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DISPOSAL OF THE SITE OF THE FORMER MATTHIAS PILLING HOUSE SIDDALL STREET/MILNROW ROAD AND OTHER ADJOINING LAND

The above was discussed at a recent meeting of the Shaw and Crompton District Executive held on the 8 Oct 13.

Consideration was given to a report of the Executive Director, Commercial Services, which sought delegated authority to advertise an intention to dispose of land comprising the site of the former Matthias Pilling House and adjoining land at Milnrow Road/Siddall Street, Shaw which had been identified as Public Open Space.

This report had been presented to the District Executive for consultation purposes following a request by councillor Howard Sykes.

Members discussed the impact that the disposal of the site on the area. Planning applications to develop the public open space on the site had previously been refused and this was a key plot on a major route through the area.

Elected Members confirmed that previous administrations had given verbal assurances that the site of Matthias Pilling House would be redeveloped for social housing for the elderly (i.e. its previous use).

Concerns were also raised regarding the reduction of Public Open Space in the area if the disposal continued as detailed in the report as there was a severe lack of open public space in Shaw.

The Meeting resolved that::

1. The District Executive opposed the sale of the land on the site of the former Matthias Pilling House on the open market;

2. Should the decision be made to sell the land, the District Executive recommended that the site of the former Matthias Pilling House be sold in order to provide social housing for older members of the community;

3. The District Executive recommended that the area of Public Open Space adjoining the site of the former Matthias Pilling House not be included in any disposal.

Liberal Democrats call for more support for poorest Council Tax Payers

Date: 24th October 2013

Liberal Democrats call for more support for poorest Council Tax Payers

The Oldham Liberal Democrat Group on Oldham Council has written to the Borough Treasurer formally outlining our collective response to the consultation now underway about the Council Tax Support Scheme.

In summary, our two key points are:

• The Liberal Democrats welcome the proposal to increase the level of support that will be made available to the poorest Council Tax payers in our borough. Presently this is capped at 75% of a bill for Band A payers.

Unfortunately this level of support meant that every Council Tax payer regardless of financial circumstances has been required to pay at least a quarter of their Council Tax, and those occupying properties above Band A required to pay in addition all of the difference.

Coupled with an increase in Council Tax bills of 3.7% from April 2013, Oldham’s Local Council Tax Support Scheme represented the most draconian in Greater Manchester.

• The Liberal Democrats believe that Oldham’s scheme was not generous enough as it was based upon a 50% collection rate, rather than the current 70% rate.

Councillor Sykes said that: “Whilst we agree it is prudent to raise the level of support in line with improvements in the collection rate to ensure that the revised scheme remains affordable, Liberal Democrats have always believed that the support scheme could be improved to provide more financial help to the poorest in our borough as collection rates always seemed overly-conservative”.

• The Liberal Democrats also believe that Oldham should establish a discretionary hardship fund rather like that of Stockport Council. This would be used to support first time Council Tax payers in arrears who are making some payment, yet face, because of exceptional circumstances, undue hardship in discharging their total debt.

Liberal Democrats would want particularly to target this help to claimants with disabilities and long-term debilitating health conditions.

Cllr Sykes said:

“The hardship fund is one of a set of practical measures that the Oldham Liberal Democrats have proposed to the Council to support the poorest citizens of our borough, particularly those are disabled or otherwise vulnerable.

“Some of these measures have subsequently been taken up by the Labour Administration – and I hope that this idea will also be adopted.

“The bumper Manchester Airport Group dividend could be used to support the establishment of this fund – and I would welcome the chance to have a dialogue with the Leader of the Council about this as I requested at September’s Council meeting.”

Ends/…

Notes to editors:-

The letter to the Borough Treasurer see below:

22 October 2013

Mr Steven Mair
Commercial Services
Borough Treasurer
Senior Management Team
Room 328
Civic Centre

Dear Mr Mair,

Re: The Liberal Democrat Group response to the Consultation on the 2014-15 Local Council Tax Support Scheme

In reference to the report to the Overview and Scrutiny PVFM committee dated 26th September, I am writing to make this formal response on behalf of the Liberal Democrat Group to the call for consultation.

The Liberal Democrats welcome the belated recognition by this administration of the importance of reducing the financial burden imposed upon the very poorest in our borough and endorse the commitment to increasing the level of maximum support in line with expected improvements in collection rates.

