Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Rochdale Council's new leader announced...


Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose, as they say in that there France.

There has been a change of Lib Dem Leader who is also Leader of the Council.

Well done Cllr Irene Davidson. The best person did win and in fairness, as Deputy she has been doing Alan's job for over a year but without the increase in allowance. This didn't stop Phantom of the Opera Dave Hennigan posting a back handed compliment to Irene hoping that she can now dedicate more time to the job. What a cheeky buggar he is!!!

The interesting thing is that Irene's day job is working at a prison. If all the rumours are true about certain polititians in Rochdale are true, could Irene be seeing more of her colleagues than they expect? Only time will tell...

Meanwhile, a sad sight up Willbuts Lane - the wheely bin at Chez Couzens has a discarded "congratulations" banner in it. Ambition can get very ugly- even for the bootiful people.

But despite all the Lib Dem backstabbing, sackings and appointments - who really runs Rochdale?
Even though Irene is now the boss lady, Rochdale is still being Rogered
This couple, who are both employed by the Council, expect to lose £9000 between them, while the female employee has not yet been informed of the result of her pay and grading review.TOP pay ... Roger Ellis.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Paul Rowen - dullest MP in da House?

How very dare The Telegraph from that there London ridicule Paul Rowen.

That is our job, but it is fair to say it is like shooting fish in a barrel.
The latest farce comes from a mystery blogger who has called Paul Rowen "the dullest MP in the House". Has this unkind chap seen Paul drinking on his own in the Strangers Bar or has he fallen asleep to Paul's flat monotonous tones sprouting an occasional shallow soundbite on Today in Parliament?

In the Westminster media circle, pisspoor Paul isn't on any speed dial list for journalists wanting fresh and cogent comment. Back in Rochdale Paul is usually seen with Dave Hennigan or Greg Couzens who help out with the longer words.

The blogger "Inamicus" has been outed. He is a Lib Demmer from the North East- land of T.Dan Smith. Paul's Friend In The North is Greg Stone - Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Newcastle East.
Greg headshot
A politician called "Greg" stabbing Paul Rowen in the back? Unthinkable!

RAW must shout this from the rooftops - Paul Rowen is NOT dull.

Let us explain...

How can you call someone "dull" who has been involved or allowed the systematic cover up of:

criminality, sexual abuse, corruption (financial,planning, party fund raising), political bullying and intrigue (in and out of his party), creative accountancy regarding allowances and expenses, interesting foreign travel and mysterious little helpers?
[Smith+the+Man-RAP.jpg]Paul Rowen MP with Adam Power launching the survey

http://www.rochdaleonline.co.uk/uploads/f1/news/img/2009226_112350.jpgPROMISING action ... Andy Zuntz, executive director of Rochdale Council, Jo Purcell, executive director of strategy and partnerships for NHS Heywood Middleton and Rochdale, Chief Superintendent John O’Hare, , Mohammad Naeem, the chairman of the local public service board, Roger Ellis, chief executive of Rochdale Council and Craig McAteer, managing director of Link4Life.



Have patience Dear Reader. 2010 will reveal many of the answers.

It will be anything but dull.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Cllr Alan Taylor - now out in the cold


Frequently a hairy bone of contention, RAW's crystal ball has been rubbed often this year and the predictions have proven to be bang on. Here, here, and here.

Cllr Alan Taylor has resigned as Leader of the Council. Although he denied being a sick man to the Ob recently, the Ob was quick to point that out to add mystery to his resignation. Not a retirement from council - just from leadership. The critics are already out with odd suggestions about him now being help the courts with evidence in fraud trials and the like.

If this resignation was made into a musical, would it be based on Carousel? Could a hairy man in a tight pair of trunks sing "you'll never walk alone"? Or would it be based the songs of 70's swingers' favourites Abba? "money, money money"? Has Alan met his Waterloo?

Local Lib Dems are eager to say Alan wasn't pushed. Oh no, he gladly surrendered his fat wad of extra council allowance to take the pearl handled revolver left on his desk.

The praise for Caesar was swift. Paul Rowen and Pat Flynn both used the word "fantastic" to describe their council leader who had just been stabbed in the back.

Alan was humble in his statement: "I am known as a workaholic". Indeed Alan, for those who can remember you in your fruit shop back in the halcyon days when a bunch of bananas could be had for a shilling, you were well known to be hard at it with your staff. A proper little menage a trois with all manner of plum polishing and melon fettling going on. Where did he get the energy to be Cyril Smith's parliamentary agent as well? All those skeletons in that cupboard won't look after themselves.
Like greedy rellies at a will reading, is there now an undignified Rush to grab Power by the balls?

Alan leaves mystery over his political legacy as Leader of the council.

