Saturday, 30 January 2010

Have Rochdale Lib Dems "airbrushed out" their most prominent BME muslim politician?

Has anyone seen this man recently?

Cllr Sharif

Mohammad Sharif seems to have disappeared from public view. It probably isn't anything sinister. Fear not dear reader, this isn't a manhunt. It's not as if we are suggesting the police want Cllr Sharif to help them with enquires or anything like that.

Mohammad Sharif is the political figurehead of Rochdale's regeneration. An important job and prominent role given there is talk of hundreds of millions of pounds of "exciting regeneration" promised for our town.

Or is that "exiting" regeneration? Rochdale Lib Dems keep losing their councillors and little helpers. Sacked, de-selected, "retired" or jumped ship to become independent.

Cllr Sharif's "Regeneration Cabinet portfolio" position seems to be a poisoned chalice. Is that why he is rarely seen in public to explain what has gone so wrong?

The wheels have clearly fallen off Rochdale's regeneration.

Following this week's front page news in the Rochdale Observer, today the BBC started to investigate the facts about Rochdale town centre.
What is Rochdale Council going to do RIGHT NOW about saving independent businesses in our town?

We don't need patronising promises of "jam tommorrow"
BBC News came to Rochdale to investigate. So where was Cllr Mohammad Sharif- Portfolio holder for Regeneration?

Why has Mohammad been "airbrushed" out of the media spotlight?

Instead of Cllr Sharif, we were treated to the wisdom of "millionaire" hairdresser - Cllr Gregory Couzens.


RAW might have the answer.
Have we discovered secret footage of disturbing media coaching techniques?
Is that really Roger Ellis in a curly white wig?
Is that diddy DJ Dave Hennigan on the decks?
Is this how Greg is 'briefed' on how to gush about Rochdale's future promise of "exciting regeneration"?

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Why Rochdale's "Flat Earth News" is bad for democracy and journalism

The Rochdale & Heywood Independent newspaper has just been launched.

We are big enough to say that our earlier post has been proven WRONG.

Sort of Daily Mail WRONG - (think Zinoviev Letter or "Hurrah for the Blackshirts" type editorial wrongness). In a much smaller way, could the R&HI's own first front page headline create local infamy?

"BOROUGH'S ON THE UP AND UP" ( (c) Roger Ellis 2010 ?)
The R&H "Independent" proudly exclaims that they will only publish good, "positive" news about Rochdale. That may be OK for a newsletter from a religious cult but such patronising drivel can rarely be objective journalism. Rochdale readers do not need to be shielded from the truth. Bad things will not go away if we close our eyes and click our heels.

Keep Calm and Carry On Red Poster

So big deal, a new advertising sheet is launched that will only print light Pollyanna articles. Why is this an affront to democracy?

Because WE are paying for it.

A cursory inspection of the R&HI confirms that a considerable amount of advertising and content is paid for by the public purse. Block, banner and column adverts and "news" content from Rochdale Council and other associated public organisations.
Nick Davies in "Flat Earth News" - his bestselling investigation into the demise of British journalism, coined the term "churnalism". This is when professional press releases are 'cut and pasted' directly into newspapers. This incidous process has been increasing as overheads and staffing levels are streamlined.

The Office of Fair Trading are investigating the use of public money for the production of in-house local authority newspapers. Did Rochdale Council abandon its own propaganda sheet "Local Matters" just in time?

We were critical of Rochdale Council's "Local Matters" but could we now be witnessing a new and and more sinister media business model?
An out-sourcing of council propaganda, paid for by secret contracts and generous advertising guarantees with content heavily influenced by publicly funded media units and consultants?
Much of the first edition content of the R&HI newspaper wasn't new. Over a dozen old press releases from Rochdale Council and the RDA were used, practically verbatim. Critics have already started calling this new venture the "Pennine Pravda" and a "Frankenstein" blend of Rochdale Council's "Local Matters" and a Lib Dem Focus leaflet. The saccharine tone of "Triumph over Adverstity" is an insult to local readers and taxpayers.
If the critics are correct then there must be a full inspection of how public money is being spent.

Let's make things quite clear: We love our town. Rochdale has its problems but the only way to lance the boil of mismanagement, ineptitude and corruption is to investigate - not cover up.

Critics suggest that the tone and content of the RH&I reminds them of the bad old days of the Rochdale Observer when certain politicians and businessmen were given an easy ride. Rochdale has been crippled by the Mafia of the Mediocre. Rochdale deserves the truth about those in power, who are paid such huge amounts of public money, yet have failed our town so miserably.