The Liberal Democrats feel that it was most regrettable that this administration chose in April to cap support at 75% of the Council Tax due on a Band A property.

Coupled with the overall increase in Council Tax bills of 3.7%, this ensured that Oldham had the most draconian Local Council Tax Support Scheme in Greater Manchester with all householders, however poor, being obliged to pay at least 25% of a Band A bill, and with those occupying Bands B, C etc. properties being also obliged to pay the difference in full.

As, in December 2012, 16,814 households were in receipt of full or partial Council Tax Benefit, this has had a major impact on the household incomes of the poorest in our borough, many of whom are also claimants with a disability or health condition.

This financial burden was imposed on the basis that collection rates would be 50%; a figure that Liberal Democrats have always felt was overly conservative.

Present estimates are that anything up to 70% of the total owed will in fact now be collected.

The Liberal Democrats therefore welcome the proposal to utilise the additional revenue raised to reduce the burden on the poorest by raising the maximum amount of Local Council Tax Support in line with improved collection rates.

We also support the proposal to make this self-financing.

The Liberal Democrats would also like the administration to consider establishing a discretionary hardship fund in line with that of neighbouring Stockport.

This would be used to support first time Council Tax payers in arrears who are making some payments yet face because of exceptional circumstances undue hardship in discharging their total debt. We would particularly wish to target this help at claimants with disabilities and long-term debilitating health conditions.

At the September Council meeting, I asked the Leader of the Council for a dialogue “to identify further practical measures that can be funded (by the bumper dividend received from our shareholding in the Manchester Airport Group) to support the poorest citizens of our borough who are adjusting to reduced benefits following welfare reform”.

I would still be interested in having such a dialogue.

Yours sincerely,

Howard Sykes

Cc: Cllr A Jabbar – Cabinet member

Questions (allowed max of three) I asked at Oldham Council meeting Wed 23rd October 13

Q1. The Armed Forces Covenant – and Oldham Council’s Commitment:
This Council has a long history of working on a cross-party basis to recognise the commitment, dedication and, tragically on occasions, self-sacrifice of citizens of this Borough who are or have been service personnel in Her Majesty’s armed forces or in the emergency services.

This has included awarding the honorary title of Freemen of the Borough to members of the Royal Tank Regiment, supporting the retention of the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers and endorsing the Royal British Legion Manifesto and the Government’s Armed Forces Covenant.

In recent months, my colleague, Councillor John McCann, has proposed, on behalf of the Liberal Democrat Group, that streets be named in this Borough after fallen service personnel and that ex-service personnel seeking employment with this Council be offered guaranteed interviews.

I am pleased to say that these two proposals have found favour with my fellow councillors.

With Remembrance Sunday next month and the 100th anniversary of the commencement of the First World War next year, I therefore welcome the recent announcement by the Leader to implement measures to make the Council’s commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant a reality at a local level.

My first question to the Leader tonight comes in three parts:
a) Could he please outline for Council what presently these measures will be?
b) Will he charge a cabinet member with responsibility for championing these measures, as has been done by neighbouring Rochdale, for example?
c) Will he be happy to support my call for overview and scrutiny board to identify best practice from other local authorities that can be adopted here and to consult with relevant organisations in our Borough for their recommendations, such as veterans’ associations and charities which provide support for ex-service personnel?

Q2. Recent Stabbing and Lack of PCSOs:
I am sure that the Leader will join me in condemning the recent stabbing in Shaw.

For many months (over 12 in fact), ward members have both at district meetings and at meetings with the police reported recurring instances of anti-social and intimidating behaviour by a gang of young offenders in central Shaw, and have repeatedly demanded action.

Despite the police undertaking undercover operations, I am convinced that the lack of visibility of PCSOs in Shaw has meant that this gang has operated without apparent interference for months (that is what the public think) – and this unsatisfactory situation has now led to this stabbing.

The Leader may recall that at last December’s Council I asked him to join me in condemning a change in procedure requiring Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) to parade at Oldham Police Station prior to deployment to their assigned beat?

This has meant that PCSOs have less time on the beat to actually detect crime, apprehend criminals and help the public as they now have to travel between central Oldham and Royton, Shaw and elsewhere, rather than simply reporting for duty on their beat at the start of a shift.
In Shaw, this has resulted in us now hardly ever seeing any PCSO’s in our town centre, and the public have noticed and regularly comment about this fact at every opportunity.

