Oldham Labour Group Friday Briefing (19/06/2015)

Oldham Labour Group Friday Briefing (19/06/2015)


Weekly Leaders Blog

The Independent Quarter: Unleashing creativity

HACKSPACE: Oldham's new ghjghhghjghj

FIRSTLY, I’d like to thank the many residents, business and council staff who sent me such kind messages after the Queen’s Birthday Honours list came out last Friday night.

It’s extremely humbling to have been awarded an OBE in amongst the great and good across the country, and you can read my initial reaction here.

On Saturday afternoon it was straight back to business when I attended the opening of a new community enterprise called Hack Oldham in the town centre.

Before getting there I had in my mind the idea that I was going to see a team of busy IT enthusiasts working in a cool, imaginative space: a little like a mini ‘Sharp Project’, I suppose.

I certainly wasn’t expecting what I then discovered and it had much more of an effect on me than perhaps the organisers would have imagined.

Firstly, there are plenty of IT hobbyists, entrepreneurs and creative people around, but what was impressive to see here was the application of technology to everyday problems.

The workshop setting wasn’t a clinical laboratory. It was a proper old school workshop complete with wooden benches, power tools and things were being made.

WORKSHOP: Hackspace is a proper old school workshop buzzing with ideas and energy. And old world met new world as in the next room a row of 3D printers were busy creating a scale topographic model of Oldham!

I was really inspired by the creativity in that little workshop and the fact that here is a new community space, run by the community, and for the community.

During the opening event – not, of course, a standard ribbon cutting, but bolt cutters and a chain across a workshop door – I put the case across not for them just to make stuff, but to change the world.

We’ve innovated here and done it before and there’s no reason why the next world changing invention couldn’t come from Oldham once again.

But I also started to ponder something else that day. Are we (Oldham Council) ready for a new town centre community?




News from Oldham Council


Royal honour for Oldham Council Leader, Jim McMahon

Councillor Jim McMahon has been made an OBE (Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

Cllr Jim McMahonThe Council Leader – who says he is “overwhelmed” – has been appointed an OBE for his services to the community in Oldham.

The 34-year-old, who was born in nearby Miles Platting and educated in Middleton, moved to the borough in search of a property to make a family home in 2001.

He still lives in that same Failsworth home with his partner, Charlene, and says it was fatherhood – he has two sons, Jack aged 13, and Harry, aged six – that first made him look critically at the area and get involved in local issues as he pondered the future.

In May 2003 he was elected to serve Failsworth East and after working hard as a grassroots councillor to improve local landmarks like Failsworth Pole, the War Memorial and Westminster Gardens, he was chosen as Labour group leader within five years.

He became Oldham Council Leader in 2011 – at the time the youngest in the country – and set to work on plans to “change the Oldham story” and put the borough back on the national map with a range of innovative physical and social regeneration projects and fairness campaigns for residents.

In February 2014, he was named ‘Council Leader of the Year’ at the Councillor Achievement Awards hosted by the Local Government Information Unit (LGiU).

Cllr McMahon is now also leader of the Local Government Association (LGA) Labour Group representing more than 6,000 councillors nationwide. This includes a place on the political cabinet and the National Executive Committee (NEC).


Oldham Council is backing Armed Forces Day on Saturday, June 27

To mark the occasion more than 60 businesses in Oldham Town Centre have followed our lead and are offering some great discounts to those currently serving Queen and country, as well as reservists.

Among those who have signed up are Skidmore Cycles, 35 to 37 Union Street; and Simpson’s Jewellers, 35 to 37 High Street, which are offering 10 per cent off all purchases.

Zutti Co, 81 to 83 Yorkshire Street, is chipping in and giving a 10 per cent discount, while Salon 7, Queen Street are knocking 25 per cent off.

All businesses that are part of the scheme will display a sticker in their windows from now on.

If you are a member of the armed forces (Army, Royal Nay and RAF) all you have to do to take advantage of the discount offers is show a valid you military ID card when you make a purchase. The discount only applies to the card holder. If you are a business owner and would like to get involved in the initiative you can sign up.

