Latest on getting Dunwood Park Tennis Courts and MUGA operational again

Dunwood park Tennis courts

As many people will be aware these works have not been completed in the timescale planned.  I and other local councillors have been working behind the scenes to get this area usuable by our young people.

Undocumented services and drains under the area that had to be dealt with have led to the delay.

I am pleased to now report we have got a solution that gets them open for this weekend but will require a closure later in the year to correctly finish the works, details below.

The new Box culvert has now been installed and the old tennis courts surface removed and replaced with a new Binder /surface to specification for applications of multi – use Games areas (MUGAs)

The reinstatement to the boundary wall is continuing this week and will be completed by Friday 28/07/2017.

The painting and lining markings in accordance with ( LTA standard Courts) should not be completed until 6-8 weeks after the new surface has been laid, to allow the gases and fats from the bitumen to disperse and ensure good adhesion of the paint.

As an interim measure the courts will be marked out on Thursday 27th July 2017 (Weather permitting), these line will be sacrificial and re-painted after the school holidays and the 6-8 weeks have expired.

Liberal Democrat Leader disappointed Local Plan Consultation held over Summer Holidays

The Leader of the Opposition and of the Liberal Democrat Group on Oldham Council, Councillor Howard Sykes MBE, has expressed his disappointment that Council officers have chosen to conduct a public consultation on the Oldham Local Plan during the school holidays.

The consultation started on 10 July and ends of 21 August.

Details of the local plan can be found at https://www.oldham.gov.uk/info/200585/local_plan

Responses can be submitted online at http://oldham-consult.limehouse.co.uk/portal/oc/planning/spi or emailed to spi@oldham.gov.uk or returned by post to

Strategic Planning and Information, Economy, Skills and Neighbourhoods, Room 310, Level 3, Civic Centre, West Street, Oldham OL1 1UH.

Councillor Sykes said: “The Oldham Local Plan may sound a dry document, but it is in fact the document that will underpin the delivery of new homes and new businesses in our Borough for years to come, and more importantly it will be the key document that will determine what happens locally under the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework.”

“Many residents of this Borough, particularly in Shaw, Crompton, Royton and Chadderton, are up in arms about the implications of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework and they have held rallies at Tandle Hill Country Park and outside Manchester Town Hall in Albert Square to let it be known that they are opposed to development on our precious Green Belt.”

“Given the strength of local feeling, it is unacceptable to conduct a public consultation on an issue of such importance in the school holidays.  Many residents will be taking families away with them on holiday.  Responding to this consultation by the 21 August may be far from their minds, but if they feel strongly that they want to save their green belt I would urge them to take time to do so.”

Councillor Sykes and his Liberal Democrat colleagues in Shaw and Crompton remain vehemently opposed to plans to build almost 3,000 new homes in the two wards on surrounding Green Belt and other green land:

“Local residents are rightly up in arms, fearing that not only will the current plan mean that their precious Green Belt will be lost forever under a carpet of concrete, but also that the existing medical, school and leisure infrastructure, which is already severely stretched, will be completely swamped with the extra demand.”

The Liberal Democrats have a clear aspiration for future housing development in Greater Manchester.  Councillor Sykes explained: “Development should be on brownfield sites first, particularly sites with outstanding planning permission, coupled with mill and factory conversions to housing and a drive to bring existing empty homes back into occupancy, whenever this is practicable.  This view will form the basis of our response to the consultation.”

Old Boys Brigade Weekend – 30 Sept/1 Oct

In March this year we appealed  for memories from any Old Boys from the Oldham Boys Brigade companies and gave brief details regarding an event later in the year – Old boys contacted me from as far away as Kent, Malaga and Australia with their memories and I received some great stories.

The Boys’ Brigade  is the largest Christian uniformed youth organisation in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland. The Boys’ Brigade was founded in Glasgow, Scotland on 4th October 1883 by Sir William Alexander Smith, and celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2008. The original badge was an anchor and rope with the words Sure on the top bar and Stedfast on the bottom. Some years later The Boys’ Brigade amalgamated with the Boys’ Life Brigade and the red cross was added behind the anchor.