At December’s Council, the Leader agreed that a meeting should be arranged for Group Leaders to discuss our concerns about the new arrangements with the Police.

This appears not to have happened?

In light of the recent incident in Shaw, can I again request that the Leader agree to arrange such a meeting as a matter of urgency?

Q3. Regulating Chuggers:

In this chamber in the recent past, we have had a number of discussions about how we can revitalise and support our high street.

I hope that the Leader will agree with me that one of the irritants deterring shoppers from returning to our town centre is being accosted by one of the many fund-raisers (known less affectionately as ‘chuggers’, or charity muggers) who seem ever prevalent on our high street?

Although sporting garments advertising whichever charity of the day they are promoting, many of these individuals are in fact employed by agencies.

These agencies operate for profit through taking a fee from funds raised and in turn pay commission to the fund-raiser.

Can the Leader please tell Council what is being done by this Administration to regulate the activities of these ‘fund-raisers’, in particular to ensure that shoppers and visitors to our town are not harassed and that 100% of the money raised goes directly to the charity?

Shaw and Crompton celebrate the 150th Anniversary of Oldham to Rochdale Railway Line

The Railway line and now the Metrolink line are 150 years old

Come and join us to celebrate the occasion

Saturday 2nd November 2013

Shaw and Crompton Metrolink stop, Beal Lane at 10.45am

Metrolink have promised that tram 3050 will be in service

Trams will be running with commemorative boards

A plaque marking the event will be unveiled by the Mayor of Oldham

Shaw and Crompton District Executive part of Oldham Council

Information to help combat anti-social dog fouling

Neighbourhoods Directorate
Environmental Health
Chadderton Town Hall, Middleton Road
Chadderton, Oldham OL9 6PP
Tel: 0161 770 2244
Email: environmentalhealth@oldham.gov.uk

Dear Sir or Madam

RE: DOG CONTROL ORDER: CLEAN NEIGHBOURHOODS AND ENVIRONMENT ACT 2005

I receive numerous complaints annually concerning dog owners who allow their dogs to foul in public places; in order for the Neighbourhood Enforcement team to fully investigate a complaint please provide me with the following information

• The times when the owner takes their dog out
• The location where the fouling has occurred
• A description of the dog
• A description of the owner
• If the dog owner is using a car, the registration number

Dog owners who do not clean up after their dogs face an immediate £80 fixed penalty fine or face prosecution by the Local Authority which can result in a fine of up to £1000.

Should you have any queries or require any further advice, please contact the Enforcement Officer on the above telephone number

Samantha Jackson
Principle Environmental Health Officer
Neighbourhood Enforcement

Planning a basic guide

Councillor Chris Stephens Chair of Shaw and Crompton Parish Council Planning Committee wrote the following article. I have posted it on my web site as I think it will be of interest to you all.

Several residents have expressed concern regarding the general lack of information about planning processes within Oldham Borough.

It can be disconcerting to find that a neighbour, business, school, farm, or other organisation in your neighbourhood has applied for a planning application which may range from a simple house extension up to a major property development or significant business change/ implementation.

Concerns over privacy, loss of amenity, noise, additional traffic movements, parking and environmental issues often have a significant impact on resident’s lives.

The process of finding out about a planning application can appear to be disharmonised; the purpose of this article is to provide some basic information on the planning process.

Information about larger planning applications generally appears in the local press, particularly for those which may have a major impact on the local neighbourhood.

Applications which affect fewer residents, such as home or shop extensions, business change uses, are not necessarily widely publicised. Generally Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council (OMBC) will send out notification letters to properties adjacent to the proposed application.

The letter will contain details of the planning application together with information where the plans may be inspected (usually the Civic Centre) and dates by which objections may be forwarded to OMBC.

However, OMBC are not obliged to send out letters but they do have an obligation to post a notice about a residential planning application adjacent to the property; this is generally a pink coloured notice often placed upon a lamppost outside the property.

If you see such a notice within your vicinity please ensure you take the time to read it. If you are concerned, or need advice, about the application it is recommended you contact a Parish or OMBC councillor about the issue as soon as possible.

All planning applications within the Parish of Shaw and Crompton are notified to the Parish Council.

