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Copy of my letter to Oldham Council Chief Executive about Free Parking

Ms Carolyn Wilkins
Chief Executive
Oldham Council
Room 313, Level 3,
Civic Centre
Oldham OL1 1UL

Re: Free Weekend Parking – Oldham Civic Centre Car Park and other Town Centre Car Parks

The above free parking offer is a very welcome boast to the Town Centre.

However, it has come to my attention from a number of complaints from residents and those visiting the town centre from further afield that there appears to be inadequate signage indicating that although parking is free, the signs do not reflect clearly enough that a parking ticket still needs to be obtained and correctly displayed in their vehicles.

I have to say on personal inspection, if I was not familiar with the offer/policy it would be quite easy to think you just parked up and had no need to obtain a ticket.

This lack of clarity is resulting in the issuing of parking penalty fines and several people who have received such fines state that despite contesting the ticket they are still fined and it leaves them with a very negative view of Oldham and a number say they will not be coming into Oldham town centre again.

People read the large text on the entrance to the car park that states “Free Parking” etc.

The text advising to obtain a parking ticket is not prominent enough to be noticed, being within an orange banner with white text. Nor are there any other advisory signs within the car park to prompt people further.

I am sure you will agree we do not want any shoppers leaving Oldham Town Centre with such a negative perception and in fact the free parking offer for some is providing just the opposite effect it was designed to.

Therefore could I urge you to instruct officers to carry out a review of the current signage in order that it is improved so people taking up the free parking offer do not end up with a parking fine and never visiting us again?

I look forward to your response and as always if you have any queries or any points need clarification do not hesitate to contact me.

EU Legal Action over UK air pollution “no surprise” says Councillor Sykes

“News that the EU Commission intends to take legal action against the UK over poor air quality does not surprise me”, said Cllr Howard Sykes, Leader of the Opposition and the Liberal Democrat Group on Oldham Council.

At February’s Council Meeting, Cllr Sykes asked the Leader of the Council, Councillor Jim McMahon, to endorse a proposal that they send a joint letter to the Environment. Secretary Owen Paterson MP, calling on the Government to abandon any plans to remove the legal obligation of local authorities to monitor air quality.

The Committee on Medical Effects of Air Pollutants estimates that up to 29.000 deaths in the UK per year are attributable to poor air quality and that the World Health Organisation has recently classified outdoor air pollution as carcinogenic to humans.

The EU says that levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) are “excessive” in many British cities. This gas, which in the main is produced by diesel cars and trucks, can inflame the lining of the lungs and lead to major respiratory illnesses and premature deaths. It is of particular concern to people living in big cities near roadways and those suffering with asthma.

Cllr Sykes added: “Certainly in Shaw, Liberal Democrat ward members, being conscious of the ongoing impact of diesel fumes from the many HGVs that pass through our town en-route to and from local distribution centres, have campaigned long and hard for the installation of a station to monitor air quality. This campaign was recently rewarded when such a station was installed on Crompton Way.

Regrettably the UK has failed to comply with the European Union’s air pollution directive, which came into force in 2008. Britain was supposed to meet EU limits by 2010, but the government admits that Greater Manchester won’t achieve this standard until 2020.

The UK has been at risk of legal action from Europe ever since a Supreme Court ruling last year that the government was in breach of its obligations to reduce air pollution.
The legal process could ultimately end in the European Court of Justice where the UK would face huge fines if found in breach of the directive.

So the Government now needs to take drastic action to cut levels – especially as half of new cars that are sold are diesel-engined”.

One other option is to cut speed limits. At February’s Council, the Liberal Democrats proposed a motion to reduce the default speed limit on minor residential roads to 20 mph. This has been referred by Council for consideration by the Overview and Scrutiny Board.

The proposer of the motion, Deputy Leader of the Opposition Cllr John McCann added: “As well as reducing deaths and injuries, there is evidence from Germany that a reduction in speed limits can reduce NO2 by 10-15% on heavily polluted roads, so this is all the more reason for doing this”.


