April 2018
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Environment Agency reject revised environmental plan for new Saddleworth School

W.H. Shaw Pallet Works, Diggle

The Environment Agency (EA) reject, for a second time, the revised environmental plans for Saddleworth School re-development in Diggle.

The 4 year controversial Saddleworth School Saga in Diggle Oldham continues as the EA reject the revised Flood Risk Assessment (FRA) presented to the EA by InterServe Construction Ltd/WYG on behalf of the Secretary of State for Education.

The EA have rejected the revised 40 page FRA (Flood Risk Assessment) submission, stating in their letter to OMBC Planning dated 3rd April 2018 that it “does not comply with requirements set out in the National Planning Policy Framework and associated guidance”, “The excavation of the existing floodplain is not an adequate compensatory flood storage” and “we maintain our objection to the above application”. 

Cllr Keith Lucas, spokesperson for Save Diggle Action Group said, “Since our Judicial Review campaign victory (funded by local residents) where High Court Judge Mr Justice Kerr called OMBC council’s previous approval of the planning application “unlawful”, and also criticised the site selection process carried out by both the Education Skills and Funding Agency (ESFA) and OMBC, and determined that the new school could be built in Uppermill with the ESFA’s funding and that all the sites should be reconsidered properly against planning legislation and regulations, OMBC have completely ignored the High Court findings and created a wall of silence for anyone who have had genuine concerns about the infrastructural and environmental concerning about the re-location of Saddleworth School to Diggle from its present Uppermill site.

“What we are now seeing is that a statutory body like the EA questioning for the second time, OMBC and the ESFA’s site selection judgment in moving a 1500 pupil school and its associated playing fields onto a flood zone site. 

“This is in addition to The Victorian Society also objecting to the demolition of the Dobcross Loom Works buildings and the listed Link Bridge, in their letters to OMBC planning dated 30thNovember 2017 and 8thMarch 2018, “on the grounds that it would cause substantial harm to the Dobcross Works Office Building that could be avoided by exploring the Uppermill site as an alternative location for the proposed new school. The Victorian Society went on to recommend “that the current application and any others associated with this development are refused and the Uppermill site is explored as the preferred option for the new school development.”

“With two statutory consultees now objecting to the proposals to move the school to Diggle and InterServe Construction Ltd/WYG’s FRA not meeting the required National Planning Policy Framework standards, even on its second attempt, SDAG have to ask: What will it take for OMBC and the ESFA to really listen to Mr Justice Kerr’s judgment and the objections of two statutory consultees?

“We are all fully behind Saddleworth parents and pupils in getting a new school. If OMBC had listened to local public wishes for a new school to be built on the present Uppermill site in the beginning, a new secondary school would have been up and running by 2015.

“SDAG ask that OMBC please stop wasting considerable time and public money trying to move Saddleworth School to Diggle? It just isn’t achievable under planning legislation and regulations. We feel that an urgent enquiry is needed and that the public of Saddleworth get behind the appeal for the school to be rebuilt on its present site in Uppermill without any further delays.”

OMBC were not available for comment at this time.

Small dam fails above Diggle

Looking downstream through the breach

On Tuesday 17th April large amounts of peat flooded into Diggle Brook. The peat appears to have been released through a breach in the dam at Little Black Moss Reservoir situated at the head of the valley above Diggle Firing Range (Grid Ref: SE 0315 0861).

WILDFIRES highlight the vulnerability of the diverse and valuable South Pennines habitat

The South Pennines Fire Operations Group (FOG) has warned of the danger posed by wildfires, which can strike anywhere in the South Pennines, to endangered wildlife, farm livestock, valuable habitat and human health.

As good weather both dries out the peatland and encourages more people into the countryside the likelihood of wildfires increases at this time of year, explained Danny Jackson, FOG chairman. “Spring is a real danger period for moorland wildfires, which is why the partners working together through FOG, including firefighters, local authorities, local police and landowners, are asking members of the public to be extra vigilant when out in the countryside.

“The negative impact of wildfires across the moors is widely recognised, including the economic impact on farmers through the loss of grazing,” said Danny. “The loss of habitat and the effect that these fires have on nesting birds, such as the endangered twite, can also clearly be seen but in addition we want to highlight the hidden dangers; the pollution, the release of carbon into the atmosphere, and the impact on people’s health.”

Between October 1 and April 15 some controlled burning by landowners takes place, but a fire started outside of these dates, or without the appropriate control measures, is a wildfire and any person caught starting one can be prosecuted for arson.

