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.”

Celebrate St George’s Day at Royton and Crompton School

St George’s Day Poster

As a member of the Shaw, Crompton and Royton District Partnership, Councillor Howard Sykes welcomed the celebrations being organised funded by the District Partnership. The fun starts at 12 noon on Saturday 21st April and everybody is very welcome. For more details about the attractions and contact details about the event please click on the link above.

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.”

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

Crompton Pool:Sustaining the Pressure Over Closure Threat

Cllr Howard sykes campaigns with local residents to keep Crompton Pool open

Howard Sykes and Liberal Democrat colleagues are maintaining the pressure on the Labour administration over the issue of Crompton Pool. Following the public consultation Howard is maitaining that the widest possible range of options are considered for the Crompton Pool replacement which, in addition to possible sites at Royton Town Centre and Royton and Crompton School, will now include Shaw Town Centre and any other potential suitable sites that are readily accessible within Shaw or Royton.
Speaking at a recent Council meeting, Howard said, “It should be fully recognised that a new permanent leisure/pool facility in Shaw would not only be viable and cost effective but help retain the integrity and vibrancy of the town.” He also asked for clarification that neither Royton nor Crompton pools will close before a new facility comes on stream.
Additionally, Howard has asked that any decision taken regarding the leisure provision in the Borough between May 2011 and February 2012 be made transparent saying, “It is important for the people of Shaw, Crompton and Royton that any decisions taken on this important issue are done so in a completely transparent way that allows residents to understand and have their say about any proposed changes. I believe this is the right way to do business with local residents.” Got a comment? Contact Howard directly via his contact page.