Beal Lane Metrolink Station

Howard at the Site of the New Tram Stop in Shaw

“The completion of last weekend’s roadworks on Beal Lane brings nearer the completion of Shaw and Crompton’s new Metrolink station,” reports Howard Sykes.

“People will now have noticed that the actual stop is on the other side of Beal Lane from where the rail stop used to be. This was a battle we won many years ago when the plans were being finalised and is key to keeping the traffic moving on Beal Lane,” continued Howard.

As well as Shaw residents benefitting from a more frequent service, every other tram will terminate at the new Shaw stop, now requiring no road closure. Additionally, those trams passing through to and from Rochdale will require the road to be closed for much less time than was the case with the former railway barriers.

“This is another example of our long term planning and persistence to improve things for Shaw and its community,” said Howard. “Talk and promises are cheap. Your Shaw Focus Team and I have a record of action.”

Battle won for public open space at Refuge Street

Refuge St Main Proposals Click on this link to view the proposals

Your Shaw Focus Team Howard Sykes, Rod Blyth and Mark Alcock Inspect the Plans for the Refuge Street Open Space

After years of inaction and after much presing of the local issue local Lib Dem councillor Howard Sykes is very pleased to report that the much needed public open space at the end of Refuge Street will at long last be made accessible for local residents.

“There are still a few things to be finalised but after more than 10 years of continued effort we are now getting somewhere,” said Howard. He added, “This outcome is in no small part down to the persistence of your Shaw Focus Team.”

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Shaw Town Centre Amended Car Parking Scheme

A mixture of short (3hrs) and long stay parking is the outcome of the review of the scheme for Shaw Town Centre.

The long stay car parks are:
Kershaw Street, Baths/Community Centre and Milne Street.

The short stay car parks are:
Market Ground, West Way On Street and the two small car parks at the end of Beal Lane/Eastway.

Howard Sykes said, “This is good news for shoppers and traders alike. The final scheme has taken on board people’s comments and increased the amount of long term parking from that originally proposed.”

Please click on the link below to have a look at a map detailing the locations of the parking.
shaw centre parking a3 revised 2012 March 2012

Jubilee Bridge Coping Stones Recycling

A further outcome of the negotiations by Howard about the remedial works to Jubilee Bridge, Transport for Greater Manchester have agreed to use the original coping stone masonry in a local project.

Howard said, “I would welcome any comments or suggestions about how these stones could be used to decorative effect in the Dunwood Park neighbourhood so preserving and enhancing the heritage of the area.”

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Jubilee Bridge Parapet Stones: Update

In response to concerns of local residents, Howard and his Focus Team have been in discussions about the replacement parapet stones on Jubilee Bridge.

The shape of the parapet stone is laid down by law and so affects new and existing masonry. The power to enact replacement stones on the part of Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) in effect bypasses local planning processes then.

However, following the intervention by Howard and subsequent consultation and negotiations with both Oldham Council and TfGM, it has been agreed that the pointing will be redone and the old masonry washed to improve the look immediately and assist the weathering process.

Howard said, “Whilst the remedial work is not the ideal solution to improving the look of the bridge, it should be an improvement to the currently unacceptable situation, which I and your Focus Team shall continue to monitor closely.”
Updates will be posted on this site as they are available.

Budget Letter to the Chancellor calling for £10k Income Tax Threshold

Howard Sykes, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group in Oldham, has signed a letter calling on the Chancellor to introduce a threshold of £10,000 in earnings before deduction of income tax. The letter, endorsed by the leaders of Liberal Democrat Groups across the country, says,

“Dear Chancellor,
“We lead Liberal Democrat council groups across the country and are calling on you to listen to the Lib Dem call to raise the income tax threshold to £10,000 faster than originally planned.”
“Giving working people on lower incomes more support has to be a top priority. This will mean over two and a half million low wage earners across the country will not have to pay any income tax at all – and other lower earners will still get a substantial tax cut.”
“As councillors from across the country, we see and talk to these people every week. They are people like the working mum whose salary has not increased in recent years and is struggling with rising bills or the young person in his first job who is struggling to make ends meet, worried about unexpected bills and repairs.”
“We have heard many times about the need to make tough choices in these difficult times. One choice the government should make is to ensure the wealthy pay their fair share and speed up the plan for the burden to be lifted on the poorest.
This also means that if there is ever any reduction in the 50p top rate of income tax then new taxes that target the rich must be introduced so the wealthy pay their share.”

Howard said, “We shall see later today as to whether George Osbourne has listened to our argument, but make no mistake, we shall continue to make it because we believe it is the right thing to do for the people who trust us to represent them.”

Leisure Review – Worst Kept Secret Out in the Open

On 30th January 2012, the Labour administration finally went public on the new swimming pool/leisure facility to replace the current Crompton and Royton facilities. Despite the massive chorus of opposition from over 700 Shaw and Crompton residents, the sham consultation by Labour concluded that the facility was to be built in Royton at the expense of Shaw.

Howard and the Liberal Democrat Group responded by calling in the decision to examine it further. The “call-in” asked Overview and Scrutiny to examine consultation flaws; why Cabinet made its controversial decision of 30th January 2012 to build the replacement Pool in Royton and, very importantly, why the huge number of responses from Shaw and Crompton were completely and utterly ignored.

Scrutiny of the decision took place on 1st March 2012 in the Civic Centre and was nothing short of chaotic. There were no protocols in place for the conduct of the meeting (a set of rules were hastily acquired from Rochdale MBC), inconsistent advice given by Council Officers, people in attendance who were not required and members of the Scrutiny Panel were being denied opportunities to question witnesses in order to properly scrutinise the evidence supporting the decision.

But the story doesn’t end there – barely three weeks after the swimming pool decision, and despite the call to examine the decision further, the Labour administration announce an agreement with a developer for a replacement Royton Precinct, which includes provision of a Leisure/swimming pool complex!

A chain of events which bear all the classic hallmarks of Labour deceit, dressed up as consultation. It seems the cries of ‘done deal’ and ‘sham’ were indeed accurate. Howard, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Oldham Council said, “Labour’s contempt firstly and most importantly for the people of Shaw and the democratic process is self- evident. I can honestly feel satisfied that this shambles would never happen under a Liberal Democrat administration.”

Third Time Lucky? – Removal of Queen Street Misleading Highways Signs

Howard and the sign which has been misleading the public in Shaw
Howard Sykes has championed the removal of misleading and ineffective roadsigns from Queen Street, Shaw weeks after completion of the roadworks.
Councillor Sykes in a letter dated 29th February 2012 to the Council’s chief officer for highways said,”I did hope that my pleas for efficient signage removal had finally got through to the respective officers, contractors and partners, however, the residents of Shaw have continued to be let down time and time again and I for one have lost patience with having to keep reminding you to remove information signs when works have been completed.”
This is the third episode in nine months where Shaw residents have faced the inconvenience of out of date signs being left on the highway, the two earlier occurances being in relation to “humps” and a separate occurance concerning the roundabout on Beal Lane, in which signs were left for three months.
The Council responded on 12th March to reaffirm their commitment to the safety of the public and the resolution of quality work to the highways which means the timely removal of signage. Howard said, “If any Shaw resident spots a stray roadsign in their neighbourhood and gets in touch with me, I shall be very happy to take the matter forward with the Council on their behalf.” Got a stray sign? Leave a comment or report a prob

Alternative Budget Proposal to Council for 2012/13

Howard Sykes, leader of the Liberal Democrats in Oldham, last night made an alternative budget proposal to Oldham Council. In a no nonsense proposal to the full meeting of Council he said, “Budgets should be about doing what is best for the Borough and its citizens. We have called our Alternative Budget a ‘Citizens Driven Budget’, because it’s just that – a budget driven by our citizens.”

Howard continued, “We have listened to residents and stakeholders and addressed the issues that fill our postbag and e-mail inboxes; those things the public tell us matter to them most – especially litter/cleanliness, fly-tipping, anti social behaviour and potholes.”

“We therefore present our plans for the Borough, which will include additional investment in:

• A new swimming pool/gym/fitness complex.

• A pothole repair summer blitz programme and the speed up of the local roads repair programme.

• A litter enforcement pilot – not just to address littering and dumping problems, but to look at prevention through education and bringing about cultural change.

• Increasing the number of street cleaning operatives by up to a further eight.

• Additional enforcement officers – not only overturning the cut planned by Labour, but strengthening the enforcement team with a further seven officers.

• Keeping the Central Library and Gallery open on a Sunday.

• Additional support for community operated Community centres.