Adam Greenwood, wildfire officer for the West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, said the message was clear: “Please be very careful when you are out on the moors. Dispose of any glass bottles and cigarettes in a responsible manner and remember to use your barbecue at home rather than on the moors. If you see a wildfire please report it through the 999 service giving its location as precisely as possible. And we would also ask people to report anyone acting suspiciously.

“Until recently moorland fires were seen as a low priority but now the uplands are recognised as being as valuable as bricks and mortar. If the peat burns it can be very difficult to extinguish and these fast moving fires in off-road locations can be tiring for firefighting crews and resource intensive, which means that we may be stretched if fires occur elsewhere,” he added.

Established by the rural regeneration company for the South Pennines, Pennine Prospects, Fire Operations Group brings together representatives from the three fire services of the area, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and West Yorkshire; the area’s water companies Yorkshire Water and United Utilities, as well as private estates; the six South Pennines local authorities and Natural England.

Mr Greenwood added: “Through the Fire Operations Group landowners can see how the fire services operate and how they can assist when dealing with a wildfire. They know the areas well and have their own specialist equipment, such as all-terrain vehicles, as well as additional human resources to tackle fires. We are firefighting together.”

And hopefully this will also benefit the wildlife at risk, including the twite, which is an endangered species on the national red list. Fires during their breeding season can have a devastating impact said Robin Gray, South Pennines Local Nature Partnership Development Manager.

“Twite is England’s most threatened song bird with only approximately 100 breeding pairs, the majority of which breed on moorland to the north of the M62,” Robin explained. “Many farmers in the Calderdale area have been working really hard to restore meadows and pasture where twite feed so that this enigmatic little finch isn’t lost from England, it would be very sad if moorland fires meant that this effort was wasted.”

HERON MASTERPIECE UNVEILED IN UPPERMILL

Oldham Council recently invited residents to celebrate the completion of a natural wooden sculpture in Uppermill Gardens. The masterpiece, which was shaped in the form of a heron, was carved from the trunk of a recently felled cherry tree which has been in decline in recent years.

The sculpting took place during the Easter school holidays with the finishing touches added on Friday 13 April. To mark the occasion a variety of woodland craft stalls were put on alongside a range of family activities.

This project initially came to light following detailed discussions with the council’s Arbor and Countryside Service over the tree’s deteriorating condition. When a decision was made for the tree to be removed, it was seen as the perfect opportunity to create a lasting feature in the gardens with what remained of the trunk. With the trunk’s prominent position and proximity to the nearby river and local wildlife – of which there have been several sightings of a heron on

The sculpted Heron and the Saddleworth District Team (From right to left: Christine Wilson, Linda Cain, Lisa Macdonald, and Jane Soriente)

the riverbank – the coastal bird was chosen as the figure to mark this carving.

The heron has a variety of positive meanings and symbolisms in a number of cultures, including self-determination, self-reflection, inquisitiveness, curiosity and determination along with strength and patience. This suited the sculpture’s location as it would be based near Uppermill Library and alongside the existing peace pole situated in the gardens.

 

CAREER AND APPRENTICESHIP FAIR OPEN TO ALL

Oldham Council is reminding residents of, ‘Get Oldham Working’s Career and Apprenticeship Fair’, following two recent closure announcements.

Digital retail firm Shop Direct outlined plans yesterday to close its centres in Shaw and Chadderton, whilst Carpetright has also announced the closure of their store at Elk Mill Retail Park in Royton. Oldham Council is disappointed that workers are set to lose their jobs and will prioritise support to all those affected.

Opportunities across various employment sectors will be available at the upcoming Career and Apprenticeship Fair, with a wide range of apprenticeships, work experience, training courses and jobs on offer from various employers within the borough and beyond. Employers attending this event include Barclays, North West Ambulance Services and O2 along with Greater Manchester Police (GMP), Lloyds Bank, Web Applications, Greater Manchester Fire service and many more.

One of the great myths around apprenticeships is that they are exclusive to the younger generation – this is incorrect. Apprenticeships are open to anyone over the age of 16 and there is no upper age limit. If you have been affected by the recent closure news and you think OMBC can help, or if you’re job hunting for the first time, looking for a return to work, or searching for the next step in your career, this event is open to everyone and it’s free to attend – just turn up on the day.

