Friday, 16 October 2009

Cyril Smith to be hung at Rochdale Town Hall

If there is ever an example of why capital punishment is wrong, then consider the curious case of Cyril Smith.

A non-story is currently being touted about an oil painting of Cyril that is to have the honour of being hung at Rochdale Town Hall.
Sir Cyril Smith - delighted to be sharing his painting (photography: David Hennigan)
As Liberal MP in the 1970's Cyril was a curious, rabid "hang em and flogger". All very illiberal - as if he was in the wrong party.

One of the greatest miscarriages of British justice was that of Rochdale man Stefan Kiszko. Jailed 16 years for a crime he didn't - and couldn't- commit.
As Stefan's MP, Cyril Smith was adamant in the 1970's- the man should hang. The problem with the death sentence is that there can be no successful appeal for the innocent. A short drop can kill the truth - sometimes an inconvenient truth.

Hindsight now shows serious failings of the 1970's police investigation of the murder of Lesley Molseed. Poor Stefan was a scapegoat. Was he fitted-up? Did people who knew better kept quiet?

Those who knew little exploited public fear and outrage for their own benefit.

Cyril probably didn't much thought into his hanging comments about his consitiuent. He had past form for simplistic gut feelings, shallow political opportunism and aggressive sniping.

That is the political legacy of Cyril Smith in Rochdale. Bluff, bullshit and bullying well mixed with cover up, murky deals and secret societies benefitting from the mess.

The allegations about Cyril Smith are clear. A hostel, Cambridge House, was founded in the early 1960's by prominent Rochdale Rotarians. At the time, Cllr Cyril Smith was heavily involved in local politics and youth issues. For some bizarre reason Cyril attended and participated in medical examinations of the young hostel inmates (lads aged 15-17). Cyril Smith has no medical qulaifications but it is alledged he squeezed the young lads' testicles in the guiding presence of the Rochdale police doctor Ian McKichan.

All the shocking allegations of Cyril Smith's sexual abuse were published by Rochdale's Alternative Paper (RAP) and Private Eye in 1979. Cyril Smith NEVER sued.

Imagine you were a young lad in Cambridge House back in the early 1960's. You are an engineering apprentice hundreds of miles from home. A grossly fat politician is known for visiting the hostel late at nights administering his own form of corporal punishment- using his massive frame to drag lads over his knee, pulling their trousers down and spanking their bare bottoms. Then the further humilation of the fat bullying councillor creeping back into your room, as you are crying in the dark, to wipe your enflamed butocks with a wet sponge.
What are you to do? Who do you tell? Who will protect you from sexual abuse?

Who can you trust or turn to for protection and justice? The hostel was founded by local Rotarians- the apparent great and good of the town- influential businessmen and politicians with links to Freemasonry. One founder was Probation Officer Bill Harding. Hard, influencial men ran the hostel. These men were feared by confused young lads who did not know what they had done wrong to deserve this sickening abuse.

How can a young lad, hundreds of miles from home, turn to the police when the influential politician abusing you walks in with the town's police doctor and engages in testicle squeezing? Even a young naive lad could understand the message- this grotesque man, Cyril Smith, can enter freely this hostel and sexually abuse you with impunity. If he can walk in with the police doctor and engage in unqualified medical examinations then he really has you by the balls.

All these years later, justice has not been done. Cyril Smith is heralded by some as a grand benefactor and godfather of our town. He founded the youth charity Rochdale Childer. Local Rotarians have been involved in the commissioning and purchase of oil paintings of Cyril. The NSPCC have benefitted from charity money from their sale.

Although not a pleasant oil painting, the portrait of Cyril, bought for the NSPCC by "silent auction", is to hang in Rochdale town hall?

Sir Cyril Smith - delighted to be sharing his painting (photography: David Hennigan)

Is it not a sick, sick world that such perverse historic injustices can be covered up this way?

Monday, 12 October 2009

Rowengate: "Wank bullets" and expenses - Time to come clean Paul?

Who says RAW isn't "down with the kidz"?

We have discovered a new phrase that is sure to become general parlance soon. The rude reference has resonance with many of the murky shenanighans associated with Paul Rowen and his bunch.
"Wank bullet" was a phrase coined in Peep Show (the Channel 4 comedy NOT the £9.99 "entertainment" expense listed in a hotel bill claimed by Paul Rowen).
A "wank bullet" may be used to descibe the selfless act of covering up someone's indisrection with a ludicrous excuse that causes so much disgust or shock that the original issue gets covered up (or wiped away).

