John Taylor appears to have developed a kind of sincerity beyond normal bounds, being that he is able to put his name to a premise in which he does not agree and then agrees with what he reads!

Once again, as we are subjected the weekly bafflingly ridiculous political propaganda from the pen of Cllr John Taylor, (or whoever it is who ghosts his letters) it is becoming increasingly obvious that whoever it is who creates this literal 'jibber-jabber' has convinced himself that he is a man confidently adorned in the finest raiment’s of reason, but when analysed, we find that he is barely able to dress himself!

This week, the focus of his one-sided observations fell on the NHS and the dreaded ‘threat’ of ‘privatisation’ - a debate which I predict will become more to the fore as we near the next General Election.

Now it may have passed the intrepid Labour councillor by, or maybe he purely chose to not mention it, but the irrefutable fact is; from its inception when Aneurin Bevan opened the first National Health hospital in Manchester, the private sector played a large role in the setting up of the NHS, and has done so ever since!

The irony here is that although all political parties have remained wedded to the principal of ‘free at the point of use’ the Labour party decided from the very beginning to depend entirely on the private sector for the crucial supply of drugs, medicines and other essential medical supplies. To this day the NHS would collapse if not for the large pharmaceutical and medical supplies companies on which it depends for everything from headache pills to x-ray equipment, hi-tech' screening devices and MRI scanners, to everyday bandages and bedpans.

John Taylor also missed out reminding us that it was none other than the Labour government who did in fact break their own promise of ‘free at the point of need’ by introducing ‘prescription charges’ which admittedly have subsequently been accepted by all governments ever since as a modification to the main ‘free’ principle.

Then of course we have our local GPs who from the creation of the NHS have remained ‘private sector businesses’ - who earn much of their living from NHS contract payments. This is why many of our local GPs are able to perform private sector work in their surgeries, charge for offering holiday and travel advice, vaccinations, private consultations, work for legal cases and the like, all for very attractive fees and charges. Let’s also not forget that most GPs arrange their own properties, finance their own practises and hire their own staff. Some also run their own dispensing service to earn additional revenue.

Although the Conservatives did open certain NHS services to private sector contractors, to look after cleaning, provide the meals and some of the other ‘hotel style’ services, likewise whilst in office Labour argued that good quality care free at the point of use, could be done more quickly and more cheaply and better by buying in service from the private sector and paying for it with NHS funds for patients in order to relieve shortages of capacity in particular specialities and to reduce the waiting lists.

I'd like to bet that most of us know someone whose had surgery on the NHS at The Alex' or another 'BUPA' style hospital, who say, 'they were treated like Kings!'

I therefore treat the councillor’s diatribe to make a political issue out of a Tory ‘threat’ for further privatisation with total contempt; unless of course John Taylor is saying that the Labour party, under Red Ed’ will be announcing step-change policies in their pre-election manifesto, were Labour; who employed and actively encouraged the extensive use of the private sector when last in power, would now want to nationalise General Practitioners and drug companies should they ever to get back into office.

As far as I can see, there is absolutely no threat from any political party to the idea that the NHS should not be free at the point of need to those who want it. Which is, in effect, all people want to know! And despite his continual political scaremongering, to the contrary, I suspect Cllr Taylor and his political masters in London know it too!

Another point to consider when listening to Cllr Taylor’s criticism of the private sector, is why, considering his apparent principled stance against anything ‘private’, the councillor of which he is a major policy maker, has not offered to resign over the councils increasing practice of handing out lucrative contracts for once council run services to private companies? A practice that even his own Trade Union brothers in UNISON criticise.

Maybe he could start by justifying the average monthly spend of over £6million with INSPIREDSPACES TAMESIDE LIMITED?

Perhaps he could also justify the £900,000 that was over-paid by Tameside Council to Meridian Healthcare in 2011, for care home beds that were never used! Or the millions awarded to Carillion for facilities Management and housekeeping services, not to mention the hundreds of £millions his council has signed away in PFI contracts?

Of course we will not get an answer to all this, but I predict that next week’s ‘Letter from Ducky’ will revert to his default dialogue on ‘local history’!



'We're facing unprecedented cuts yer know, and money doesn't grow on trees!"
So now its official, Tameside council is the meanest council in the land!

Not content with portraying the entire borough as a rat infested, food poisoning, fly tipping road to perdition by allowing the BBC to film a second series of sensationalist twaddle featuring the worst parts of our towns by repeatedly focusing their ‘Call the Council’ cameras on cockroach infestations and squalid conditions; Bosses at Tameside council have now gone one better by being named on the National television News and in the country’s daily papers as "the worst in Britain" after planting pathetic excuses for ‘Christmas Trees’ in two of our most picturesque and historical villages!

Just as the name Ebenezer Scrooge has become synonymous with miserliness, greed, grumpiness… Tameside’s Labour run council has become synonymous with avariciousness.

