Councillors Rod Blyth, Mark Alcock and Howard Sykes.

Also Parish Councillors Aspinall, Farrell, Duffy, Hall, Stephens, Dodd, Robinson, Murphy and Wood will also attend.

7.30pm – 8.30pm, Lifelong Learning Centre, High Street, Shaw, OL2 8TB.

Thursday: October: 2, 9, 16


Questions from Howard Sykes Lib Dem Leader and Leader of the Opposition to the Council Leader – Oldham Council 10 September 2014

Question 1 – Rotherham and child protection

My first question this evening concerns the tragic details revealed in a recent Independent Report commissioned by Rotherham Council about the failure of Children’s Services and other agencies in the Local Authority area to address child sexual exploitation over many years.

Professor Alexis Jay’s Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Rotherham covering the period 1997 to 2013 found there was a lack of scrutiny and challenge; a chronic failure of senior councillors, staff members and police officers to engage with the problem; and an inability of both councillors and the Local Safeguarding Board to monitor and challenge practices within the Council.

Whilst the Report focusses only on the failures of the agencies in Rotherham, previous cases show that these problems are not exclusive to one area and that every Local Authority needs to learn lessons from this report to ensure that its own services conform to best practice.

The Leader will recall that, immediately following the publication of Professor Jay’s Report, I wrote to both the Chief Executive and himself seeking reassurance that Oldham Council will be conducting its own review in light of the findings. I am pleased that the prompt response contained such an assurance.

This is not an issue from which to make political capital so I want now to state for the record that the Liberal Democrat Group will be fully supportive of such a Review.

But for the information of all Councillors in this Chamber, and concerned citizens who are listening or watching these proceedings tonight, I would like to ask the Leader when and how the Council will be conducting this Review, and when we might expect to receive the findings?

Question 2 – Community Health Champions

My second question concerns the health of our employees.

As a Local Authority and employer, we have statutory duties to promote public health and the health and safety of our employees.

This should extend to providing them with advice and support to adopt healthy lifestyle choices and to address behaviour that may damage their health.

I make here particular reference to smoking, an issue of great concern to Councillors of all Parties.

Smoking is the harbinger of death and chronic illness to many, but for a Local Authority it also leads to greater employee absenteeism and a loss of productivity, meaning serious financial costs for this Council.

It is therefore particularly in our self-interest to reduce the prevalence of smoking amongst its workforce.

The NHS Health Improvement Team is now recruiting Community Health Champions in workplaces to promote healthy lifestyle choices to co-workers and to address behaviour that can lead to ill-health, such as smoking.

The Council has established the Employee Supported Volunteering Scheme and I am convinced that this represents an excellent mechanism to recruit employees from all sections of this Council to train as Community Health Champions.

I believe the Council should establish a programme of work for these volunteers with measurable targets monitored by the team of the Director of Public Health covering initially the period to National No Tobacco Day 31st May 2015.

Will the Leader agree to take forward this proposal?

Question 3 – Honouring The Great War Heroes

My third question concerns our recognition of three local men who in the First World War won Britain’s highest military award, The Victoria Cross.

I am sure the Leader will recall the correspondence that he received last year from my colleague, the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, Cllr John McCann, requesting that local streets be named after local heroes.

Local Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has commissioned commemorative paving stones to be laid as a mark of honour and remembrance in the locality of every Great War VC winner.

In announcing the initiative, Mr Pickles said: “It’s our duty to remember the British and Commonwealth troops who lost their lives fighting in the Great War and we are determined to make sure their bravery for King and Country is not forgotten.”

Sentiments that I am sure the Leader will endorse.

Three paving stones will be received for local heroes John Hogan, of Royton; Walter Mills, of Oldham; and Thomas Steele, of Springhead.
Lest we forget their heroic deeds, please allow me to give a brief summary.

Sergeant John Hogan, of the 2nd Battalion Manchester Regiment, received his VC from King George V in 1915. He was awarded the VC for recapturing a trench near Festubert in October, 1914.

Private Walter Mills was awarded the VC posthumously after he was caught in a gas attack on the Western Front in December 1917. Despite being gassed, a truly horrible fate, he remained at his post alone, throwing grenades until the enemy retreated.

Private Thomas Steele served with the 1st Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders in Mesopotamia (now Iraq). He was awarded his VC for an action in January, 1917, when he helped a comrade carry a machine gun into position under heavy fire.

