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Sykes slams social care report delay

Councillor Howard Sykes MBE, Leader of the Opposition and the Oldham Liberal Democrat Group on Oldham Council, has slammed the Conservative Government for delaying further the publication of a promised Green Paper on the future funding of social care.

In the March 2017 Budget, the Conservative Government said that it would publish a Green Paper on social care in order to allow a public consultation to be held and promised to do so in the summer of 2017.  This was then put back to summer 2018 and recently Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt MP announced it will now be published in the autumn.

Commenting Councillor Sykes said: “This extra delay is yet another example of the prevarication shown by this uncaring Conservative Government in making policy about the future of our under-threat social care system.  Due to consistent underfunding the provision of quality care to our elderly is now in jeopardy, and an increasing burden is being placed on unpaid family carers.”

He added: “In 2015, the then-Coalition Government, with the Liberal Democrats as junior partners, agreed in principle to the proposals of the Dilnot Commission which recommended that there be a cap on lifetime social care charges and a more generous means-test.  In July 2015, almost immediately the Conservatives assumed office alone, the new Government postponed the introduction of these sensible measures, and decided on their course of prevarication.”

“I would welcome the opportunity to comment on the Government proposals, as I am sure would many others in local government and the caring professions, but these constant delays deny us that opportunity, and suggest increasingly that when it comes to social care this Government hasn’t a clue.  Our older citizens deserve quality, affordable care and we should all be sure as to how we will pay for it – this is not the time for further delay, we just need to get on with it!”

Potholes Chamber Road, Shaw

A number of people have been in touch about the above.

I have continued to pursue the matter with the Highways Department and have now received some further information from them which I would like to share with you.

From: Jane MacKenzie <Jane.MacKenzie@unitypartnership.com>

Sent: Thursday, 5 July 2018 12:02

To: Howard Sykes

Subject: FW: Pot holes on Chamber Road, Shaw – 3644

Dear Councillor Sykes

Thank you for your communication with the Highways Team with regards to Chamber Road, Shaw.

Following an inspection a number of defects were noted in the carriageway and works orders have been issued for the repairs.  Due to the location of some of the defects it may be necessary to close the road whilst repairs are carried out so in order to minimise disruption the Highways Operations Team will program the works to take place during the school summer holidays.

If you wish for further information with regards to these issues please contact the highways email address highways@oldham.gov.uk

Please rest assured,  I will continue to pursue this matter with the Highways Department.

Flag flying at Oldham Civic Centre, England in the World Cup and others

 

I have had a number of enquiries regarding Flag Flying at the Civic Centre recently in terms of England and the World Cup.

There are two flagpoles at the Civic Centre and the protocol is for the Union Flag to be flown at all times on the left hand side pole as you look at the Civic Centre from Rochdale Road.

The other flagpole is used to raise other National flags that the Borough has links and also many organisations including Royal Navy, Royal Air Force, and Armed Forces.

It is also used to fly St George’s flag, St David’s, St Andrew’s and St Patrick’s for cultural and religious celebrations with the UK.

The full Fag Flying policy is available on the Council’s website, see link below:

https://www.oldham.gov.uk/downloads/file/2348/flag_flying_policy

It appears that there is some misinterpretation circulating on social media and elsewhere about the St George’s Flag which is flown here on the days that England play games in the European Championships and FIFA World Cup.

It was raised last Monday for the game versus Panama, and will again on Sunday against Tunisia and again this Thursday for the game against Belgium.

If England go through after the Group Stages, then we will continue to fly St George’s flag for each game that they play until they are either knocked out, or dare we hope that they may get all the way to the final and win.

We don’t fly it for the whole duration of the tournaments as it clashes with many other important dates in our Civic calendar such as Armed Forces Day and Council Meeting where our own Borough Flag is flown.

Hope this helps clear up any misunderstandings.

Oldham Countryside Volunteer Rangers – Crompton Moor 1 July

Now that we have qualified for the knock out stages, why not join us on the re-planned task for this Sunday, 1 July 2018, and attend to the pools West of Whitesides, with retrieving old stone from the brook and using new stone tops.

The current weather forecast is surprisingly good again, being ‘sunny intervals and breezy’, likely high / low of 21º/22º and breezy at 7/8mph so bring the sun cream and ensure you have your favourite hot & or cold liquids, the appropriate clothing, footwear and a packed lunch if you are up for the day; however, given the wetness of this event, you may want to bring a change of clothing – the Nissan will be our changing room !

Meantime, if you have any issues that you may wish to discuss prior to Sunday, please do not hesitate to email (on either address) or text / phone me on 07961107860.

Please could you let me know if you intend to join us on the day so that I can make the appropriate plan of work.

I look forward to seeing you in the Crompton Moor Car Park ~ 10.30 on Sunday. Thank you.

