Friday, 6 May 2011

Election results: 5 May 2011 - Salford City Council

No major surprises from yesterday's local elections. The Lib Dems hardly registered in Irlam or Cadishead. Indeed The Greens pushed them to fourth place in Irlam. Also pleasing there are relatively few numpties in Cadishead voting for the BNP who polled just 195 votes out of 2742 votes cast - a mere 0.07% share and just 0.02% of the total electorate for the ward. This is really heartening when compared to the 2010 results when this odious, but irrelevant party managed 346 votes (0.07% of votes cast).

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Local election news

Good and bad news when reviewing the list of local candidates for the up and coming local elections in the Cadishead and Irlam wards. One positive is the presence of a Green Party candidate on the ballot sheet in Irlam. Residents concerned about the environmental impacts of peat extraction, methane gas extraction, housing development, warehouse development and port development + the proposed biomass generator at Barton - all within or close to the Green Belt separating Irlam from Eccles, perhaps should give due consideration to this candidate, or at the very least ask their preferred candidates what are bloody hell they are going to do about the potential environmental decimation of Irlam - and the impacts that will have on traffic, pollution, global warming, your health, your children's health - and if anything - your house prices. If you are not concerned by any of the above then perhaps I should also throw into the mix the development of heavy freight traffic and a long term proposal to expand Barton Aerodrome (nee City of Manchester Airport) into the conurbations second major commercial airport. Rant over.

Of equal concern, however, is the presence of a BNP candidate on the ballot sheet for Cadishead. There is no room in mainstream politics for right wing extremists, who if they ever got into power, would takeaway mine and your right to criticise them on blogs like this. My grandad fought against the Nazis in 1945 - and was wounded in battle on D-Day. His brother, a brave paratrooper, flew in the night before the landings to take a vital bridge, but never returned. My grandmother chucked fruit at Oswald Moseley in Manchester in 1930s and at his reprehensible blackshirts. My grandparent's generation were not prepared to see a Fascist flag planted on British soil and neither am I, and neither should you. These people are racist scum, in a party lead by an idiot, and populated by criminal thugs. A vote for them, isn't a protest, its a waste. You might also want to think about brave British troops supporting the resistance in Libya. I wonder what Nick Griffin thinks about this conflict, having flown to the country at Gadaffi's expense to seek financial support from this evil monster.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

The dream has gone but the Daisy is real

Talk Talk, the company which provided the telecommunications infrastructure for Carphone Warehouse provides one those nice capitalism stories.   The brainchild of a local entrepreneur, the decision to locate in Irlam was driven less by logistics and more by a passion to give something back to the community, by providing investment and jobs.  Unfortunately Talk Talk's relationship with Carphone Warehouse went sour and they seperated last year leaving several hundred employees in Irlam and Warrington concerned about their futures.  Unfortunately their worst fears have been realised with today's decision to axe about 600 posts - around 13% of the workforce.  The expanding Daisy Group, based in Nelson, has offered to take on about 70 staff, but this is a major blow to the local economy.  So much for Con-Dem prediction that the private sector will soak up lost public sector jobs.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Cadishead Library to close?

Reported in today's Salford Star are rumours that Cadishead Library is to close as Salford City Council is forced to cut services following budget cuts imposed by the Con-Dem government.  As bankers pocket millions in bonuses from tax payers' money, your children's education and future becomes at risk.  The closure of Cadishead Library will leave many young people within the town without access to valuable resources and community space within walking distance of their homes.  This is the reality of the Comprehensive Spending Review.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

243 homes to be built in Cadishead

After a long process Wimpey and Redrow have finally gained planning permission to build in 243 new houses in Cadishead. The new homes are planned for the former industrial site on Hayes Road. The positive here is that construction will take place on brownfield land, rather than in the Greenbelt. It was hoped that the issue of building houses on Chat Moss disappeared with the new government's decision to abandon the crazy targets adopted by Salford under the old Regional Spatial Strategy. If you have been watching the news, however, you will know major house builders have challenged this decision,claiming the decision to cut the construction targets was unlawful. So there remains a possibility that Salford again will adopt a strategy to construct 10,000 new dwelling units in the city, with many 100s targeted for what is currently greenbelt land. Watch this space as they say, because it will probably get built upon if the housebuilders have their way.

Source: Property / Commercial Property / Housebuilders win consent for 243 homes in Salford THEBUSINESSDESK.COM

Friday, 12 November 2010

11th Day of the 11th Month.