Hard working Rochdale taxpayers and businesses don't need a commerical, council propaganda rag. Public money should not fund a "newspaper" that lavishes nothing but positve spin and praise on their paymasters yet could be a tad economical with the actualite.

Rochdale deserves much better than this.

If the first edition of the "Rochdale and Heywood Independent" is anything to go by then this is a sad day for journalism and democracy.
'Freedom Is In Peril' Poster

Monday, 25 January 2010

Axed henchman hints at Night of Long Knives?

A former Rochdale Lib Dem spin doctor is keeping his hand in.
DEPARTED ... David Hennigan.
Dave Hennigan has been loyal since his unceremonial dumping by Paul Rowen. But are there now hints of things getting ugly? Is the cock crowing three times?

"I have no doubt that Dale [Mulgrew] will be an MP in the near future, probably in Rochdale".

Fancy that. Is Dave imagining a future, a near future, where Paul Rowen is not Rochdale's MP?
Dave was close to Greg Stone in Sedgefield- the North East blogger who described Paul Rowen as the "dullest MP in the house".

But are Dave's latest comments just another unfunny joke from the Jimmidy Cricket stable?
First, Alan Taylor is given the boot (after Dale and others spent months briefing against him).
Then Greg Couzens fails in taking the leadership.
Dale ends up becoming deputy leader then abandons his "pastime" of standing as an MP in Rossendale.

Now Dave Hennigan gives Cyril Smith's godson the thumbs-up by suggesting he could probably be Rochdale's MP in the "near future".

Dave could of course mean somewhere else in or near Rochdale where Lib Dems are standing. Could Elwyn Watkins be for the chop in Oldham or Wera Hobhouse pulled from Heywood and Middleton?

Or is cheeky Dave hinting at the rumours about the strange going-ons with Paul Rowen's parliamentary expenses, the Rochdale Reform Buildings and local party donations?

Even though unemployment is finally going down again in Rochdale, could Paul soon be heading for the Job Centre Plus in Fleece Street? Or could he be going somewhere else, all paid for by Her Majesty?

A week is a long time in politics. Ask Cllr Denis Whittle.$plit/C_71_article_1180456_image_list_image_list_item_0_image.jpg
Lurid allegations were made last year about him showing pornography to a young female police officer. Denis says it was a bum rap but his denials didn't stop leaked reports of him getting a right rogering from Mr Ellis the council's Chief Executive. Now Denis has been de-selected. With all these goings-on, does the right hand know what the left is doing? Sharif

Angie Coric has been de-selected too. But there are moves afoot to have the meeting that did this dirty deed deemed dud. Does this spat have anything to do with Cllr Mohammad Sharif losing his deputyship?

Paul Rowen was seen consoling Angela over a bowl of beetroot soup last week. Perhaps her seat is safe after all?

Meanwhile, the Rochdale Lib Dem meltdown continues after Vince Cable failed to show up for his dinner.

Paul seems to have the golden touch for Rochdale Lib Dems...
Dave Hennigan - gone from Drake Street
Alex Webster - gone from Westminster
Alan Taylor - gone as Leader
Mohammad Sharif - gone as Deputy Leader
Greg Couzens - having a well-earned rest
Denis Whittle - deselected
Anglea Coric- deselected
Dale Mulgrew - resigned as PPC for Rossendale.

As Dale's dad might say... there's more!

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Rochdale Council's "Spin" to be contracted out?

Rumours abound the offices of Rochdale Council that Roger Ellis' propaganda organ "Local Matters" is no more. Good. The one-sided drivel it often published was an expensive disgrace to council taxpayers.

Accounts of Roger's anger at anyone criticising his actions, or those of his executive officers, are legendary.$plit/C_71_article_1107055_image_list_image_list_item_0_image.jpg
At last tally, Rochdale Council's Communication Unit costs almost £2,000,000 a year.

Is this money to be saved? How will The Thoughts of Chariman Roger and the good news of increased civic tractor production be transmitted to the happy burghers of Rochdale?

Is there a cunning plan afoot that takes the costly council spin off the balance sheet?

Consultants and outsourcing?

But who could promote the good news about Rochdale Council and the Lib Dem (mal)administration an uncritical way?
Like the good old days when the Rochdale Observer knew its place?