The statement distributed by Adam Power has already raised a few wry smiles with his fellow Lib Dem councillors. Alan - with friends like that, who needs enemies?

"When I became leader of the council I had a clear set of priorities for our borough, which I feel we have achieved successfully".


Muddy fields at Kingway Business Park? A proposed tram that has demolished old folk's homes and set to make some property speculators very rich? A failed town centre tendering process. Directorship of Rochdale Reform Buildings Ltd - landlord to Paul Rowen's constituency office claimed for out of Parlimentary expenses and an "independent" rent valuation by fellow RRB shareholder Keith Crossley. Undisclosed cash donations from local businessmen that have done rather well from the disposal of council assets and planning applications?

Has RAW done what Cyril's mum was famous for and had a rummage through the Town Hall bins? Have we found a scrumpled up peice a paper?

Are the doodles and scribbles some sort of code? A crudely drawn cock and hairy balls? The words "creativity" "management" "success" "change" and something that remembles a knock off Gucci symbol?

Whatever could it all mean?

Monday, 14 December 2009

Rochdale Town Centre regeneration – a dodgy house of cards?

Hundreds of millions to be spent on a new council office, transport interchange and a third shopping mall?

But who really benefits?

This week Rochdale Township planning committee will meet. It will pass a planning application for a new “Transport Interchange” for Rochdale Town Centre. Chances are it will go through without a hitch. The officers recommend it. Have some politicians been banking on this as an important part of a much dodgier project? Why spend £15 million to move a bus station a mere 15 metres over the road?

In these difficult economic times, is public money being abused for political purposes?

Will Rochdale suffer the financial consequences for decades to come?

RAW has some facts and questions for the record:

The regeneration of Rochdale town centre has been made party political. For the past few years official Rochdale Lib Dem regeneration policy seems to have been drafted by executive officers of Rochdale Council. In return, the councillors expect to bask in the glory of the billion pounds of development projects. Does this mean unelected officers decide Rochdale's future while our elected representatives obediently rubber stamp the plans?

But have the wheels fallen off many of these projects? Kingsway Business Park - the field of dreams that was built because the business model said jobs would come. But it remains a muddy field with a few tin sheds built. Are some rather questionable deals goings on now to get tenants on site?

Back to Rochdale Town Centre and the fragile, and grossly expensive, house of cards:

There is already a glut of available office space. Newgate House opposite the Town Hall is almost empty. With decentralisation of our diverse borough services and the easy connection of staff via the internet, why is there a scheme being steamrollered through to build a new central civic office?

Who benefits?

Who is project managing? Impact Partnership- a procurement and facilitation private company that provides services for Rochdale Council? Who is Impact Partnership?

How does Impact Partnership charge for its services? How much does it charge for its services? Is it value for money?

Why do executive officers in Rochdale like huge planning projects?

Do they use these plans of “jam tomorrow” to justify their budget busting salaries?http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1390/746233407_9265733366_o.jpg

Which vulnerable services suffer as a result of vain, hubristic projects that the public don't want and can't do anything about because they are decided years before the Planning Committee meets?

Take the “Transport Interchange”.

The Art Deco Electric House was demolished years ago.

How many other properties have been acquired and demolished in Rochdale Town Centre for a project that has had little public consultation, approval or scrutiny?

How much public money has Rochdale Council already used to guarantee this project?

What secret land deals have been done using public money?

What private businessmen have benefited from these land deals?

Have any of these businessmen donated cash to political parties? If so, How much? When?

How shaky is this “house of cards”?

The transport interchange is needed to free up the land of the current bus station.

If nearby council owned land is vacated then a large plot is created. The mother of all plots.

It requires the demolition of the Municipal Offices (Black Box) and Telegraph House. Perfectly serviceable offices that are owned outright by Rochdale Council that will be demolished for the planned move to a new municipal service centre “Yelloway House”. How much will this cost? £50 million, £65 million? Is this a Public Finance Initiative (PFI) deal? What additional costs have not been disclosed? For how many decades will Rochdalians be paying for this grossly expensive new office block? Who will actually own it?

So if the transport interchange goes ahead and the new council offices go ahead what happens to the empty land of our existing and perfectly serviceable bus station and council offices?


In a town with the third highest rate of empty shops, the geniuses planning our town centre “renaissance” are planning even more retail space. A kilometre from the inside market, hundreds of metres from the Exchange Centre (with about 25% retail voids), away from a blighted Yorkshire Street, and beside the Wheatsheaf shopping Centre that also has many retail voids in it.

When the Wheatsheaf centre was built, wasn't there a “planning gain” of the top floor housing our central library? Why then are library services due to be moved to the new £65,000,000 Yelloway House?

