Oldham Liberal Democrats find more cash for Highways and Environmental Improvements, and to build a New Health Centre for Shaw and Crompton by cutting Civic Centre waste

The Liberal Democrat Group on Oldham Council will be presenting their alternate budget proposals to next week’s full Budget Council (27 February).

In their budget proposals for the coming financial year (2019/20), the Liberal Democrat Group on Oldham Council have found more than £2 million more to invest in front-line services over the next three years largely by identifying more ways to save money at the Civic Centre.

This money would be used to pay for a further £5 million investment in the Borough’s highways over and above the £18 million proposed by Labour, including creating a £1 million fund dedicated to restoring pedestrian footways; create a new Environmental Task Force with a £500,000 investment to respond quickly and effectively to instances of fly-tipping, dog-fouling and littering; and pay to build a new health centre for patients in Shaw and Crompton.

The Liberal Democrats also want to reverse Labour’s proposals to cut the local budgets of Ward Councillors and Parish Councils to keep more money available locally to tackle the priorities of residents in the districts.

The Deputy Leader of the Opposition and of the Liberal Democrat Group, Councillor Chris Gloster, who is Shadow Cabinet Member for Finance said:   “Our proposals will deliver better roads and footpaths, cleaner streets, better health care facilities for the residents of Shaw and Crompton, and keep more money in the budgets of local Councillors and Parish Councils to help provide responsive services for the people and communities that they serve.“

“We have found the money to do this by proposing some common-sense savings at the Civic Centre – better control by managers of staff recruitment, retention, and sickness, reduced spending on media and communications, removing car allowances from staff who drive 100 miles or less in a year on Council business, tackling sky-high spending on air travel, and cutting the number of Councillors from sixty to forty.”

Councillor Gloster ended: “I note that unlike the Liberal Democrats the Conservatives have failed yet again to table any alternative proposals. 

A summary of the Liberal Democrat savings and spending proposals see links below:

7a. Appendix A – Summary of Opposition Budget proposals

7. Liberal Democrats Budget Amendment Proposals 201920

Agenda details on public web site

Oldham Liberal Democrat Leader asks ‘Why can’t we use Lower Housing Figure to Save Greenbelt?’

The Leader of the Opposition and the Liberal Democrat Group on Oldham Council, Councillor Howard Sykes MBE, has written to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, James Brokenshire MP, to ask him whether it would in fact be permissible for the ten local authorities in Greater Manchester to use the lower figures for expected household growth published in 2016 to decide on the number of homes to be built in the conurbation under the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework.

Thousands of these new homes would be built on Green Belt sites in Crompton, Shaw, Royton and Chadderton.

Figures published by Mr Brokenshire’s own department in 2012 indicated that households in Greater Manchester would increase by 213,380 by 2035, or 18.75%, yet by contrast the more recent figures issued by the Office for National Statistics in 2016 offered a projection that the rise would only be 164,006, or 14.55%.  Amongst the ten local authorities in Greater Manchester, only Rochdale has a revised higher figure.

Councillor Sykes added: “Despite a massive difference of almost 50,000 households not requiring properties, the Conservative Government has continued to insist that the original figure stands, regardless of the adverse impact on our irreplaceable green belt. I have asked the Minister to confirm whether he is still of this view.  If we could adopt the lower figure we could save much of the Green Belt.”

For Oldham, there is an expected increase of 14,955 households, or 16.55%, predicted in the figure published in 2012, but only 12,368, or 13.81%, in the 2016 projections.

Councillor Sykes concluded: “That’s a difference of 2,587 properties less to build. Interesting that corresponds to almost all of the houses that the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework proposes be built by 2035 within Oldham on the Kingsway South, Beal Valley, Broadbent Moss, Cowlishaw and Hanging Chadder sites.  And if we were to increase the housing density on allocated brownfield sites in the town centre I am confident that we could make up the difference and save the Thornham Old Road site, and some others in the Borough too.”

Councillor Sykes concluded: “The Liberal Democrats in Shaw, Crompton and Saddleworth remain completely opposed to any encroachment of housing on Greenbelt and OPOL sites whilst brownfield sites remain available, but the Conservative Government has previously insisted that Greater Manchester Councils build more homes under the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework than the latest household growth figures indicate are required.”

The letter to James Brokenshire: James Brokenshire MP GMSF 19.02.19

More Oldham Children being failed: Liberal Democrat Leader disappointed at news of yet another poor school performance

The Leader of the Opposition and the Liberal Democrat Group on Oldham Council, Councillor Howard Sykes MBE, has expressed his disappointment and dismay on hearing news that another school in Oldham – the Oasis Academy Oldham – has failed the OFSTED test when it comes to performance.

