March 2017
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A message from Greater Manchester Police

The following message from Greater Manchester Police.

Assistant Chief Constable Rob Potts of Greater Manchester Police, said: “Our thoughts remain with all those affected by the horrific events in London yesterday.

“The profound impact of these attacks has been felt across all our communities and I want to send out a strong message to everyone that we must stand together, remain vigilant and live our lives as normal.

“In light of the atrocities, we have been closely monitoring the situation to determine the appropriate response required here, in Greater Manchester. We are continuing to review our deployments and take all reasonable steps to keep people safe.

“I want be clear that there is no specific intelligence suggesting that an attack is imminent within Greater Manchester. I would also like to ask the public for their support and vigilance and want to stress that if you see anything that causes you concern or raises your suspicions do not hesitate to call the Anti-Terrorist Hotline – 0800 789 321 – or in an emergency 999.”

Report suspicious activity to the police by calling or visiting the Anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789 321 or gov.uk/ACT

Report online terrorist and extremist material online by clicking on gov.uk/ACT

Remain alert at home, work and when out and about, so we can all play our part in defeating terrorism and keeping everyone safe.

Action needed to help save our bees

The Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, Cllr John McCann, is proposing a motion to the next meeting of Oldham Council (22 March 2017) calling on the local authority to establish an action plan to help save bees in the Borough.

Cllr McCann explained: “My parents kept bees and they were a common sight in our gardens and countryside. Many of us, however, will be all too aware that sadly their numbers are in decline and that there is a real danger they could become an endangered species or even become extinct. This is down to a number of factors such as disease, climate change, the destruction of habitat because of development or farming, and the use of bee-killing pesticides.”

“But this is not simply about preserving bee numbers for nature’s sake. It is surprising how much we as humans owe to bees for our economy and our health and well-being.”

“Bees play a vital role in our rural economy by pollinating our crops. Calculations made by the University of Reading show that £500 million of total annual crop sales in the UK result from pollination by bees and other insects. The price of many fruits and vegetables would go up without bees as farmers would be forced to hand pollinate crops; the price of British apples could double.”

“Bees provide honey, and bee-pollinated crops are also important sources of Vitamins A and C and minerals like calcium, so their work is vital to our physical health. Many of us also delight in the colours and smells of the flowers that are pollinated by bees, so they play an important role in our mental well-being and our enjoyment of the great outdoors.”

The motion is supported by Cllr Julia Turner: “In recognition of our debt to bees, the last Coalition Government published a National Pollinator Strategy. In our motion, we call on the Council to establish a local bees and pollinators action plan for our Borough which identifies the practical steps we can take as a local authority to help support and increase our local bee population.”

“Our motion lists some of these practical steps such as promoting bee-keeping; establishing more wildflower meadows that bees love; and planting pollinator-friendly plants as recommended by the Royal Horticultural Society, but we also want to engage schools and colleges, social housing providers, other public bodies and the residents of this Borough to support this work by encouraging them to also grow the right plants on the land that they own.”

“One action that our motion specifically identifies is the need to cease using bee-killing insecticides, the neonicotinoids and glyphosate-based products, on our land wherever possible and to encourage the public and our partners to do likewise. Their use has been a significant factor in the decline of bee numbers and there are also real fears that such products are also detrimental to human health so we are calling on the Government to maintain the temporary ban on the use of neonicotinoids and to fund proper research into the hazards of neonicotinoids and glyphosate on human health and the environment.”

Gallery Oldham Announces ‘The Oldham Open 2017’

Gallery Oldham is inviting local artists to submit work to the ever popular ‘Oldham Open’.

The exhibition – which will run from 22 September to 18 November – promises to be a visual feast, with the gallery welcoming work from local talent in a variety of media including drawing, painting, photography, ceramics, jewellery, sculpture, film and video.

Councillor Barbara Brownridge, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Co-operatives, said: “Pick up your paintbrush, get out your sketchbook and start snapping with that camera.

“If you live, work or study in Oldham then this is your chance to show your work as part of an exciting exhibition at Gallery Oldham.

“It’s all about celebrating the creativity and talents of the borough, by showcasing work by a wide range of artists with different interests.”

Local artists should submit work – along with a completed entry form – between 6-9 September at the Gallery Oldham reception desk (between 10am and 4pm daily). Entry forms can be downloaded at www.galleryoldham.org.uk/oldham-open-returns

Anyone wanting to submit work that may have special requirements, such as a large, heavy sculpture or a video installation, should contact the gallery by September 7 at the latest to discuss installation at galleryoldham@oldham.gov.uk

Only artists who live, study or work in the borough are eligible to take part in the exhibition.

Spring has arrived in Diggle

A lovely display of purple crocus are on show opposite Wharf Mill. The bulbs were planted last year by children from Diggle Primary School, members of the Diggle Community Association and Saddleworth Rotary Club.

