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Liberal Democrats refuse to let planning transparency drop

Oldham’s Liberal Democrats are set to pursue alternative ways to deliver improved transparency for local planning decisions, following a Labour Party vote against adopting recommended standards from global anti-corruption organisation Transparency International.

Following the vote at the September meeting of the Council, the Liberal Democrats are now pursuing the policies – intended to restore trust between the public and the Council – by putting them forward for consideration by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee of the Council.

Liberal Democrat Councillor Mark Kenyon, who proposed the motion, said: “I fail to understand why the Labour Party would vote against a motion designed to improve transparency and build trust with the public.

“The two reasons given did not make any sense. The recommendations have been specifically designed for local councils to adopt, so the suggestion that these were anything to do with national planning law is just incorrect. They also said that they were happy for it to be discussed by a council committee, which is exactly what the motion proposed. If they wanted it discussed by a particular committee, they should have just asked for it to go to that committee.”

The motion was based on the charity’s report Permission Accomplished, aimed at improving practice in local councils across the UK.

Councillor Sam Al-Hamdani, who seconded the motion, added: “As we made it clear in proposing this, there is a clear lack of trust from the public in the planning process. That needs addressing.

“While national planning law is part of the problem, we don’t need to wait for that to change before addressing how we respond to people here in Oldham. There are changes we can make right now. I hope that the Labour Party will be more open to this in the future.”

The septennial Beating of the Bounds in Shaw and Crompton Sunday 26 September 2021


Shaw and Crompton Parish council are proud announce the beating the bounds!

The walk is a circular route of about 13 miles, taking in sites including, Jubilee, Pingot Quarry, Crompton Moor, Brushes Clough, Fullwood, and Ellenroad; walkers can expect to see stunning views over the Pennines and Oldham and beyond.

The walk will leave from Dunwood Park at 09.30am Sunday 26 September 2021.

Walkers will need to be physically fit to take part in this intermediate-to-hard walk. Please bring a packed lunch and drinks sufficient for the walk together with water proofs and suitable footwear.

FOR MORE DETAIL SEE THE LINKS BELOW:

This is not a charity walk but by all means you may be sponsored on behalf of individual charities. Alternatively, you may wish to make a voluntary donation to the Chairman’s charities (Age UK and Royton, Shaw and Crompton Blind Support Group based at Downey House, Royton)

9:15am sign in at Dunwood Park café for a 9:30am start.

For more information, please contact: the Clerk to the Council, 1 Kershaw Street East, Shaw OL2 8AB, Tel. 01706 847590 / 07436 229083. Email clerk.shawcrompc@btconnect.com

OR

Councillor Joseph Beeston Chair of Events, Promotions & Grants Committee, Tel: 07340 168754, Email: cllrjoseph.beeston@yahoo.com

Delays with ‘rural’ green bin collections in Shaw and Crompton

Please be aware I have been informed by the council they will have outstanding organic/green bin collections in Shaw and Crompton at the end of today’s usual collection.

This has affected all residents who are on our country round (properties collected on the smaller vehicle due to hard access).

Residents are advised them that they will be back to collect on Saturday 11th September.

Police reforms and PwC report publication ‘eagerly awaited’

The Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Oldham Council, Councillor Howard Sykes MBE, is ‘eagerly awaiting’ Friday 10 September for this is the day that Greater Manchester’s new Police chief reveals his plan to reshape policing across the city region and the Mayor of Greater Manchester finally publishes a secret report into police failings.

Councillor Sykes has previously written to Mayor Andy Burnham demanding a report prepared in the spring at public expense by accountants Price Waterhouse Coopers be published.  His requests have met with obfuscation and outright refusal as Mayor Burnham kept the report under wraps during his re-election campaign and whilst a new Chief Constable was being appointed. 

The report allegedly exposes grave police failings; failings that Councillor Sykes has also repeatedly raised in correspondence with the Greater Manchester Mayor, who is also Police and Crime Commissioner for the city region.

Councillor Sykes said:  “Frankly, the conduct of the Police and Crime Commissioner and certain members of the senior management team at GMP has in recent months been more akin to the Keystone Cops than a professional police service.”

“When your Police officers fail to record over 80,000 reported crimes in a year; when you introduce a new computer system (iOPs) at massive public expense that fails so lamentably that offenders are let off from court scott-free and Police officers have to go back to taking notes with pen and paper; and when your Chief Constable leaves under a cloud, and your force is placed in special measures, then you know you have got things seriously wrong.”

On Friday 10 September, a meeting of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority will consider the Greater Manchester Police Implementation Plan, presented by newly appointed Chief Constable Stephen Watson.  Mayor Andy Burnham also promised in a tweet in August that he would release the PwC report on that date.

Councillor Sykes laid down a challenge:  “Mayor Burnham has got things seriously wrong.  He needs to come clean and admit that, and both he and the new Chief Constable Stephen Watson, must clearly set out how they intend to make things seriously right, and soon, at Greater Manchester Police.  The time for this is now.  Public and front-line police officer confidence in the leadership team is now at an all-time low.”

The tweet from Mayor and Police and Chief Commissioner Andy Burnham read:

‘Grave concern’ that home of first test tube baby short of test tubes

Crompton Liberal Democrat Councillor Louie Hamblett has written to the newly appointed local NHS supremo Mike Barker to express his grave concerns that shortages in medical supplies will impact on patient health over the autumn, with blood tests and flu shots being rationed.