Working in partnership with Jobcentre Plus, the National Careers Service, and Ingeus, the fair runs from 9am-2pm on Wednesday 18 April at Oldham Library and Lifelong Learning Centre, Greaves Street, OL1 1AL. Staff from our GOW team and other partners will be available to advise you about careers, apprenticeships and access to training. There will also be plenty of space for you to complete any applications that you pick up, with additional support on hand in case you get stuck with any questions. Don’t worry if you have your little ones, there will be story time sessions in the library at 10am, 11am and 12 noon, so there’s no excuse to miss out.

Helen Lockwood, Executive Director for Economy, Skills and Neighbourhoods, said: “We were disappointed to hear the news of these planned closures and I’m sure this is really difficult for the staff and their families affected. Our Get Oldham Working team are ready to offer our help and support to staff, and with our Career and Apprenticeship Fair coming up next week – I’d urge anyone to attend if you think we can offer support. These events have proved to be a great success in securing residents with employment in the past and they also open up new avenues of opportunity.”

Make sure you follow the Get Oldham Working team via social media in the build-up to the Career and Apprenticeship Fair event for all of the latest updates. Facebook: @GetOldhamWorking / Twitter: @EmployOldham

If you cannot attend on the day it’s now even easier to contact the GOW team. They are located on the first floor of Metropolitan Place, Hobson Street, Oldham, OL1 1TT – across the road from the Job Centre Plus – and operate an ‘open door’ policy.

This means residents of working age can go along – without an appointment – and speak to a careers advisor, weekdays 9am until 4pm.

Contact the GOW team via their website www.oldham.gov.uk/gow, by email employability@oldham.gov.uk or by telephone 0161 770 4674.

Blocked culvert responsible for floods in Diggle

After a night of flooding along Sam Road and Huddersfield Road, the blocked culvert on Harrop Court Road which was responsible for the deluge has now been cleared.

Some ground floor flats opposite The Gate public house and some low lying properties were flooded.

Special thanks go to the local residents, the police and Oldham Council workers who helped last night and this morning to clean up and remove debris.

To report drainage problems in the area or for information on flooding visit:

https://www.oldham.gov.uk/info/200578/emergencies/886/flooding

Greater Manchester powers ahead with electric vehicle charging network

Greater Manchester’s ambition to become a leading green city has been boosted with £3 million of new funding to expand and promote its electric vehicle charging network.

The Greater Manchester Electric Vehicle (GMEV) network is already one of the biggest and most modern in the UK, with 318 charging points.

A further 48 rapid charging points (24 dual bays) are now set to be installed next year.

The announcement follows hot on the heels of the region’s first Green Summit, where Mayor Andy Burnham outlined plans to double the size of the GMEV network.

Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) successfully bid for the maximum amount of funding available from the Government’s £40 million Clean Air Plan ‘early measures’ national fund.1

The fund is specifically aimed at helping areas like Greater Manchester introduce quick steps to meet legal air quality targets as soon as possible.

Road transport in Greater Manchester is responsible for almost two-thirds of the emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx)2, one of the most harmful pollutants, and the region has been in breach of its legal limits for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) every year since 2011.

The new rapid charging points will be installed in areas of Greater Manchester where they can best help reduce high levels of NO2.

As well as the new charging points, the funding will support a major push to raise awareness and take-up of electric vehicles in the region.

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “This week I issued a challenge to people across Greater Manchester to help make us a leading green city-region across the UK and Europe. Tackling transport-related air pollutants is a key part of this and one of our biggest challenges.

“The Greater Manchester Electric Vehicle scheme is proving to be a real success, with nearly 2,000 drivers now registered and more joining every month. As vehicle costs reduce and battery capacity increases, with some vehicles now offering more than a 300-mile range, uptake in electric vehicles will surely increase. Going electric is becoming easier than ever so it’s vital that we have the right charging infrastructure to support demand for greener travel. This funding is a step in the right direction, but ultimately I want to see the GMEV network double in size – and everyone playing their part in reducing car-related fumes.”

Greater Manchester’s lead for environment, green spaces and air quality, Councillor Alex Ganotis, added: “Tackling air pollution is one of the most urgent problems facing Greater Manchester.

“Poor air quality contributes to ill health and is also a contributing factor in thousands of deaths across the region each year, as well as limiting economic growth. Electric vehicles are cleaner and quieter than ordinary cars – improving air quality, reducing noise pollution and lowering carbon emissions. This ‘early measure’ funding should help make a real difference to air quality in the worst affected areas of Greater Manchester. But it’s just part of a much bigger picture, as we work with Government to develop a wide-ranging Greater Manchester plan to clean up the air we all breathe as quickly as possible.”

