Labour.

1 Not raising council tax this year! No, but they did last year, but then there were no elections last year, were there!

2 Raising aspirations of young people! Then letting them down like they did when they were in office!

3 Compulsory Jobs guarantee! Or putting square pegs in round holes to massage the unemployment figures!

4 Bringing new business to Tameside. How about stopping it leaving in the first place?

5 Introducing a Loyalty Scheme for shoppers. But no mention of how much such a scheme would cost, how it works or who is going to pay for it!

6 Six months free business tax on new businesses using empty shops. It was the exorbitant business rates that contributed to Tameside having so many empty shops. Plus, how about those traders who are struggling to survive. What’s your ‘free’ offer to them?

7 Getting tough with ‘pay-day lenders’ This is a problem that requires new legislation in Parliament and cannot be tackled by local councillors! So it’s pure smoke and mirrors!

Now I’ll give you a few reasons to vote for anyone but Labour.

Every Labour Government has left office with unemployment higher than when they came to office.

Taking the annual figures (available back to 1971), both the Harold Wilson & James Callaghan-led Labour Government of 1974 to 1979 and the period of Tony Blair & Gordon Brown’s New Labour from 1997 to 2010 – official figures show that in both Labour controlled periods, (Oct-Dec 1974 to Mar-May 1979) the unemployment level increased from 976,000 to 1.4 million and the rate increased from 3.7% to 5.3% and (May-Jul 1997 to Mar-May 2010), the unemployment level increased from 2.1 million to 2.5 million and the rate increased from 7.3% to 7.9%.

Now I've no love for the current government, but at least they have turned the economy round and are gradually getting more people back into work. As it stands at of the end of April 2014, the number of people out of work fell by 77,000 to 2.24 million!

One of the reasons why I hate our current ‘one party’ council with a vengeance, is they simply don't have a clue about business economics, it's all take, take, take, spend, spend, spend and unlike their Labour masters in Westminster; who when voted out of office, they leave someone else to clean up their mess.

This draconian monopoly, who has orchestrated a voting system which means for the past 40 years it’s been virtually impossible for them to be voted out; simply carry on creating chaos and ruining our once thriving market towns, at our expense! - Mark my words; Mossley’s market ground will be next!

Take for instance Hyde Market. They spend £1.3 million creating a ‘civic square’ which has virtually killed the outdoor market! They then knock down the town’s multi-story Car Park, leaving Hyde shoppers and visitors fighting over the remaining 278 public car parking spaces.(FOI Figures from Tameside council!)

Then we have their latest coup; the Christmas Market in Ashton. The simple objective was to get more shoppers into the town, spending money. But as is all too frequently the case, our blinkered councillors when confronted with a problem, come up with a solution which we have to pay for and which makes things worse. 

The Christmas Market cost well over £291,000! (Council’s own figures)

They tell us on the one hand that, “At Tameside Council we are acutely aware of the pressures under which retailers have had to operate over the last six years. We are committed to reviving our town centres and have been working closely with town teams.”

So, what do they do? In Ashton, they increase the Car Parking charges by 80% – from £1.00 to £1.80 for an hour!

If you want more of this, then vote for them. If you don’t, then vote for someone else, as long as you vote!

If you think not voting doesn't make a difference, then you're falling into their political trap - don’t forget that some of these Labour councillors, especially those who chair and sit on lucrative panels really don’t want you to vote! – a low turnout serves these career councillors just fine, because then it only takes a few hundred of their staunch supporters to vote, which then allows them to claim a democratic mandate to keep on ruining our towns whilst pursuing their own personal agendas and picking up many thousands of pounds in ‘allowances’.

We might not be able effect their overall control, but we can loosen their grip!