Lib Dem Motion to Council 5th February 2014

This Council notes that:

• speed limits on Britain’s residential roads are 60% higher than in Europe

• more than half of all road accident casualties occur on roads with 30mph limits

• reducing speed limits on residential roads has been found to reduce both the incidence of accidents and the numbers of fatalities and serious injuries that result

• new Department for Transport guidelines make it easier for local authorities to adopt a 20 mph default speed limit on residential roads

This Council therefore resolves to:

• Join the 20 other local authorities with over 11 million residents – including five Greater Manchester authorities – in seeking to implement a borough – wide 20 mph speed limit on residential roads (other than major roads) combined with a public information campaign

• Ask the Overview and Scrutiny Board to produce a report on the feasibility and timescale of introducing such a scheme, in consultation with the 20’s Plenty Campaign, for consideration by full Council at the earliest possible opportunity

Question from the Leader of the Opposition to the Council Leader, Council 5th February 2014

Monitoring Air Quality:

As one of the foremost cotton towns, with a continued legacy amongst our citizens of poor respiratory and cardio-vascular health, we must all recognise the importance of clean air to the well-being of the residents and wildlife of this borough.

Certainly in Shaw and Crompton, ward members, being conscious of the ongoing impact of diesel fumes from the many HGVs that pass through our ward, en-route to and from local distribution centres, have campaigned long and hard for the installation of a station to monitor air quality. This campaign was recently rewarded when such a station was installed on Crompton Way.

Councillors may be unaware that the Committee on Medical Effects of Air Pollutants estimates that up to 29.000 deaths in the UK per year are attributable to poor air quality and that the World Health Organisation has recently classified outdoor air pollution as carcinogenic to humans.

I was therefore recently concerned to hear of a suggestion by the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs that the legal obligation be removed from local authorities to monitor air quality.

I am sure that the Leader will want to join me in seeking to maintain our Council’s commitment to carrying out these checks, and to continue to participate in the work of the Greater Manchester Air Quality Network, so can I invite him to join me (and the other group leader on Oldham Council) in sending a joint letter to the Minister expressing our concern over this issue?



Tuesday 18th March 2014 6.00pm
Crompton Library, Farrow Street East, Shaw, OL2 8QY
Community Forum meeting which will start at the
rise of the District Exec (approx 6.15pm)


Come along and talk to the Councillors and Officers Who work in and for your local area
(Police, Highways, Environmental Services, Housing Providers, Youth Service and more)

Working together we can address:
• Local Issues
• What you like about your area
• What is good about your area
• Matters we can assist you with

A Valentine Day request – Pardons for Historic Convictions against Gay Men

Councillor Howard Sykes
5 Ballard Way

Please address all correspondence to:
Room 343, Level 3
Civic Centre
West Street
Twitter: @Howard_Sykes

The Rt. Hon. Simon Hughes MP
Minister of State for Justice
Ministry of Justice
102 Petty France

Date:​​14 February 2014

A Valentine Day request – Pardons for Historic Convictions against Gay Men

The Liberal Democrat Group on Oldham Council welcomes the recent granting of a posthumous royal pardon to renowned mathematician, computer pioneer and World War 2 code-breaker Alan Turing from a conviction for ‘gross indecency’ in 1952.

This ‘offence’, now abolished, condemned many homosexual men for being in consensual relationships and in Turing’s case led to state-endorsed ‘chemical castration’, a disgusting punishment based on the misapprehension that sexual preferences can be medically ‘treated’ and a practice more akin to those of Nazi Germany.

This pardon was granted on Christmas Eve last year under the Royal Prerogative of Mercy after a request from the Secretary of State for Justice who said that “Dr Alan Turing was an exceptional man with a brilliant mind”.

75,000 other gay men were just as unfairly persecuted, including acclaimed playwright Oscar Wilde. Some of these men are still alive and have consequently carried the stain of having a ‘criminal’ record as a sex offender.

In 2012 this Government passed the Protection of Freedoms Act, which allows those convicted of homosexual offences to apply to have their entire criminal records removed if their past conduct in fact no longer constitutes a ‘crime’.

The Liberal Democrat Group believes that all such individuals convicted, whether living or dead, should now be pardoned without the requirement for a personal application.

We therefore call upon you to announce in February – which is appropriately LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual and Trans-sexual) month – a commitment by this Government to introduce the necessary legislation to effect this change as soon as possible.