Councillor Hamblett, who serves as Shadow Cabinet Member for Heath & Social Care, wrote to the new Interim Accountable Officer of the Oldham Clinical Commissioning Group, Mike Barker, over the recent shortages of test tubes which will prevent some patients receiving their annual blood screening tests at this time.  On top of this, Louie was alarmed to hear news that flu vaccinations may also be limited by a shortage of supplies.

Commenting, Councillor Hamblett said:  “Oldham has been especially hard hit by Covid-19 and sadly many of our residents also suffer from ongoing chronic ill health.  A shortage of test tubes means less blood testing; testing essential to monitor the status of patients with existing serious health conditions and to test patients for possible new diseases”. 

“With a huge collective effort by medical and support staff, this year we have vaccinated most of our residents from Covid-19 vaccinations, but at a time when local GP’s and clinics gear up to begin booking flu shots for those eligible, a worrying lack of supplies may mean hold-ups”. 

“My fear is that the current disquieting situation will mean existing patients needing blood tests needlessly suffer and new patients remain undiagnosed and that our good work on Covid-19 could be undone if we are hit with a seasonal flu epidemic that may be deadly to our vulnerable residents with a weakened immune system,” added Councillor Hamblett. 

Councillor Hamblett hopes for a quick resolution to the current medical shortages.  “It is completely unacceptable that in Oldham, the home of the world’s first test tube baby, test tubes are now at a premium.  I really hope we can see some positive movement on this issue, and soon, for the future health of the people of this borough.”

My two allowed question at tonight’s Oldham Council meeting 8 Sept 2021

Council 8 Sept 2021

Leaders Question 1 – What is the future for the Tower block and civic centre building

Madam Mayor,

My first question tonight relates to the future of the Council’s estate and climate change.

Many employees across the private and public sectors have been working from home since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, including much of the Council’s workforce and those of our partners in Unity, Miocare, and Oldham Community Leisure.

Homeworking means employees no longer must commute, and they can achieve a better work – life balance.

Given then we are likely to have less employees in our workplaces at all and see less of those that do, we shall have less need for office space.

Less buildings will need to be heated, lit, cleaned, and maintained and there will much lower bills for utilities.  Many will be surplus to our requirements.

This will also mean lower carbon emissions, so we will also benefit by moving closer to our aspiration to become a carbon neutral Council.

It is likely that in the future we shall have our core staff, working mostly in public-facing roles, in the new repurposed offices in the Spindles Shopping Centre, and perhaps some here on the Rochdale Road site supporting ceremonial and Council functions, but the rest of the Civic Centre will become redundant.

Can the Council Leader please tell me tonight what is being planned to identify and dispose of the unwanted office space, especially the Civic Centre tower block, or may be the whole Tower block and Rochdale Road site?

And what is planned or the vision for this large and strategically important town centre site when it becomes vacant?

Council 8 September 2021

Leaders Question 2 – Discharging untested and infected patients into care homes

Madam Mayor,

I had hoped to ask my second question tonight under the agenda item ‘COVID-19 response questions’, but I see that yet again for the second time this item has been omitted from tonight’s agenda.

I have received a reassurance from the Leader that this omission was a result of administrative error rather than a change in the policy of this Administration, so I look forward to seeing this item back on the agenda for November 2021 Council, as it should be on every agenda until we have seen the back of this terrible pandemic.

So here then is my question.

A response to a recent Freedom of Information request revealed that the Pennine Acute Hospital Trust – part of the Northern Care Alliance – discharged 152 patients to care settings between March 19 and April 15 last year.  96 of these patients were untested and of the 56 tested, 18 tested positive for COVID-19.

It seems to me a gross dereliction of the ‘duty of care’ that patients were discharged from hospital to care homes when they were untested or tested positive with a deadly disease.

Sadly, a significant number of care home residents died during the COVID-19 pandemic, and undoubtedly some instances of transmission occurred because of transfers into care homes from hospitals.

Can the Leader please provide me with assurance that revised procedures are now in place to ensure that in future all patients will be tested for COVID-19 before being discharged from hospital to care settings, so that never again will a situation arise where patients testing positive or not tested at all are discharged from hospital to unwittingly, and sometimes fatally, infect their fellow residents and staff in care homes?

Return to sender: Royal Mail refuse local Olympian gold post box

A plea from Shaw Liberal Democrat Councillors for a gold post box in the town to mark the recent Olympic success of local hero Matthew Walls has been refused by Royal Mail.

Shaw cyclist Matthew won a Gold and Silver medal at the recent Tokyo Olympics.

Councillor Howard Sykes MBE who made the request on behalf of his Shaw colleagues to the Chief Executive was ‘very disappointed’ at the response.

“It is clear that Royal Mail regard the action they took after the 2012 London Games in painting postboxes gold as a never-to-be-repeated homage to this nation’s Olympic success,” said Councillor Sykes.  “It is a real pity that they do not feel able now to continue the practice as a gold postbox is a clear symbol to local residents that one of their own has done them proud.”

Councillor Sykes added: “I am sure that the residents of Shaw will want to see a suitable public tribute to Matthew, and they can rest assured that as local Councillors we are now actively exploring ways that we can show our appreciation of his achievements in a public space.”

“And in the meantime, I will be delighted and honoured to second the proposal at the September Council meeting to confer upon Matthew the Freedom of the Borough of Oldham,” concluded Councillor Sykes.