Three reasons why I wear a poppy this month. 1) someone I knew from poly died flying a helicopter in a tragic accident in the opening days of the Iraq war in 2003.  He shouldn't have been there in an illegal war.  The poppy reminds me of this injustice and that violence isn't the answer.  2) my younger grandad landed in France on 6th June 1944 in D-Day and got as far as Caen before being wounded in a mortar attack and returned to England. His brother, a paratrooper landed the day before, to take a vital bridge.  He didn't return.  The poppy reminds of the war against the Nazis and how we must continue the fight against the Far Right and extremists.  3) My older grandad survived World War I.  He signed up as a 15 year old, lying about his age because Lord Kitchener wanted him to fight for King and Country.  He was poisoned by mustard gas and lived a life afflicted by bronchial problems which eventually killed him.  The poppy reminds me of the futility of war.  Three generations of death.  Three generations of ordinary people who gave their lives in wars constructed by the State.  That's why I wear the poppy.  So stick your jingoism, and stuff your nationalism where the sun doesn't shine.  Instead think about your fallen brothers and sisters, comrades in arms.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Entologi unveils expansion plans - Manchester Evening News

Reported in the Manchester Evening News, Entologi, the new owners of RTS, have plans for expansion. Let's hope this secures jobs for local people.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Gas is a Blast!

Irlam has featured heavily in national news media, because of the event on Merlin Road/Silver Street this week.  It is alleged that a gas pipe disconnected during improvement works, led to explosion which will mean that 10 homes will now be demolished.  Not the best thing to happen before Christmas, but the fact no one was killed is nothing short of a miracle.  A local fund has been set up to support the families and the Vesperados are planning a charity bike run, indicating that there is some community spirit left somewhere.  Even David Cameron has pledged that the victims will receive  special assistance.

National news coverage, rather unsurprisingly, has focused more on the human interest angle of the disaster. An investigation is under way as to the exact cause of the blast, although many other local resident remain concerned about the continuation of housing improvements undertaken by City West Properties, the arms length organisation that owns and maintains many houses in Irlam and Cadishead. The Manchester Evening News has made some damaging allegations about the contractors used by City West to carry out work on their behalf, although the voracity of their claims is open to question. But it is going to be an interesting few months, with so many homes controlled by City West.

It may come as a surprise to many people, and especially readers of the Daily Mail, that there are few genuine council houses left in England.  Between1979 and 2003, 2,657,000 properties were taken out of public control (ONS, 2010).  Some 60% of these transfers occurred through the Right-to-Buy scheme, and around 29% via  Large Scale Voluntary Transfers, whereby local tenants on an estate vote to move en masse out local authority control, with management passing to a Registered Social Landlord or an Arms-Length Management Organisation (ALMO).  City West Housing Trust are an ALMO established in 2008 who manage 14,600 properties on behalf of Salford Council in the west of the city.  They are currently investing £235m over five years to renovate and improve this housing stock. A typical 3 bedroom terrace will cost around £76 a week to rent from City West.

It may also come as a surprise that most local authorities have failed to benefit financially from these developments.   Council's were forbidden by Thatcher from re-investing the capital receipts from council house sales into repairing their existing stock.  Consequently local government loss most of its prime stock to private individuals who often acquired properties way below their market value.  Good news for them, but not local government who left with limited funds to manage its most problematic estates.  As such, the 'sink estate' was born, isolated housing estates which were poorly funded, until mass transfers took place from the 1990s onwards.

Clearly it is good news for residents to have their homes improved, even if they are paying rents now much closer to market averages.  But concerns remains about the opening up poorer estates to the vagaries of financial markets and the quest for profit, which often sees public service standards replaced by cost-cutting and lapse safety regimes.

ocal people, especially those who have lost their homes this week, I am sure will be extremely interested in the current investigation into the explosion on Merlin Road.


Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Breaking News

Terrible news with reports that three houses located on Merlin Drive have been destroyed by a gas explosion at 7:10am this morning.  Hopefully no one is injured.  Let's see how this plays out in the media, with reports on Radio Manchester and even Radio 5.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Incinerator fears

I came across this really sad letter in the Messenger (see link below) of someone describing the long term health impacts of working in industry, which led to the early death of her husband who had worked for many years at Irlam Steel. The letter has been written to express concerns about Biomass Incinerators and the potential risk to health posed by such installations.  Peel Holdings are planning such a facility at Davyhulme near Barton Bridge. At one level these installations provide a source of renewable energy - an attractive proposition to politicians seeking support on a green ticket. However, there are many concerns about the efficiency and health impacts of biomass incinerators. The emissions from this plant are likely to spread over a large populated area including Irlam and Cadishead.

