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Councillor Sykes welcomes change in law barring sex offenders from standing for or holding elected office

After years of campaigning, Oldham’s Liberal Democrat Leader councillor Howard Sykes MBE has welcomed the news that laws will be changed to prevent people on the sex offenders register holding elected office.

Councillor Sykes said, “I am pleased that the common-sense law change is finally coming into effect.  Rishi Sunak announced that the government would adopt this proposal back when he was a Local Government Minister in 2018 but he’s dragged his feet on getting the law changed.”

The changes to the Local Government Act were finally put before MPs in June and were signed off by both Houses of Parliament on July 6th.  The Statuary Instruments (S.I) to make this law have now also been approved.  The new regulations come into effect immediately for all local elections in England.

Councillor Sykes said, “People expect the highest standards from those who serve in public office.  I am glad this loophole has at long last been plugged, shame it took so long.”

TIMELINE: Local Authority and Combined Authority Elections (Nomination of Candidates) (Amendment)

 Timeline – SI 2022 – Statutory Instruments – UK Parliament

Councillor Sykes calls for law change 

November 2021

Oldham Liberal Democrat Leader calls on government to close sex offenders’ loophole | Howard Sykes (mycouncillor.org.uk)

October 2021

Liberal Democrats welcome second reading of new bill to bar sex offenders from public office | Howard Sykes (mycouncillor.org.uk)

July 2021

Third time lucky: Liberal Democrat Leader again backs change in law to bar sex offenders from public office | Howard Sykes (mycouncillor.org.uk)

November 2020

Conservative Government still gives no commitment to disbar sex offenders from public office two years after promise was made to do so | Howard Sykes (mycouncillor.org.uk)

March 2017

Disqualification of a Councillor who is placed on the sex offenders’ register | Howard Sykes (mycouncillor.org.uk)

Government accused of crippling social care sector as waiting lists set to double by November

Oldham Liberal Democrat Leader councillor Howard Sykes MBE has criticised the government for leaving social care services to fend for themselves as waiting lists swell.

600 people per day are joining the list of people waiting to be assessed for care and support in England.  A survey by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) suggests that almost 300,000 people are now waiting for an assessment of their needs by social workers, an increase of 90,000 (44%) in five months.

Councillor Sykes said, “The government is leaving social care services £10bn short and expecting already stretched councils to plug the gap.  Social care waiting lists are getting out of control and with price hikes and a hard winter ahead, things are only going to get worse.  The government is running out of time to get a grip on this.”

New waiting lists numbers come after a damning social care report was given in Parliament by the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee.  MPs heard how the government hasn’t even come close to fixing the funding gaps in adult social care.  The full report entitled ‘Long-term Funding of Adult Social Care’ was published by the House of Commons on August 4th.

Councillor Sykes said, “We have a distracted government that has taken its eye of the ball just as care services are starting to collapse under the strain.  Whoever the new Prime Minister is, we need urgent action on social care funding, not more empty promises.”   

Long-term funding of adult social care (second report) – for reference Long-term funding of adult social care (parliament.uk)

Scrap the energy price hike say Oldham Liberal Democrats

Oldham Liberal Democrat Leader councillor Howard Sykes MBE has called on the government to scrap the energy hike of £1600 planned for this October. 

Councillor Sykes said, “This is a real emergency for many people across Oldham Borough.  We cannot afford more delays and inaction; the government must step in to cover these rising costs.”

Energy bills have already gone up by £700 this year with further price hikes expected for 2023, leaving millions of people facing a cold, hungry and uncertain winter.

“The Conservatives have lost all control of the cost-of-living crisis.  We need urgent action to help families and pensioners pay their bills this winter.  I urge people to back our petition for action now Scrap the energy price hike (libdems.org.uk),” he added.

Important information on reporting crime and anti social behaviour

Your Liberal Democrat councillors are working with local residents and other agencies to help tackle the above and other issues in the Queen Street, Hawthorn Crescent, Cedar Grove and nearby streets.

The information on what the public should do applies anywhere and we would encourage people to report such matters so we can make our community a better and safer place for us all.

Bus bombshell – bus services face massive cuts or might be axed altogether say Oldham Liberal Democrats

Oldham Liberal Democrat Leader councillor Howard Sykes MBE has warned of uncertainty facing Oldham and Manchester bus services after a report from Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) “raised more questions” about the future of many services across Oldham and Manchester.  The report (Bus Network Review) is due to be considered this Friday 12 August.   

Many Oldham services – including the 180, 81, 181, 182, X84, 59, the 350 and the 425 – were due to see a reduction in services, with many set to be axed completely.  TfGM have placed many of the affected routes out for tender starting in late October.

Councillor Sykes said, “With the cost-of-living crisis raging, more and more people will be looking at their public transport options to try to keep costs down.  TfGM have put some of these services out for tender, but what happens if the price is too high, or a deal cannot be secured before the end of October?  This announcement raises more questions than it answers for the future of our bus services.”  

Service providers have been braced for cuts after the government announced that Covid recovery funding would end in October. 