Paul Rowen has just published a "private and confidential" letter addressed to him from Sir Thomas Legg. Over the Additional Expenses Allowances, PR Paul was cock-a-hoop. His press release stated that Rochdale's current MP had a "clean bill of health".

Has Paul Rowen dodged the need for a "wank bullet"? Or is there more to that fat wad of expense claims that suggests a tissue of lies? Could things get very messy for Paul and his gang?

The current expenses fist fight is only over ACA- Additional Costs Allowance. There is no mention of other allowances that Paul has been creaming off - Incidental Expenses Provision/Staff Allowance and his Communcication Allowance.

So who in Team Rowen could still be about to take a "wank bullet" for Paul and his sticky situation?

Cllr Cricket Jnr- Dale Mulgrew? He signed off the 2005 Rochdale Lib Dem accounts with information that suggests Paul has recently been economical with the truth to the Guardian Media Group.
Did Dale get his wellies mixed up or did his 2005 accounts show the Rochdale Lib Dems filling their boots with Parliamentary expenses cash for -printing, staff wages and "independently" set office rent?

Boy oh boy - as Cllr Cricket's dad might say: "there's more"...

Are the 3 amigos- Dave Hennigan, Adam Power and John Swarbrick- actually 3 arguidos in the search for mystery money? How much public cash do they get paid? When it comes to websites, photos and emails are these naughty boys not tired of excessive digital manipulation?[dh6swatch.jpg]

Then there is the 40p banana claimed under Parliamentary expenses ? A mystery intern took both barrels for that indiscretion.
Then there are Paul Rowen's late night internet confessions. All very murky. On Rochdale Online at 1.40am one Saturday this May, the MP promised to come clean about the "mostly Catholic" charidees who mysteriously received his "double bubble" Councillor expenses for 2 years. All would be revealed by the "end of the weekend".

5 months on and no confession, although a Heywood Catholic Priest has been suffering a tirade of abuse and intimidation .

Does Paul Rowen seem to be struggling to come clean about his Ugandan dealings working for a property company called Corinya? Does his cup overflow? Will the Jungmyars keep quiet?

Or will older Rochdale Lib Dem members be forces to "take one for the team"?
Keeper of the keys to the skeleton closet- Alan Taylor?

Or Cyril Smith?
The man alleged by Rochdale Alternative Press to be a sadistic abuser of vulnerable young lads (aged 15-17) at Cambridge House hostel in the early 1960's? Although not medically qualified, Cyril apparently "helped" the Rochdale Police doctor Ian McKichan with medical examinations. Testicle squeezing - what sort of sick pervert gets off on doing that to vulnerable lads a long way from home? Bottom spanking? What sort of politician - at the time heavily involved in "youth services" abuses his position to administer "punishment" and abuse young lads late at night?

Rumours persist that Cyril Smith was later treated with medication to control his urges.

Even if Cyril Smith later "fired blanks" - do all these shenaighans and revelations help Paul Rowen dodge the current line of fire over MP's expenses?

Thursday, 8 October 2009

The RAW facts - the alternative 2009 RDA conference presentation

Today was the RDA's annual conference- held under the auspices of the ironically named "MIDAS"

But no golden touch (apart from top executive salaries). 2009- another year and another £2,000,000 of Rochdale Development (sic) budget spent with little change to show for it.

Today's presentation at the Tesco-funded Link4Life Middleton Arena lasted a whole 2 hours. Short and sweet - unlike the lukewarm coffee served with the nibbles. Perhaps the RDA bigwigs knew that RAW were in da house. Some of the comments made by Messers Hudson and Ellis hinted that they were a tad RAW at "negative" comments about Rochdale's "exciting" regeneration plans.

During difficult economic times when council workers face savage job and wage cuts, it was comforting to know that the RDA had invested wisely in a glossy show presented by a BBC "celebrity" - politics correspondent Jim Hancock.

The climax of today's conference was "exciting" jobs news for the muddy, empty fields of Kingsway business park. For weeks the RDA spin machine had been in overdrive with rumours of "excellent" news. Talk of "international" investment of scores of "quality careers".

When finally announced there was a feeling of embarressed underwhelm, like getting socks for a Christmas present. When the details were quickly analysed, was a giggle heard at the back of the room? One hack had calculated the full extent of the RDA jobs coup- a small site employing 50 was to close in Castleton and move to Kingsway. A projected 16 future jobs are in the pipeline.

16 jobs for a £350,000,000 "field of dreams" that was supposed to create up to 10,000 high quality careers? At this rate, the gilded tarmac on the £10,000,000 kilometre long road to nowhere will never wear out.