Who is playing a multi-million pound musical chairs with our council services and buildings?

Where is the competition? How can there be proper competitive process if there is only one bidder for the town centre regeneration process? How much has been wasted on enticing other developers? Who pays?

Which council offices and assets throughout the borough are to be sold off?

Who will benefit from this sell off of our civic silver? Have property speculators already benefited?

Could they profit from future council asset sales or compulsory purchases? Have these businessmen donated cash as political party donations? Has this cash been declared?

Have any Rochdale Councillors been involved in business relationships regarding property in Rochdale that hasn't been declared?

Why was there such frantic lobbying to ensure “Big Bang” Metrolink made it to Rochdale Town Centre?

Rochdalians are very luke warm about trams to the centre of Rochdale. The promised shuttle buses haven't happen yet. Is demand expected to be poor?

So why use tens of millions of public money to run a tram from the train station down Drake Street?

Is that why the “transport interchange” had to move 15 metre across the river (because the trams were too heavy for the old covered bridge)?

Who benefits from land deals done in this part of town?

Could Rochdale have an alternative?

Could Rochdale save itself well over a hundred million pounds?

Refurbish the existing bus station. With the money saved, make the existing car parking free? Use free shuttle buses to the train station?

Refurbish the exiting council offices. Obtain extra space from existing offices that are available at very favourable terms. Safeguard council services and jobs with the savings.

Concentrate on existing town retail businesses. Refurbish the “Georgian Quarter” of Yorkshire Street. Fill the hundreds of thousands of square feet of retail space. Concentrate on simple things like a good food and fish market.

Have a thorough audit of senior, executive Rochdale Council officers, the Rochdale Development Agency and Impact Partnership on project delivery and value for money. Also audit the millions spent each year in civic communication. How much of our money has been wasted on spin, propaganda and misinformation?

Have a thorough investigation of how party political funding operates in Rochdale. Who has received cash? Who has not declared business and property transactions? Who has benefited from any of these deals? If there has been wrongdoing then make sure those accused are charged and given a fair trial and, if found guilty, are punished accordingly.

There are rumours and speculation about corruption in Rochdale. Be that moral, financial or civic- our town deserves better than this. Our civic administration must be open and accountable. There must be no room for backroom deals and any suggestion of money changing hands in ways that can been questioned.

Those providing services for Rochdale must be value for money. Is this happening now given that the projects that these executive officers, partners and agencies are involved with have promised to deliver glory for some local politicians?

For months, “ambitious” Councillor Greg Couzens has been openly criticising current leader of the council Alan Taylor about civic failures. Cllr Couzens hopes to deliver an exciting panacea of “exciting” Rochdale town centre regeneration.


Could hundreds of millions be wasted for the sake of political vanity?

Only time will tell.

It starts this week with a planning committee voting on a transport interchange that was decided years ago.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Paul Rowen - who ate all the pies (and gravy)?

Although growing in girth, Paul Rowen is no Cyril Smith.

There are certainly no serious sex abuse allegations hanging over Rochdale's current MP like there are regarding the "Strange Case of Smith the Man"

But we have been worried about Paul. The Audit Commission's new OnePlace website gives Rochdale a red flag for obesity.
Over 2008 and 2009 has Paul been flying the obesity Red Flag with his own lifestyle paid for by the taxpayer? Paul's paunch has been expanding. Some cruel critics suggested he was living off the fat of the land.


The latest allowances for Paul Rowen have just been released.

Has Paul been Greedy with our money?

The 2008/09 ACA receipts have the answer- food glorious food. Over £2500 claimed by Paul Rowen for food without the need for receipts.

So we will never know just what type of food Paul used our money to claim for. Porkie pies? Fudge? Swiss (bank) roll? Chocolate fool? Banana surprise? Pig's ear in thick gravy?

Last year Paul Rowen threatened the Guardian Media Group with libel over reporting of his expenses. GMG folded rather than fight a legal battle but RAW is adamant that the Rochdale Observer and Manchester Evening News were right to question Paul Rowen on the dodgy claims he has made. Especially for his office rent, communications, advertising, staff and envelope stuffing.

So today, the truth is now out for 2008/09 - Greedy Paul claimed over £2500 in food.

Paul also claimed over £600 for bathroom repairs: “Seal joints on cistern and pan”

Did the ever expanding Paul Rowen break his toilet?


Those Rochdale Lib Dems leaks can be expensive- trouble is, the taxpayer foots the bill.

The taxpayer also spent over £200 on Paul Rowen's home insurance. This included legal expenses cover of £22.05. Has Paul informed his insurer, Tesco, that he has made repeated legal threats this year? If he hasn't could his insurance be void?

Would that be more of our hard-earned money down the pan?