When confronted by the nations cameras, a spokesman for Tameside Council said: “The recently planted ‘living’ Christmas trees at Micklehurst and Mottram are sustainable and therefore designed to provide a tree for the many years to come for the local community.

He then jumped on that tired old hobby-horse and set to blaming the planting of the tiny twigs by announcing “the council are facing huge cuts to their budgets’ therefore we are continually under pressure to find more innovative ways of working!”

He then tried to justify their ‘innovative way of working, by saying, “By providing living trees as a one-off cost, the trees can be re-used year-on-year without the additional costs attached to erecting and taking down a new tree every Christmas.” 

(Strange he didn't mention the on-going costs involved to set-up and remove the festive lights used to decorate the said tree! Or in fact that the very same ‘one-off costs’ could have been achieved with far better results, if their collective innovative minds had hit on the idea of purchasing display sized, artificial trees!)

Obviously not one who subscribes to the theory of ‘ if you find yourself in a hole, stop digging!’ he went on to explain to the assembled news crews, “Because they are recently planted they are small, but will obviously grow into Christmas trees the whole community can enjoy.”

It might grow if its not dragged away by a rat!
However, the Douglas fir claims a medium rate of growth; between 13 and 24 inches in height annually. Which means, should they not die of shame or fall subject to the thousands of vehicles that pour toxic exhaust fumes over them on a daily basis, it will take 10-12 years before the villagers of Mottram and Micklehurst can have a traditional Christmas tree to be proud of!

Last week we read how Ashton’s Christmas Market will be a spectacular celebration of the season and will including a lantern parade and fireworks, 30 traditional wooden cabin stalls, a bar, ferris wheel, family entertainment, special events and much more.

With the usual last word going to the poster boy for what passes for financial acumen within Tameside Council; Deputy Executive Leader Cllr John Taylor, (who is also responsible for what's left of the boroughs markets), said: “This event is a community celebration for the whole of Tameside to enjoy while also boosting the local economy by encouraging shoppers from both within the borough and beyond. I would encourage everyone to come along and soak up the wonderful, festive atmosphere while enjoying the entertainment and activities and supporting local businesses.”

Well, that's as maybe, but it would seem by the ‘generous gift of a couple of veritable twigs’ from the council to the villages of Micklehurst and Mottram, the councils Christmas spirit ground to a screaming halt on the border of Ashton.

If I may offer a word of advice for our smug career councillors; Christmas time is a time that is supposed to bring joy and generosity to otherwise mundane times. If you could all try a little harder to find ways to harness that attitude toward all the people of the borough (not just Ashton) you’ll be better men for it.



One of the greatest eye-openers one experiences when observing the antics of Tameside council, is the many ironies it throws up!

Watching a re-run of that BBC/Tameside Council’s relentless propaganda campaign ‘Call the Council’ where the resounding echo of the narrators dogmatic monologue precedes every other paragraph, drumming in the message of how our ‘heroic council workers; full of self-congratulatory spin, are toiling tirelessly to protect an ever grateful populous from Rats, Cockroaches, Fleas, rouge Taxi Drivers, the many Fast Food Joints who are breaching hygiene regulations and the odd Hairdresser who was allegedly knocking out a few ‘iffy’ handbags and the councils culling of pigeons, proves my point.

'There's only one winner, here!' 

It was the episode where this big brute of a man, sorry, ‘local hero’, was demonstrating how he despatches captured pigeons using a pair of electricians wire strippers (a method of culling which I’m sure is not one of those approved by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) or,as those recommended in the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

Tameside love Pigeons!
However, on the same day that we were subjected to this televised attack on the Town Centre's pigeon population, our gallant Leader, Cllr Kieran Quinn was pictured in the local press proudly presenting a plaque to Tameside’s finest pigeon racers – an event which is in fact financially sponsored by Tameside council!

So, on the one hand our council is paying a man to murder as many pigeons as he can catch whilst on the other they are giving money and presenting trophies to pigeon fanciers, who actually breed them!

…You can’t make it up! 



"Just give us the money!"
Tameside council Leader, Kieran Quinn; writing of his support for the devolution of powers from Westminster to Greater Manchester, left me with mixed feelings.

For those who may have missed it, the agreement signed by the 10 Greater Manchester leaders and the Chancellor marks the start of an historical shift of devolved power and resources from Central Government, to the regions.

Now this shift in power from Whitehall to our Town Halls may well help to create more jobs, deliver more homes and improve our transport networks, but one must remember in whose hands all this extra power and money is to be placed.

Currently, the combined authorities’ agreement amounts to around an additional £1 billion. But, as Cllr Quinn puts it, “The ultimate prize as far as he and the other Greater Manchester leaders are concerned is to take responsibility of the annual budget of a £22 billion budget of public expenditure in the city region.”

In his ‘Executive Leaders’ blog,(http://www.tameside.gov.uk/blog/leader/) he opened with a pretty innumerate start when he told us that he had been arguing the case for devolution (with successive governments) for some 30 years  However, and to illustrate my point, I find his statement rather worrying and confusing!