The promises and hype of earlier RDA annual conferences now sound very hollow. Shattered dreams and broken promises.

Rochdale deserves more than deluded vain spin mismanaged by grossly overpaid, yet woefully underperforming, senior executive officers.

Away from the glossy brochures and smooth corporate patter, there is a bitter reality that local people know only too well - the RDA has failed our town. The Rochdale Development Agency is not fit for purpose, but don't take our opinion for it, take a gander at the RAW slideshow of Rochdale projects that have been touched by RDA "magic":

Lets take a whistlestop magic carpet ride around Rochdale... perhaps Mr Hancock could investigate this ongoing scandal as part of his day job?

Away from Middleton town centre, sold down the river for a Link4Life leisure complex deal to obtain a smaller swimming baths in return for a "Tescopoly" that could damage independent traders. Civic silver disposed off. Has it been value for money?

Over to Castleton. The closed gates of the 100 year old Whipp and Bourne factory- now rubble.
Were hundreds of quality engineering jobs destroyed in a botched planning deal? Weren't the manufacturing jobs supposed to be secured with RDA helping to "facilitate" the Babcock Group factory move to new Kingway presmises? In return for the old site getting lucrative planning permission for an "exciting" mixed use urban village? What happened? The jobs left town and we are left with a pile of rubble where a powerhouse of our industrial economy once was.

Then just down the road in Castleton village to the massive Woolworths offices and distribution centre.

Now empty. Critics say that the RDA took its eye off the ball by putting all its eggs into the Kingsway vanity project. Now all we have to show for over £30,000,000 of "seedcorn" investment is little more than a bad, eggy smell. Rochdale is full of empty retail, office and warehouse space. We need more, expensive tin sheds just off Junction 21a like a second arsehole.

Don't we pay far over the odds for the archoles we already have?

Andy Zuntz - Executive Director, Rochdale Metropolitan Borough CouncilTOP pay ... Roger Ellis.

a random assortment of highly paid senior executives

Whilst the RDA and the c.£2,000,000 Rochdale Council media unit spin defensive soundbites for Cllr Sharif (Regeneration portfolio holder), take a look at Kingsway for yourself.
Kingsway- a new landscape for business- indeed - empty muddy fields.An abandoned construction yard where the luxury hotel was supposed to be?
About 100 jobs delivered in the first 10 years- 9900 to go?

To experience the multi-million pound tarmac muppetdom, navigate the crazy new road junctions- Sudden, Townhead and Queensway. Enjoy the "exciting" prospect of added danger and time to your journey.
Over in Littleborough is the former Akzo chemical site. Apparently "no major contamination" according to the RDA? Did they tell a local councillor that all Akzo ever made there was "just a bit of washing up liquid"? Past frothy RDA "Renaissance Masterplans" earmarked this site for an "urban village" with a promised hotel and swimming pool. The only swimmers now are ducks on the nearby canal - next to where the mystery chemical drums were buried and forgotten about in the 1960's.
Today's RDA "Masterplan" reality is a rubble-strewn wasteland.

Following that theme is Rochdale's former main hospital site- Birch Hill.
Sold off to propertydevelopers for another "urban village". The future of our town's hospital provision was transfered to landlocked Rochdale Infirmary. Sheer genius - as there were no real chances of expansion. Was the downgraded fate of Rochdale's A&E, Maternity and expanded hospital provision destroyed by RDA meddling?

On the topic of doomed housing projects touched by the RDA magic, lets pass the Halifax Rd bungalows of very old and vulnerble Rochdalians threatened with the demolition ball. Those plans are currently in limbo- or are they?

Tangible destruction can be seen nearby- the poppy fields and bombsites of Wardleworth were perfectly serviceable houses stood just a few months ago.
Under "Pathfinder", has Rochdale demolished more homes that it has actually built in their place?

How about the cash black hole that is Dale Mill? Another rubble strewn joke that Roger Ellsi and John Hudson weres desperate to keep quiet. Is it to have more millions thrown at it?

Kirkholt - Solid post war council houses demolished? Recently refurbished flats torn down?

Take the muddy rubble that once was home to the very old and vulnerable folk of the Guinness Trust homes off Milnrow Road.
Was this destruction planned to allow speculation of "executive apartments" next to the proposed new Metrolink line? The £200,000,000 tram line that will destroy a rail route? Celebrated by a grinning Paul Rowen MP (who also happens to be Chairman of the Parliamentary Light Rail Group?)

