Liberal Democrats demand for safer trams!

Liberal Democrat Councillor Howard Sykes MBE has backed the need for a safer tram network.  The focus is on creating safer journeys for residents.  The presence of a conductor would mean that passengers will be ensured safer travel and that fare dodgers will be caught and deterred.  This common-sense solution and has been applied successfully elsewhere, in Sheffield and Birmingham.

Councillor Sykes MBE has asked what progress has been made to introduce conductors to the Oldham Borough local tram network.  This follows a Liberal Democrat suggestion at the July 2019 Council meeting, where the council agreed this was a good idea and the way forward.

Councillor Sykes states:  “There has been a long history of anti-social behavior on the trams and people fare dodging, especially on our tram line.  It’s double standards for some, and residents are getting fed up.”

At the July 2019 council meeting, the Liberal Democrats asked for an update on what discussions have taken place since the Council resolved to support this course of action.

Now Councillor Sykes MBE, the leader of the Opposition on Oldham Council wants more clarity on the issue and a definitive time scale of the action being taken.  E

Copy of letter:

22 July 2019

Carolyn Wilkins OBE, Chief Executive, Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Dr Wilkinson,

Re: Safety on trams

I am sure you are very aware of the Liberal Democrat focus on creating safer journeys for residents using our much loved and highly used TFGM trams especially those using the network from the Shaw & Crompton stop.

I am writing to you to ask what progress has been made to introduce conductors to our local tram network since Oldham Council, following a Liberal Democrat suggestion, agreed this was a good idea and the way forward.

A conductors’ presence means that passengers will be able to travel more safely and that fare dodgers will be caught and deterred increasing revenue.  I am sure you will agree that this is a common-sense solution and has been applied successfully elsewhere – in Sheffield and Birmingham, for example. 

There has been a long history of anti-social behavior on the trams and people fare dodging, especially on our tram line. 

At the July 2019 council meeting, Councillor Hazel Gloster asked for an update on what discussions have taken place since the Council resolved to support this course of action.  

We asked the relevant cabinet member to inform the Council of progress on this matter.  

Now I ask you what is being done and if you or other officers have had a meeting with Transport for Greater Manchester on this issue.  The offer of a meeting was reported to Council some time ago as being offered.  Has this been taken up, and if so what was the outcome?  If not, why not?

I look forward to receiving your response as soon as possible. 

Yours sincerely

Howard Sykes

Safe Car Wash App alerts UK anti-slavery charities of Human trafficking

Councillor Howard Sykes MBE, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group and Leader of the Opposition, was appalled to hear that over 2000 instances of possible human trafficking occurring in the UK.  These were reported through the Safe Car Wash app in the first year of its launch.

In October 2018, on the eve of Anti-Slavery Day, Councillor Sykes called on the residents of Oldham Borough to support the campaign.  Set up by the Church of England and the Catholic Church, it aimed to expose instances of slave labourers employed in Britain’s car washes by reporting concerns online using the Safe Car Wash app. 

Councillor Sykes MBE said:  “The fact that around five reports of potential slavery were reported every day by users of the app is great, but the findings are horrific, particularly in a modern Western European state.”

“People with smart phones who uses car washes should take five seconds to download this app and to use it if you spot something of concern.  You could be saving someone from terrible suffering as a modern slave.” 

The Home Office estimates that there are more than 10,000 victims of slavery in Britain working for little or no pay with no rights, without decent working conditions and often in dangerous or unhealthy situations.  Hand car washes are frequent employers of such labour. 

The app can be found at   

Copy of call in 2018

Date: 10 October 2018

Liberal Democrat Leader’s Plea to help make Car Washes Slavery Free

On the eve of Anti-Slavery Day (18 October 2018), Councillor Howard Sykes MBE, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group and Leader of the Opposition, is urging local drivers, and their passengers, to be vigilant for the presence of modern slavery when they use local car washes.

Councillor Sykes said: “We have recently debated in Council the existence of modern slavery in British society, and politicians of all parties are determined to see an end to it. Slavery in all of its forms is totally abhorrent, but it still exists even in Britain and it is often occurring right under our noses.”

The National Crime Agency has indicated that they are thousands of people being exploited in this way in the UK, often working long hours for little or no pay, in the most atrocious conditions and with scant regard for health and safety legislation. Some of these individuals are being coerced to work with the threat of violence.

Councillor Sykes added: “Although we may think that such exploitation may be limited to unscrupulous gang-masters herding their workers to carry out endless, menial tasks in agriculture, modern slavery is on our streets and one of the places it can be seen is amongst the many thousands of on-street hand car washes that have been established in our communities.”

The Church of England has launched a Safe Car Wash app that can be downloaded by the general public to their smart phones and devices to help the police tackle the problem. Users are asked to open the app and complete a short survey about the working conditions for staff that they observe whilst using the car wash. The data is anonymised and then shared with the National Crime Agency and the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority.

Councillor Sykes concurs: “Put simply, the Safe Car Wash app is one way that each of us as individuals can make a real difference. I would urge everyone to use Anti-Slavery Day to resolve to download this app and to complete the questionnaire every time they use a car wash to help to bring the scourge of modern slavery to an end.”

  The app can be found at

Tour of Britain cycling race coming to Shaw and Crompton Saturday 14 September 2019

The 2019 Tour of Britain Cycling Race is coming to Greater Manchester and, more importantly, to Shaw and Crompton.  This prestigious sporting event is watched by millions of people.

Given our rich sporting history, with scores of internationally recognised athletes hailing from the Borough of Oldham, we hope that you too will support the event and welcome this major national sporting event on your doorstep!