Edward John Fulton (aka Ed / Eddie), Countryside Volunteer Ranger, (Mob) 07961 107860 [Calls may be recorded], (Text) 07961 107860, (Fax)  01706 661813, (E)  edward@edwardjohnfulton.uk , (E) edward.fulton@btinternet.uk

‘Unfair Fares Increase’ faced by Shaw and Crompton Tram Passengers under Greater Manchester Mayor’s Zone Proposals

The Leader of the Opposition and of the Liberal Democrat Group, Councillor Howard Sykes MBE, has written directly to the Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham opposing proposed fare increases for passengers taking the tram from Shaw and Crompton into Manchester.

Under the Mayor’s recent proposals to introduce zonal fares across Greater Manchester, commuters travelling into Manchester from Shaw and Crompton, and vice versa, will be hit with a 4.5% to 6% fare increase.

Councillor Sykes, who represents Oldham on the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee, supports the introduction of zonal fares, contactless payment and daily fare capping, as these are all proposals that Liberal Democrat Councillors in Greater Manchester have been seeking for several years, but he has real concerns about the impact of the new zonal fares for local passengers travelling into Manchester.

Councillor Sykes explained: “The Mayor is proposing to establish four fare zones in Greater Manchester.  Shaw and Crompton is in the outer Zone 4.  All other Oldham stations are in Zone 3, Derker is on the boundary.  This will mean that passengers wishing to travel from Shaw and Crompton into Manchester city centre for work or leisure – or vice versa – will have to pay significant more than any passengers joining elsewhere in the Borough.”

“Shaw and Crompton passengers will see increases in their fares by 4.5 – 6%.  My question to the Greater Manchester Mayor is ‘Why?’  In my view this defies common sense, and it is also unfair.  Oldham is one Metropolitan Borough so surely Shaw and Crompton should be in the same zone as the rest of the Borough?”

Councillor Sykes is concerned that this will discourage commuters from taking the tram to work or indeed taking the tram to look further afield for work.  He added:

“If we want to promote a free labour market across Greater Manchester, with employees choosing to travel to expanding places of business by tram, this does not provide any encouragement.  In addition because of the proposed reduction in off-peak fares to Rochdale, Shaw and Crompton will be more likely to spend their leisure time there to the detriment of Oldham’s night-time economy.”

Councillor Sykes is also concerned that these proposals appear to mask the near-20% fare increase over three years being implemented by the Mayor and Labour Greater Manchester Combined Authority.

Commenting Councillor Sykes said: “This will be a huge fare increase which will be a extra financial burden for many local passengers.  And in my view any fare increase is neither necessary, nor justified.  The tram network is in massive profit; little action is being taken to collect revenue from fare evaders; passengers on the Rochdale – Oldham line have suffered from an increase in on-board and trackside anti-social and criminal behaviour, including several vicious attacks at tram stops; there is poor operational performance on the Rochdale – Oldham line; and we have still not got promised direct link to Piccadilly, the principal mainline station for Greater Manchester.”

The letter is below:

Mr Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, GMCA, Churchgate House, 56 Oxford Street, Manchester M1 6EU.

Dear Mayor Burnham,

Consultation on Metrolink Zonal Fares

I have chosen to write to you directly on this matter as the online consultation provides little latitude for me to effectively express my views on this matter as a Shaw Councillor representing my constituents who use the busiest Metrolink stop on the Rochdale – Oldham line and as a representative for Oldham on the Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) Committee.

Whilst the concepts of zonal fares, contactless payment and daily fare capping are in principle to be welcomed – indeed these are proposals that Liberal Democrat Councillors in Greater Manchester have championed for several years to help bring our Metrolink service in line with practices on the London Underground and into the 21st Century – I have real concerns about the current zonal proposals because of their impact on my constituents and it is disappointing that the TfGM Committee was not consulted prior to the proposals being made public.

Under your current proposals, the Greater Manchester tram network will be split into four zones, with passengers charged one fare for travel within a single zone and a different fare for travelling across one or more zones.  It is proposed that Shaw and Crompton will be in Zone 4, whilst all of the remaining stations in the Borough will be in Zone 3. Derker is on the boundary.

In my view this defies common sense. Oldham is one Metropolitan Borough so surely Shaw and Crompton should be in the same zone as the rest of the Borough?

Passengers taking the service from Shaw and Crompton will pay significantly more than those in the rest of Oldham Borough to travel into Manchester for leisure or to work as fares will increase by an inflation busting 4.5 – 6%. This will include an increase in the price of an Annual Commuter Ticket to £1,100, a significant sum.

And let us not forget that these increases will also hurt the many hundreds of people who use Metrolink to travel to work in Shaw!

If we want to promote a free labour market across Greater Manchester, with employees choosing to travel to expanding places of business by tram, this does not provide any encouragement.

In addition because of the proposed reduction in off-peak fares to Rochdale, Shaw and Crompton will be more likely to spend their leisure time there to the detriment of Oldham’s night-time economy.

In addition, these proposals, whilst being presented as some temporary largesse to the cash-strapped travelling public, mask the massive 19% fare increase proposed by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority on Metrolink over the next years – a huge fare increase by a fifth which will be a tremendous extra financial burden for many local passengers.