Commuters warned of strike-day disruption

Commuters are being warned to plan ahead and expect disruption on Monday (13 March) as staff on Northern rail services hold a one-day strike.

Most Northern services are not expected to run and any that do operate, working to a revised timetable, will be extremely busy.

All public transport and Greater Manchester’s roads are expected to be busier, especially at peak morning and evening times, with key commuter routes forecast to face the most pressure as people affected by the strike make alternative arrangements.

Transport for Greater Manchester, which is helping to co-ordinate the region’s response, is urging people to plan ahead and consider carefully their travel arrangements.

It is working to support Northern’s own customer communications effort and has created a special travel information page on its website to help keep Greater Manchester commuters on the move: tfgm.com/industrial-action.

TfGM’s Events and Operational Coordination Manager, John Fryer, said: “We are taking action to minimise the disruption to the transport network but we know there will still be problems.

“Commuters can play their part to minimise these and our advice is simple: plan ahead, be prepared, and think about all your travel choices.

“Can you travel at a different time or does your employer allow you to work from home? If you can travel at a quieter time, or in a different way – by bus, tram, bike, foot or a mixture – it can make a massive improvement not just to your journey but to people who simply don’t have a choice.

“Make a difference: make a choice,” he said.

As well as working with other transport authorities across the North, TfGM has taken action locally to help people who have to travel on the day of the strike.

As well as creating the travel information page, other TfGM actions include:

· Adding more capacity to the Metrolink network where it can – an extra 1,600 seats per hour in the peak – on the Eccles-Ashton and East Didsbury-Rochdale lines

· Additional staff on Metrolink and at key bus stations to help commuters

· Working with bus and other train operators to maximise capacity across the network, particularly on the busiest commuter corridors

· Enhanced monitoring at its network control centre so traffic flows can be optimised by altering signal timing

· Working with local highway authorities to temporarily suspend roadworks where possible on the region’s main commuter routes

John added: “Our control room will open earlier and work later on the day of the strike and we’ll have additional customer service support on the phones and online to help people who have to travel, but our strongest advice is: expect disruption and plan ahead now.”

For information on public transport across Greater Manchester visit www.tfgm.com, call 0161 244 1000 (7am-8pm, Monday to Friday, and 8am-8pm at weekends and bank holidays) or follow @OfficialTfGM on Twitter.

Spotted one of these?

RSPB want to know if you’ve seen a hen harrier in the Peak District

Hen harrier Circus cyaneus, adult female in flight, hunting, Loch Gruinart RSPB reserve, Islay, June 2002

As spring approaches, the RSPB is calling on eagled-eyed wildlife fans who enjoy walking in the Peak District to keep a look out for hen harriers, one of England’s rarest birds of prey.
The nature conservation charity has relaunched its Hen Harrier Hotline in the hope of finding out where these birds might be breeding.

At this time of year, the male hen harrier performs his courtship display known as skydancing, involving a spectacular series of swoops and somersaults. If he is fortunate enough to attract a female, he then proves his worth as a mate by passing her food offerings in mid-air.

Scientists estimate there is sufficient habitat in England to provide a home to around 300 pairs of breeding hen harriers. But last year there were only three successful nests in the whole country.

Hen harriers are in trouble largely because of ongoing illegal persecution. This is because they sometimes eat red grouse, which can make them unwelcome on moors managed for driven grouse shooting. This type of shooting requires huge numbers of red grouse and some game managers feel they need to illegally kill or disturb harriers to protect their business.

Amanda Miller, Conservation Manager for the RSPB in Northern England, said: “The past few breeding seasons have been disastrous for England’s hen harriers and sadly there appears to be no let up in the illegal killing and disturbance of these magnificent birds.

“If we can find out where these birds are breeding, we can deploy specialist staff to protect the nests, thereby giving

Hen harrier Circus cyaneus, adult male perched in flight with twig, Loch Gruinart RSPB reserve, Islay, Scotland. June

them the best chance of success. We can also fit them with satellite tags enabling us to track their movements once they have fledged.”

Male hen harriers are an ash-grey colour with black wing tips and a wingspan of just less than a metre. They are sometimes known as ghostbirds because of the pale colour of their plumage.

Female hen harriers are slightly larger, are owl-like in appearance, and have a mottled brown plumage, which camouflages them when they nest on the ground. They have horizontal stripes on their tails, giving them the nickname ringtail and a patch of white just above, on the rump.

The Harrier Hotline number is 0845 4600121 (calls charged at local rate). Reports can also be e-mailed to henharriers@rspb.org.uk. Reports of sightings should include the date and location of sighting, with a six-figure grid reference where possible. A description of the bird’s behaviour would also be useful.