Time for a diet Paul- paid for out of your own pocket.

We suggest a large helping of... Humble Pie.


Saturday, 5 December 2009

Et tu Couzens & Mulgrew: comedy, perfidy and infamy

Poor Cllr Alan Taylor. Lib Dem Leader of Rochdale Council.

"infamy, infamy, they all have it in for me"

There are two very ambitious Rochdale Lib Dem councillors who have been plotting for over a year.

Cllr Dale "there's more" Mulgrew and Cllr Greg "kissing" Couzens.

As Rochdale council's finances falter, our roads' potholes deepen and the adult care service abandons the most vulnerable citizens of Rochdale, what are these two councillors up to?

Back stabbing and undermining Alan Taylor for sure. Greg and Dale have been very indiscrete. Like two crowing cocks, they will disown Alan Taylor by Tuesday.

The simple Lib Dem plan is the worst kept secret in Rochdale.

On Tuesday, Dale Mulgrew is going to fill his dad's wellies and call for a vote of no confidence in Councillor Taylor. For whatever reason, Mo Sharif could be for the chop too.

If the shenanigans all go to plan, then a bashful and coy Greg Couzens will reluctantly grasp power for himself.

There will be kind words of thanks from the self-made "millionaire" hairdresser for the past "great work" of senior Rochdale Lib Dems. But these shallow rehearsed sentiments will leave a sour taste in many mouths of those in the room on Tuesday.

Especially for those who have heard the poisonous whispers that Greg Couzens and his savage cutting crew have been encouraging for over a year.

If trust and loyalty cannot be shown between this bunch then what chance do the people of Rochdale have? Personal, politicial ambition and a desire for power does not demonstrate selfless civic service. Rochdalians have been sold down the river for too long whilst this in-fighting has raged.

Dark days for Rochdale- a town that deserves much better.

The last days of Rome? Burning while Nero fiddles?

Friday, 4 December 2009

Paul Rowen - Gravy train lobbyist of the year?

Congratulations to Paul Rowen - "Parliamentary Campaigner of the year". Apparently.

A Googlewhack.
(Thankfully an internet term and nothing to do with Cyril Smith's past deviant activity).

Until RAW's exposee today, type the words "Paul Rowen" and "Parliamentary Campaigner of the year" in the Google search engine and... only one entry appeared! His own website (paid for by us taxpayers).

A Googlewhack is a rare thing.

It is not like PR Paul to hide his light under a bushel?

So how did Rochdale's current MP get such a presigious award that nobody else in the world seems to know about?

"For services to light rail".

As many an angry local communter is now thankful for Paul's services to light rail - lets dig a little further.

The Metrolink extention to Rochdale is causing havoc and will do for another 3 years.
Ask people in Rochdale if they wanted it and the answer is a resounding NO.

Apparently Northern Rail could have renewed the entire Oldham Loop with new track and stations for TENS OF MILLIONS of pounds LESS than Metrolink and without the same chaos of a total loss of line service.

But Metrolink was never a transport project- it is a "regeneration aspiration" and whenever these "visions" appear you can bet there are property speculators aplenty ready to make huge profits.

Are property speculators going to benefit from Metrolink in Rochdale?

Only time will tell?

PR Paul has been on several 'light rail' gravy trains- he was an ideal chair of the parliamentary Light Rail group. Apparently he is also "regular columnist" on moving matters, such as industry backed magazine Tranways and Urban Transit. Paul is so regular that the magazine's website doesn't mention him as a contributor.

Shurely Paul doesn't have his contributions on transport issues ghostwritten?

PR Paul also featured on another mystery publication "Transport Matters" whose classy tagline was "if it moves, it matters". The semi-derelict website seems to have moved away from transport into the heady realms of public relations.

"Let us write your success story!" ...the website gushes... "Looking to increase your presence in the public eye?"..."our experienced team of communications professionals is dedicated to strengthening your company's brand. We provide creative solutions to your advertising and marketing challenges, increasing your company's presence in the public eye".

The weblink to their client list is a mystery:

"Over the years, TransportMatters.co.uk has had the privilege of working with a wide range of successful clients. Here is the complete list:

  • Client 1

  • Client 2

  • Client 3

  • and many more"

So who is "Transport matters"? Is it a publication that is pally with Paul Rowen and his tireless work "campaigning" for overhyped transport projects, dinners and trips abroad researching train-trams? What about PR Paul's possible involvement with property speculators?

Media website How Do has the answer.

Step forward Alan Salter - former transport correspondent to the Manchester Evening News. Based in Littleborough, a town within PR Paul's constituency.

How Do mentions Mr Salter's agency's other activities...

"now secured further project work from the GMPTE...and property developer In Partnership".

Fancy that?!