Air pollution does not respect local authority boundaries, so this proposal which is being considered by Trafford Council, is as much of a concern for Salford residents.  And when you start to look at evidence from around the world,we perhaps should be concerned as this quote from Oregon suggests:

"Burning biomass is ... a dirty air problem. Even with air pollution controls, these plants will collectively pump ton after ton of toxins into the air every day -- chemicals that will rain down on the neighborhoods closest to the plant. A number of professional medical societies are warning the public that breathing sooty emissions from biomass incinerators is known as the most dangerous form of pollution and a significant health risk. The Oregon Chapter of the American Lung Association is predicting that patients, particularly children with asthma, respiratory and cardiac ailments, will experience increases in the incidence of respiratory problems. These diseases can be worsened by small micro pollutants, the type of pollution that will increase with the proliferation of biomass plants in Oregon" (Oregon Live, 2010).
Contact your local councillor!


No 6 Sloop Irlam

Samuel Walters is famous for this paintings of 19th Century ships, including No 6 Sloop named after our town 'Irlam'.  The vessel was built in 1831, but was wrecked in 1852 after running around near Warren Point in Northern Ireland.  Would be good to see some way of commemorating Irlam's maritime heritage, perhaps some postcards. The painting itself is held by the Merseyside Maritime Museum.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

The Container Storeroom

Industrial storage may not seem like the key to globalisation, but the shipping container has revolutionised the global economy, enabling the safe transit of bulk volume across huge distances, reducing the cost of transport from 30% of the price of a product to just 1%. Shipping containers are also used as homes, retail space and even as a debating space during Manchester's Future Everything festival in 2010.

An obvious extension of the container's internal logic is to reuse these ubiquitous boxes, not only for storage en-route, but as storage in lieu of permanent warehousing at ports or at factory sites. This provides companies with added locational flexibility ensuring components only hit the factory floor as and when needed. The implication is that business can save on valuable floor space, which would normally be used to store stuff.

It also means that the traditional landscape of the port has changed radically. Shorn of its romanticism, the modern port has few cranes, warehouses or even dockers. Rather they resemble the port facility at Irlam, which comprises a single lonely crane surrounded by containers and an access road.

Port Strategy - Storeroom key

Monday, 25 October 2010

How manufacturing really works

You may remember from geography lessons at school how national economies are broken up in 3-4 sectors - Primary (farming, mining), Secondary (manufacturing), Services (finance, shopping etc) - and maybe an elusive Quaternary Sector - which I could never get my head around - basically all the stuff which wasn't in any of the first three sectors.

The problem with this analysis is that it is complete bunkum. The reality in a globally interconnected world, is that vast global corporate empires effectively sew together all these sectors into one business network, rendering their division meaningless, but also making analysis much more difficult to interpret.

The case of Irlam based RTS is a case in point. At first sight, this innovative company makes stuff. It manufactures robots for industry, including those clover bomb disposal robots which have help saved the lives of many service people and citizens. So according to our Sectoral model - we should place it in the secondary sector.

In a world without international financial services, this perhaps would be the case. But as I've often observed on this blog, the local and the global are connected in dynamic and complex ways. RTS are simply seen as a vehicle for raising share prices and the capital values of shareholder portfolios across the world. It is now seen appropriate that RTS no longer makes stuff the way it does, and does things differently in order to extract further surplus value from the local, another victim of the vague Alternative Investment Market. And so RTS is no longer RTS, but Hephaestus Holdings, whereas the actual making of stuff will pass to a new company Entoligi.

As an ordinary employee you make think making profit has to do with the actual quality and demand for the product, marketing and efficiency on the factory floor. But the reality is that shareholder returns are by in large made through acquisitions and mergers on an international scale through City dealers. As an ordinary employee you will be aware that the consequences of the constant changes in ownership is restructuring and job losses.

Hephaestus Holdings is another one of those global companies who are notoriously difficult to pin down. It is a new company, formed in 2005, based in the US where it runs 15 subsidiary businesses in the engineering sector in the mid-West region.

According to Greek mythology Hephaestus was cast down from Mount Olympus by Zeus, crippling his legs, who fashioned magical contrivances for the gods, but cut a rather comic figure as the cuckcolded husband of Aphrodite. I'm not drawing any analogies but it is a strange name for a company.

Irlam - International Centre for the Denial of Human Rights

This weekend saw Manchester United play at Stoke City, which for the Guardian newspaper raised the spectre of the infamous incident at the Railway Pub whereby GMP used a spurious Dispersal Order to forcibly move a group of innocent Stoke City fans.  This event has raised questions about civil liberties in Britain and the denial of basic human rights to ordinary people.  It would seem the moment you don a football scarf in this country, you are unwittingly signing away these rights.  All this is justified by the police, who make the case that if they deny a handful of football hooligans gaining entry into a football stadium, the denial of rights of hundreds of innocent people is a piece of liberty forgoing for a bit more safety.

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