Is there any connection with the demise of "Local Matters" and the birth of the "Rochdale and Heywood Independent"?

In all fairness, any new venture deserves a chance. Those starting this newspaper were made redundant by the Guardian Media Group so they could have fire in their belly. If it is truly independent then that can only be a good thing for Rochdale.

However, the cynics have already started. They worry about a business plan that his highly dependent on advertising revenue and may rely on "churnalism" from professional press releases.

Now where could such press releases and advertising cash come from? Shurley not Rochdale Council now that "Local Matters" has been scrapped?

It is common knowledge that Richard Catlow when boss man at the Rochdale Observer was very friendly with Rochdale Lib Dems and the high ups in the council. Now Richard heads PIP Media the vehicle that will drive our new local newspaper. There is also a family connection with Catlow Communications - a "public relations and marketing company" also based in Rossendale. Does PR, marketing and good old fashioned journalism make difficult bed fellows?

However, to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, we say good luck to the venture. We hope the critics are proven wrong and that the newspaper is what it says on the banner - Independent. Not some outsourced propaganda rag that glosses over what could be incompetance, corruption and maladministration within our town.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Vince Cable - not a sellout?

An evening with Vince Cable organised by Rochdale Liberal Democrats has been cancelled.

Billed as a party fundraiser, some saw this as an opportunity for the glow of Saint Vince to enlighten the murkier corners of Rochdale Lib Demmery.

With the ongoing thaw, it seems odd that the event was apparently cancelled because of the weather.

Rochdale Council's gritting efforts cannot be criticised.
Not because Impact Partnership and the subcontractors haven't been piss poor. The Roger Ellis dictat was more in the Ugandan sense that if there was to be open critcism of Council Services then those traitors could face an icy Idi Amin/Cyril Smith-like grip of their nether regions.

It is a good job Vince didn't make his visit yesterday to Lib Dem run Rochdale.
The electricity had failed in Rochdale Town Centre plunging shops and offices in darkness.

Imagine the scene if Vince has arrived at Rochdale train station late in the afternoon:

Met by an arctic Mad Max post apocalyptic nightmare. In the dim gloom, Vince is greeted by "agent" Adam Power holding a candle in a jam jar. They dodge the ice, crime scenes, potholes, drug dealers and sex workers as they travel down Drake Street - a near abandoned wasteland, much of it owned by a secret Lib Dem benefactor.

Lib Dem Rochdale: Empty shops, closed offices, abandoned factories but lots of "exciting" regeneration planned in the faded propaganda posters.

Such a senario could be funny if it wasn't so real and serious.
Rochdale deserves better than this disasterous, corrupt and immoral mismanagement.

Is that the real reason why Vince didn't turn up?

Or was it just that, despite a massive mailshot to promote the event, too few bothered to reply?
Poor Adam, taking over Dave's job isn't that easy after all.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Et tu Mulgrew...come here, there's more...

Jimmidy Cricket's comedy politician son Dale Mulgrew has just been made Rochdale's "vice Caesar".

A direct consequence of giving poor Alan Taylor the boot?

What a funny old world.

As reported by RAW here, here ,here, here and here.
Dale instigated the Rochdale Lib Dem leadership crisis with Cllr Greg Couzens. For months they briefed against Alan Taylor and openly criticised his leadership. Dale instigated the backroom vote of no confidence. He left the pearl handled revolver on Alan's desk so that he could "do the right thing".

In December, Dale's buddy Greg failed miserably in the leadership election.
And now the three horse race for deputy chair confirms that "ambitious" Greg Couzens is as popular as a turd in a swimming pool.

So, (by default?) Rossendale's prospective parliamentary candidate is now also the deputy leader of Rochdale Council. Responding to a question about conflicting loyalties, Dale was profound: "I would have to think about it".

A double filling of those golden wellies? Make sure you don't mix left and right Dale!

Godfather Cyril Smith will be pleased as punch. Someone who can be "guided" near to the top.
Who would dare ask about historic sexual abuse to someone closely connected to a national comedy legend? Also, with Dale as vice leader and still in charge of Health and Social Care in the borough, can there be a cover up as to why Cyril Smith has been able to stay in Rochdale infirmary since August 2009? Wouldn't ordinary mortals have gone into a care home?

There will be the positive spin and froth spewing from Rochdale Lib Dems about the "exciting" times from the "new leadership" but RAW detects some profound cover-up, fiddling and avoidance happening.