Can I ask the Leader if he and Councillor Ball will agree to work with me, Cllr McCann and ward members to identify new developments where these gallant men might have local streets named after them?

Howard Sykes
10 September 2014

Well Hello there, do you want to make YOUR Big Bill into a Little Bill…?

ChasingTail_BillWell Hello there, do you want to make YOUR Big Bill into a Little Bill…?

Little Bill is working with your Local Council and the Greater Manchester Energy Advice service to help make your home more energy efficient. We have a package of help available ranging from solar panels, new boilers and financial support for insulation (including solid wall insulation).

You may live in a Green Deal Communities area where you can also apply for up to £7,000 towards home improvements such as new windows and doors, central heating systems, solar panels and insulation.

Visit our website to see if you fall within these areas – Funds are limited, so hurry before it runs out!

Visit to find out more or call 0800 009 3363 or 0161 234 5460 (Mon-Fri 9am-5pm).

Fancy being a Little Bill Show Home…?
We are looking for households in our Green Deal Communities areas to become a show home and demonstrate innovative energy-saving improvements and share their experiences. In return, we will be offering selected households up to £12,000 towards the costs of these improvements.

30 households across Greater Manchester will be selected, according to criteria including location, house type and the range of energy improvements that could be installed. This offer is only available to households in Little Bill Communities areas – check the website to see if you qualify.

Residents on low incomes – For residents who are on specific eligible benefits we also have access to grants to assist with boiler replacement and free insulation.

Terms and conditions apply, see our website for further information.
Best wishes,
Little Bill

Follow me on Twitter @asklittlebill

NB: GMEA is the new name for Greater Manchester Energy Advice Services which helped thousands of households benefit from warmer homes thanks to the Get Me Toasty campaign which ran in partnership with local councils from 2011 to 2013.

Warm Welcome for Lib Dem Manifesto Pledge to Triple Early Years Funding

Warm Welcome for Lib Dem Manifesto Pledge to Triple Early Years Funding

The Leader of the Opposition and of the Liberal Democrat Group, Councillor Howard Sykes MBE, has warmly welcomed the recent announcement by the Liberal Democrats that they will more than triple investment in the early years pupil premium from £300 to £1000 per child if they form part of the next Government.

The early years pupil premium was announced in March 2014 and is currently worth £300 for every disadvantaged child. Last week Lib Dem Schools Minister David Laws announced that as part of the party’s manifesto this would be increased to £1000.

On hearing the news, Cllr Sykes said:

“By committing this extra money to help the youngest disadvantaged children in society, the Liberal Democrats will ensure that every child gets the best possible start in life, is ready to learn when they start school and so have an opportunity to get on.

As children in early years are only in part time education this represents an equivalent investment higher than the primary school pupil premium, demonstrating the huge importance that Liberal Democrats place on early years education.

This will benefit over 170,000 disadvantaged children from 2015-16”.


• Increases to the Early Years Pupil Premium will follow the same pattern as the schools Pupil Premium – with the value gradually increasing over the lifetime of the parliament until it reaches £1000 per child. Because children in early years are only in part time education this is an equivalent rate higher than the primary school pupil premium.

• It will pay early years providers an additional amount per year for each eligible child that takes up the full 570 hour entitlement with them.

• The eligible groups will be children from low income families (defined as meeting the criteria for free school meals); children that have been looked after by the local authority for at least one day; have been adopted from care; have left care through special guardianship; and children subject to a child arrangement order setting out with whom the child is to live (formerly known as residence orders).

• As with the schools pupil premium, the Liberal Democrats would not impose restrictions on how providers spend the Early Years Pupil Premium. However, Ofsted will hold providers to account for how they’ve used the money to support their disadvantaged children through the regular inspection process.

• It is estimated that over 170,000 children could benefit from the EYPP in 2015-16 and future years.

• More information on the early years pupil premium is available here:

Shaw and Crompton Beating The Bounds 2014 – 21 Sept

Shaw and Crompton Beating The Bounds 2014
Sunday 21 September 2014

Shaw & Crompton Parish Council are again celebrating the “Beating The Bounds” walk. Take part in this historic walk along the boundary of Shaw & Crompton. The walk is a circular route, of about 13 miles, taking in sites including, Jubilee, Pingot Quarry, Crompton Moor, Brushes Clough, Fullwood, and Ellen road; walkers can expect to see stunning views over the Pennines and Oldham and beyond.