END of an era ... Councillor Peter Evans, member of GMITA, Councillor Keith Whitmore, chairman of GMITA, Paul Rowen MP, and Nick Hewitt, driver, shortly before the last train set off on the Oldham Loop Line on Saturday night.

Then there is the rubble opposite Paul Rowen's offices at 142a/144 Drake Street - a flattened retail park...

Then the c.£2,000,000 spent by Rochdale Council for "speculative" office development at Lock 50? Empty for months so finally occupied by the RDA themselves?
Or the empty shops, offices and "bombsites" down Drake Street and throughout Rochdale Town centre?

Rubble prepared for a £15,000,000 "Transport Interchange" to move the bus station a mere 15 yards?
But there is of course the "exciting" £200-500,000,000 regeneration plans for a small area of the town centre (currently mostly owned by RMBC and GMPTE?). Plans so exciting that only ONE developer is in the running? A competition of just one? Secret plans to change the regeneration process so that the Impact Partnership £60,000,000 PFI civic office project can still go ahead? Is this a case of "jobs for the boys" whilst hundreds of vulnerable, mostly female, council workers face the boot?

So there we have it. Facts and photos about areas "touched" by the magic of the Rochdale Development (sic) Agency.

We love our town. We hate how its soul has been ripped apart. We hate how vain mismanagement and failure is destroying Rochdale. We detest the spin, the lies, the threats and the corporate bullying that allows property speculators to flourish and senior, unelected executives profit from obscene salaries and pension perks.

How much more will the citizens of Rochdale stand?

Rochdale deserves much better than this.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Rochdale's billion pound one-legged arse kicking contest?

Let's return to an ongoing theme for RAW:

Spin, Corruption, Cover-up, Mismanagement and Failed regeneration projects.

"Rochdale is booming" announce the faded signs next to many Rochdale "bombsites".

Failed regeneration, compulsary purchase, demolition and wildflower planting aplenty. Most of our town's promised "billion pound bonanza" remains with the Rochdale cowboys who "aspire" and "facilitate" the "exciting" future for our town. But as Nero seems to fiddle, Rochdale burns.

The Mafia of the Mediocre use our money to crow about their "dreams" and vain, 'white elephant' projects. Senior officers from Rochdale Council and its partner "agencies" such as the RDA, Impact Partnership and Link4Life hoover up obscene amounts of salary and pension provision as "savage cuts" are made elsewhere.

The public servant senior executive roll of dishonour is lengthy. It includes Messers Ellis, Hudson, Zuntz, Ewbank, McAteer and Lavery. These men have huge salaries and pension provision (well in excess of £100,000 per year EACH). Yet look around Rochdale and ask if YOU have received value for YOUR money.

About £2,000,000 a year is also spent on 'positive media messaging'. Other regimes would come clean and call it good old fashioned propaganda. We pay dearly for this drivel. First in the wallet and secondly as a result of deluded decision making by these senior unelected officers and the 'puppet' politicians that are appointed to their boards and willingly do their bidding.

An example of how this sorry scheme operates is the board of the Rochdale Development (sic) Agency. Leader of the Council Alan Taylor is a member. His business credentials are given as part of the RDA speel. But does this hirsuite retired "retail fruiterer" know one end of a banana from the other? He should know a lot about past town centre redevelopment disasters given he was Cyril Smith MP's agent during the "wonderland years". Alan was also around during the time of Cyril Smith's "plum squeezing" allegations.


Take the farcical Rochdale Town Centre redevelopment. £200 million, £250 million, £500 million are all figures that have been quoted for more retail and office space in an area with thousands of empty square footage and under-utilised space already. If the contractural fees for future decades of planned PFI "partner services", plus compounded interest charges are added, the final bill for a series of bland, identikit, tin and glass sheds, with a 30 year planned life, will pass the one billion pound mark. Of OUR money.

The latest (£20,000+) edition of Rochdale Council's glossy brochure "Local Matters" gushes about the frantic commercial competion to bid for the redevelopment of Rochdale Town Centre.

Local Matters - September 2009

But does it appear the only thing Rochdale Council and the RDA have been economical with - is the truth?...

It has now transired that ONLY ONE developer has currently made the grade- "Genr8".

Rude local commentators are clear about this unhealthy lack of competition.

After years of fanfare and spin to have only ONE developer willing to gamble on Rochdale's regenaration has been likened to a one-legged arse kicking contest.

As for uniped-based punishment, there are too many highly paid 'executives' that need their arses kicking in our town!

Rochdale deserves much better than this.