Distress Fund Update

Oldham Council has set up the Oldham Distress Fund to support the residents affected by the explosion in Shaw on Tuesday June 26.

The Oldham Distress Fund is a Registered Charity (registered charity number 225145) which is independently audited and will discharge all money raised to those residents affected by this incident.

Any administration costs will be borne by the Council and will not come out of the Distress Fund.

Trustees of the Oldham Distress Fund are also meeting regularly to act on new applications as they are received.

Oldham Council has donated £100,000 to the official Distress Fund.

The Local Authority has agreed to inject this money from its revenue resources to help alleviate the immediate distress and hardship which the affected residents are experiencing.

An award of £125,000 has been made to Oldham Council from the Greater Manchester Disaster Relief Fund through Forever Manchester.

To date we have also received about £8,000 in public donations.

To date around £63,000 has either been dispensed in cash advances or agreed in principle as payments to be made from the official Oldham Distress Fund.

Oldham Council is also pursuing applications to other funding sources to build the level of emergency financial assistance.

So far the response has been truly inspirational.

Thanks to everyone for all your help.

Cash advances
Cash advances totalling £7,000 were made in immediate aftermath of the explosion to residents.

These are interest-free but repayable.

The Distress Fund was not incorporated as a charity at that stage and this money came from Council revenue resources.

These advances were made in order to help people get quick and easy access to cash and tide them over in the short-term.

The Council has committed to being very flexible regarding the repayment of these funds. We will not place affected residents in further hardship.

Distress Fund
The Distress Fund is there for anybody affected to make a claim who has suffered loss as a result of the explosion.

To date (Friday, July 13) we have approved to pay out £63,000 direct to applications received to the Distress Fund.

The vast majority of these payments will be in recipients’ bank accounts by close of play today.

These are grants – not repayable loans.

Trustees are meeting daily to consider and act upon new applications as soon as they are received.

Oldham Council donated £100,000 to the Distress Fund to ensure funds were in place immediately to assist those facing hardship.

Forever Manchester has also donated a further £125,000.

To date we have also received about £7,000 in public donations.

Initial emergency payments from the Distress Fund were made to residents in affected properties. These were allocated on six ‘zones’ decided by:

• The estimated timescales for residents being able to access their homes;
• The extent of damage to their property;
• The length of any stay in temporary accommodation.

This was to ensure that distribution was fair to all and enabled another quick short-term payment that residents could use for any purpose.

These interim payments are not repayable.

It is important to note that anyone who received one of these payments can apply for further payments from the Distress Fund.

The Trustees are also committed to the following:

• 100 per cent of the money given to the Distress Fund will be used to support the people affected in Shaw;
• The money will go directly to where it is needed;
• No money will be taken by the Council for administration costs;
• No money will be removed or transferred to other funds
• The cost of the clean-up and recovery will not come from the Distress Fund.

Accountability and transparency:
The Distress Fund is a registered charity and will have to submit annual returns to the Charity Commission, which will also be published in full on their website for transparency.

All financial transactions will be audited by the Council’s auditors. Any suggestion that these funds could be misused is clearly false.

The Council is also actively seeking other funding sources to further support the Distress Fund.

Trustees
The Trustees of the Oldham Distress Fund are:

Councillors Abdul Jabbar, Jean Stretton and Howard Sykes. Substitute Ward Members – Jenny Harrison, Mark Alcock and Steven Bashforth – will attend if any of these are unavailable.

Insurance
It is important to note that individuals with insurance are allowed to apply to the Distress Fund – and should do so immediately.

However, if you do have insurance you need to take care to not make a claim that could invalidate your insurance. To clarify, you cannot claim from the insurer and the Distress Fund for the same items or costs.

However, the Distress Fund is there to assist you with any hardship not covered by your insurance but incurred as a result of the explosion. This includes, for example, the Distress Fund paying your insurance excess for you.

Applications for Oldham Distress Fund
The Distress Fund is actively inviting applications to be made by anyone affected by the Shaw explosion.