The GMEV scheme launched in July 2013 with £2.1 million funding from the Office of Low-Emission Vehicles (OLEV), against a backdrop of low electric vehicle use.

The number of drivers registered with GMEV increased from 48 in 2013 to nearly 2,000 by the end of 2017. On average, 50 new members are joining each month.

Nearly 54,000 charging sessions took place in 2017, compared to around 10,000 in 2014, and the GMEV network has charged 2.5 million electrically powered vehicle miles. This has saved 651 tonnes of CO2 emissions and 1,600kg of NO2 compared with the same journeys made in Greater Manchester by petrol or diesel vehicles.

There are 2,234 registered plug-in vehicles in Greater Manchester and, nationally, ultra-low-emission vehicles (ULEV) form 2.9% of all new car sales.

The UK Climate Change Commission has set a target for all car sales to be ULEVs by 2040. Within Greater Manchester, this would mean sales of 6,300 vehicles in 2020, increasing to 25,600 sales in 2025.

Find out more at www.ev.tfgm.com.

TAKE YOUR NEXT STEP AT THE CAREER AND APPRENTICESHIP FAIR

Explore hundreds of opportunities across various employment sectors at the next Get Oldham Working (GOW) Career and Apprenticeship Fair.

With a wide range of apprenticeships, work experience openings, training courses and jobs on offer from various employers within the borough and beyond, this is a great chance for residents to start or further their careers. One of the great myths around apprenticeships is that they are exclusive to the younger generation – this is incorrect. It doesn’t matter if you are 18 or 40, apprenticeships are open to anyone over the age of 16 and there is no upper age limit.

So whether you are job hunting for the first time, looking for a return to work, or searching for the next step in your career, this event is open to everyone and it’s free to attend – just turn up on the day, no booking is required.

Working in partnership with Jobcentre Plus, the National Careers Service, and Ingeus, the fair runs from 9am-2pm on Wednesday 18 April at Oldham Library and Lifelong Learning Centre. Some of the employers attending this event include BT, United Utilities, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) and Oldham Coliseum.

Parking is available just outside the venue at the Southgate Street Car Park and Metrolink’s Oldham Central stop is only a 2-3 minute walk away. Staff from our GOW team and other partners will be available on the day to advise you about careers, apprenticeships and access to training. There will also be plenty of space for you to complete any applications that you pick up, with additional support on hand in case you get stuck with any questions.

Councillor Shoab Akhtar, Cabinet Member for Employment and Skills, said:We want to provide residents with the best possible opportunities to find employment. Whether it is through speaking with a member of our Get Oldham Working team via a one-to-one appointment or by attending one of our events such as this one – which enables you to speak with potential employers and gain access to valuable training – there are several avenues to choose from. So make sure you come down to our latest Career and Apprenticeship fair because this could be the beginning of the next step in your career like it has been for so many other residents who have previously attended.”

Make sure you follow the Get Oldham Working team via social media in the build-up to the Career and Apprenticeship Fair event for all of the latest updates. Facebook: @GetOldhamWorking / Twitter: @EmployOldham

If you cannot attend on the day it’s now even easier to contact the GOW team, which has supported the creation of more than 6,000 employment opportunities in less than three years. They are located on the first floor of Metropolitan Place, Hobson Street, Oldham, OL1 1TT – across the road from the Job Centre Plus. The base is operating an ‘open door’ policy, which means residents of working age can go along – without an appointment – and speak to a careers advisor, weekdays 9am until 4pm.

As part of GOW, residents can also use our Career Advancement Service (CAS) which helps to develop career aspirations with tailored information, advice and guidance. The service helps to identify and access training courses which aid career progression with your current or new employer.

Over the next five years GOW is looking to engage with 6,000 residents and fill 5,000 work-related opportunities, so if you are looking for work it is a good time to get in touch.

Contact the GOW team via their website www.oldham.gov.uk/gow, by email employability@oldham.gov.uk or by telephone 0161 770 4674.

Spring Clean with Bulky Bob’s – at home and at work

Bulky Bob’s is relaunching the bulky household waste collection service in Oldham with a new van, a new Bob and a new service for businesses.

The social enterprise has been collecting unwanted furniture, white goods and much more from Oldham homes for the past 8 years on behalf of Oldham Council and have just won a new contract for a further 2 years. Bulky Bob’s works with local referral agencies to give away any suitable furniture to families in need and recycle as much of the rest as possible.

Bulky Bob’s is now offering the collection service to local landlords and businesses, again giving away what they collect where possible to local people and community groups. Bulky Bob’s has also launched a new office and commercial waste service, with confidential shredding and office recycling available.

Mick Hart, Bulky Bob’s Operations Manager, said: “We’re delighted to be continuing to deliver this service to the people of Oldham, and to be expanding the range of services we offer to include landlords and businesses.”

Councillor Barbara Brownridge, Oldham Council’s Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Co-operatives, said: “Over the years hundreds of residents have used Bulky Bob’s to dispose of their unwanted household goods. The service is the cheapest in Greater Manchester and we are pleased people across the borough will be able to use it for years to come.

“As a council we are committed to making it as easy as possible for residents to dispose of, and recycle, their unwanted goods, which protects the local environment and saves money. Also the recycling of quality goods means other residents, who may not be able to afford them, will get use out of them.”   

Bulky Bob’s is also a registered charity and has helped over 300 people into sustainable employment through Driving Change, a paid-training programme focusing on logistics and warehouse skills.

They can collect up to three bulky or large items from homes for just £17.43 with additional items at £8.20 each. Anyone entitled to an assisted bin collection, (those with a physical disability, pregnant, or infirm due to old age and no other permanent householders over 18), can also receive one free bulky household collection each year.

Bulky Bob’s also sells preloved furniture items at low prices from their warehouse at Unit A, Oldham Central Trading Park, Oldham, OL1 4EB.

For more information on what Bulky Bob’s collects and how to book your collection, please visit www.bulkybobs.co.uk/

Oldham set to launch its ambitious master plan

Oldham Council is set to formally launch its search for a development partner to deliver its ambitious Town Centre Masterplan.

Subject to Cabinet approval on Monday, March 26, the local authority will be starting its procurement exercise this summer to secure a partner to work alongside us on delivering this scheme to transform the town over a 10 to 15-year period.

The Masterplan outline went out to public consultation last year and has since been refined based on feedback and the input of a team of top industry advisors.  The vision centres on significant areas of publicly-owned land where many sites are under-utilised or have buildings coming to the end of their economic life. Totalling around 21 acres in size, these include Tommyfield Market, the Civic Centre, Oldham Police Station, the former Oldham Sports Centre and former Magistrates’ Court, and the current Oldham Coliseum Theatre.

The Masterplan benefits will be the building of new homes, new and refurbished employment space and economic activity worth an estimated £50 million each year to Oldham’s economy, as well as hundreds of new jobs. As part of the updated vision, Tommyfield Market traders are set to be relocated to a new temporary home.

At a recent meeting with market traders it was agreed that Oldham Council will examine how it can support them over the next 18 months as part of the transition period while the new market hall is built. Cabinet will be asked to reduce rent levels to demonstrate their support and commitment to traders during that time.

The original masterplan proposals included retaining the Queen Elizabeth Hall but – following further detailed appraisal of the venue – it has now been determined that it falls short of the event and conference venue standards that will be required.

Cabinet is being asked to consider demolition of the Hall. This would mean the relocation of the proposed hotel to the former Magistrates’ Court area with combined new conference facilities to also be housed on the site. The remainder of the existing Civic Centre site would then be released for redevelopment.

Jean Stretton, Oldham Council Leader, said: “This is an exciting time for Oldham and we’ve made great progress in refining our plans to bring the Town Centre Masterplan to market.

“We’re looking for a partner who shares our drive and ambition to make Oldham a great place to live, work and do business – and deliver on our vision for a town centre that can thrive round the clock as a place where residents want to live and spend their leisure time.

“Tommyfield Market is an important part of Oldham’s history and is important to many residents. As part of traders’ relocation during the building of the new market hall it is important we look to support them through this change before delivering a great new venue.

“Subject to Cabinet approval, further details and information on the OJEU notice and process to secure a partner will be announced shortly afterwards. We’re looking forward to selecting and working alongside our developer partner on the next stage of this vital journey for Oldham.”

It is anticipated that an OJEU notice will be triggered in June 2018.

Following a competitive dialogue process, the selection of a preferred partner and the start on-site for works are expected in Autumn 2019.