I cannot see how any fare increases can be justified when:

  • the tram network is in massive profit
  • insufficient action is being taken to collect revenue from fare evaders
  • passengers on the Rochdale – Oldham line have suffered from an increase in on-board and trackside anti-social and criminal behaviour, including several vicious attacks at tram stops
  • there is poor operational performance on the Rochdale – Oldham line
  • we have still not got promised direct link to Piccadilly, the principal mainline station for Greater Manchester.

I do hope that my comments can be taken on board as part of the consultation and I should welcome your response to the comments made.

Yours sincerely.

Councillor Sykes urges Transport Minister to take action over Northern Rail’s lamentable performance

The Leader of the Opposition and of the Liberal Democrat Group on Oldham Council, Councillor Howard Sykes MBE, has roundly condemned Northern Rail for its recent ‘lamentable performance’ following changes to the timetable and has called upon Transport Minister Chris Grayling to ‘get a grip on the situation’ and impose financial penalties on the company for its failure to operate a satisfactory train service.

Councillor Sykes, who represents Oldham Council on the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee, said: “Northern Rail’s performance is simply unacceptable. They had plenty of time to prepare for these timetable changes and for the re-training of staff, but they clearly did not care enough about the long-suffering rail passenger to do so.  For Northern, maximising profits rather than customer service is clearly their priority.”

He added: “Rail customers pay a lot of money to train operators in the UK relative to their European counterparts, and they rightly expect that their train will at least turn up on time and that they will be able to get a seat for their journey.  Yet in recent days we have witnessed train cancellation after train cancellation with the result that rail passengers are so late for work that their jobs have been put in jeopardy or they arrive homes hours later than usual.  When the train does turn up have to suffer a delayed journeys crammed like sardines in old, overcrowded carriages.  You just need to stand at Manchester Victoria station and listen to every announcement that a train has been cancelled because of the unavailability of train crew to know that Northern have got it so, so wrong.”

Councillor Sykes concluded: “Transport Minister Chris Grayling now needs to get a grip of this lamentable situation.  I welcome the fact that he has now finally met with the Mayor of Greater Manchester and our local MPs and has promised financial redress and an independent inquiry into the debacle.  I have written to the Minister to add my voice to those urging him to hit Northern where it will hurt them most – in their pockets, by imposing financial penalties and by paying proper compensation to passengers – and, if they continue to get it wrong for much longer, to take the franchise back and let the Government run the railway themselves.”

 The letter reads:

The Rt. Hon. Chris Grayling MP, Secretary of State for Transport, Department for Transport, Great Minster House, 33, Horseferry Road, London SW1P 4DR

Dear Minister,

I am writing to you to add my voice as Leader of the Opposition and of the Liberal Democrat Group on Oldham Council to the many calls that you will have already received to take action over Northern Rail’s lamentable and unacceptable performance in recent days.

I welcome the fact that you have finally met with the Mayor of Greater Manchester and our local MPs and have promised financial redress and an independent inquiry into this debacle.

Rail customers pay a lot of money to train operators in the UK relative to their European counterparts, and they rightly expect that their train will at least turn up on time and that they will be able to get a seat for their journey. Yet in recent days we have witnessed train cancellation after train cancellation with the result that rail passengers are so late for work that their jobs have been put in jeopardy or they arrive homes hours later than usual; and in between they have to suffer a delayed journey crammed like sardines in old, overcrowded carriages. You just need to stand at Manchester Victoria station and listen to every announcement that a train has been cancelled because of the unavailability of train crew to know that Northern have got it so, so wrong.

Northern Rail had plenty of time to prepare for these timetable changes and for the re-training of staff, but they clearly did not care enough about the long-suffering rail passenger to do so. For Northern, maximising profits rather than customer service is clearly their priority.

Minister, I would urge you to intervene most urgently and get a grip of this lamentable situation. Northern should have a financial penalty imposed upon them for their performance failure and passengers should be promptly and properly compensated for their loss and for the inconvenience they have suffered. If Northern continue to get it wrong for much longer, I would ask you to give serious consideration to the Government taking the franchise back and running the railway themselves.

I shall look forward to receiving your response.

Yours sincerely

BUCKSTONES ROAD SHAW; GRAINS ROAD, DELPH – TEMPORARY PROHIBITION OF DRIVING NOTICE 2018 – 20 June for 4 days 9:30am – 3:30pm

The Oldham Borough Council hereby gives Notice that no person shall cause any vehicle to proceed in that part of Grains Road Delph at its junction with Ripponden Road and that part of Buckstones Road at its junction with Ripponden Road.

The restrictions are required to facilitate safe working practices for the resurfacing of Ripponden Road and will be in force for 4 days from Wednesday 20th June 2018 or until the works are completed whichever is the lesser period.  The works will be carried out between 9.30am and 3.30pm

The alternative route for Vehicles affected by the restriction shall be:-

Grains Road, Delph: Grains Road/High Street Delph/Denshaw Road/Delph Road/Oldham Road.

Buckstones Road, Shaw: Buckstones Road/Milnrow Road/Crompton Way/Oldham Road/Heyside/Shaw Road Oldham/Huddersfield Road/Ripponden Road.