THERE’S NO SHOW WITHOUT PUNCH, they say. But on Tameside council it’s more a matter of there being no show without Deputy John Taylor.

Not content with appearing in neighbouring towns ‘riding in’ in front of his political posse, we learn from reading this week’s Tameside Reporter, that Tameside’s Deputy Leader, John Taylor, having put on his breastplate, chainmail chausses and houndskull bascinet, has exponentially increased his portfolio of responsibility by assuming the role of a knight in shining armour; and after six and a half years of council officers besieging the building and presiding over the gradual deterioration the Grade2 - 110 year old premises, has now gone rushing to aid the restoration of Ashton's delapidated Hippodrome theatre.

Laudable, you might think, but when we scratch the surface of this apparent late crusade of rescue, it leaves one or two questions regarding the council’s financial acumen in serious doubt.

The iconic theatre was closed on 30th March 2008 with the Tameside Open Brass Bands Championships on the stage. Since that date,this veritable Templar of  tells us that it cost £2900 per week to keep the boarded-up theatre rotting away on Old Street.

Wholly in line with his self deprecating modesty and humble dedication to the principle of public service, Cllr John Taylor, went on to announce that he has decided, along with Robin Monk, that the best option is to try to “reopen the Hippodrome, as a live theatre” as he now beleives “It will be a great asset to Tameside!”

So, what he is actually saying is that it has taken him and the rest of the ‘Tameside Brains Trust’, six and a half years to realise it might be better to have a live, workable, active theatre in the town to attract paying audiences from both within and outside the borough, than to play host to a rat infested, derelict building!

Then of course is his admission of the costs; which, if the councillor’s statement is to be believed; at £2900 per week, means to date the council have paid out £980,200 of taxpayers’ money, with no return!

Turning to page three, we find another article, this time penned by Cllr Kieran Quinn, who amongst other things tells us that “We spend taxpayers money and that’s a responsibility we take very seriously!” and “we’re doing everything we can to reduce costs!”

Really? - Well they certainly spend serious amounts of taxpayers’ money! 

This latest revelation that the allegedly 'cash-strapped' council can spend just short of a £1million to keep a valuable community asset boarded-up, really is a scandal …but this of course is Tameside, where proper scrutiny remains a wish, not a reality.

On a personal note, I wish 'The Hippodrome Company' every success in wrestling the ownership of this classical theatre away from the destructive philistines who purport to be guardians of the arts, and trust that they have total success in their quest to breath new life into what was, and could be again, one of our communities greatest assets.