The Hotline feeds into RSPB’s Hen Harrier LIFE+ Project, a five year programme of hen harrier conservation in England and Scotland. For more information, visit www.rspb.org.uk/henharrierlife.

Diggle Blues Festival Line-Up 2017

Thursday 15th June

7:30pm – 8:30pm The Gate Howlin’ Mat
9pm – 11pm Diggle Band Club Melvin Hancox Band

Friday 16th June

7pm – 8:30pm The Gate Beetroot Jam
9pm – 11pm Band Club Mighty Revelators

Saturday 17th June

3pm – 4:15pm Grandpa Greens Mississippi Malc
4:45pm – 6pm Woolyknits Mike Whellans
6:30pm – 8:30pm Kilngreen Ramshackle
9pm – 11pm Band Club Idol Frets

Sunday 18th June

1:30pm – 3pm Sub-Pressure Studios Kent Duchaine
3:30pm – 5:30pm Band Club Franny Eubank Band
6pm – 8pm Kilngreen Band of Gypsies

Diggle Blues, ‘Where the blues meets the greenery’

Parish Council host Community Day

Saddleworth Parish Council are holding a Community Day at Uppermill Civic Hall on Sunday April 2nd.

Cllr Jamie Curley said, “The day will be packed with local groups and associations as well as organisations from across Oldham Borough including representatives from the Saddleworth and Lees District office, MAHDLO and Action together who will be on hand to offer advice, workshops and training. We will also be welcoming The Real Junk Food Project who will be serving up a real treat!

“The day is an opportunity for community groups and associations to showcase their activities, attract new members/volunteers, fundraise and network with other groups.

“It’s about informing the wider Saddleworth community about what is available and what’s going on in Saddleworth. It’s also a chance for people to get involved or join a group that appeals to them.

“It’s shaping up to be a busy and exciting day.”

For more information contact Jane Soriente/Christine Wilson on 0161 770 6804/8416 or jane.soriente@oldham.gov.uk

Diggle Duck Race: 17th April

The ducks are already in training for this year’s Easter race. https://www.facebook.com/events/263040387466933/?ti=icl

Appeal for family of Victoria Cross war hero to come forward

Sergeant Thomas Steele

Oldham Council is appealing for the family of a Victoria Cross recipient from the First World War to come forward as it prepares to honour his outstanding acts of bravery.

Sergeant Thomas Steele was honoured for his role in attempting to lift the Turkish siege at Ku-al-Amara in the Middle East in 1917. At a critical moment, Sgt Steele used a machine gun to beat off an enemy attack and risked his life to rally a party of Indian soldiers who had lost all their officers. He was also severely injured and suffered 12 wounds in further conflict.

In honour of his outstanding bravery, and to commemorate 100 years since the events, Oldham Council is holding a ceremony at 11am, February 22, at St Annes Church, Lydgate. At the ceremony a commemorative paving stone will be unveiled in honour of Sergeant Steele by Councillor Derek Heffernan, the Mayor of Oldham.

The council wants to get in touch with Sgt Steele’s family so they can take part in the ceremony and share their stories. Councillor Barbara Brownridge, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Cooperatives, said: “Sergeant Thomas Steele was born in Oldham and we are proud to remember him. We have an obligation to preserve his memory and bravery for generations to come – something we hope the paving stone will do. We would like to collect stories and images of Thomas Steele so if you have any, or you are a relative, or friend, of the Steele family, please get in touch.”

The commemoration is part of the on-going national campaign to lay lasting reminders in the birth places of Members of Sgt Steele’s family, dignitaries and representatives of local community groups and schools will be in attendance.

If you’re relative – or just a friend – of Thomas Steele please come forward and contact mayors.office@oldham.gov.uk or call 0161 770 4012. We’re looking to collect stories and images to display on an online gallery at www.oldhamremembers.org.uk in his honour.

Only 1,356 of the Victoria Cross medals — the highest honour bestowed on members of the UK armed forces — have ever been awarded. Two other borough residents received the Victoria Cross for their heroic deeds in World War One. Sergeant Hogan was in battlefield in Festubert, France on October 29, 1914, when his trench had been taken by the Germans. After attempts at recapturing it failed Sgt Hogan and fellow soldiers took actions into their own hands and re-claimed it. Private Walter Mills was caught in a gas attack on the Western Front on December 10, 1917. He stayed at his post alone and threw bombs until the enemy retreated. He died of gas poisoning as he was carried away.
A service will take place on Monday 11 December to honour Oldham’s third, and final, Victoria Cross recipient, Private Walter Mills.

To get involved in Oldham’s commemorations, mark 100 years since the start of World War One, read stories about local people and their experience in the war or research stories, visit www.oldhamremembers.org.uk

For more information email oldhamremembers@oldham.gov.uk or call 0161 770 3297.