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Tragic death of Conservative MP represents a sad day for democracy

Responding to horrifying murder of Conservative Member of Parliament, Sir David Amess, Oldham Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Councillor Howard Sykes MBE has made the following comments:

“This is indeed another sad day for democracy.  No one in elected office should have to fear carrying out their duties or meeting the people they represent.  Sir David is the second MP to be murdered in just over five years, whilst, like the late Jo Cox MP, attending an advice surgery specifically to listen to, and support, his constituents in Southend.”

“My thoughts and prayers are with Sir David’s family and friends to whom I express my sincere condolences.”

Liberal Democrat Leader welcomes belated funding for safety cameras

Oldham Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Councillor Howard Sykes MBE, has welcomed news that funding will finally soon be made available to replace defective road safety cameras across Greater Manchester.

Councillor Sykes is a board member on the Greater Manchester Transport Committee.  At today’s meeting (15/10/21) he was able to raise the issue of many cameras being dysfunctional, in some cases for years, and he received the reassurance that funding will now be made available to carry out a procurement exercise to enable all cameras to be digitalised and restored to working order from April 2022.

Councillor Sykes was delighted to hear the news, commenting:  “I have raised this issue at a number of meetings over several years, and having got nowhere, in September 2020, I wrote a lengthy letter to the Chief Executive of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Eamonn Boylan, outlining my concerns and aspirations about the availability of safety cameras.”

“Cameras play a vital function in monitoring and checking vehicle speeds to help maintain road safety and save lives.  It is absolutely crazy to allow cameras to fall into disrepair, some have been out-of-order for years, so I am glad that not only will funding finally be provided for repairs, but safety cameras will at last be updated with the latest digital technology.”

Liberal Democrats welcome halt to Royton incinerator plan

Liberal Democrat Councillors have welcomed news that a proposal to develop a huge waste-to-energy incinerator plant in Heyside appears now to be on hold.

In January 2021, Liberal Democrat Group Leader Councillor Howard Sykes MBE highlighted that the development by Synergy could mean 18,000 more HGV journeys to and from the site every year and that the burning of waste creates atmospheric pollution that has an adverse impact on public health. 

Responding to recent news which suggests the current plan has indeed now been put on hold, Councillor Sykes commented:

“For my constituents and for me this would be an enormous relief.  This is just not the right site.  The local community would be massively affected by the increase in heavy truck traffic travelling to and from the site, and we all share grave concerns about the negative impact on public health that would result from the air pollution generated through burning millions of tons of waste on site every year.”

“However, we need to be on our guard. This may only be a temporary halt, because applicant Synergy may in the future bring a revised proposal before the Council and the public.”

Previous comments on this item below.

Massive incinerator planned | Howard Sykes (mycouncillor.org.uk)

Will Heyside blaze (Oldham) mean end of incinerator plan? | Howard Sykes (mycouncillor.org.uk)

Shaw and Crompton councillors set record straight on Shop Direct brownfield development, in Shaw

Shaw Councillor Howard Sykes MBE has countered Labour Cabinet Member Councillor Hannah Roberts assertion that both he and his fellow Liberal Democrat Councillors are opposed to housing development on the former Shop Direct site.

“Not only did Councillor Roberts completely misrepresent our position she also described the site as having previously been the ownership of Sports Direct, rather than Shop Direct,” said Councillor Sykes.

“In fact, all three local Liberal Democrat Councillors support housing on the site, as it is far better that it is developed than left empty and developing housing here will help take some pressure off Shaw and Crompton’s Green Belt.”

“Our concern is more that there has been no planning or provision for the extra health and school places that Shaw will require to meet the needs of all of the extra residents.”

The position of the Shaw and Crompton Liberal Democrat councillors was first succinctly set out when the plan went before the Council’s Planning Committee.

Councillor Chris Gloster, speaking as ward member for Shaw said that local councillors “broadly” welcomed the development and described it as “a good development of a brownfield site.”

“However, it is a major development, it is in the centre of Shaw and there’s obviously issues with the influx of up to 400 properties and anything between 800 to 1,600 new residents.

“The greatest concern for ward members and the community is the impact that these additional homes will have on the provision of health and education in the community which is as we know currently stretched.”

Sykes secures U-turn on free bags for Oldham’s valiant litter-pickers

After an exchange of emails, Liberal Democrat Leader Councillor Howard Sykes MBE has secured a u-turn in Council policy over the provision of free bin bags from the Council to the borough’s volunteer litter-pickers.

Councillor Sykes said:  “I am delighted that common sense has finally prevailed.  It was crazy for a Council not to provide free bin bags to members of the public who in their own time are ‘doing their bit’ to help keep our borough clean.”

Councillor Sykes made his request for free bags on behalf of one of his constituents and her friend:

“My constituent has been going out with her friend to collect rubbish, but after running out of bin bags was told they had to pay for their own as the Council was ‘unable to provide any bags’ whilst its policy on litter picks is under review.

“Fortunately a swift review followed my email and this led to a change of heart and  our wonderful local litter-pickers will now at least be able to access free bags and pickers to help them in their work.”

Places for Everyone must not compromise Green Belt for anyone

The Oldham Liberal Democrats have submitted their response to the consultation being conducted by the Labour Mayor of Greater Manchester outlining their opposition to his latest Places for Everyone plan.

Group Leader Councillor Howard Sykes MBE summarised the position of Liberal Democrat Councillors to the Mayor’s proposals:

“We remain implacably opposed to any plan to build new homes on our open spaces; our view remains Places for Everyone must not compromise Green Belt for anyone.  We believe that the requirement for new homes can be met with our stated policy to build first and always on brownfield sites, to push for the completion of development on sites with existing planning permission for new housing, and to act with purpose to bring back into use our empty homes or to convert our redundant commercial, retail and leisure premises into residential properties.”

Councillor Sykes and his colleagues are especially concerned that Places for Everyone represents ‘a massive and inequitable land grab’ of Green Belt and open space in the two electoral wards of Shaw and Crompton, and that the local overburdened infrastructure already at breaking point (health, schools, and highways) by the plan to build thousands of new homes across the district.

“Of the 12,800 homes proposed to be built in the Oldham borough, 2,390 will be built just four sites in or around Shaw and Crompton: almost one fifth of the total in just two electoral wards.  The plans will result in the destruction of our Green Belt and other open spaces in Cowlishaw, the Beal Valley and Broadbent Moss, and there are additional plans to build on fields off Denbigh Drive and on the old Shop Direct site.”

“Shaw and Crompton’s primary schools are already bursting at the seams. Unlike neighbouring Royton, Labour has refused to invest in a modern, fit-for-purpose health centre, and took away our swimming baths, our municipal tip, and our youth centre.  Where then are all of these thousands of new residents going to access education for their children or health care for their families?  That is why the Liberal Democrats want a Local Plan which allocates new homes more fairly across the borough and particularly to the Oldham town centre which has the infrastructure.”

Attached: The Liberal Democrat response to the Places for Everyone consultation

Green waste collection in Shaw and Crompton today 1 Oct

I have been informed by the council that despite their best efforts they will not complete all the food and garden collections in Shaw and Crompton today.

They will have a number of small pockets outstanding on the country round (the smaller vehicles used for hard access areas).

Residents are advised that their missed bins will be collected first thing on Saturday morning so you should leave their bins out for collection. They apologise in advance for any inconvenience.

Electric charging strategy is ‘divorced from reality’

Urgent improvements are needed to the Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s electric charging strategy, according to the region’s Liberal Democrats, who have warned that the plan seems to have no plan for delivery.

With a new clean air zone planned for Manchester, ensuring that there is the support needed for alternative fuels is crucial. Yet with 3,000 public chargers needed by 2025, the region has just 323 in place, and only plans to add another 54 in the next year.

Oldham Liberal Democrat Councillor Sam Al-Hamdani said: “This strategy is completely divorced from reality if they think that this is good enough. At this rate, we wouldn’t have a public charging network in place in 50 years, never mind five.

“It is an insult to the drivers who are being told that they must drive green vehicles to avoid a charge that the Greater Manchester Combined Authorities are failing so badly to provide them with an alternative.”

The clean air zone is due to launch on 30 May 2022, and while some finance is available to help companies purchase less polluting vehicles, the lack of public charging points means that there will be minimal practical support for fuelling many of these vehicles.

Councillor Al-Hamdani continued: “It is important that we move to more sustainable modes of transport, but with such a lack of a public charging infrastructure, the clean air zone is all stick and no carrot.

“It is a complete failure of national and regional Government to put the necessary facilities in place, and if Andy Burnham and the GMCA are ploughing on with this in the face of these terrible figures, then they are just burying their head in the sand.”