Sunday, 20 April 2008

Cash Stash Funds Tool Pool and Arch Lark

It would appear that Cllr. Sean Parker-Perry's (nee Sean Perry) blogspot is suffering from a period of inactivity. In fact his one and only post came in late January just after his return from Spain. No doubt this is because he has been busy writing up his research on the aromatic effects of Moclin in Spain

The residents of Longdendale are awaiting this vital information with baited breath and so are we. The story can also be viewed at the Bad Air Sponge

On the subject of bad smells we continue to dig for the truth behind the creation and purpose of Active Longdendale. In this post we shall look specifically at the financial aspect.

The story begins with an 'It's Your Community Award' from mobile phone company O2 in early 2007. Whilst details of the award are no longer available from the O2 website, they have been kindly preserved for posterity in an obscure online magazine entitled Parish Pump News (at the foot of page 13).

Here we are told that Active Longdendale is an "ingenious scheme to create a sustainable and self-funding tool resource for local groups wishing to improve their immediate neighbourhood but who lacked the tools to carry out the work". I want you to remember the words 'self-funding' for later in the article.

You may also wish to ponder the fact that there is in fact a Rangers outpost within Cllr. Parker-Perry's immediate neighbourhood at Lymefield in Broadbottom, only a couple of hundred yards from the infamous Railway Arch where he plans to store the said tools. Furthermore one of the two alleged clean-ups that Active Longdendale take credit for was in Etherow Park, who also have a Friends group along with their own tools and store!

The Parish Pump article goes on to say O2 awarded a cheque for £400 to buy several start-up tool kits and quotes Active Longdendale's 'co-ordinator' Sean Parker-Perry:

"This support has enabled us to buy the tools necessary to seed self-help groups who will now be able to tackle trouble spots because they have recourse to a tool pool."

Finally, the ever helpful Pump informs us that since receiving their o2 award the project received more attention... (Aah. That will explain this article in the Glossop Chronicle then: )

Oh yes. What's more, this attention has apparently led to additional funding and consequently new opportunities to inspire other groups to to start their own clean-ups in areas within the Longdendale Valley. I'll let you, the readers, be the first to give me the news on such inspirational examples that AL has created.

Personally I am more intrigued by the additional funding aspect.

Whilst the £400 grant from O2 was widely publicised, a much larger award - £8,000 from the 'Awards For All' (Award No. 121) Lottery Fund (yes that's right £8,000) didn't rate a mention in the local press. Odd. Particularly so when one considers that Sean is particularly keen on publicity and photo opportunites (a future blog!). Let's face it, even if we disregard the New Labour penchant for P.R. and pizazz, any politician worth his or her salt would want to shout it from the rooftops if they secured an £8,000 windfall for their community. Yet not a dicky bird!

So the next obvious question is "What do AL want £8,000 for?". It sure would buy a lot of tools! According to the blurb "this new group will hire out more tools and create a disabled access to its storage building to encourage more users of the service. Ah yes. The storage building - that's the infamous Railway Arch remember? Now this really is odd.

The conversion of the said Railway Arch begins with this planning application to his own council which unsurprisingly gave the nod. There are two things of note about the Arch itself. First of all it is not of any use in its present state to act as a secure lock-up for said tools. Basically it is derelict and it will take an awful amount of spending to make it anything like secure.

It is literally an open archway with no doors or any form of security and with rocks and rubble strewn throughout - derelict in every sense of the word.

One can't help wondering why they don't opt for a standard lock-up like an existing garage or shed. Something that is relatively cheap, secure and immediately available for members of the community who actually want to hire some tools, now that spring is in the air.

The other puzzling aspect of acquiring a derelict archway is the cost. Spacia is the name of the company that rents out these arches and to get some idea of the cost here is an example of the nearest station to Broadbottom where there is something available, namely Stalybridge.
Wow. £6,100 per annum +VAT. Not cheap then. Admittedly this one comes fully furbished but still not cheap.

I would suggest that the £8,000 Awards For All would just about cover the cost of refurbishment plus rental costs for the first year, Then what? They would have to rent out an awful lot of tools to cover rental costs of the archway per annum. Particularly when one bears in mind that this is a not-for-profit enterprise. Awards For All cannot award grants to companies that aim to make a profit! This is made plain on page 2 of their Guidance Notes.

Hence, this brings into question the feasibility that this can ever be a self-funding project, something I alluded to earlier..

Readers of this blog may have also noticed a political dimension to AL so at this point I would simply draw your attention to the fact that on page 4 of the Guidance Notes above, it also states quite clearly that they will not fund political activities.

