LABOUR REVEAL NEW CABINET LINE UP

Oldham Labour Group has revealed their new cabinet following the recent local elections.

Cllr Jim McMahon has been unanimously re-elected as Leader retaining the responsibility for Regeneration as the main focus for the Labour authority.

Cllr Jean Stretton has been selected to serve as Deputy Leader taking on responsibility for Town Centres, Culture & Tourism. The portfolio has developed as the Labour council puts a greater focus on the vibrancy of the boroughs town and district centres and moves to grow the boroughs £242m tourism economy.

Cllr Shoab Akhtar remains on the cabinet taking responsibility for Employment & Enterprise. With recent success in reducing unemployment in Oldham and an ambitious target to create 2015 job opportunities by 2015 the council will also grow its support for new business ventures.

Cllr Jim McMahon said; “We are an ambitious Labour council with big plans for the borough we love. We have a great team of experience and energy to really move things forward. We still have at least two years of government cuts to deal with and maintaining good council services will be a challenge with over £200m of cuts in total. We could let that beat us but instead we are coming out fighting for Oldham with a message of positivity and belief that Oldham’s future is bright.”

The council will change the way it works to encourage greater partnership working across all public agencies and the business community. New Clusters will be established under the Oldham Leadership Board.

New Deputy Cabinet Members include Cllr Sean Fielding who will cover Economy & Skills Cluster, Cllr Vita Price taking on Health & Wellbeing Cluster and Cllr Eddie Moores supporting the Neighbourhoods & Cooperatives Cluster.

CABINET PORTFOLIOS 2014/15

 

Economy & Skills Cluster

 

Regeneration & City Region (L)

Jim McMahon

Town Centres, Culture & Tourism (DL)

Jean Stretton

Employment & Enterprise

Shoab Akhtar

Deputy Cabinet Member Policy & Comms

Arooj Shah

Cluster Deputy Cabinet Member

Sean Fielding

Health & Wellbeing  Cluster

 

Adult Social Care & Public Health

Jenny Harrison

Education & Safeguarding

Amanda Chadderton

Cluster Deputy Cabinet Member

Vita Price

Cluster Chair (HWB)

Sue Dearden

Neighbourhoods & Cooperatives Cluster

 

Neighbourhoods & Cooperatives

Barbara Brownridge

Housing, Planning & Highways

Dave Hibbert

Cluster Deputy Cabinet Member

Eddie Moores

Corporate Support

 

Finance & HR

Abdul Jabbar

 

Taking a stand against Hollins Road betting shop plans

Leading betting shop company Ladbrokes – which made £1,084.4 million last year – has submitted a planning application to open in a unit next to the Asda store in Hollins Road which would be open for 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. Local residents are angry, not least because there is already another betting shop a mere 200 yards away.

Cllr Jean Stretton, Cabinet Member for Co-operative and Neighbourhoods and ward councillor for Hollinwood, is leading the opposition to the plans and has referred the matter to the council’s planning committee. (Read more)

Leader of the Council Cllr Jim McMahon has today sent a letter to the Council’s Head of Planning and Infrastructure strongly opposing the application. In it he states:

“To make my position clear; I am not against betting and I am not against betting shops on the high street. I am against the predatory practices and poor regulation which allows them to operate without fear of challenge. I am also against the focus on poorer areas where increasingly in tough economic times the desperation of debt and low incomes create a natural human response – to find a way out of that cycle of poverty and debt. Simply saying it is a matter of individual choice or harmless fun in that context doesn’t wash.

It is no coincidence that clusters appear very quickly with betting shops, pawn brokers and payday loan shops. They all are interdependent on poverty, desperation and creating a cycle of ‘normal behaviour’ whereby people take for granted that this is normal life – just how you get by.

That isn’t the future I want for Oldham.”

The full letter from Cllr Jim McMahon to Jameson Bridgewater can be read here.