After all, such a commitment is only appropriate when as Liberal Democrats we have championed gay marriage and equal rights for same sex partners.

Yours sincerely

Howard Sykes

Snaring on council land

Support British Wildlife – End Snaring

A number of people have contacted me about the above and specifically Oldham Council’s policy on its land.

I have continued to pursue Council Officers since this was raised regarding this very important issue.

I was amazed to find the council had no formal policy regarding the use of snares. In November I was advised that a report was being prepared so a policy on this matter could be agreed.

I am pleased to now confirm that on the 24 January that a report on this matter was formally approved implementing a ban all types of snaring on Council owned land.



I have recently learnt that there are currently proposals, out for consultation, about Shawside Park (Off Cowlishaw Lane/rear of Royton and Crompton School) possibly being used for housing development in the future.

These proposals if confirmed by the Planning Inspectorate could mean that Shawside Park will be lost and houses could be built in its place.

Responding to this consultation is about making it impossible/harder for the land to be used for future development and ensuring we keep Shawside Park as a piece of green space for local residents, their children and its recreational use.

If you do want to keep Shawside Park from being used for housing then I urge you to send your objections to the address below BEFORE 21 February 2014.

Below is a suggestion that may give you some ideas about what grounds to object on. Please feel free to expand/use your own words on this. You can of course add your own objections to it as well.

Some 20 years ago local residents ignored a similar consultation process about various pieces of land in Shaw and Crompton. I am afraid to say that a couple of important green spaces from then have now been built upon as a result.

Please do not let the same happen to Shawside Park – I have played in their as a child I want others to have the same opportunity.

Strategic Planning and Information
Oldham Council
Room 310
Civic Centre

OR: Email:

Dear Sir/Madam

Local Plan 2016 – 2026 Site Allocation Plan Ref No: 1551

I wish to lodge an objection to the use of Shawside Park, Cowlishaw Lane for residential, employment or mixed use.

I would like to see Shawside Park protected as Open Space.

I am concerned about the lack of recreational facilities in Shaw and Crompton and Shawside Park is the nearest park to Shaw Town Centre.

Yours faithfully

REMEMBER: Please include your name and address, including postcode and email if you have one.

Wildlife Walk around Crompton Moor – Sunday 16th Feb 14

Friends of Crompton Moor

SUNDAY 16th FEBRUARY 2014 10:30 am


(Nearest post code OL2 8LS Grid reference: SD 95119 10031)

Wildlife Walk around Crompton Moor

The purpose of which, is to not only to enjoy looking at the wildlife, but also to give people the opportunity to learn more about different areas, ask questions, and discuss future projects.

We would expect this walk to take about a couple of hours to complete, and hopefully the weather will be kind to us. Just in case, please dress appropriately, with waterproofs if necessary, and sturdy footwear. Bring along some refreshments, and we’ll make a stop somewhere where we can enjoy the views. Please leave any dogs at home for this walk, as we will be visiting some sensitive wildlife areas.

This walk is for members only – Membership is £5 per annum – non-members may join on the day
Contact: Marian Herod Tel: 07792 156295

The 7th National Apprenticeships’ Week – 3-7 March 2014

Councillor J McMahon
Office of the Leader of the Council,
Room 347, Level 3,
Civic Centre, West Street,

11 February 2014

Dear Cllr McMahon,

Re: The 7th National Apprenticeships’ Week – 3-7 March 2014

As you will be aware,, the National Apprenticeships’ Week, promoted by the National Apprenticeship Service, will soon be upon us.

The week is an opportunity to promote the value of apprenticeships to employers and to prospective applicants.

In the latest reported figures, over half a million employees were in apprenticeships, almost 50% more than when this Government came into office, in large measure because of significant public investment made through the Youth Contract.

Although, traditionally apprenticeships were seen as the preserve of young employees and historically male and, largely confined to the “metal bashing industries”, apprenticeships are now proving ever more popular with women and older workers as a vocational route.

So the success of apprenticeships is something we should all celebrate – indeed Get Oldham Working will in large part be judged by its success in getting our young people into apprenticeships.

I would therefore like to ask you if you can outline what this Council intends to do to promote apprenticeships in this borough during the National Apprenticeships Week?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely

Howard Sykes