Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Rochdale Town Centre, and Lib Dems - No Principles

There is a joke doing the rounds in Rochdale at the moment. Gallows humour following the closure of yet another high street retailer.

"What has our town centre and Rochdale Lib Dems got in common?"

"Neither have Principles"

Who says Rochdale doesn't have a sense of humour? Or irony? "Rochdale is booming" say the faded signs next the rubbled bombsites on Drake Street. Our once proud main street is strewn with cans, kebab wrappers and tumbleweed.

Even the Rochdale Obscurer is closing its office and moving to Manchester.
Will the last one to leave Rochdale please turn the light out.


Some say the rot set in when Cyril Smith was keen to demolish our proud Lancashire town's centre to make for the Brave New World of the 1970's. Quite a few civil engineering companies did very well out of building concrete flats, offices and a souless shopping centre. Even Cyril happened to get at least one cash payout - for being unfortunate enough to have the foresight (or tip off?) buy a shop in a clearance area.$plit/C_71_article_1041984_image_list_image_list_item_0_image.jpg$plit/C_71_article_515340_body_articleblock_0_bodyimage.jpg

As empty shops and empty offices in our town centre are reaching record level, those geniuses at Rochdale Council and the Rochdale Development Agency have a plan. A £250 million "Town Centre Regeneration" of... more shops. Also included in the scheme (written on the back of a brown envelope?) is a £70 million PFI office block, partially paid for by demolishing old council offices and other fire sales of civic silver.

Private Eye has reported that the bus station will be moved 12 metres to create a £12 million "Transport Interchange" for a metrolink that isn't coming to Rochdale Town Centre.

The public 'consultation' for this quarter of a billion pound scheme was so good, it now has to be run again.

There have been a flurry of defensive press releases from RMBC, RDA and "Impact Partnership" about all the "good news" happening in Rochdale.

However, locals are having none of it. There's a saying in Rochdale: if it looks like shite, smells like shite then chances are -its shite.

But will the people of Rochdale ever find out the full truth about what is going on?

Apparently there is a secret report that confirms that the wheels are falling off Rochdale's regerenation projects. There is talk of cash injections needed to keep these failing projects going. There is also talk of large amounts of cash already paid out for the purchase of town centre properties within the regeneration area. The area that hasn't been properly consulted on.

Shades of Cyril's past shenanighans? Secret deals with businessmen with ransom strips? Profitable property speculation? Secret party political donations greasing the wheels of Rochdale development before they spectacularly fall off?

Word on the street is that Chief Executive Roger Ellis had "gone ballistic" about criticism of the town centre redevelopment. The secret report papers are to be kept secret- by hook or by crook. Anyone leaking infomation will be 'dealt with' most severely. The Chief Executive is most insistent. But morale is rock bottom with RMBC and Impact Partnership staff that have just had their wages decimated by a pay and grade review.

So there we have it. Rochdale- a town that has been 'Rogered'.

Secret council reports. Secret property deals for a town centre development...with no Prinicples.


Anonymous said...

Another great article from RAW. It's time stuff like this was properly articulated.

Shite regeneration in rochdale is all the people have ever known. It's feathered the nests of corrupt politicians and tin pot officials and dragged the town into a deep quagmire that will take years to get out of.

But how will we get out of it with idiots like Rowen and Taylor in charge? Aren't they just more hopeless chips off the Cyril block of look-after-yourself-and-sod-the-rest school of thought?

The Obscurer published a piece of PR flannel 15 months ago that was headlined: 'We're wiping away the
70s'. In it RDA boss John Hudson said: “We make no apologies for wanting to wipe away what was created in the 1970s. The town got it wrong back then and we are trying to remove that."

What's the betting on a piece appearing in 2020 in the Obscurer under the headline 'We're going to wipe away the noughties'?

In it RDA boss John Hudson says:"We make no apologies for wanting to wipe away what was created in 2009. The town got it wrong back then and we are trying to remove that."

It's a permanent Groundhog Day nightmare in Rochdale and I don't see any change until Cyril and his evil disciples are properly shown up for what they are.

Anonymous said...

2020 press release?
They won't be out of jail by then.

Locals don't Matter said...

The Rochdale Observer were threatened by Rochdale council that if they didn't publish "positive" articles about Rochdale (and remove most critical, personal comments about Chief Exec Roger Ellis) then they would cut the council's advertising bill with the Obby and Guardian Media Grope.

The Spineless Rochdale Obscurer knows which side its bread is buttered.

Get Real said...

Don't put all the blame on the Rochdale Observer or GMG on this.
Who the hell does Rochdale Online "news" think they are for criticising proper journalists? Rochdale Online is on no moral high ground regarding advertising and how it affects their "news" output.

The shadowy Rochdale Online Jim Jones character is well known for the tactics he operates. A variety of aliases on the RO forum that creates a fake debate- controlled by a creepy weirdo. Rochdale council can get hammered by the half dozen or so cult followers. Then gentle words of pursuasion are used to Rochdale Council Media Unit for access to press releases to "counter" the wild claims that have been made on the forum. Does Rochdale Online advertising executive Cllr keith Swift ever discuss Rochdale Online and advertising at the town hall?
A recent spat with the council was resolved with an apology from Rochdale Online about claims made about the wages of the borough solicitor. Bingo- as if by magic there was then prominent banner advertising on Rochdale Online for a variety of RMBC services.

Ever read anything truly critical of Kingsway Business Park on Rochdale Online? No? Anything to do with the large amount of banner advertising for Kingsway on Rochdale Online?

Same with Rochdale Development Agency? Who developed the website? Cushty.

How about all for adverts for a local no-win no fee Rochdale solicitor. Anything to do with a director of Rochdale Online and eager Rotarian?

GMG may have its problems at the moment but it should never be compared to a bunch of rank amateurs who call themselves a news service.

Rochdale Online is a glorified blog.

Anonymous said...

I agree with every word of "Get Real's" post - while The Observer isn't a proper newspaper by any description, Rochdale Online is nothing more than one man's vanity project and while Rochdale online may have many viewings and forum members, the regular posters number very few - probably because the site makes no bones about free speech not being allowed.

Anonymous said...

Letter in today's MEN.

Dear Editor,

I read an article in the MEN about the decline of Rochdale's town centre. It revealed that people were deserting Rochdale to shop in Bury and featured a request from our MP for people to keep it local and 'use or lose' their town centre.

Instead of bossing us about, wouldn't it be better if our Lib Dem politicians acknowledged that they had overseen this decline and hadn't done enough to make our retail centre as competitive as others?

It's all very well politicians telling us what to do, but do they set an example? I bumped into Councillor Alan Taylor pushing his shopping trolley around Sainsbury's in Heaton Park. We said hello and he didn't seem the slightest bit concerned he wasn't spending his money in Rochdale. Perhaps Paul Rowen could remind him to 'use or lose' our local centre. After all, as the Council's Lib Dem leader, shouldn't he set an example?

Vera Lomax

Anonymous said...

Rochdale Online having many forum members?
There are only about a dozen regulars and that includes Malcolm cross dressing in several guises.

Do Locals Matter? said...

Roger Ellis has a vanity publication called "Local Matters"

His smiling face usually appears on page 2 with his simple signiture "Roger".

The glossy magazine is filled with inconsequntial drivel with sinister undertones of determined council propaganda.

How much does it cost Rochdale Council Tax payers to receive this twisted message through their doors?

RAW should investigate.