Oldham Labour Group Friday Briefing (20/03/15)

*ELECTION COUNTDOWN: 47 DAYS TO GO*

Weekly Leader’s blog

Regeneration – It all adds up

REGENERATION: The investment, benefits and impact of the five major regeneration projects planned for Oldham Town Centre.

I WANT to use my penultimate blog before the local elections to talk about one of my driving passions – rebuilding Oldham.The new edition of Borough Life is dropping onto your doormats this week and inside you’ll find a double-page spread which looks at the changing face of Oldham.

This shows a mixture of just some of the various housing, schools, retail, business and transport regeneration projects which have either been completed or are well underway across the borough – and there simply wasn’t enough space to provide the full list.

As a public body we have a responsibility to justify all of our spending and be open and transparent about it.

It is clear that some schemes have really caught the imagination and attention of residents and I’m pleased that, like me, many can see just how important these will be to changing the fortunes and perceptions of our town.

Work is now well underway on several major projects like the cinema and restaurants at the Old Town Hall and the new Oldham Leisure Centre, and – from those days of early artists’ impressions – things are beginning to feel very real.

Whether you agree with that sentiment or not, you must at least admit that I am consistent in arguing that our borough deserves better than to be simply ‘managing decline’ – a route which too many would accept as the next chapter in our future.

I believe Oldham deserves better than to watch the threads of its rich cultural and economic heritage unravelling before our eyes. It deserves better than seeing once-great buildings falling into disrepair and the loss of things that not only once made us great but are also key to our confidence as a place.

I simply don’t accept that has to be our future at all.

 

(Read More.)

 

 

 

 

 

News from Oldham Council

 

You’re hired! Get Oldham Working smashes 2,015 target

Oldham Council and its partners are celebrating success after smashing an ambitious target to create 2,015 employment opportunities by the end of 2015.

Get Oldham WorkingThe local authority’s flagship “Get Oldham Working” campaign has seen local employers provide 2,169 jobs, apprenticeship and trainee opportunities to local people since its launch in May, 2013.The triumph was revealed last night (Monday, March 16) at Gallery Oldham with a “thank you” event to businesses and organisations who pledged their support to the initiative.

Special guest Adam Corbally, star of BBC’s The Apprentice, shared the secrets of his own success from being a market trader to motivational coach and entrepreneur.

He praised Get Oldham Working as an “inspirational” initiative that has helped many young people and the unemployed to find work.

The dedicated Get Oldham Working team has helped facilitate the creation of 1,184 jobs, 342 apprenticeships and 643 trainee and work experience opportunities.

The council and our partners are committed to carry on the good work – with an increased focus on creating more jobs.

(Read More.)

 

 

Oldham Council Leader ‘disappointed’ by Budget

The Leader of Oldham Council has responded to today’s Budget announcement by Chancellor George Osbourne.

Councillor Jim McMahon said: “The announcement, subject to agreement, that Greater Manchester will enter a pilot for full retention of business rates growth from April 1, is another step in the devolution process and will make headlines – but this is another disappointing budget.

“Despite the business rates proposal meaning that we will be able to keep more of the proceeds from growth in this area it remains a drop in the financial ocean when you consider that around £1.5 billion has now been cut from funding to the ten GM local authorities during this Parliament.Jim McMahon

“Local government has borne the brunt of the reductions during this time and its impact has also been disproportionate. Some areas have lost just 5 per cent of their funding compared with the poorest areas, like our own. In Oldham we’ve had to find £141 million in savings since 2009 – around 40 per cent of our funding has gone.

“I see nothing in this Budget as a gamechanger to that very harsh reality for local authorities and their long-suffering residents and business.

“Whilst some aspects of devolution are welcome opportunities for Greater Manchester this still looks very much like the transferal of financial responsibility and political blame to councils for what is likely to be the continued decline and withdrawal of vital local services which people rely on.”