A list of such applications is on display in the window of the Parish Council Office at 1 Kershaw Street East, Shaw.

Applications are on display for only about 1 week prior to the Parish Council Planning Committee meeting.

Residents are able to make representation to the Parish Council; public participation is encouraged as views from people living and working in the area are important to the decision making process.

Dates and times of meetings are displayed in the Parish Council office. Members of the public wishing to speak on a planning issue should advise the clerk of the Parish Council prior to the meeting.

The Parish Planning Committee does not make a final decision on approval or rejection of an application but it makes a recommendation to OMBC on acceptance or refusal based on planning laws as well as taking into consideration any public representations.

OMBC may take into account the Parish recommendations when making their own decision on the application.

Members of the public are also permitted to make a presentation to OMBC Planning Committee on planning applications although only one person may speak against the application and only one may speak in support. Additionally a time limit is imposed on speakers at Borough planning meetings.

For further information on the planning process please contact Cllr Chris Stephens: 0775 296 8201 or the Parish Office 01706 847590.
Also further information on the planning process is available at:

http://www.oldham.gov.uk/info/200351/planning

Crompton Cemetery – new community toilet facility

Hopefully the above will be open for public use from Monday October 28th.

Toilets will be open Mon-Thurs 08:00am – 15:00pm and Friday 08:00am – 12:00pm

The signage is being made and should hopefully be ready, for the end of this week.

The cemetery staff has all been briefed and will clean and also open the toilets as per the notice which will be displayed in the portacabin building window.

“This is excellent news for users of the cemetery; the lack of any toilet provision has been a major problem for years, stated local Lib Dem Cllr Howard Sykes.

“I am very pleased the council have now progressed my request to open under the community toilet scheme those already on the site. It is shame we cannot get them open at the weekend but this is a major improvement,” he said.

Vanquis banished from Oldham bus station following Lib Dem Campaign

Vanquis Bank, a sub-prime lender targeting those with a poor credit rating and multiple debts, has finally vanished from the Oldham Bus Station after a campaign by Oldham Liberal Democrats led to a ban from Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM).

At the July 17th Council meeting, Leader of the Opposition and of the Liberal Democrat Group, Councillor Howard Sykes raised the issue of the inappropriateness of Vanquis Bank marketing its products to residents of the borough by having a stand in the Oldham Bus Station.

At this stand, company representatives were seen to be handing out promotional brochures, and harassing passers-by entering the bus station.

Vanquis Bank, a subsidiary of doorstep lender Provident Finance, operates in the sub-prime lending market offering a credit card requiring a typical interest payment of 39.9% to UK residents with a ‘limited or uneven credit history’.

It has been criticised on credit forums such as Money Saving Expert, established by financial journalist Martin Lewis, for the high interest charges on these cards and the high charges levied on defaulted payments.

At the July meeting, Cllr Sykes questioned why Transport for Greater Manchester, which had worked with bus operators to introduce reduced fares to make bus travel more affordable to those on low incomes, was permitting such an organisation for a fee to operate on its premises.

Cllr Sykes and Oldham representative on TfGM fellow Lib Dem Cllr John Dillon together began a campaign to have Vanquis banished.

Cllr Sykes said: “Vanquis actively targets customers with limited means and a poor credit history who cannot access cheaper credit elsewhere, putting them further into debt. These individuals often already have multiple debt issues and struggle to make repayments. Quite simply the Oldham Liberal Democrats did not want to see this company using a bus station to push their products on the poorest citizens in our society so we called upon TfGM to revoke their agreement with them immediately”.

On 3rd October, Councillors Sykes and Dillon were informed by senior manager Jon Lamonte of TfGM that following Lib Dem demands an internal review was conducted a corporate decision made not to let Vanquis back into the bus station.

Cllr Sykes: “This is a pleasing result, and the latest positive action to combat loan sharks and sub-prime, high-interest lending companies in our borough resulting from pressure brought to bear by the Liberal Democrat Group on Oldham Council.

We recently also led the way in calling first for the Council to ban links to the websites of loan companies –such as Wonga – from the computers of public libraries and Council offices, a policy that the Council chose to adopt days after we suggested it.

We now need to get TfGM to agree to our second demand – that the Oldham Credit Union be invited to have a free stand in the Oldham Bus Station”.