What has happened to the third man in the deputy leadership election?

What has happened to the old Deputy Leader and portfolio holder for regeneration - Councillor Mohammad Sharif?
Why is he so busy bullying Angie Coric out of her seat? Cllr Sharif
Does Mohammad Sharif's demise have anything to do with Rochdale's failed regeneration game?

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Nick Clegg and "corrupt politics"

According to the Guardian Nick Clegg has used his strongest language yet to attack both the Conservatives and Labour, saying a vote for either of them is a vote for "corrupt politics".

Has Nick had a bang on the head since his short visit to Rochdale in December?

Is Nick Clegg suggesting that his Lib Dems in Rochdale are not corrupt?

When Nick came to Rochdale did he not see:

  • The Cyril Smith Special Branch files relating to Cambridge House sex abuse?
  • The mysterious Cyril Smith Friends of Rochdale Liberal Democrats "Fighting fund" double entry book keeping- cash from property speculators that has not been declared?
  • Yet more mysterious cash donations to the "Cobden Bright Trust" not available for public scrutiny.
  • The significant amounts of cash collected from Rochdale Lib Dem tithes from councillor allowances (10-20%). This must run into tens of thousands of pounds yet nothing has been declared to the Electoral Commission for years.
  • Parliamentary cash donated from Paul Rowen's allowances and expenses paid to the regional and national party for "consultancy".
  • The envelope stuffing machine that was part paid for with a maximum claim of £6000 of Paul Rowen's allowances.
  • Parliamentary cash claimed by Paul Rowen for "advertising" in "Rochdale News" - a political leaflet printed in Derby.
Did Nick Clegg have a guided tour of the development sites that have benefitted from the special brand of Rochdale Lib Dem planning magic? Sites that officers had recommended refusal but mysteriously ended up going to committee and then voted through?

Which sites? Which developers? Any connection with gifts and donations? What role did Paul Rowen personally play in some of these planning consents? Did he lobby Lib Dem members of Rochdale Council planning committee? Which councillors are involved?

We predict that Nick Clegg's smug comments about corruption will come back to haunt him. Soon.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

RMBC to put brewery services out to tender?
Are we seeing the last days of Rome in snowy Rochdale?

Is Nero fiddling?

There is a lack of grit to keep our roads open but Rochdale Council's £2,000,000+ media unit remain slippery with spin.

Local businesses feel the chill because simple council tasks can't be done. But fear not - "exciting times" are promised with Kingsway Business Park, a new £65 million PFI council office and Metrolink coming to town.

Shattered dreams, wasted opportunities, corrupt (moral and financial) and unaccountable decisions are failing Rochdale.

The wheels of private investment have fallen off the Rochdale Town Centre "regeneration".

Adult care services are being dismantled. A letter delivered on Christmas Eve informed an old folks' home that they have lost their warden...

As Cllr Mulgrew's dad Jimmidy Cricket might say... "there's more!".

The voluntary Wheels on Meals service is now threatened.

The rumours from the Town Hall are rife... Rochdale Council going to put brewery services out to tender?
After all, it seems they don't have the organisational skills required.

Is helpful Roger Ellis drafting Irene Davidson's response for her ?

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Nick Clegg receives book on Rochdale Foul Deeds...

Truth is often stranger than fiction.

Poor Adam Power hasn't got the hang of press releases yet.
Or is he cryptically drafting his own resignation note/"get out of jail" card?
Paul Rowen and Nick Clegg with a copy of the ‘Foul Deeds & Suspicious Deaths in and around Rochdale’ written by John ColeA
In an attempt to make a news article from the recent lacklustre appearance of Nick Clegg at Rochdale Town Hall, a crass story has just been published about him receiving a book on past Rochdale criminality and "foul deeds"

Oh the irony.

Rochdale foul deeds? That is a tag line that will haunt Rochdale Lib Dems throughout 2010.

Will Paul Rowen be now choking on his banana daiquiri on some sun kissed beach holiday with Terry Mason? Has Master Power made a Freudian slip with reference to a book about Rochdale criminality?

...Property developers, dodgy land deals, crooked planning permissions, unaccounted for cash, thuggary, skullduggary, backstabbing, abuse and shenanigans?

Looks like Nick Clegg may have received some spankingly interesting bedtime reading about Rochdale from Paul Rowen.

With any Lancashire tales of ghosts from the past and skeletons in cupboards, let's hope Nick doesn't have too many nightmares.