 

 

Show you love where you live and take part in Community Clear Up Day

Oldham Council is taking part in Keep Britain Tidy’s ‘Community Clear Up Day’ – and we are urging residents to do their bit and get involved.

This Saturday (March 21) marks the first day of spring and we are asking people to spare a few hours so they can help spruce up our high streets, residential and business areas, villages and parks.

So whether you’re a group of friends and neighbours, a litter clean-up group, a local business, a school or on your own, what better way to kick off spring by taking part in ‘Community Clear Up Day’?

We’ve got lots of events taking place on the day – and in the weeks ahead – across the borough and anyone can get involved. Remember to dress appropriately for the activity and the weather.

Just make sure you bring a drink to keep hydrated and a snack to keep you going.

Councillor Barbara Brownridge, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Co-operatives, said: “Cleaning up our communities costs the council and residents around £1m each year, so initiatives like this not only help improve the area but also save money.

“The vast majority of people do take pride in their communities and keep them clean and tidy. But, unfortunately, there is always a small minority who continue to think they can just dump waste and leave others to clear up the mess.

“’Community Clear Up Day’ is good chance for people to work together, improve their neighbourhoods and show they love where they live.”

(Read More.)

 

News from Westminster

 

MP’s seven ways to boost living standards

BOOSTING the UK’s productivity is crucial to improving living standards, according to Oldham East and Saddleworth MP Debbie Abrahams.

Mrs Abrahams has responded to Institute for Fiscal Studies research that shows incomes remain below 2007-08 levels.

Mrs Abrahams said: “The report confirms working people are worse off since 2010. To help tackle this issue I’ve produced a report identifying seven drivers to boost UK productivity.

The report suggests incentivised business investment, universal access to high quality broadband, regional growth, innovative businesses, addressing skills shortfalls, public procurement and more exports.

Mrs Abrahams said: “Research shows small firms’ productivity levels began to turn a corner at the end of 2014, but there is still a long way to go.”

 

Court price-hike plan in the dock

PROPOSED increases to court fees of up to 622 per cent have been attacked by the President of the Oldham Law Association as “government profiteering”.

Steve Durham of Cuttle & Co Solicitors has criticised plans to increase the cost of issuing proceedings for the recovery of money to five per cent of the claim for all claims over £10,000.

So after it is introduced, the fee to issue a £190,000 legal claim would cost £9,500 compared with its current price of £1,315.

Mr Durham, the newly-elected association president, has called on local MPs to support his appeal to scrap the price hikes to avoid an inaccessible justice system.

He said: “This announcement has already received criticism from the National Law Society and the Civil Justice Council.

“The way the current system works is that solicitors often cover court fees knowing they will be able to recover them. With such extortionate upfront prices most firms will simply not have the cashflow to do this and will therefore not be able to take on certain cases. These fees will be prohibitive.”

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Ministry of Justice, Shailesh Vara MP said claims of less than £10,000, which are unaffected by the proposals, make up over 90 per cent of the total.

Oldham West and Royton MP Michael Meacher said: “The number of people accessing courts has gone down and I am really opposed to the imposition of higher fees.”

 

Speaking up for women

INSPIRATIONAL speeches about overcoming sexism and fighting for equality helped Oldham mark International Women’s Day over the weekend.

SPEAKING up for women: Debbie Abrahams, Marzia Babakarkhail and Councillor Sue DeardenDozens of women attended Gallery Oldham on Saturday for an afternoon of talks, poems and music hosted by Oldham Labour Women’s Forum.

The free event, which had a theme of “Women Make it Happen”, was opened by Oldham East and Saddleworth MP Debbie Abrahams, and hosted by Councillor Hannah Roberts.

The audience was moved by Marzia Babakarkhil, a former judge in Afghanistan forced to seek political asylum here after her life was threatened by the Taliban. She revealed a range of injustices against women in her home state.

Local women’s issues were also discussed during the event. The audience was able to question two of Oldham Council’s all-female management team, chief executive Carolyn Wilkins and Maggie Kufeldt, executive director for health and well-being.