In summary we have an organisation with an undefined legal status that allegedly hires out tools to the community and has acquired known income to the tune of £8,400 to do so. Yet does anyone know how to contact Active Longdendale, how to join them? Has even a single person ever actually hired any tools from this spurious organisation and if so when, how, from whom and from where?

It seems certain that had Active Longdendale purchased any tools for the community we would have heard about it in the local press, to whom Sean as a Cllr., clearly has access. It's equally certain that if a rental service had been established, the community would know about it by now.

Apart from the Archway the only other known expenses that Active Longdendale have incurred come from the Spanish expedition. You may recall that Cllrs. Parker-Perry and Johnathan Reynolds went to Moclin in Spain as representatives of AL which brings us full circle.
Moclin. Moclin. Mmm. That rings a bell. Ah, yes. Didn't the Longdendale District Assembly grant 'Friends of Moclin' £500 recently? Yes that's right. In December 2007. Just a month before our local Cllrs. went to Moclin themselves. What a rare co-incidence! People do say we live in a global village these days and when unfathomable events like this just happen to occur in a quirky manner you just know it's true. Well blow me dahn. Who'd of thowt it possible? I wonder though. Is it possible that lightning could strike in the same place twice?

Surely not. Better wait and see though!!

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Sean And Johnny - Come On Down

The question "Why Are We Up And Running?" is a difficult one to answer.

Just what is the point of Active Longdendale?
What is its role or raison d'etre?
What values and/or aspirations underpin its foundation?
More intriguingly, how does it differ to already existing groups that provide a similar service?

Trawling the Internet in an attempt to find some answers reveals that information on Active Longdendale is very thin on the ground. What little information that is available tends to be somewhat contradictory.

Nevertheless, buried in the Minutes of the Longdendale and District Assembly, which was chaired by Cllr Sean Parker Perry (Labour) held on 7/12/06, lies the following nugget in which the Town Manager appears to provide a succinct definition of its aims and purpose:

"Active Longdendale is a project that "provides an opportunity for community groups and members of the public to participate in clean ups in the area". He qualifies this by quoting an example of their alleged work at Hurst Clough on 18/11/06 which he states was "successful in dealing with undergrowth and flytipping". In a nutshell it's a tidy campaign group.

So far so good. This all seems to be innocent and innocuous enough - in fact it appears to be positively praiseworthy. Unless and until one realises that the local council (Tameside MBC) already provides a Countryside Ranger Service ( which is responsible for the management of the Borough's countryside and helps the local community and visitors alike to appreciate, enjoy and care for the natural environment.

Moreover, the Countryside Service comprises not only of full time rangers, information officers, admin support and an estate team but also has an additional 60 Voluntary Rangers that provide invaluable support and assistance to the Service.

The work of the Voluntary Rangers is of particular interest since the type and scale of the projects they tackle is quite comprehensive and usually of high conservation or amenity value. This link: to the official Tameside MBC website lists many of these projects and explains the scope of their work more fully.

Suffice to say that it includes:

* Litter picking and rubbish collection.
* Footpath and bridleway clearance and improvement.

which in itself appears to nullify any reason for the creation of Active Longdendale.

In fact it rather begs the question as to why its only known members Cllr. Sean Parker-Perry (Labour) and Cllr. Johnny Reynolds (Labour) don't just simply join the Volunteer Ranger Service where throughout the year there is an opportunity to participate in conservation tasks with the countryside rangers and their team of dedicated volunteers (as opposed to showboaters).

If SEAN or JOHNNY would like to get involved they can apply online here: or by phoning 0161 330 9613.
Alternatively they can snail mail to:

Chief Rangers Office
Park Bridge Heritage Centre
The Stables
Park Bridge

Yes, that's right, they have their own premises (and tools) so no need to lease expensive railway arches or to tap up the lottery for funds!

Aah! That's another blog for another day!!

Friday, 7 March 2008

Why Are We Up and Running?

Welcome to the Active(?) Longdendale Blogspot. This site is designed for your scrutiny and feedback of the community tool service that Active Longdendale allegedly provides and is a contact point for your concerns.

To get the ball rolling, we invite your comments and feedback as to the status of Active Longdendale itself, which seems to be a matter of some concern.

Active Longdendale, which was founded by Councillor Sean Parker-Perry (Labour: Longdendale) and Councillor Jonathan Reynolds (Labour: Longdendale) is described by themselves as a co-operative. However, Council Leader Roy Oldham (Labour: Longdendale) describes it as a 'small business enterprise' whilst a Freedom of Information response from the Borough Solicitor claims Active Longdendale has applied for charitable status.

If you can shed any light on the actual status of Active Longdendale, please let us know.