Cllr Jim McMahon’s hopes for today’s Spending Review

LIKE every Council Leader in the country I’ll be biting my fingers today.
The Chancellor will be setting out the coalition government’s spending plans for 2015/6 – and it’s fair to say I’m not expecting great news.
It’s already been trailed nationally that we’re likely to see a further 10 per cent cut in our funding, which would mean the average council needing to find another £30 million in savings on top of existing cuts.
Having already taken more than £150 million out in the past five years here, it will yet again mean we have to look at all our options to find savings from across the range of non-statutory services. That’s not to mention capital money that has dried up leaving schemes like Housing Market Renewal cut adrift.
We’ve risen to this challenge to date but, as the Local Government Association has already warned, it will mean threats to things like children’s centres and road maintenance budgets nationwide – and could even see some authorities switching off street lighting between midnight and dawn.
We’ve managed to minimise the impact felt by service users here so far – but you can only hack away at a tree for so long.
That £150 million already lost here isn’t just money we’ve had to take from services – it’s money taken out of our local economy altogether. It’s money that would have filtered down to local companies, suppliers, residents and districts across our Borough.
The popular national media view that councils are full of overpaid and underworked bureaucrats couldn’t be further from the truth. The vast majority of our team are your frontline workers like park keepers, waste collectors, the highways team and social workers keeping children safe.
The majority of our staff are also Oldhamers. So when we make people redundant to balance the books we’re only adding to growing local unemployment. Less people working and paying taxes and more people on out-of-work benefits: where is the sense in that?
Local Government has already taken the brunt of these cuts to date and yet it seems pretty clear to me that other parts of the public sector are far less efficient, wasteful and even duplicating services.
Rather than moan, however, what I want to talk about is what I’m hoping to hear from the Chancellor today.
Put simply, I’m urging him to give us some hope we can turn the economic tide – and do it by showing leadership.
Here in Oldham we need capital funding that will help us to create lasting employment opportunities, spark meaningful regeneration, and attract new private sector investment in a way that no ‘invisible hand’ will ever do in a recession.
George Osbourne needs to get that message.
We want him to turn the big talk about infrastructure projects and new homes, for example, into direct action that creates jobs: and does it quick.
Oldham Council is already trying to do this in our Borough. You can see that in schemes like Get Oldham Working and our regeneration plans. We have stepped up – even whilst delivering big cuts – and I want Government to do the same.
Such action from Government would be all the more welcome given that its current strategy on deficit reduction simply doesn’t add up.
That’s because whilst around £1 billion has been cut from the budgets of the ten Greater Manchester councils in recent times, it hasn’t helped to cut the deficit one jot. The additional numbers of people now out of work and claiming benefits as a result means the public purse has simply been handed a whopping ADDITIONAL welfare bill of around £1.2 billion.
So, I will be listening with great interest to what the Chancellor has to say today – although we won’t get all the answers.
Local Government finance is a complex picture. Our funding comes from several Government departments, plus business rates and Council Tax, so it will be the middle of next week before we can see the full picture and know what extra savings we must find.
But the real question for me is: how much has Mr Osborne been listening to us?

Jim McMahon
Oldham Council Leader

Stella Creasy MP visiting Oldham Credit Union today

Stella Creasy MP

Stella Creasy MP, Labour MP for Walthamstow will be visiting the Oldham Credit Union (OCU) this afternoon as part of her campaign against what she refers to as “legal loan sharks” (payday lenders).

With Cabinet Members from Oldham Council – Cllrs Shoab Akhtar, Jean Stretton and Amanda Chadderton – Stella will be meeting Mike Louden (OCU) plus staff and members/residents who have benefited from the Oldham Credit Union.

They will be discussing the part the OCU is playing in Oldham Council’s Co-operative response to Welfare Reform.

This includes work to raise awareness and signpost residents to financial help, encouraging use of the Jam Jar accounts, plus other campaigns that can make a difference: like the local crackdown illegal loan sharks, and the Fare’s Fair campaign which has seen public transport costs significantly reduced for local residents.

New permit scheme for roadworks launches today

RoadworksThe Greater Manchester Road Activity Permit Scheme (GMRAPS) is an initiative by TfGM in partnership within all 10 local authorities. Greater Manchester will become the first area in the country to implement a joint permit scheme for road works launching on 29th April.

Other areas of the country have individual schemes but GM is the first area to implement a joint scheme where all local authorities collaborate in a consistent way with all those organisations carrying out road works.

Permit schemes enable local authorities to manage and co-ordinate road works more effectively to help to minimise disruption to users and to the road network.

Stricter controls over how and when roadworks are carried out mean that organisations such as utility companies will have to apply for a permit in advance, pay a fee for that permit and risk a penalty notice if that work overruns. Controls and conditions can be attached to the permits to assist in the co-ordination of works on the highway and direct the timing of the activities for the benefit of all road users.

TfGM and Oldham Council have been working closely together to ensure the success of this scheme. It will provide the following key benefits for Greater Manchester residents, businesses and visitors;

  • A greater incentive for utility companies to co-ordinate activities and to deliver and achieve completion dates for road works activities
  • Reduced delays and disruption; and reduce the impact on the public and businesses
  • Improved reliability of journey times, including those by public transport
  • Improved communication about the purpose and duration of works
  • A single register of all Activities, available to all

For more information, go to gmraps.org

Michael Meacher MP recommended for borough’s highest honour

Michael Meacher MP

Oldham Council will consider a proposal for Michael Meacher MP to be bestowed with the title of Honorary Freeman of the Borough at the next meeting of Full Council on Wednesday (April 17th).

Mr Meacher has served as a Member of Parliament in Oldham for 43 years in total and for 29 years on Labour’s Front Bench.

Mr Meacher was elected as MP for the constituency of Oldham West in 1970, which he served until 1997 when he was elected as MP for Oldham West and Royton.

He served as a junior minister under Prime Minister Harold Wilson as the Under Secretary for Industry and under Prime Minister Jim Callaghan as the Under Secretary for Health and Social Security.

As a member of the Shadow Cabinet under the then Leader of the Opposition, Neil Kinnock, he served as Shadow Secretary of State for several departments including Social Security, Health and Social Services and Employment.

He also served as Shadow Secretary of State for Transport under Tony Blair when
he was Leader of the Opposition.

He was then appointed as Minister of State for the Environment in Prime Minister Tony Blair’s first government and he served in this post for six years from 1997-2003.

Members are recommended to vote in favour of the proposal which requires two-thirds to vote in favour for it to be passed.