 

News from the LGA

n an opinion piece for the Manchester Evening News, Cllr Jim McMahon has written about the “huge challenges” for the region’s future while also celebrating powers having been wrestled back from distant Whitehall civil servants and to give Greater Manchester “opportunities to shape our destiny”.

Leader of Southwark Council Cllr Peter John has written that the recent announcement that Greater Manchester is to take control of the area’s £6bn health budget is exciting news for local government and sets an important precedent which any future government will have to adopt for London and other major city regions.

To create a step change in childcare in London, early years and education budgets should be looked at as a whole, with the Government taking a ‘0-18′ approach to children’s lives, Southwark Leader Peter John and Lambeth Leader Lib Peck have argued, following the launch of the Lambeth and Southwark Childcare Commission chaired by Tessa Jowell MP.

The Leader of Birmingham City Council Sir Albert Bore has set out that new homes developed through the Birmingham Municipal Housing Trust are making a significant contribution to housing targets in the city.

Sir Steve Bullock, Mayor of Lewisham has argued that continuing on the current path of local government cuts will damage families, communities, and the NHS.

Camden Leader Cllr Sarah Hayward has argued that care is part of our national infrastructure.

The poor still bear the brunt of the cuts, Leader of Barnsley Sir Steve Houghton has argued.

We know the Tories are targeting Labour areas, but it’s still shocking, Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson has written.

“The biggest ideas are coming out of local government”, MP and former leader of Lambeth Steve Reed MPhas said in an interview with the New Statesman.

The Chief Executive of Doncaster Council has written a blog arguing that by empowering local leadership to deliver growth, better deals can be done quicker, at a much reduced cost to the taxpayer.

Corby Borough Council is helping some of their most vulnerable residents reduce their energy bills by the installation of clean green technologies to their property.

Manchester Council is planning to bring a 20mph speed limit to 1800 more roads across the city and Croydon Council is expected to give the go-ahead to a 20mph speed limit plan.

 

News from the Districts

 

1)       They thought it would never happen!

Young people who requested local councillors to consider refurbishing skate park in Coalshaw Green Park must have given up hope of ever seeing their hopes come to fruition, but in 7 days’ time it will be a reality.

Councillor Graham Shuttleworth said: “With the introduction of the District Investment Fund the request for refurbishment came at just the right time, and with the support of Full Circle and Viridor, the Chadderton Neighbourhood team were able to submit a package that ticked all the boxes, and a new fit-for purpose skate park will formerly be opened next weekend.

“It has taken approximately three years to get to this stage, and when a project costs over £150,000.00 you expect some hiccups as you go along, and this had a few, but we got there, and on behalf of all elected Chadderton members I would like to thank those who have put in so much time and effort to make this dream for the young people become a reality.”

 

2)

Chadderton Social Prescribing Update 

The social prescribing scheme has been running since September 2014. Social prescribing enables patients to identify and access support that meets their individual needs and allows individuals to focus on issues that may not be medical or physical but still have an impact on their health.

 Since the start of the scheme, a number of patients have been referred to Lauren White (Chadderton District Engagement Officer). These individuals are now signed up to formal provision.

 Lauren said: “Recently, a patient who has previously suffered from mental health issues has signed up to become a volunteer with Oldham Care and Support at Chadderton Hall Park. Previously they lacked the confidence to attend provision independently. Another patient, has signed up to Oldham Community Leisure’s Exercise Referral scheme, and is already feeling the benefits on their health and social life.”

 Patients can refer into the scheme via their GP or self refer. Lauren also regularly meets with groups to support members and signpost to other provisions and services.

 She added: “As part of the scheme I work alongside the NHScommissioning business partner to develop a year of care plan. The plan will outline the benefits of the social prescribing scheme and the impact that it has on a patient’s general health and Wellbeing. After regular reviews the plan will also show how social prescribing can benefit the National Health Service including, reducing costs on the NHSand also reducing regular attendees at the GP.”

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