Councillor Sykes said, “Clearly the government funding hasn’t gone far enough for the public transport sector to fully recover.  We will need to see government backing to avoid running costs being passed on to commuters.  We still don’t know what the future will look like for many of the services that have been marked for cuts.  Will we see reduced evening services or cuts to weekend journeys?  That would be unwelcome news for people who depend on such buses.” 

The report can be accessed: https://democracy.greatermanchester-ca.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=193&MId=4981&Ver=4

Oldham Liberal Democrats urge council to set up ‘Warm Banks’ this winter

With the cost of energy bills soaring, some councils in England are setting up spaces where people can stay warm in the evenings, after school and after work.  Councillor Howard Sykes MBE, who leads the Liberal Democrats on Oldham Council has written to the Leader of the Council and the Chief Executive urging them to adopt the proposal.

Councillor Sykes said, “It’s a shameful sign of the times that we need to consider ideas like warm banks.  But more and more people are struggling and with the October price hikes fast approaching it is only going to get worse.  Many will struggle to heat their homes this winter. Thousands of people die in the UK every year from the effects of winter cold and the most vulnerable are pensioners, those on low incomes and children from disadvantaged backgrounds.  Repurposing community spaces as warm banks will not solve these problems, but it will offer much needed respite to those who are struggling in our communities.”

In an open letter to Council Leader Amanda Chadderton, Councillor Sykes pointed to other local authorities such as Bristol, who are already setting up their own warm banks.

Councillor Sykes said, “We need to get started now if we are going to be able to implement something meaningful ahead of the price rises in October.  We need to be providing warm places for people to come after work or during the day if they need to keep energy bills down.  Children should be able to focus on their homework somewhere that is warm, and people need peace of mind, knowing that they aren’t racking up astronomical bills.”

Former St Pauls building Rochdale Road, Shaw – proposed car park and part demolition of existing listed building

Shaw Ward councillors were informed by Oldham Council Planning Department of a listed building consent/planning application for the former St Paul’s Church Rochdale Road, Shaw on Monday 1st August 2022 details as below:

FUL/349488/22 and LBC/349489/22 (identical application required for Listed Building Consent).  https://planningpa.oldham.gov.uk/online-applications/

Examination of the online plans show further reduction of the existing partially demolished walls on the collapsed section and a proposal to build a 12-space car park within the footprint of the previously collapsed section.

Access would be gained from the current car parking area adjacent.

Several problems exist with this application.

The previously approved listed building planning application to reduce the building’s footprint to window cill height has been breached despite intervention by Planning Enforcement Officers at the request of ward councillors prior to this demolition taking place, the following day in fact.  If this breach had not taken place, vehicular access would not be able to be gained to the proposed parking lot area.

The footprint of the proposed car park is a burial ground with approximately 400 graves lying in the footprint (information from Methodist Association). 

The planning application does not indicate any proposals as to the developer’s intentions with regards to these graves.

Having taken legal advice, it appears that to allow the car park element of this application to take place would be a breach of the Disused Burial Grounds Act 1884.

Even more importantly it is also offensive to the residents of Shaw and Crompton who undoubtably will have relatives buried within this consecrated ground to see it tarmacked over and cars parked on it. 

This application is currently being reviewed by Oldham Council’s Planning Department, Liberal Democrat Ward councillors Howard Sykes and Chris Gloster will object to this application.  Councillor Hazel Gloster who sits on the Planning Committee will not comment in order to allow her to make representations and vote on the application at a future Planning and Committee. 

We are awaiting planning officers to initially review the application which is identified currently as an officer delegated decision and will request that the application is upped to full planning committee should it become necessary if permission is not going to be refused.

FROM AMBULANCE STATION TO 12 APARTMENTS

Crompton Liberal Democrat Councillor, Diane Williamson, and her two Crompton colleagues, have learnt that the owner of the former Ambulance Station on Moor Street has put an outline planning application for 12 apartments.

“Currently our stance is that we would support, in principle, this application.  This is because for a long time the site has been an eye sore, with anti-social behaviour as well as littering and fly-tipping, which has caused  residents much concern” said Cllr Louie Hamblett.

Cllr Dave Murphy added “We are keen to understand how the application will affect local residents and we would also like to guide them through the planning application process.  This is only an outline application, which means it is just the principal of building on that land.”

“We obviously want to listen to local residents’ concerns, to help them to get the best out of this application.  If residents are in support of the application or wish to object, then we will make their voices heard” said Cllr Diane Williamson

Oldham Way night-time closures  – August 8, 9, 10 and 11 from 9pm until 6am

Oldham Way will be closed in both directions for four nights next month. The closures will be in place on August 8, 9, 10 and 11 from 9pm until 6am. To minimise disruption, the closure will be during the school holidays and also during off-peak hours.

Oldham Way will be closed in both directions between the Kings Road Bridge up to the junction of Prince Street/Oldham Way. Signposted diversions will be in place. Essential highways improvements are being carried out as part of the Southlink regeneration development.