Further information will be available shortly.  We hope you will get involved and enjoy this exciting occasion coming to Shaw and Crompton

Shaw and Crompton Parish Council left in the dark over planning

Posted from Councillor Louie Hamblett.

The Parish Council’s Planning Committee has for at least three consecutive times not met to look over planning applications due to Oldham Councils seemingly forgetfulness for not sending them out.

This is also following on from the recent announcement that the Head of Planning and Infrastructure, Steven Irvine, has been suspended from the Council (and now resigned).

Councillor Louie Hamblett Liberal Democrat Group Leader on the Parish Council recently sent a query to Oldham Council’s Helen Lockwood Deputy Chief Executive asked “ We know that Planning committee has not met due to having not received the list for three times this upcoming Monday being the 3rd, I cannot speak for our colleagues in Saddleworth however as we are a statuary consultee it’s really important that Parish Councillors on the committee be allowed to have a say and give a view on all plans within the Boundary of the Parish” he also went to say “

I hope that a reasonable answer can be found for this with a plausible explanation and hopefully it not be repeated.”

The Borough Council is legally obligated to send on all planning applications that fall within the boundary of Shaw & Crompton Parish Council even if the application falls in favour or against the judgement of the parish councillors.

This shows the full transparency of how local democracy should work and how two authorities no matter how greater or minor they are in administrative size should be working as a team for those they serve.

Interrail U Turn welcomed!

Councillor Howard Sykes MBE, Liberal Democrat and Opposition Leader on Oldham Council, has welcomed the U-turn by the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) to remain part of the unlimited rail travel schemes, Interrail and Eurail.

Earlier this week Councillor Sykes was very critical of the decision (see below).

“I welcome this U-turn; it was a silly idea.  Credit where credit is due, the RDG have listened to the uproar caused by their plans and very sensibility thrown them in the bin,” stated Councillor Sykes.

Copy of what I said on 8 August 2019

Interrail axed by British Rail Group is a nail in coffin for UK tourism and young people says Liberal Democrats

As of next year, Britain will no longer be part of the European wide Interrail scheme.  Eurail, who runs Interrail, have stated that Britain’s Rail Delivery Group (RDG) will not be part of the Eurail and the Interrail Pass effective from January 2020.  

Liberal Democrat Councillor Howard Sykes MBE says this move would mean young people will have their travel options restricted and end up harming UK businesses in the process. The RDG stopped the scheme because they say it was confusing to offer it alongside the BritRail pass.

Although people from other countries will be able to use the Eurostar to get to London, they will be discouraged from exploring outside the City and not provide tourism and spending to the rest of the UK, especially the north.  This makes it complicated for tourists abroad but also difficult for UK citizens wanting to explore Europe, some may even have to fly.

Councillor Sykes MBE commented:

“These tickets are popular among teenagers and gap year students in Oldham Borough who wish to explore a bit more of the world.  This is a small-minded limitation on those who have less money to spend, this silly move by the British Rail Delivery Group is limiting youth opportunity.  There may also be other consequences for those in the UK if people from Britain end up excluded from the Interrail tickets on mainland Europe.”

“The big irony is, that the changes will make it more confusing and inaccessible.  Many people have been Interrailing in mainland Europe I fear this is the start of the end of that very cost-effective experience for our citizens and especially the young or those on limited budgets.”

“The Interrail pass allows holders to travel on almost all trains within Europe to explore the continent.  But from 1 January 2020, they will no longer cover the UK.  The fear is that UK citizens will then be excluded from this scheme as another consequence.”

Changes to FIRST commercial bus services from 2nd September 2019

First Manchester will be making some changes to commercial services 24, 181 & 182 with effect from 2nd September.

Service 24 (Rochdale – Royton – Manchester): This Monday to Friday peak only service (which currently consists of departures from Rochdale at 0600, 0626 & 0650 and departures from Manchester at 1623, 1723, 1753 & 1823) will be withdrawn.  Service 409 provides an alternative service between Rochdale and Royton and services 181 & 182 continue to provide links between Royton, Chadderton and Manchester.

First Manchester have provided patronage data which shows on average 6.55 passengers per trip boarding between Rochdale and Royton on the AM journeys.

Alternatives exist by transferring at Royton, between services 409 and 181/182.

Service 181 (Rochdale – Shaw – Royton – Manchester): The Monday to Saturday day-time service will be reduced from every 30 minutes to hourly. The weekday peak service will still operate every 30 minutes.  Service 181 will combine with service 182 to provide a 20 minute off peak daytime service betweenChadderton and Manchester.

Service 182 (Rochdale – Shaw – Royton – Manchester): Morning peak journeys which currently extend from Rochdale at 0526 and Milnrow at 0604, 0633, 0658 & 0723 will be revised and replaced by journeys (from Milnrow only) at 0559, 0623 & 0653.  The following Saturday early morning journeys will be revised:

0514 Chadderton – Manchester – retimed 30 minutes later

0550 & 0650 Manchester – Shaw – replaced by one journey at 0620.

0551 Shaw – Manchester withdrawn.  There are alternative journeys within 30 minutes.

The journeys at 0514 and 0550 were introduced in April 2018 as part of a trial to stimulate early morning usage. On average these journeys are only carrying 5 passengers per trip.

For the changes to services 181 and 182, there are alternative journeys on service 58 from Rochdale to Milnrow and Shaw at 0600 and 0700.  Metrolink also provides an option for passengers travelling between Manchester and Shaw.

The current timetables for these services can be found here: