Consider the best of Committees urges Sykes

The following motion was tabled and debated at the Oldham Council meeting on 7th November.

The Localism Act 2011 makes provision for Local Authorities, subject to certain conditions, to replace the Leader and Cabinet or Elected Mayor models and allow a return to the traditional Committee based Governance System.

Despite the Act being on the Statute Books for many months, to date, this Council has not been afforded an opportunity to consider options for a return to what was a well understood and respected decision making system.

This Council believes that in the interests of democracy, openness and transparency, members of this Council should ultimately be offered the prospect of debating and determining (in a free vote) whether it would wish to see a return to a traditional form of Committee based Governance.

This Council further believes that this matter would benefit from detailed consideration and examination by Overview and Scrutiny who, by reporting back to the Council meeting on 6th February 2013 would allow, should Council should so determine, the opportunity for implementation in the new Municipal year.

This Council therefore resolves that consideration of options for return to a Committee based Governance system for Oldham Council be referred to Overview and Scrutiny and that they be required to report back with recommendations to the 6th February 2013 Council meeting.

All Labour Councillors voted against this proposal and it was therefore defeated.

Questions asked at last Oldham Council meeting on 7th November 2012

It is a source of great regret and disappointment that the next phase of the Metrolink line through to Shaw and on to Rochdale will not be open as previously promised by December, some 12 months late!

Would the Leader join with me in expressing concern that the delay will lead to a further loss of goodwill from the public and significant potential revenue loss for Oldham Town centre and the conurbation of Greater Manchester by failing to latch on to the busy pre-Christmas retail period.

Would the Leader also agree that it had been possible for the line to be opened before Christmas and that it appears to me a policy decision has clearly been taken to delay the opening until the New Year, when it is clear that the line to Shaw and Crompton could even have been opened later this month?

Coliseum theatre refurbishment
The refurbished Coliseum has recently re-opened its doors to the public of this Borough and I would like to take this opportunity, as I am sure the Leader would also like to do, in welcoming the return of the Coliseum back to its home.

The Leader will remember and I am sure welcome, the actions of the previous administration which had the foresight and political will to set aside more than £1.4 million in 2010 for the refurbishment of the Coliseum Theatre.

Would he also remember that when the investment in the theatre refurbishment was announced, he responded publicly in less than enthusiastic fashion saying “Is this value for money — for the investment you are making?”

His sceptical tone was echoed by his Shadow Cabinet colleague responsible for Leisure who said “We still support the Coliseum but we have to look at the real price of it in the light of severe council cuts. We should be looking at a building or a site somewhere else in the town.”

Indeed the Leader may also remember that in September 2008 he called for the Coliseum to be located in the Oldham Town hall, a suggestion which only a year later, was described as a ‘pipe dream’, a sentiment, echoed by a former Labour Cabinet Member who said: “it was always a pipe dream.”

Would the Leader now accept that the proposals put in place by the previous administration to refurbish the Coliseum, therefore maintaining and retaining one of Oldham’s crown jewels was right and correct?

Oldham Town Hall
The re-use and redevelopment of Oldham Town Hall continues to receive a very positive response from all quarters.

I am sure the Leader would recognise the role of the previous Administration which, in 2009/10 set aside more than £700k to stabilise the crumbling building and make it watertight.

Would he also agree that the urgent actions we took some three years ago have provided the foundation for the current administration to take rejuvenation of the building to the next stage?

Something that was always in our long term vision and in fact I spoke in this chamber some time ago – and specifically about a cinema being located in the old Town Hall.
That vital investment of a little under three quarter of a million pounds turned back the tide of decades of neglect under successive Labour administrations.

In fact without that cash there would have been no prospect of using the building, because it was in imminent danger of major roof collapse – causing the whole structure to become unsafe – then it would have gone the way of the Park Road Warehouse – that is demolition!

Traditional Victorian Christmas Fair – Saturday 1st December 2012

Laurel Bank’s Victorian Christmas Fair

Traditional Victorian Christmas Fair, at Laurel Bank Day Centre, Kershaw Street, Shaw, Saturday 1st December 2012, 11.00 – 3.00pm

“Come and meet Santa in his Grotto”

Enjoy a festive drink and mince pie

Many Crafts, Fancy goods, Bric-a-Brac, Jewellery, Cakes, Tombola, Bags & Scarves, Festive Crafts & Gifts

Raffle, Games & Fancy Dress Competition

Metrolink works starting 14th October

I just thought I would let you know that MPT has applied for permission to do 9am -5pm working on Sundays starting from this weekend until 25th November to enable them to carry out the testing of the line from Mumps to Shaw

The works are classified as “quiet” in respect of the fact that they are running and testing trams rather than using heavy construction equipment. There might be hand tools and smaller equipment used so should not be too much of a problem (noise wise) for local residents.

Many rumours continue about the opening date which I try and seek some clarity on every week.

The ‘public promise’ is still Autumn, which I eventually managed to pin down as before 21st December!

I will do my very best to keep local residents informed – Howard Sykes.

Time is running out to claim your free insulation

Toasty Oldham – Time is running out to claim your free insulation

Loft and cavity wall insulation is now FREE* for all residents living in Oldham Borough.

The ‘Toasty Oldham’ scheme which is backed by Oldham Council is now even more appealing if you haven’t got round to having your home insulated yet.

But BE QUICK, government grants which help to subsidise this scheme are finishing at the end of 2012, after this time the unsubsidised cost is likely to be £350 each!

The best bit…

You don’t have to be on benefits or a certain age to qualify, if you’re one of those people who think ‘I’m never entitled to anything’, this is your chance to grab up to £700 worth of improvements to your home for free!

The scheme now even offers loft ‘top-ups’ for free too, so if you haven’t got the recommended 270mm depth of loft insulation, you should get it topped up now!

Over 10,000 people have already benefited from the scheme across Greater Manchester and it only takes an average of 21 days from enquiry to installation, and surveys are now also available in the evenings and most weekends.

Savings are more than you might think…

Typical annual savings are around £175 for loft insulation and £135 for cavity wall insulation (figures from the Energy Saving Trust).

How to take advantage of this great offer…

Call the Greater Manchester Energy Advice Service free on 0800 009 3363 or 0161 245 7638 (open 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday) or visit to book a free, no obligation survey for your home.

Welfare Rights Service

The public can access the service in a number of ways

Via the website the public can find an online referral form on the Welfare Rights page.

By phone on 0161 770 6655 between 9.00 am to 5.00 pm Monday to Friday. The Contact Centre will provide basic benefits advice and where appropriate make a referral to the Welfare Rights Service or Citizens Advice Bureau as appropriate.

Through Access Oldham – the Customer Services Officer will provide basic signposting advice and where appropriate make a referral to the Welfare Rights Service or Citizens Advice Bureau.

In all instances the Welfare Rights Officer/s will aim to make initial contact with the customer within 2 working days of receipt of the referral.

Local Banks help out Disaster Fund

After some direct intervention by myself people can now make direct donations to the Disaster Fund at both Yorkshire and Royal Bank of Scotland Banks in Shaw.

Many people had contacted me to ask why there was nowhere in Shaw after a few quick calls to the banks concerned I am pleased to report they were more than willing to help.

Yorkshire went live last Wednesday and RBS on Friday.

Barclay’s are now also accepting donantions! 🙂

Questions asked at Oldham Council meeting 11th July by Shaw Lib Dem Councillor Howard Sykes

Metrolink 3A

Would the Leader of the Council like to provide details to the public of this Borough on when the Metrolink 3A line to Shaw and Rochdale will be complete?

Could he outline what he and the Council are doing to get a firm date and will he try and ensure people get more than a couple of weeks’ notice.

Following the series of delays prior to the completion of the tram line to Mumps earlier this year, which was some 12 months behind schedule, could he also help scotch the rumours that further delays are in the pipeline and by doing so could he therefore confirm that the line to Shaw and Rochdale will be complete and opened on schedule?

If he cannot give us a firm date now can he suggest when he might be in a position to offer such a firm date?

Short answer was no he could not – I will continue to pursue this at every opportunity – Cllr Howard Sykes

Gulley cleaning

Could the Leader confirm that the level of programmed gulley cleaning has been significantly reduced in this Borough since his administration took over the Council in May 2011?

Could he also confirm the cleaning service is now almost exclusively a reactionary service and that funding allocated by the last Lib Dem administration for regular inspection, cleaning and prevention routines has been cut?

In the last few days the Borough has experienced considerable flooding problems throughout the Borough; evidence suggests that flooding events can only be exacerbated and, in some cases actually caused by cuts in the gulley maintenance regimes.

Would the Leader therefore agree that increasing severe weather events being experienced in this country, due to climate change, make it more essential than ever to ensure our gulley systems are cleaned regularly and are operating at peak capacity?

And will he re visit the current provision of gully empting as it is a false economy in the long term, is causes even more damage to the highway network and increases the potential for accidents.

Vague and evasive answer not worth printing – Cllr Howard Sykes

Dirty streets

Could the Leader of the Council confirm that his administration have overseen Oldham Borough losing its hard fought status as the having the cleanest streets in Greater Manchester?

Would the Leader of the Council agree with me that despite the sterling efforts of our frontline staff, the Borough’s streets are becoming dirtier?

Would he also not agree that the withdrawal of street cleaning services; promotion of self help and, community participation under the banner of the ‘Co-operative Council’ is failing to keep our streets and open spaces to a standard the public expect?

Vague and evasive answer not worth printing – Cllr Howard Sykes