To do this, either speak to your Support Worker or contact the Rest and Advice Centre at Shaw Lifelong Learning Centre on 0161 770 7770.

Staff are on hand at the Advice Centre on Farrow Street and will help affected residents to complete the application forms for monetary support. We hope to arrange payments of monetary support granted by early next week.

Staff will also arrange for immediate financial support where required.

You can also access a range of other advice on housing, welfare benefits, plus insurance and finance advice.

As part of this process we will be coordinating items, for example, beds, sofas, cookers and white goods that residents might need and arranging for donated items to be delivered / collected for residents.

Affected residents will need to have registered at the Rest Centre at the Lifelong Learning Centre prior to applications being received.

Non–monetary Donations
Following the explosion in Shaw, there has been an incredibly generous response by members of the public who have donated clothes, food, bedding, toiletries etc.

Currently we have more than enough of these items to meet immediate need and are focused on managing the storage and distribution of these donations. As we identify further needs in the coming days, we will appeal for specific items on this website.

The funeral of Jamie Heaton to be held at Noon on Thursday 19 July at East Crompton St. James Church

It is also expected traffic in other areas in the locality will be disrupted, which is understandable due to the numbers of people expected at the service.

Temporary road closures for Vicarage Street and St. James Street, Shaw will be in place on the day.

I am sure all our thoughts and prayers go out to the family at this difficult time – Cllr Howard Sykes.

Thank you for the petition regarding Shaw and Crompton Pool

10th July 2012.

Thank you for the petition regarding Shaw and Crompton Pools.

This petition has been forwarded to the Executive Director – Economy Place and Skills and the Executive Director, People, Communities and Society.

You will receive a response from officers in due course, however, if you have any queries in the meantime please do not hesitate to contact me.

I have forwarded copies of the petition to the relevant Cabinet Members and to your follow Shaw and Crompton Ward Councillors. I have also attached a copy of the petition electronically for your records.

Lori Hughes
Constitutional Services Officer
P O Box 160
Civic Centre, West Street
Oldham, OL1 1UG
Tel: 0161 770 4716
email: lori.hughes@oldham.gov.uk

Police hand over cordon around blast houses

Greater Manchester Police is handing over control of the cordon around houses damaged in an explosion in Shaw to Oldham Council.

Crime Scene Investigators have concluded their investigations and police formally handed control of the scene to Oldham Council at 11am this morning, Thursday 5 July 2011.

Several properties have suffered significant damage, including numbers 7, 9 and 11 Buckley Street, which are all but demolished.

Divisional Commander of Oldham, Chief Superintendent Tim Forber, said: “The police investigation at the scene is now complete and we are handing over control of the cordon, which surrounds the most severely damaged properties, to the council.

“I want to reassure residents that this does not signify the end of our involvement in this incident. We have made a commitment to do all we can to help displaced residents and those most affected and that very much still stands.

“While we will no longer have officers on the cordon we will continue to have a presence in the area and will be working closely with the council to keep residents and property safe.

“It is important to stress that a number of houses remain structurally unsafe and dangerous and anyone found trying to gain access to those houses within the cordon will be dealt with by the police.”

ASSISTANCE CONTINUES FOR SHAW RESIDENTS

Oldham Council is working around the clock to provide financial assistance and advice to residents affected by last week’s explosion in Shaw.

To date around £33,000 has either been dispensed in cash advances or agreed in principle as payments to be made from the official Oldham Distress Fund.

In the immediate aftermath of the blast the Local Authority paid out almost £7,000 to 35 residents in the form of interest-free emergency cash advances.

Trustees of the Oldham Distress Fund are also meeting regularly to act on new applications as they are received.

They have already agreed payments in principle of about £16,000 to 30 indiviual applicants. These will be made direct to residents this week subject to final receipt of any outstanding information required, such as bank account details.

A further 23 applications worth a total of about £10,500 have also been approved in principle by the Distress Fund Trustees.

