Council 8 Sept 2021
Leaders Question 1 – What is the future for the Tower block and civic centre building
My first question tonight relates to the future of the Council’s estate and climate change.
Many employees across the private and public sectors have been working from home since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, including much of the Council’s workforce and those of our partners in Unity, Miocare, and Oldham Community Leisure.
Homeworking means employees no longer must commute, and they can achieve a better work – life balance.
Given then we are likely to have less employees in our workplaces at all and see less of those that do, we shall have less need for office space.
Less buildings will need to be heated, lit, cleaned, and maintained and there will much lower bills for utilities. Many will be surplus to our requirements.
This will also mean lower carbon emissions, so we will also benefit by moving closer to our aspiration to become a carbon neutral Council.
It is likely that in the future we shall have our core staff, working mostly in public-facing roles, in the new repurposed offices in the Spindles Shopping Centre, and perhaps some here on the Rochdale Road site supporting ceremonial and Council functions, but the rest of the Civic Centre will become redundant.
Can the Council Leader please tell me tonight what is being planned to identify and dispose of the unwanted office space, especially the Civic Centre tower block, or may be the whole Tower block and Rochdale Road site?
And what is planned or the vision for this large and strategically important town centre site when it becomes vacant?
Council 8 September 2021
Leaders Question 2 – Discharging untested and infected patients into care homes
I had hoped to ask my second question tonight under the agenda item ‘COVID-19 response questions’, but I see that yet again for the second time this item has been omitted from tonight’s agenda.
I have received a reassurance from the Leader that this omission was a result of administrative error rather than a change in the policy of this Administration, so I look forward to seeing this item back on the agenda for November 2021 Council, as it should be on every agenda until we have seen the back of this terrible pandemic.
So here then is my question.
A response to a recent Freedom of Information request revealed that the Pennine Acute Hospital Trust – part of the Northern Care Alliance – discharged 152 patients to care settings between March 19 and April 15 last year. 96 of these patients were untested and of the 56 tested, 18 tested positive for COVID-19.
It seems to me a gross dereliction of the ‘duty of care’ that patients were discharged from hospital to care homes when they were untested or tested positive with a deadly disease.
Sadly, a significant number of care home residents died during the COVID-19 pandemic, and undoubtedly some instances of transmission occurred because of transfers into care homes from hospitals.
Can the Leader please provide me with assurance that revised procedures are now in place to ensure that in future all patients will be tested for COVID-19 before being discharged from hospital to care settings, so that never again will a situation arise where patients testing positive or not tested at all are discharged from hospital to unwittingly, and sometimes fatally, infect their fellow residents and staff in care homes?