The walk will leave from Dunwood Park, Shaw OL2 7UQ at 09.30am. If required a break will be taken at the Kings Arms, Grains Bar OL4 2JX ; other rest breaks will be available at St. Joseph’s Church, Shaw OL2 8SZ and The Puckersley Inn, 22 Narrowgate Brow, Royton OL2 6YD. For those who want an easier walk why not join us at the King’s Arms (approx. 12.00) or St. Joseph’s Church, (approx. 13.30 pm) or The Puckersley Inn, (approx.14.30 pm) where we then continue along the rest of the journey.

Anyone interested in participating in this free guided walk should meet at Dunwood Park Cafe, Smallbrook Road, Shaw, OL2 7UQ, at 09:15 am.

Walkers will need to be physically fit to take part in this intermediate-to-hard walk. Please bring a packed lunch and drinks sufficient for the walk together with water proofs and suitable footwear.

For more information prior to or on the day of the walk please contact:

Dr Ray Hughes, Clerk to the Council ( on: 01706 847590 or Cllr Chris Stephens on: 07752968201

Shaw Baths

001456_Swimming-PoolShaw Baths

The closure of Shaw Baths was the subject of an officer report and presentation at last night’s Shaw and Crompton District Executive (22/07/14) following a request local councillors has made at an earlier meeting.

Many members of the public asked questions and the four items detailed below were also tabled at the meeting and voted upon. All of which would allow the Pool to re-open.

Shaw and Crompton District Executive resolved to:

1) Ask Oldham Council to spend the £50,000 identified in the report to fix the fault that caused Crompton Pool to close, plus any subsequent costs because of the length of time the Pool has deliberately remained closed so that the Pool can remain open, as promised until 2016.
Proposed Cllr Rod Blyth
Seconded Cllr Diane Williamson

2) Request that the recently announced Town Centre Viability money (£100K) be used to pay for the works to be completed so that Crompton Pool can remain open, as promised until 2016 – this would increase footfall into the Shaw Town Centre thus helping businesses.
Proposed Cllr Howard Sykes
Seconded Cllr Dave Murphy

3) Use the District Executive’s own resources to pay for the Crompton Pool works to be completed so that Pool can remain open, as promised until 2016.
Proposed Cllr Diane Williamson
Seconded Cllr Rod Blyth

4) Request the Council uses a mixture of all its own funds, the Town Centre Fund and the District Executives funds to pay for the Crompton Pool works to be completed so that the Pool can remain open, as promised until 2016.
Proposed Cllr Dave Murphy
Seconded Cllr Howard Sykes

Each resolution was agreed unanimously by Councillors Mark Alcock, Rod Blyth, John Dillon, Dave Murphy, Howard Sykes and Diane Williamson

Questions to the Leader of Oldham Council – From Cllr Howard Sykes – Oldham Council Meeting 16 July 14

Questions to the Leader of Oldham Council – from Cllr Howard Sykes – Oldham Council Meeting 16 July 14

Q1. Closure of Crompton Pool

I would like to ask my first question about Crompton Pool, known to local people as Shaw Baths.

After the “temporary” closure of the baths in May, there were many weeks with no public announcements or updates for local elected Members or service users.

It was only earlier this month that the bombshell was dropped when the Cabinet Member suddenly announced that the pool will not re-open.

Does the Leader not fully appreciate the depth of anger and frustration felt by local people when they finally heard that this popular facility will now remain permanently closed because this Council will not find £50,000 to carry out the necessary repairs to a boiler to re-open it?

For the sake of only £50,000, many hundreds of local swimmers, members of a local swimming club and the pupils of local schools have been denied the use of a much loved and valued facility in their hometown.

This decision, taken behind closed doors and without a scintilla of public consultation, amounts to a total betrayal by this Labour Administration of the promise made to the people of Shaw and Crompton that the baths would remain open until the new facility at Royton opens in 2016.

Would the Leader concur that this action is not conducive to community cohesion as the people of Shaw and Crompton, who have also seen their local tip closed and plans to redevelop the health centre come to naught, feel more like the ‘have nots’ in this borough?

The people of Shaw and Crompton deserve to be treated better.

