Response to Howard Sykes.


Well finally Mr. Sykes has made a comment about Crompton Moor. Since the first public meeting, when he realised we weren’t all going to roll over and gratefully thank him for the lame plans he was putting his weight behind, he has proved remarkably elusive on such matters.  So was his eventual comment in response to any of our communications or questions regarding problems on the moor?        Of course not.

The interview in the Saddleworth News took the opportunity instead, to make yet another attack on the Friends of Crompton Moor, who have to date been the only proactive group involved in this process.

<<Talking about the Friends of Crompton Moor directly, he said, ”Some  people have a very different view, they think it’s theirs... I think  there’s enough room on Crompton Moor for the competing users, if dealt with sensibly” and most people have approached it in that way. I’m  hoping we can take it forward like that and that’s what we’re trying to  do by working with the community.” >>

It does not seem “sensible” to insult the only group of people that are volunteering their free time to cleaning up Crompton Moor and stopping it from degenerating into a rubbish dump. Maybe I should be surprised, but frankly I’m not, because intelligent thinking has been remarkably lacking from certain parties in this charade so far.

Mountain bikers relaxing by a fire they have lit in Great Meadow plantation.
Ramp building and litter
A mountain biker speeds down the footpath towards the carpark

The illegal mountain bike trails have been built at the cost of felled trees and dry stone walls dismantled to build the ramps. They make camp fires in the woods and leave litter and destruction behind when they move on to build somewhere else.

Great Meadow plantation is a constant building site as changes are regularly made and ramps are steadily modified and re-scaled.

These are not people that are going to be satisfied with a properly built track. They are adrenaline junkies that will want bigger, better, faster and they have already learned that the council does not have the will or inclination to resist them.

Add to that the increased numbers brought by advertising an official trail coupled with no clear, sustainable strategy to manage that trail, and this problem will get worse, not better.

It would show staggering naivety to believe that simply putting in new trails will solve anything unless the existing problems are dealt with first.

We have never said that there is no place for cyclists on Crompton Moor.

Anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of history, knows that appeasement never works.

Any good parent or teacher also knows that if you give rewards for bad behaviour it will only lead to even more bad behaviour.

What we have said from the beginning is that before any new tracks are built the illegal tracks should be removed.

If the council is incapable of doing this or or the cyclists cannot refrain from further vandalism, then what hope is there that the council can prevent illegal tracks being built after official ones are built in the future?

We are prepared to negotiate, but not under the constant threat that if the cyclists do not get what they want, they’ll just build it illegally anyway.

That is not a civilised or intelligent way to proceed, that is just anarchy.

That Howard Sykes, an elected representative of the people of Shaw and Oldham, could seek to put his name to such a short sighted, undemocratic and ill thought out strategy does little to recommend him for his post.

The Brigade working hard to contain a grass fire reported by one of the Friends of Crompton Moor

They did eventually put in a gate after we nagged them for ages, then they had to move it because they had put it in wrong! They also forgot to properly consult the Church, so it had to be left open. They got all the signs wrong and had to replace them too, which wasted more of our money. When arrangements were finally made to lock the gate, it was only locked so late at night, that the people it was supposed to guard against, had already left and gone to bed.      Absolutely Brilliant!        Really top grade thinking and effective action guys!

Howard Sykes and some of his apparently trusted council employees, wonder why the public have little confidence in their ability to organise a drinking session in a brewery. That is just one example. The management of Crompton Moor has been characterised by such incompetence for years.

While the Crompton Moor User Group have done nothing but talk, the “Friends” represent the people that actually clean up litter, call in the fire brigade to deal with wild fires, call in the police to deal with antisocial behaviour, camping and vandalism. If that stops, it won’t be long before Oldham’s “Jewel in the Crown” becomes just another wasteland.

And how much support have we received from Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council?

Wait a moment while I add it all up........ That’s right,     none at all!

One of many broken fences, this one at the top of a quarry face.

As you walk around the rest of the Moor and see the neglected state of the paths and fences, or look at the growing number of campfire scars in the woods, you might wonder if anyone is really managing anything at all that is more than six paces from the car park.    Of course for some members of the council, I suspect that is as far onto the moor as they have ever actually ventured.

They tell us that is because they do not have enough rangers to do the job. We hear pie in the sky ideas that if this project goes ahead, then the council will suddenly realise the value of Crompton Moor and give it the funding and resources it needs.

Do they think we are complete idiots! They haven’t got the money now and in the current economic climate they are not going to have the money for a decade at least.

For every ramp there must be a hole.

Lets get somethings straight shall we, which is something that Howard Sykes and the council seem incapable of doing. We do not “think it is ours.” Crompton Moor is supposed to be managed by the council on behalf of the people of Oldham, which means it does not belong to Mr. Sykes or North West Riders either. It belongs to all of us.

The council is supposed to represent the people, which seriously brings into question why it refuses to listen to what the majority of the people want.     I consider that a gross abuse of their position.

The reason, as repeatedly stated by council employees, that they seek to put a mountain bike trail on Crompton Moor is not because there is a great demand, but simply because the council have been incapable of stopping a few cyclists from illegally building their own.

The only way that they are going to get the resources they need is with voluntary help. The Friends have already demonstrated their willingness and ability to provide help in such a voluntary capacity.    Insulting us just makes this far less likely to happen.

Instead of coming to talk to us, and actually listen to what we have to say, they just sit upon their comfortable chairs, in offices far away from the real problems of Crompton Moor and tell us, in supercilious tones that our opinions simply do not matter.

Well, talk is always cheap and we are used to pointless hot air exuding from the mouths of petty politicians. In the end the people that really matter are the ones that get off their arses and get things done, and so far that doesn’t seem to be anyone in our esteemed council.


The council is hosting a public meeting about Crompton Moor on Thursday 22nd July 2010, to which anyone with an interest in the issue is invited. It will take place from 5:30pm to 8:30pm at St George’s Primary School on George Street in Shaw.       Let’s see if they can do anything useful this time.


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