Maggie Hurley from Age UK Oldham is working alongside Barry Cooke Captain of the current South Chadderton Boys & Girls Brigade (one of only two companies left in Oldham now) organising a full weekend of Boys Brigade at George Street Chapel.

The event which will attract ‘old boys’ back to Oldham and those who never left , to catch up, reminisce and bring back some great memories along the way. The weekend event takes place on 30th Sept and 1st October at George Street Chapel. This great weekend will feature an exhibition of Oldham Boys Brigade Memorabilia, old film clips from company camps at Lyme Regis and Dawlish, and parades from 1950’s, Drill and drums and a celebration lunch on the Sunday with hopefully a parade with the current Oldham Boys & Girls Brigade.

Being a boys brigade member united local Oldham lads and now as men they still hold happy memories of the time they spent with their companies. I have received some fabulous memory’s and funny stories since my original appeal in March this year. Old Boys have contacted me from as far as Spain and Australia eager to share their wonderful reflections of their time with their Oldham Companies, it will be a great event and I am sure we will hear lots of other stories throughout the two days at George Street too.

Tickets are available from Maggie Hurley at Age UK Oldham 0161 633 0213 maggie.hurley@ageukoldham.org.uk

Saturday only ticket £5

Sat & Sunday weekend Ticket £7

Weekend Ticket to include Sunday meal £20

Changes to bus services – 353/354 and new 355, and the 402

Changes effective 3 or 4 September

402

Following a number of requests from local councillors and residents Service 402 was revised to additionally serve the Thornham area in January 2017.

As part of this change the service was revised to no longer serve Grasmere Road in Royton. Following feedback it is proposed to make a further revision to reinstate the service along Grasmere Road by removing it from Firbank Road, Fir Lane and Dogford Road.

Service 408 maintains an hourly daytime service along Fir Lane and Dogford Road. Residents on Firbank Road will be a maximum distance of 340 metres from hourly services 402 & 408 and frequent service 409 which maintain links to Royton, Royal Oldham Hospital and Oldham town centre.

353/354 and 355

Services 353 and 354 provide a combined hourly service on Sunday daytimes between Ashton and Uppermill.

Between Mossley and Uppermill the services follow different routes via Grasscroft (353) or Greenfield (354).

It was agreed to replace these two services with new service 355 which would operate every two hours but extend beyond Uppermill to Denshaw, via Delph providing new Sunday daytime links.

The replacement of Sunday daytime services 353 and 354 with service 355 will enable extra running time to be given to Ashton local services 38, 41 and 345 which currently interwork with services 353/354.

There are no changes proposed to the Monday to Saturday daytime services 353 and 354.

It was agreed to replace the Sunday daytime journeys on services 353 and 354 with new service 355.

For some time usage on the Sunday daytime services 353 and 354 has been very low – on average less than 4 passengers per trip.

It is proposed to completely revising the routes to maintain service between Ashton, Mossley and Uppermill (reduced from hourly to every 2 hours) but extending the service to provide new Sunday links to residents of Greenfield (Shaw Hall Bank Road, Carr Lane), Dobcross Village, Delph (Palin Wood Road) and Denshaw.

Stockport Road and Mossley Road (between Mossley and Uppermill) would no longer be served, however, usage on this section is extremely low – a sample survey showed a total of 3 passenger trips across 8 Sunday daytime journeys. All affected passengers can use Saddleworth Local Link as an alternative. Greenfield village would no longer be served by this proposal (service 354) however links to Ashton, Mossley and Uppermill are maintained by hourly service 350.

This proposal ties in with the Total Transport project which aims to improve transport links in the Saddleworth area.

My two allowed questions at tonight’s council meeting – The Grenfell Tower Fire and the Lack of School Places

Oldham Council 12 July 2017 – Leader’s Question 1 – The Grenfell Tower Fire

Mr Mayor, I am sure that every member in this Chamber will have been as horrified as I was to see the images of the devastating fire at Grenfell Tower and the impact that it had on both the building, the tower’s residents and its’ neighbours.

