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Surface water Buckstones Road

A number of people have been in contact regarding the surface water on Buckstones Road, Shaw (above and below 300 Buckstones Road).

I have pursued the matter with the Highways Department and I have the following to report.

Highways have been on site a few days ago and opened up the channel behind the kerb line and cleared all gullies.

There is an issue lower down with water coming off private land that Main Drainage Department is dealing with but does not appear to be the main reason for the current surface water in this area.

The opened channel is now capturing any water coming from the embankment before it reaches the highway.

The Drainage Section are due to start their investigation on the 16 November.

Shaw Road and Oldham Road temporary traffic signals

As people will be aware 2 sets of temporary signals have gone up on the above road.

I have been informed this is due to two emergencies along the Shaw Road and Oldham Road route.

The 1st set at Oldham Road, Heyside was due to a gas leak and the signals will be taken down by Thursday (16/17/2017) at the latest.

The 2nd set of signals are at Shaw Road’s junction with Windsor Street.  These are for a water burst in the carriageway and will be taken down by end of play Wednesday (15/11/2017).

Liberal Democrats slam Oldham Council’s inadequate Special Educational Needs Provision

Oldham Liberal Democrats have slammed the decline in standards for students with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities in the borough.

A recent assessment has rated Oldham Council “inadequate” for its provision of students with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities with students having to wait much longer than other areas for assessments for Education, Health and Care Plans.

Liberal Democrat Councillor Garth Harkness, Shadow Cabinet Member for Employment and Skills and an Autism Spectrum Disorder lead teacher at a Manchester school said:

“We have had a long standing problem in Oldham in providing the best start for our young people.  As someone who works in specialist Autism Spectrum Disorder provision myself and works closely with the Local Authority in Manchester on Special Educational Needs and Disabilities I know how important it is to provide the right support to our young people.

“In Oldham we are not doing that and it is unacceptable.  This has clearly been a problem for some time yet nobody has acted on it

“We have spent a fortune on the Oldham Education Commission but this Council has let the most vulnerable young people down in ensuring a satisfactory provision for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities.”

The Leader of the Opposition and of the Liberal Democrat Group on Oldham Council, Councillor Howard Sykes MBE has been very concerned for some time at the steady decline in educational performance at many of Oldham’s schools since the change in Administration in 2011.  Councillor Sykes said:

“We have spent a fortune on setting up the Oldham Education Commission yet we are bottom of the class for students getting the education place of their choice and we are providing an inadequate service at the Council for students with Special Educational Needs.

“As an opposition group we have been raising our concerns for quite some time.

“Young people with conditions like Autism, Dyslexia, learning difficulties or physical difficulties can often achieve great things if we provide the right support and bring down the barriers.  Sadly, too often in Oldham this is not happening.  Enough is enough – Oldham Council needs to have a hard look at itself and get these issues addressed.”

As always we are willing to work with the Labour Administration if they genuinely want to work with us in achieving this laudable objective.”

Notes

Question Cllr Garth Harkness gave notice of for Oldham council meeting on 8th November 2017 but was not called to ask:

I read with alarm in the press that the service provided by Oldham Council for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities is inadequate.

Bright Futures in Saddleworth, a specialist Autism provider, had to crowdfund for tribunals because the Council did not provide the support that was required.

We have had a long standing problem in Oldham in providing the best start for our young people.

And as someone who works in specialist Autism Spectrum Disorder provision myself, and works closely with the Local Authority in Manchester on provision for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities, I know how important it is that we provide the right support to these young people.

Despite the Oldham Education Commission, this Council has let the most vulnerable of our young people down in failing to ensure there is satisfactory provision for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities. What plan does this Administration have to address this issue?

I for one will be happy to offer my support in order that we may work together to ensure we get the best outcome for every one of our Borough’s young people.

Garth Harkness, Liberal Democrat Councillor Saddleworth North Ward, Shadow Cabinet Member for Employment and Skill

Metrolink Fare Hike represents another Blow to Hard-Up Passengers

The Leader of the Opposition and Liberal Democrat Group Leader on Oldham Council, Councillor Howard Sykes MBE, has condemned the decision by the Labour-controlled Greater Manchester Combined Authority to increase Metrolink fares by almost 6% from January of next year, well above inflation, as “another blow for hard-up passengers”.

Councillor Sykes represents Oldham Council on the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee.