For more information, and a full list of all the businesses involved and the discounts that are on offer please log onto http://www.oldham.gov.uk/info/200254/armed_forces_personnel_support




Oldham is sew good at helping residents into textiles career

Oldham Council is working closely with partners to boost employment opportunities in an industry made famous by the borough.

The local authority’s Get Oldham Working team is supporting two specialist organisations who are promoting textiles jobs and apprenticeships to local people.Sewing Academy student Sinead Ingham (pictured right) with Beverley Whittaker (course leader) and Councillor Shoab Akhtar, Oldham Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Skills.

Oldham College’s Sewing Academy and the Alliance Project’s “Textile Teashops” are both looking to recreate the region’s reputation as a powerhouse in the industry.

The academy boasts an impressive success rate with around 80-85 per cent of its students going on to apprenticeships or paid employment in the textile industry.

One of its latest students, Sinead Ingham, had never even used a sewing machine before she enrolled on the course. Now the mother-of-one from Royton is a dab hand working as an apprentice for Oldham manufacturer Trans-Web.

Sinead said: “I’m probably like many new mothers – I did struggle to get back into work after taking care of my baby.

“I wanted to get into the textiles industry years ago but there were not many opportunities locally. I then discovered the sewing academy and it has given me the confidence to build up my skills and helped me in my new role which I’m enjoying.”

Sinead, aged 24, is now a Level 3 Apprentice Sewing Machinist with Trans-Web, who specialise in the design and manufacture of textile lifting slings, height safety equipment and lashing systems. She works at the firm four days a week and goes back to the academy one day-a-week to develop new skills.

The academy is holding a Recruitment Open Day on Tuesday, June 23 (11am) at the Rochdale Road-based college, specifically for unemployed residents claiming benefits who want to learn a new skill for employment in the textile industry.

This will be a four-week course where you will learn to use a variety of machinery and produce a portfolio of sample work as well as sewing your own items.

Beverley Whittaker, course leader, said: “One of the advantages of this retraining opportunity is that unemployed learners can continue to claim benefits whilst gaining new skills at the academy and come out of it with a qualification and possibly employment.

“The courses we offer mean we can take people with no previous experience of sewing at all and give them enough skills to be able to go into the industry at a basic level. The experience then comes from working on the job.

“It’s great to see the trainee come to the academy with a lack of confidence, like Sinead, and by the end of the six weeks they are all really enjoying the course and are like different people.

“The Get Oldham Working team have been a big support in helping to promote our offer, find students and inform businesses within the industry.”

The Greater Manchester textiles industry currently employs 11,300 people, generating £650 million for the local economy. This is set to rise and textiles employers estimate the creation of 400 new jobs each year over the next decade, including 150 sewing machinist vacancies per year.





News from Westminster


Commons vow by new Ashton MP Angela Rayner who was told she’d amount to nothing.

I’ll tell it as it is, says town’s first female MP for 180 years who became pregnant aged 16 , lived on a council estate and worked as a carer.

A new Greater Manchester MP – who was told she would ‘amount to nothing’ after falling pregnant at 16 – has vowed to do things ‘in her own little northern way’ in her maiden speech to Parliament.

Former high-flying union boss Angela Rayner is Ashton-under-Lyne’s first female MP in more than 180 years.

In her first speech to the House of Commons, she promised her constituents she would ‘always tell it how it is’ after giving people a glimpse into her life as a pregnant teenager living on a council estate and a grafting care worker.

The mother-of-three, who juggled child care with low-paid shift work in earlier life, said she knew what it was like to be left counting the pennies.

‘A care-worker becoming an MP; that’s real aspiration for you. Perhaps too, I’m the only member of the house, who at age 16, and pregnant, was told in no uncertain terms, I’d never amount to anything. If only they could see me now’

The constituency had an unbroken line of male MPs since 1832. But after Mrs Rayner was picked from an all-women shortlist, Ashton-under-Lyne now has its first female representative in Westminster. Mrs Rayner, formerly Unison’s most senior elected official in the north west, has urged her party to push ‘real people with real life experience’ to bring ‘common sense’ back to Parliament.