The latest estimate is that there will be at least eighty lives lost; many residents are still missing; and the survivors of the blaze remain traumatised; coping with injuries and missing loved ones; without any possessions and with no certainty about their future housing circumstances.

Mr Mayor, it would be remiss of me at this point not to condemn the woeful response of this Government to the needs of the fire’s victims and the shameful absence of Prime Minister; Theresa May in the aftermath of this enormous tragedy.  Strong and stable – I think not.

I have a stark message for the Prime Minister – it is your job to lead the nation in times like this and on this occasion you failed miserably.

It would also be true to say, in my opinion, that the local council for the area; Kensington and Chelsea; was an embarrassment to all involved in local government.

Both the Officer and Political Leadership of that council has failed their residents big time!

I am pleased to say this is in stark contrast to Oldham Council when we have had to face emergencies such as Maple Mill and the tragic gas blast in Shaw.

On a more positive note, it was however a tremendous relief to learn, following enquiries made by my Liberal Democrat colleague; Councillor Chris Gloster; that none of the tower blocks in this Borough have been clad with any inflammable material as Grenfell appears to have been.

At a time like this, I am sure the Leader will want to reassure members of this Chamber; and more importantly the residents of our Borough’s tower blocks; and their friends and relatives; that all of the components of any type of external cladding system used in this Borough are safe.

Also that the evacuation procedures for tower blocks in Oldham have been thoroughly reviewed in recent days to ensure that they are up-to-date and follow best practice.

Mr Mayor, I would like to ask the Leader for this reassurance tonight and also for a brief summary of what the current advice to tenants and occupants of such tower blocks is in the event of a fire?

Also what is happening to other public buildings in the Borough that could possibly be clad with similar materials as used in Grenfell such as leisure facilities, education buildings and health service accommodation to name just three?

Council 12 July 2017 – Leader’s Question 2 – School Places

For my second question to the Leader tonight, Mr Mayor, I want to return to an issue that I have raised many times in this Chamber before – namely the education of our Borough’s children.

I was disappointed, and, in all honesty, sad, to read recently that once more Oldham was bottom of the class when it came to the number of our children who miss out on attending a secondary school of their choice.

And I am not just talking here about pupils (and their parents) not getting their first choice of school – I am talking here about them not getting their second or third choices either!

In this Borough almost 9 percent – to be exact 8.9 per cent – did not secure a place to start at ANY of their preferred schools in September, which is nearly 1 in 10 pupils or approximately 300 of them!

So now we have another mark of failure against our education system as according to the Department for Education, Oldham was the sixth worst performer in the country and the worst in the North West for school choices.

Compare this to the national figure – 3.6 percent – we are three times higher!  Three times as many denied the secondary place that they seek.

The Borough is also second worst in the region for the percentage of pupils being offered a place at their first preference school, 74.8 per cent compared to 83.5 per cent nationally.

Compare this to Rochdale where nearly 94 percent of pupils got their first preference school and only 1.5 percent of pupils in Rochdale did not get a place at one of their three preferred schools.

In Oldham our primary sector is not much better; 6 percent pupils or 181 children; failed to get a place in their first, second or third choice schools.

It is scandalous – we can do better, much better and we must do better, for the sake of our children and their educational future.

Because if we do not offer children a place at a secondary school that they want to go to we are hardly providing them with an inspiring start to help spur them on to do their level best in their final years of compulsory schooling.

I look forward to the Council meeting when I can ask the Leader a positive question about education in our Borough – but I am sorry to say that with the current level of performance that I cannot see this as being at any point soon.

Let’s hope that the new Saddleworth School, the new Royton and Crompton School and the expanded Crompton House School and Oasis Academy will be able to meet the educational expectations of all of our young people; but these are long-term and not immediate gains, and some of them are still far from certain.

So my second question to the Leader tonight is; what is being done now to ensure that every child in our Borough receives a secondary school place of their choice in the future?