“This decision made by the Labour Leaders of nine of the Greater Manchester local authorities, with the support of the Greater Manchester Mayor and the Tory leader of Trafford Council, shows how out of touch they are with the financial situation of many tram passengers.  This increase comes on top of an increase of 3.6% in fares on our railways which were introduced in July of this year.”

“This is the first of three years of pain as Metrolink fares will be steadily increased year on year, but the pain will not end there as from January 2021, fares will increase annually by 1% above inflation.”

“Labour complains constantly about Tory austerity and wage freezes in the public sector and then hits passengers who are feeling the pinch with unremitting fare increases.  This is simply not fair – Metrolink is in profit.  We should be encouraging more passengers to use the service and cracking down on fare evasion to increase revenue not hammering the fare-paying passengers who already use it.”

Councillor Sykes is also concerned about the impact this increase may have on our environment:  “I repeat the comments that I made in advance of the rise in rail fares in July.  Price hikes discourage rail use and encourage passengers to get back in their cars increasing air pollution and traffic congestion – this is not good for us or for our planet or Greater Manchester.”

Liberal Democrat Leader seeks Answers on Link Centre Future

The Leader of the Opposition and Liberal Democrat Group Leader on Oldham Council, Councillor Howard Sykes MBE, has written to Councillor Jenny Harrison, Cabinet Member for Social Care and Safeguarding, to request answers to some burning questions about the future of the Link Centre.

Councillor Sykes explained:  “Twelve months ago, in November 2016, I asked the Leader Councillor Jean Stretton at full Council whether she would consider making the Link Centre an independent living centre run by disabled people for disabled people, as exists in Glasgow.

“After almost twelve months of prevarication, during which the groups of disabled people using the Link Centre were living with an uncertain future, the Cabinet decided recently to offer these user groups use of the ground floor only, denying them use of the purpose-built, adapted accommodation on the upper floors; this will now instead be used for office space for health agencies.

“I am disappointed that the idea of an independent living centre now appears to be off the Council’s agenda, but I do want to ensure that disabled people, carers and the groups that have previously used the Link Centre continue to have a guaranteed future there with the maximum possible use of the ground floor space that remains affordable and accessible, and a say in how their space is refurnished and used.

“I have written to Councillor Harrison with these burning questions in the hope that her reply will bring the answers and the reassurance that the disabled people and groups using the Link Centre deserve.”

The email sent to Councillor Harrison.

From: Howard Sykes
Sent: 08 November 2017 14:24
To: Cllr J Harrison
Cc: (A) Kay Gibson (kay.gibson@oldham.gov.uk)
Subject: Link Centre

Dear Cllr Harrison,

Following the recent decision by Cabinet and the resultant media coverage, I would like to ask you some questions relating to the future of the Link Centre.

Cabinet has recently agreed to a modified proposal that health agencies be located to the upper floors of the building and that existing service user groups be confined to the use of the ground floor.

This proposal appears to offer some prospect that the Link Centre retains something of its unique offer catering for the needs of this Borough’s more vulnerable residents, but it appears to fall way short of what I asked the Leader for in the Council Chamber last November.

I am sure you will recall that I asked the Leader if the Council could look to transfer ownership of the building to a charitable trust in order that it be run as an independent living centre.

Such a facility exists in Glasgow – it is a centre run by disabled people for disabled people with paid staff with their own personal lived-experience of disability – so why not here?

Sadly this now seems unlikely with the ground floor proposal approved by Cabinet seemingly the only one on the table, so I would like to ask for clarification of number of questions about it.

I would therefore be grateful if you could please tell me:

  1. Whether service user groups will be able to collectively manage this space in their own right?
  2. Will the centre be open at the times and on the days that these groups want to use it?
  3. What evaluation has been made with these groups to determine that the size and configuration of this space is appropriate for their needs?
  4. How much money will be made available by the Council to refurbish and reequip the ground floor, and will groups have a say in how this is spent?
  5. Is there any proposal to reopen the cafe – an aspiration that many service users wished to see in the consultation – perhaps as a not-for-profit, surplus food operation run by disabled people?
  6. And finally what guarantees have been or can be given to these groups that their access to this space will remain affordable to them and that it will be for the long-term?

I am sure you will agree that the disabled and vulnerable people who use the Link Centre are an especially deserving group and that they have lived with uncertainty as to its future for a very long time – I think they deserve answers and I hope therefore that you will be able to give answers to my questions.

Many thanks in anticipation.

Best wishes.

Councillor Howard Sykes MBE