Councillor Sykes said:  “Oldham Council and its educational partners have had years to turn around Oldham’s academic performance, but yet again we see another negative report of an Oldham school rated ‘inadequate’ and in need of ‘improvement’ in several key areas, including the quality of teaching, learning and assessment.”

“When the Oldham Education and Skills Commission Chair Baroness Estelle Morris stated on the publication of its long-awaited report in January 2016, ‘we are on the edge of being able to achieve great things here in Oldham’, her words did not contain the note of caution ‘but not yet’.  Three years on and we are still ‘not yet’”.

“Oldham’s Labour leaders have promised time and again that the report’s recommendations, and the work of the Partnership that was established to deliver them, would bring about a transformation in our educational attainment, but we have yet to see any real change.”

Councillor Sykes added:  “In 2013 Oasis was reported to be the most improved school in Greater Manchester, but now sadly we have seen a significant slippage in performance.  What is most saddening is that pupils have ‘underachieved significantly’, especially the most able pupils.”

“I can only hope that the school’s headteacher and staff team really will succeed in leaving ‘no stone unturned’ in a renewed effort to get back on track.  For this is yet another example of more of our children being failed by Oldham’s Labour run education system and we really must do better to be sure that our children’s futures will not be jeopardised.”

Countryside Volunteer Rangers Crompton Moor – Sunday 24 February

Hope you can join me this Sunday, our event being preparation of drainage to (a) the main pathway from the car park to the brook & (b) adjacent Whitesides.

The weather forecast for Sunday is sunny intervals and light winds, likely temperature of 9º/12º and 6 mph winds so ensure you have your favourite hot & or cold liquids, warm clothing, appropriate footwear and a packed lunch if you are up for the day – it may feel colder than it really is depending on where we are on the moor.

If you have any issues that you may wish to discuss prior to Sunday, please do not hesitate to email (on either address) or text / phone me on 07961107860.

For those of you that have not already done so, please could you let me know if you intend to join us on the day.

I look forward to seeing you in the Crompton Moor Car Park from 10.30 onwards on Sunday. Thank you.

Kindest Regards – Edward John Fulton (aka Ed / Eddie). Countryside Volunteer Ranger, (Mob) 07961 107860 [Calls may be recorded], (Text) 07961 107860, (Fax)  01706 661813, (E)  edward@edwardjohnfulton.uk , (E) edward.fulton@btinternet.uk

Liberal Democrats support Dogs Trust Clean-up Campaign on Valentine’s Day

The Liberal Democrat Group on Oldham Council is supporting a Dogs Trust campaign called ‘A Tail of True Love’.  The leading animal welfare charity launches this campaign every year on Valentine’s Day (14 February) to encourage dog owners who love their pets to clean up after them.

Since being elected in 2015, Liberal Democrat Councillor Chris Gloster has, like his Liberal Democrat colleagues in Shaw and Crompton, found dog fouling to be the bane of his life in elected office.

Commenting Councillor Gloster said: “Ward Councillors receive regular complaints about dog fouling.  It is both an eye-sore and a health hazard, and it has a real impact on the quality of life of many of my constituents.  Most dog owners are very responsible, and clean up after their pets, but unfortunately a few do not.”

With his Liberal Democrat ward colleagues, Councillor Gloster has been active in working to place more signs about dog fouling around Shaw to help enforcement.  He is therefore delighted to be to endorse this campaign:

“The aims of this campaign are quite simple, to encourage the many responsible dog owners to continue what they are doing and to make the irresponsible minority think again about their behaviour.  Not only is it anti-social but it is also criminal attracting a fine of up to £1,000.”

“All dog owners should take out bags to collect poop and they should dispose of it safely in a public litter bin or take it home. Otherwise the consequences could include a child being blinded by Toxocariasis after coming into contact with uncollected dog poo.”

Councillor Gloster was speaking at Dunwood Park, where local ward councillors and the Council’s District team have been working with parks department staff, the Friends of Dunwood Park and the local community to raise public awareness of the importance of owners cleaning up after their dog.  This has included children at local schools designing innovative posters to bring the message home.

At the forthcoming Council meeting in March to discuss the 2019/20 budget, the Liberal Democrats are proposing an amendment which includes a commitment to create a new Environment Task Force charged with tackling, amongst other things dog waste.

Councillor Gloster added: “I really hope that Councillors from all parties will back this proposal.  Such an Environment Task Force will have an extra £500,000 with which to tackle fly-tipping and dog fouling through enforcement, new innovative public education campaigns to change the behaviour of irresponsible individuals and the use of new technology, such as Poovers, which literally hoover up dog mess, and a real-time online tracking application to enable the public to report instances of fly tipping, dog fouling and offenders.  Similar applications exist elsewhere, for example the Poo Watch scheme operated in Worcester which my colleague, Councillor Howard Sykes, suggested Oldham Council look at many months ago.”