According to the councils own website, Cllr Quinn has only been a council member since 1994. Therefore he’s either got his sums wrong, (again) or he was calling for the devolution of political power in 1984, some 10 years before becoming a Tameside councillor and presumably employed as a humble postman; which begs another question, given his apparent penchant to up every figure he quotes by a factor of 10; just how he managed to get the post to the right addresses and perhaps more importantly how effective he must be currently as both chair of Greater Manchester Pension Fund, and the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum?

One only need examine the current council’s track record under the leadership of Cllr Quinn, who seems to have developed an aptitude for struggling with figures and dates, to see various examples where they have wasted millions of pounds of our money on ridiculous vanity schemes. So the very idea of letting these people get their greasy mitts on billions of pounds, should make every taxpayer in Tameside quake with trepidation.

Bronze statues of Banana's,
Christmas Market selling Banana's
A new Town Hall made of Banana's
A Banana Republic...
Tameside, totally Banana's
Just imagine a proportion of £22 billion in the hands of our current crop of career councillors, who less than 30% of the population of Tameside have put in office; and say, hand on heart that you’d trust them to reach into our pockets and use our money in the manner we would find acceptable.

Power in the hands of those who have never had power or responsibilities in their lives often develops into despotism when the leaders conclude that they, and only they, know what’s best for their constituents. There is no longer - we want to hear your views, no more give and take; there is only a follow orders mentality.

It is like giving machine guns to monkeys! 



"I was up for knocking it down!"
John Taylor has a cunning way of staying in the news. 

Last week, the career councillor who already pens a ‘weekly column’ in the local press leapt out of our television sets, suitably dressed in his best tee-shirt, as the first councillor to be featured on the BBC’s ‘Call the Council’ – that’s the show where dedicated, heroic, committed council officers, tirelessly engage in a never-ending battle against, Rats, Mice, Wasps, Pigeons, Fly Tippers, Litter-Bugs, Dog fouling, Smokers, Noisy Neighbours, Fast-food outlets and unfit for purpose Taxi Drivers; bare their souls on camera in a seemingly inexhaustible series of programs where these dedicated front-line council staff endeavour to supply the BBC with perfect eye fodder for satire.

Now I don’t know if there is any truth in the rumour, but word has it that based on his albeit brief screen test, John Taylor is being considered as a prime candidate for a major part in the political remake of ‘Honey, I shrunk the Kids’

Renamed ‘Honey I shrunk the Assets’ The plot this time see ex-market trader Taylor, who inexplicably finds himself in the roll of the Deputy Leader of Tameside council. 

Disaster strikes when an out of depth Taylor is given the total responsibility for Markets and accidentally blows his entire budget on building a number of 'wooden huts' for his pet experiment to create a viable Christmas Market, and, despite countless letters of decent and advice from those who know, the deputy Leader goes ahead regardless and in doing so, shrinks the council’s entire annual budget to the size of a weekly big-shop in Aldi.

On a serious note, another piece of news that emerged this week, that on the face of it may appear rather trivial, however when one looks at it from a holistic point of view, the decision to ‘cut town centre parking costs to £1.00. is of historical significance, because it shows that contrary to popular belief councillors’ not only 'listen' but also actually posses the ability act on public opinion.

It might also signify the possibility that certain career councillors might be considering delivering a long called for return for a high street shopping revival which could benefit both local retailers and thousands of Tameside families for years to come.

Time and time again the Labour councillors have promised the people of Tameside they would listen to them. Well, they may well have listened, but until now, they’ve chosen to ignore the voters requests and ploughed ahead with their own long list of vanity projects and unwanted policies.

Could it now be that common sense is beginning to dawn on our elected few?
Could we really be on the cusp of a breakout of logic; where councillors’ looking at the use of public assets like parks and the disposal of iconic civic buildings, first listen to the people before their party?

Could it be that at long last councillors’ are realising that they do not actually own Tameside?

I believe that the towns that make up Tameside are owned by the people who live in them and it is those people, that have, in the short term, given councillors’ a little bit of their power to do their best on their behalf.

So, when it comes to things like parks; libraries and other precious buildings and other community assets much loved by local people, a councillors’ role should be that of a Trustee; - a guardian for the future, whose first and only job is to protect the boroughs assets, improve the facilities and ensure they are passed down the years for future generations.

For too long now, throughout this Labour council’s near 40 years in office, the people of Tameside have faced and had to accept actions by consecutive Labour politicians as they dispose of the people’s assets and diminish the viability of our towns.

Pragmatism and not petty point-scoring politics is needed. After all, much of what councils do should be apolitical. Getting the bins emptied or looking after our green spaces should be done on a consensual and not a political basis.

Forget the political arm waving stuff and grandstanding, there should be rational discussion from people who listen to and respect each other and who genuinely want to achieve great things for all our towns, not just Ashton!