• Additional youth provision in areas of low provision and/or high levels of anti social behaviour.”

“Clearly the opportunities for investment now available in 2012 didn’t exist in 2008 when the Liberal Democrats inherited a Council on the verge of special measures.The situation was desperate and action needed fast – we put in place an action plan to turn the Council around, get the budget under control, pay off debt and enable the Council to look to the future with optimism. The Liberal Democrats delivered on that plan and within three years Oldham Council was officially financially sound and receiving “industry” recognition – twice in succession were finalists for Most Improved Council of the Year in 2010 and 2011.”

“But, despite those successes and a record of competent financial management which continues in our Alternative Budget before you tonight, I fully expect Labour to deliver the usual lecture on how the budgets are very similar in percentage terms etc. For the record, in 2009 Labour couldn’t be bothered with an Alternative budget and when they finally produced them in 2010 and 2011, more than 98% of their plans mirrored ours – the difference being achieved only by riskier savings targets.”

“Already in less than year, there are clear signs that Labour are back to their bad old ways, they are on a borrowing spree which will see future generations pick up the tab for overwhelming and crippling Council debt! We have dirtier streets, important performance targets being missed and, only last week, Oldham emerged as the 6th unhappiest town in the Country.”

Howard concluded by saying, “I urge all my councillor colleagues to put aside tribal politics, do what is best for our Borough and support the Alternative Budget.”

The proposal was defeated by the Council’s Labour majority, but was supported by Conservative Councillors Hulme and Martin, the other three Tory councillors (Hudson, Sheldon and Barker) voted with Labour.

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Lib Dem Alternative Budget 2012/13 Final Proposals Published

“The thinking behind the Liberal Democrats’ alternative budget could not be more straightforward”, says their leader, Howard Sykes. “The public have told us again and again what they want from the council: ‘Forget the gimmicks and get the basics right.’ We’ve listened and delivered it.”

The alternative budget, entitled “A Citizen Led Budget” proposes investment in repairing roads and cleaning up the borough – the top two priorities by a substantial margin in the council’s public consultation and the top two from the Lib Dems’ own extensive surveys.

The other big consultation – the Leisure Review – also meets with a positive answer. The Lib Dem budget identifies money to replace both Royton and Crompton pools – there or elsewhere. “It is the will, not the money, which is lacking”, says Howard.

“It must have been the biggest response and most decisive result of any consultation in the borough’s history. Labour was not open about its intentions and was deaf to democracy. We will put that right.”

Lynne Thompson, Liberal Democrat Finance Spokesperson, describes the proposals for the roads. “It has become citizens’ number one concern yet Labour ignores it”, she says. “It is obvious that spending the winter filling huge potholes is ineffective. Much better and cheaper to fill the new ones before they can become craters. The Lib Dems propose a ‘summer pothole blitz’. A quarter of a million pounds invested would save not just a fortune but the public’s bent wheels and fraying nerves.”

“We were also struck by the pent-up need in the local resurfacing schemes councillors put forward. We propose a large one-off cash injection to clear the most dangerous borough-wide.”

Eight extra street cleaners, backed up by two neighbourhood enforcement officers, would make an immediate difference to street cleanliness. A new enforcement pilot project would see six more officers detecting culprits, trying out new techniques of deterrence and targeting dog fouling. With £2m a year spent clearing rubbish, they would pay for themselves.

Community Payback stays. The public likes to see people make amends; the work is useful; and it reduces reoffending.

Youth services get a boost, with the emphasis on filling gaps and diverting young people at risk of antisocial behaviour. Go!Oldham’s success proves it works.

The popular Sunday opening of the central library and gallery would continue under Lib Dem proposals. A different clientele from weekdays includes families, full-time workers and students.

Labour’s plans to slow Housing and Council Tax benefit claims are axed as risky and unfair.

And how is it paid for?

The Lib Dems would squeeze the back office harder to boost services and it would not fritter away money on the gimmick projects we are sure to see over the coming months. Windfall reductions in transport and waste levies should be invested to reduce future costs, as should £1m provision kept ‘up the sleeve’ until final government confirmation that it was not needed.

The document can be access on Oldham Council’s website at:

http://decisionrecording.oldham.gov.uk/Published/C00000132/M00000146/AI00005429/$OppositionBudgetACitizendrivenBudget.docA.ps.pdf