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More promises made to be broken?

Clearly still grieving over the loss of the Longdendale Bypass, Council Leader Roy Oldham is keen to reassure local residents he has a back-up plan and its just around the corner.  At the December 09 District Assembly he claimed that funding for the road was in place and that construction would start in Spring 2012.

Of course decisions of this nature are not in the remit of Cllr Oldham and Tameside.  They have to be negotiated with neighbouring councils at AGMA (the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities) who have their own competing projects.  The plans for the full bypass were killed off by the  similar 4NW organisation.

Whilst the local press carried Cllr Oldham’s promises in full and glorious detail, the Glossop Chronicle / Tameside Reporter group were kind enough to acknowledge our part in getting Cllr Oldham to give us the first very sketchy details on the project.

Surprised by Cllr Oldhams confident claims, we did some more digging through the latest AGMA minutes and perhaps unsurprisingly found things were not as straightforward as Cllr Oldham pretends.

We decided to respond to the press story and sent the following letter to the Reporter / Chronicle:

Bypass boasts deserve greater scrutiny

I really hope that Longdendale will get the Bypass it so deserves.  However after so many years of broken promises, I feel you owe residents a more balanced review of the current situation than your coverage last week afforded.

Your headline “Bypass is a 2012 reality” offered no hint of the hurdles still needing to be cleared by the project.  Even in the most favourable list of competing projects from neighbouring Councils, the shorter bypass sits only sixth, with £534m of projects above it.

Tameside Council now have to submit our project to the Department for Transport for approval of the business case.  If successful, neighbouring Councils will meet to consider granting the project “Conditional Approval”.  Completion of these two hurdles then allows firm prices to be obtained before having to go before the same panel for “Full Approval”.

Approval for the full length Longdendale bypass failed a very similar process in February.  When compared to competing projects it was “identified as the scheme with the weakest strategic fit”.

On a different tack, residents want to know how much of the traffic chaos will actually be relieved by Cllr Oldham’s shorter £100m 1-mile project.  Just 10 months ago he was declaring the controversial £304m, 3½ mile route was the only way to solve the problems.

A combination of pressure from his political opponents and greater scrutiny by yourselves, will hopefully ensure Cllr Oldham doesn’t let another opportunity slip through the net.”

They were kind enough run a feature (right) based on our letter.  Hopefully this will encourage Cllr Oldham to ensure his bold promises are fulfilled this time, and that he doesn’t yet again let down the residents of Longdendale.

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