Government ‘just doesn’t get it’

OLDHAM MP Debbie Abrahams used her first parliamentary appearance since the election to highlight the plight of two local women.

During the Queen’s Speech debate, Mrs Abrahams, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, spoke about Amanda, a woman with breast cancer who is being hounded by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP)

She said: “The Government just doesn’t get a fundamental point. Any good and successful business knows its biggest asset is its people.

“People should be valued. But instead of supporting, enabling and investing in people, their skills, health and wellbeing, the Government’s approach is to demonise people on social security.

“Amanda’s story is a case in point. In her mid-50s now, she worked as a teacher but about two and a half years ago she was diagnosed with breast cancer. As she went through her treatment she became more and more poorly and took time off work. On top of all this she was then made redundant.

“She applied for, and was granted, contribution based Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). Months later she was also able to take her teacher’s pension.

“Last December, she received a letter from the DWP informing her that she was being investigated for fraud because she had not notified them that she was now receiving a pension.



MPs back charities’ campaign

OLDHAM’S MPs have called for carers to be given more support.

Following Carers Week, which ended on Sunday, the Labour politicians highlighted the strains suffered by those looking after others.

Oldham East and Saddleworth MP Debbie Abrahams said: “There are 6.5 million people in the UK who care for a partner, relative or friend, of whom 11,076 are in the Oldham East and Saddleworth constituency.

“Without the right help and support, caring can have a devastating impact. Carers can quickly become isolated, with their physical and emotional health, work and finances all hit hard.

“I know from providing respite care for my mother how difficult caring for a loved one can be, as well as also being extremely rewarding.”

The six charities behind Carers Week 2015 — Carers UK, Age UK, Carers Trust, Independent Age, Macmillan Cancer Support and the MS Society — are calling on individuals, organisations and services to take action to improve the lives of carers by building carer-friendly communities. Full-time carers are twice as likely to be in bad health compared to non-carers, 54 per cent struggle to pay household bills and 60 per cent struggle to maintain friendships.

Mrs Abrahams added: “Carers make a valuable contribution to society and they need support to carry on the work they do.”

Oldham West and Royton MP Michael Meacher said too often carers are forgotten and more must be done to protect their health and finances.

Mr Meacher said: “Carers do an amazing and often unrecognised job. Government must work with care organisations to give carers the support they deserve and desperately need. It is unfair to expect these dedicated people to be forced into debt and financial hardship.”



News from the LGA


Labour’s newly-elected Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs has called for borough to ‘move forwards’.

The Queen’s Birthday Honours list has seen a number of Labour councillors rewarded for their service to Local Government and their community. Cllr Jim McMahon (Oldham) and Cllr Claire Kober (Haringey) received an OBE. Cllr Judi Billing (North Herts), Cllr Lucy Hovvels (Durham) and Cllr Elaine Woodburn (Copeland) received an MBE.

37 Barking and Dagenham tower blocks are set for fuel bill savings.

Cllr Alice Perry has written in Labourlist about how we can’t ignore the unjust practice of blacklisting.

Reading’s new home care framework has gone live fulfilling their pledge to implement the UNISION ethical Care charter including living wage.

Cllr Stephen Cowan has accused house builders of “taking the mickey” by not living up to affordable housing requirements.

Ealing will consider changes to bin collections to make recycling easier and save money.

Cllr Simon Henig has said the issue over whether the North East should have a directly-elected metro Mayor is not a matter that individual council or business leaders should determine and the views of the public should be sought.

David Jamieson PCC has argued if it’s good enough for London and Manchester to have a directly elected Mayor, why not Birmingham too?

Labour Core City Leader, Cllr Gordon Matheson (Glasgow) has announced his intention to stand for Deputy Leader of Scottish Labour. –

See more at: http://lgalabour.local.gov.uk/home/-/journal_content/56/330956/7338418/ARTICLE#sthash.JFsetG6S.dpuf





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