Q2. The Manchester Street and Union St West Footbridges

My second question concerns the employment of a rather larger figure than £50,000 – this time to demolish a white elephant rather than preserve a much needed local facility like Shaw Baths.

The Manchester Street footbridge cost £800,000 to build in 1993/94 or about £1.5M at today’s prices.

It has always been a source of problems from the day it eventually opened – later than planned I might add.

It has been subjected to repeated vandalism, it was described as “difficult to use” especially by older people and for those pushing prams, and it was used as an informal ‘youth centre’ and a vantage point for those intent on attacking and robbing passers-by.

All these issues were predicated by the then Lib Dem Opposition who fought the proposals to build this white elephant tooth and nail, calling the structure a totally unnecessarily crystal palace in the sky!

Now there is a proposal to demolish the footbridge with the work starting in August.

Can the Leader confirm that the cost of demolition is expected to be at least £500,000?

So at today’s prices that is £2M for this folly!

Now that £2M would make a substantial contribution not just to fix Crompton Pool but to replace it?

But that is not the end of this sorry story. It gets better – on top of the £2M, at a later date will be the cost of providing some alternative crossing provision at this or near to this location.

Now if we want to spend money on bridges lets do something about the Union Street West footbridge near the Sixth Form College.

This was built in 2000 at a cost of £900,000 or £1.3M in today’s prices. This bridge has always been plagued with vandalism, broken glass panels and structural problems.

In October 2009, cabinet member Councillor Shoab Akhtar was quoted in the local media: “Hundreds of people use this bridge every day and they are growing concerned and feel vulnerable especially with longer nights approaching.

There is nothing allocated to the bridge in this year’s Capital Budget but I urge the council to find the money to get this fixed as soon as possible.”

Will the Leader tell me whether, if five years on, Cllr Akhtar will see his wish granted?

Q3. Camera Cars

The Leader will doubtless recall that at October’s Council an Administration Motion attacking proposals by Conservative Ministers in the Department of Communities and Local Government to ban the use of CCTV camera cars received cross-party support.

Following the resolution, our then Chief Executive at the request of council wrote to the department outlining our objections.

Minister Brandon Lewis in his response invited the Council to respond to a forthcoming consultation on parking. This ran from December to 14th February 2014; hardly an end date we would have picked as the proposal was so unloved.

On 21st June, the department published the findings of the consultation.

In this it is reported that local authorities, cycling groups, disability groups, schools and transport groups were almost all universally opposed to this proposal, and that even groups representing motorists had mixed feelings.
I do hope that, given the depth of feeling in this chamber, that Oldham Council also submitted its comments in opposition to the proposal.

Despite this Conservative Government Ministers want to press ahead with their proposal for a ban by amending the Deregulation Bill now before Parliament.

Can I invite the Leader and Conservative and UKIP Group Leaders to join me in writing a letter to the co-sponsors of the Deregulation Bill, Oliver Letwin MP and Lord Wallace of Saltaire, asking them to resist the inclusion of clauses aimed at introducing the ban, and to also write to our three local MPs asking them to support the Council’s position?

Howard Sykes
16 July 2014

Youth grant application

For an application form email Jodie Barber – details at bottom of this post.

This year there are changes to the process so please read through the application carefully.

The grants are available for Young people’s activities within Oldham for young people aged 11 – 19 (up to 25 for young people with disabilities)

The maximum that can be applied for is £1000.

The applications can be completed by an adult but MUST be accompanied with a supporting statement from young people who will benefit from the activity.

Application interviews are not being held anymore so please make sure you put as much detail into the application as possible so that the panel of young people can make well informed decisions.

The grants are only for activities that can demonstrate that they will contribute to the 3 priority outcomes identified by the Youth Council, these are:
• Improving the emotional well being and mental health of Young people.
• Promoting and providing young people with quality volunteering opportunities.
• Ensuring Young people lead healthy lifestyles.
The deadline for applications is Friday 8 August 5pm – Applications will not be received after this time.

Applications can be sent electronically via email – or you can print out the form and complete by hand – returning it to the address below
If you have any queries or would like further information please do not hesitate in contacting Jodie Barber.

Jodie Barber
Senior Youth Work Manager, Integrated Youth Services – Central team
Rock Street Resource Centre
Rock Street
0161 770 3117