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.”

Statement from Oldham Council re planning issues

Statement – posted as received

I am pleased to confirm that the planning issues relating to Hodge Clough Road and Knowls Lane have been considered and that the planning decisions are lawful and in accordance with planning legislation.

In addition, the staffing issue you raised is unrelated and I am therefore unable to comment further. 

Helen Lockwood – Deputy Chief Executive – Oldham Council

Liberal Democrats give Boris a bloody nose!

The Liberal Democrats have won the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election in Wales.

This follows a petition to remove the Conservative MP who was found guilty of about the wrongful claiming of expenses. Councillor Howard Sykes MBE, leader of the Liberal Democrats in Oldham Borough has welcomed the fantastic result this morning:

“I was in Brecon and Radnorshire myself earlier this week to help Jane Dodd’s campaign.  This proves the Liberal Democrats can take on Labour and the Conservatives nationally.  This stinging result leaves the Conservative Party with a Commons majority of just one, the first failure of Boris Johnson’s new Government.”

“This makes things incredibly hard for the Conservatives, and it is the Liberal Democrats that are holding the Government to account, not the Labour Party, who did terribly last night.”

The result means the Liberal Democrats now have 13 MPs.  A figure slowly rising, one that will grow at the next General Election.

Jane Dodds MP overturned an 8,038 majority to beat the incumbent Conservative by 1,425 votes!

The Conservative candidate Mr Davies stood again after being unseated by a recall petition following a false expense claim.

Oldham Liberal Democrats reveal extent of ‘criminal’ Conservative police cuts

The true extent of ‘criminal’ Conservative police cuts in Greater Manchester have been revealed by local Liberal Democrats.
Councillor Howard Sykes MBE comments on a Liberal Democrat analysis of new Home Office figures released recently.  They revealed that the Conservative Government cut funding to Greater Manchester by 6.3% in real terms between 2015-16 and 2019-20.
According to data from the Home Office statistical bulletin: ‘Police funding for England and Wales 2015 to 2020,’ total government funding to all 43 forces in the UK (in 2019-20 prices) fell from £8.48 billion in 2015-16 to £7.99 billion in 2019-20.  32 of the 43 forces across the country experienced cuts of 6% or more. 
Liberal Democrat Councillor Howard Sykes MBE said:
“Across the country, we are seeing rising crime and falling police numbers.  Far too many people now feel unsafe walking down their own streets.  This is unacceptable.
Taking 5,000 police off our streets in the last four years and cutting funding in real-terms by £490 million from 2015-16 to 2019-20 are big Conservative crimes.”
Councillor Sykes, Liberal Democrat Leader of the Opposition went on to say:

“Inflicting 6.3% cuts on our local police force over the last four years, given concerns about knife crime, shows just how out of touch the Conservatives are.  This is not what people want.”

“The Liberal Democrats demand better.  We will give police forces the resources they need to recruit more officers and restore real community policing in our Borough, so that we can make our streets safer and make people feel safer too.”

The data is from the Home Office statistical bulletin Police funding for England and Wales 2015 to 2020, available here.
The 2015-16 figures have been converted to 2019-20 prices using HM Treasury’s latest GDP deflators, available here.
The calculations of real-terms cuts for each police force can be found here.


Carolyn Wilkins OBE, Chief Executive, Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council

23 July 2019

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?  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