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Councillor Sykes urges Transport Minister to take action over Northern Rail’s lamentable performance

The Leader of the Opposition and of the Liberal Democrat Group on Oldham Council, Councillor Howard Sykes MBE, has roundly condemned Northern Rail for its recent ‘lamentable performance’ following changes to the timetable and has called upon Transport Minister Chris Grayling to ‘get a grip on the situation’ and impose financial penalties on the company for its failure to operate a satisfactory train service.

Councillor Sykes, who represents Oldham Council on the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee, said: “Northern Rail’s performance is simply unacceptable. They had plenty of time to prepare for these timetable changes and for the re-training of staff, but they clearly did not care enough about the long-suffering rail passenger to do so.  For Northern, maximising profits rather than customer service is clearly their priority.”

He added: “Rail customers pay a lot of money to train operators in the UK relative to their European counterparts, and they rightly expect that their train will at least turn up on time and that they will be able to get a seat for their journey.  Yet in recent days we have witnessed train cancellation after train cancellation with the result that rail passengers are so late for work that their jobs have been put in jeopardy or they arrive homes hours later than usual.  When the train does turn up have to suffer a delayed journeys crammed like sardines in old, overcrowded carriages.  You just need to stand at Manchester Victoria station and listen to every announcement that a train has been cancelled because of the unavailability of train crew to know that Northern have got it so, so wrong.”

Councillor Sykes concluded: “Transport Minister Chris Grayling now needs to get a grip of this lamentable situation.  I welcome the fact that he has now finally met with the Mayor of Greater Manchester and our local MPs and has promised financial redress and an independent inquiry into the debacle.  I have written to the Minister to add my voice to those urging him to hit Northern where it will hurt them most – in their pockets, by imposing financial penalties and by paying proper compensation to passengers – and, if they continue to get it wrong for much longer, to take the franchise back and let the Government run the railway themselves.”

 The letter reads:

The Rt. Hon. Chris Grayling MP, Secretary of State for Transport, Department for Transport, Great Minster House, 33, Horseferry Road, London SW1P 4DR

Dear Minister,

I am writing to you to add my voice as Leader of the Opposition and of the Liberal Democrat Group on Oldham Council to the many calls that you will have already received to take action over Northern Rail’s lamentable and unacceptable performance in recent days.

I welcome the fact that you have finally met with the Mayor of Greater Manchester and our local MPs and have promised financial redress and an independent inquiry into this debacle.

Rail customers pay a lot of money to train operators in the UK relative to their European counterparts, and they rightly expect that their train will at least turn up on time and that they will be able to get a seat for their journey. Yet in recent days we have witnessed train cancellation after train cancellation with the result that rail passengers are so late for work that their jobs have been put in jeopardy or they arrive homes hours later than usual; and in between they have to suffer a delayed journey crammed like sardines in old, overcrowded carriages. You just need to stand at Manchester Victoria station and listen to every announcement that a train has been cancelled because of the unavailability of train crew to know that Northern have got it so, so wrong.

Northern Rail had plenty of time to prepare for these timetable changes and for the re-training of staff, but they clearly did not care enough about the long-suffering rail passenger to do so. For Northern, maximising profits rather than customer service is clearly their priority.

Minister, I would urge you to intervene most urgently and get a grip of this lamentable situation. Northern should have a financial penalty imposed upon them for their performance failure and passengers should be promptly and properly compensated for their loss and for the inconvenience they have suffered. If Northern continue to get it wrong for much longer, I would ask you to give serious consideration to the Government taking the franchise back and running the railway themselves.

I shall look forward to receiving your response.

Yours sincerely

BUCKSTONES ROAD SHAW & GRAINS ROAD, DELPH – TEMPORARY PROHIBITION OF DRIVING NOTICE 2018 – 20 June for 4 days 9:30am – 3:30pm

The Oldham Borough Council hereby gives Notice that no person shall cause any vehicle to proceed in that part of Grains Road Delph at its junction with Ripponden Road and that part of Buckstones Road at its junction with Ripponden Road.

The restrictions are required to facilitate safe working practices for the resurfacing of Ripponden Road and will be in force for 4 days from Wednesday 20th June 2018 or until the works are completed whichever is the lesser period.  The works will be carried out between 9.30am and 3.30pm

The alternative route for Vehicles affected by the restriction shall be:-

Grains Road, Delph: Grains Road/High Street Delph/Denshaw Road/Delph Road/Oldham Road.

Buckstones Road, Shaw: Buckstones Road/Milnrow Road/Crompton Way/Oldham Road/Heyside/Shaw Road Oldham/Huddersfield Road/Ripponden Road.

Liberal Democrats vow to fight to save Oldham’s Greenbelt from house building threat

The Liberal Democrat Group on Oldham Council is gearing up for the next round in its fight to save Oldham’s Greenbelt from housing.

In just a few weeks’ time, Labour’s Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham will be publishing his latest proposals for the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (the GMSF) which will identify where he wants housebuilding to take place across Greater Manchester over the next twenty years.

Last year, public opposition, backed by support from Liberal Democrat Councillors across Greater Manchester, forced the new Mayor to withdraw the original proposals to build homes on greenbelt across the county, including many thousands in Shaw, Crompton, Saddleworth, Chadderton and Royton.

The new proposals will be the subject of further public consultation.

Commenting Shaw Councillor Howard Sykes MBE, Leader of the Opposition and of the Liberal Democrat Group on Oldham Council, said: “Last time, the public and Liberal Democrat Councillors gave Labour a bloody nose for its cheek in attempting to concrete over our beautiful green fields and hillsides, creating an unwanted blot on the landscape.”

“The Liberal Democrats recognise that we shall need more homes, including affordable homes for first-time buyers and renters and homes for people living independently with disabilities, but our Greenbelt is irreplaceable so we will continue to oppose any plans to build there when there are unused brownfield sites that can be built on and empty mills which can be converted into residential accommodation.”

“And we also want to see big improvements to our roads, public transport and amenities to cope with the extra demands that more housing will bring.”

Councillor Sykes added: “In March of last year, the Oldham Liberal Democrats brought a motion to full Council demanding we withdraw from the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework and establish our own fifteen year Local Plan identifying our own housing needs and housing sites.  In a typical example of Labour hypocrisy, their Councillors shed crocodile tears over building on the Greenbelt but then opposed our proposals to withdraw from the GMSF plan and draw up our own priorities in consultation with local people by using their majority to amend the motion by removing reference to these demands.”

The Oldham Liberal Democrats wanted to see a Local Plan for the Oldham Borough where new housing development takes place first:

  • on brownfield or derelict sites
  • on sites with existing planning permission for housing
  • by converting long-term empty mills, shops and offices into homes
  • by bringing existing long-term empty homes back into use

The Liberal Democrats also want to see firm commitments made to invest in those areas where new housing is to be built to provide better roads, improvements in public transport, more school places, and increased capacity in local doctors’ and dentists’ surgeries and health centres.

Councillor Sykes said: “In Shaw and Crompton, we already have primary schools which are bursting at the seams and an overburdened and run down health centre; without more investment in our transport infrastructure and better, new public facilities we simply cannot cope with any more people.”

“The Liberal Democrats will be making its position crystal clear in response to the consultation – No building on our Greenbelt – and I would urge those residents who share our concerns to also respond with their comments before the deadline to the consultation. More information about the GMSF can be found at the website https://www.greatermanchester-ca.gov.uk/GMSF and residents can also register to receive updates by email.  Let’s work together to save our precious Greenbelt.”

Big Lamp Roundabout – carriageway resurfacing works – additional information

A number of people have asked why the above works were undertaken and the reason why they were done.  I did ask the same questions myself.  This is the information I have been given.

Highway engineers said the works would be done by Friday (this week) I am pleased as I am sure everybody will be that the works did not take as long and finished early.

The reason for the works is that the highway around the Big Lamp Roundabout was in danger of failing and had started to in a number of places.

Due to it strategic place on the local highway network the above put it near the top of the resurfacing list.  It is also difficult to patch which is what happens elsewhere rather than resurfacing.

Appreciate never a good time to do such works however doing them after 7:00pm has much less traffic impact than day time.  Saying that even at this time the traffic was still very bad and caused significant delays for many.   Also a balance between that and 24 hour working (and its impact on local residents and traffic) which would have been another choice.

Hope the above covers most of the points most people have raised with me.

The situation will be the same with High Street next in terms of timings, however on this occasion we have been pressing for this to be re-surfaced rather than repeatedly repaired for some time.  However its place in the road network does also a consideration.

High Street, Shaw resurfacing 19 – 22 June 7pm – 2am

I am pleased to report that carriageway improvement works that will be taking place on High Street, Shaw, as shown on the plan – link below.

High Street resurfacing

The works will be starting on Tuesday 19th June for a period of 4 evenings / nights, ending on Friday 22nd June 2018.

The works are to be carried out between the hours of 1900 – 0200.  This is to enable the contractor to safely carry out the resurfacing works a road closure will be necessary, with a signed diversion being in place for the duration of the works.

If you require any further information contact: Matt McGreal, Senior Engineer, M: 07837185056, T: 0161 770 1955, E: Matthew.McGreal@unitypartnership.com

Southwark by-election – 14 June – happy to help

On a recent visit to the Local Government Association (LGA) I was pleased to be able to give a brief hand in a Southwark by-election which goes to the polls on 14 June.

For my colleagues in Southwark the elections are not over, due to the sad death of a rival party’s candidate the elections in one of their wards the lection in May was deferred and voters will now not go to the polls until 14 June.

We held two of the seats being contested in this ward up until this May.

If we win these three seats we will become the biggest gainers of this round (2018) of elections.

If you can help please CONTACT: Ed Sainsbury: 0742 516 3743, eksainsbury@gmail.com for details.

Big Lamp Roundabout – Carriageway Resurfacing Works, 11-15 June (19:00 – 02:00) road closures and diversions

I have been informed that much needed carriageway improvement works will be taking place on The Big Lamp Roundabout, Shaw, as shown on the attached plan.

Much needed works we have been asking for will also be undertaken on High Street as well.

The works will be starting on Monday 11th June for a period of 5 evenings / nights, ending on Friday 15th June 2018.  The works are to be carried out between the hours of 1900 – 0200.

To enable the work to be safely carried out both temporary traffic lights and a road closure will be necessary, with a signed diversion will be in place for the duration of the works.

See links below for more details:

1079270-02-101-U-001 RB

1079270-02-101-U-002 RB

Any queries the office dealing with this is: Matt McGreal, Senior Engineer, Highways & Engineering.  Matthew.McGreal@unitypartnership.com, T: 0161 770 1955