Many of these have completed formal application forms and will be considered at today’s Trustees meeting whilst some others await further clarification from applicants.

The Council would like to stress that both the cash advances and applications to the Distress Fund remain open to people affected by this incident.

You can apply for either by visiting the Advice Centre at Shaw Library on Farrow Street East in Shaw. This facility is open between Noon and 4pm, and 6 to 8pm each day.

Also Residents can get confidential one-to-one assistance here about the financial support available, plus advice on housing, welfare benefits, insurance and finance matters.

“A range of local organisations, community groups and partners have been extremely busy organising new fundraising events for the Distress Fund and I would like to thank them all for their inspirational work,” said local Lib Dem councillor Howard Sykes.

“To date we have had around £7,000 in public donations to the Distress Fund and we know that plenty remains to come through from future fundraising events and cheques that need to clear.”

You can donate directly to the Oldham Distress Fund in a range of ways.

To find out more – and to donate online – visit Oldham Council’s website at www.oldham.gov.uk

You can also call 0161 770 6611 during the opening hours of 8am to 6pm (Monday to Friday) and 9am to 1pm (Saturday only).

Anyone wishing to make a donation via Internet Banking will need the following details of the Distress Fund account:

Bank: Cooperative Bank
Account Name: OMBC Oldham Distress Fund 225145
Sort Code: 08-92-33
Account No: 61715512

Cash or cheque donations can also be made in person in Oldham town centre by visiting the Co-operative Bank or Debenhams in the Spindles Shopping centre, and at Shaw and Crompton Parish Council.

Cheques – payable to the ‘Oldham Distress Fund’ – can also be posted to: Andy Cooper, Finance Services Team, Oldham Council, Level 14, Civic Centre, West Street, Oldham, OL1 1UG.

“I am also asking that more local donation points be created, in response to request from local residents,” added Councillor Sykes.

People allowed to return to more homes

As a result of the explosion on Buckley Street Shaw on Tuesday Greater Manchester Police together with Fire Service and Oldham Council placed a cordon on the affected locality.

The original cordon on Tuesday meant that around 270 properties were displaced
On Tuesday night the number reduced to 143.

Currently there are 65 properties that cannot access their home.

They hope to reduce this to 50 today.

This will mean that by the end of the 4th day residents will have returned to 220 properties.

Unfortunately those houses at the centre of the explosion are contained within the crime scene and all still require careful assessment prior to any decision being made regarding the structural safety.

For any information regarding the current status of your affected property please contact Oldham Council on 0161 770 7770.

Greater Manchester Police would urge anyone with information regarding the incident on Buckley Street to come forward and speak to the police on 0161 856 8959 or Crimestoppers anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

SHAW RESIDENTS BEGIN RETURNING TO HOMES

Oldham Council is making final arrangements for some residents affected by the Shaw explosion to return to their homes this afternoon.

Most – but not all – residents with homes on Oak Street and Gordon Street are to be given access today as the first part of a phased process.

Many of these properties will still be without utility services at this stage.

Oldham Council is working closely with utilities firms to restore these as soon as possible.

Residents can collect items they wish to take away or, if they wish, reoccupy their homes.

If residents in these properties have already contacted Oldham Council with their details then a Housing Officer will be in touch with them shortly. They will arrange to meet residents and take them to their home.

Unless you are contacted to meet a Housing Officer, residents are asked not to approach the cordoned area as you will not be able to gain access.

If you are a resident wanting to access your home – but have not yet contacted Oldham Council direct – then you should either: Call 0161 770 7770 and give them your details; or visit the Rest Centre at Crompton House school today.

Jubilee and Milnrow Road Bridge coping stones

Update on the coping stones removed from Jubilee and Milnrow Road Bridge.

An equivalent of 30m in length has been taken and are being utilised at Dunwood Park.

The remainder, the District Environment Manager who covers Shaw and Crompton, will take delivery of and store them for use at a later date on a scheme(s) within Shaw or Crompton.