April 2017
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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.

Painter Diana Terry Explores the Saddleworth Edges

Saddleworth Edges

4 March-2 April 2017


Uppermill Museum and Art Gallery

OL3 6HS www.diterry.com

One of the many things that I love about living in Saddleworth is the way that the built environment ends in a clear defined manner. Although it is on the edge of a conurbation, the boundaries of the National Park prevents the spread of further building. These hills are apparent in all of the villages and form a natural backdrop to our lives. Some local places even have edge as part of their name, describing the places where the millstone grit breaks through the peaty moor. I have used, amongst others Millstone Edge, Harrop Edge and Edge End as starting points for my work.

It is a different world up in the hills away from the high street. Included in this exhibition are sketches made in summer 2016 of the places showing the combination of rural and industrial areas of Saddleworth. They can only be found by exploring as they are literally on the edges of our community.

Diana Terry M.A.

Saddleworth Neighbourhood Plan

Recently Saddleworth Parish Council submitted an application to Oldham Council and the Peak District National Park Authority to draw up a Neighbourhood Plan to cover the area of Saddleworth Parish.  The request has now been granted and this week a steering group met to draw up the timeline for producing the plan.


A Neighbourhood Plan is an important and powerful document with real legal force and therefore has to conform with certain formal procedures.  It is a document which:

  • sets out planning policies for the neighbourhood area. ( Planning policies are used to decide whether to approve planning applications )
  • is written by the local community, the people who know and love the area
  • A powerful tool to ensure the community gets the right types of development, in the right place.


Local people make the plan which allows them to develop planning policies that reflect the priorities which they see in their area and have real legal weight. The whole community then decides at a referendum vote whether the local authority should bring the plan into force.  We anticipate that the whole process will take us up to the end of 2018.


We hope that as many local people and groups as possible will be involved in the writing of this important Neighbourhood Plan and a public launch event for this project will be held on Tuesday 21st February at 7.00pm at the Civic Hall, Uppermill where all are welcome.

A Big Big exhibition at Gallery Oldham

Taking the camera out on the road.

The extraordinary Big Big Camera has been in the collections of Gallery Oldham for many years. Over the last two years artist and photographer Ian Beesley has been working to reuse this industrial relic and photograph the Oldham area in a whole new way. This new exhibition charts his journey and includes some suitably ‘big big’ images.

The camera was originally housed at Rome Mill in Springhead, where it was used by a company manufacturing wallpaper. Rome Mill was built as a cotton spinning mill but was converted to become a wallpaper factory by Lees Paper Staining Co in the early 1930s. It was at this point that the process camera manufactured by the London firm of Hunter Penrose was first installed. The mill continued to produce wallpaper until 1990 and when it was closed Gallery Oldham acquired the process camera for the collections.

Large cameras like this were made specifically for the printing industry and once installed were probably never moved again. Ian Beesley has worked with Gallery Oldham to get it working again, including specialist restoration of the lens as well as cleaning. Most importantly Ian had to meet the challenge of using a camera that was designed for huge negatives 24 inches square. His solution was to create a grid which could take a series of smaller negatives resulting in images made up of 20 separate prints.

Thanks to funding from Arts Council England the gallery was able to take the camera out on the road. A transit van is needed to transport a camera this size and with a little modification the van can also double as a darkroom enabling the slides to be reloaded out in the field. It is a laborious process and a maximum of three photographs can be taken in a day.

Photographer Ian Beesley has used the camera to take images across the borough as well as a series of portraits and still lifes. Poet Ian MacMillan has also worked on the

Hartford mill taken with the Big Big Camera

project to produce a series of poems in response to the photographs. Both the images and poems will be on display in this new exhibition.

Councillor Barbara Brownridge, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Co-operatives, said: “This is a fascinating project to reuse a historic piece of industrial equipment in a new way. These large scale photographs will make you think again about the whole process of taking a picture.”

Ian Beesley said: “This exhibition explores some of the aspects of photography that are now being lost in the digital age. From the sheer physicality of the equipment, to the delicate relationship with light and the uncertainty of success, this is photography in its purest but most demanding form.”

The exhibition opens on January 21 until April 22. Visitors can also join Ian Beesley for a demonstration of the camera on 15 February at 2pm.

Have you claimed the ‘Flood Resilience Grant’?



Fighting the flooding in Uppermill, Boxing Day 2015 (Photo: ©StuartColeman)

Courtesy of Christine Wilson

Saddleworth and Lees District Team

Please spread the word, see below or click on the link:  http://www.oldham.gov.uk/info/200578/emergencies/1574/flood_resilience_grant

Government grants of up to £5,000 are available for homeowners and businesses that have been flooded as a result of Storm Desmond and Storm Eva to help fund additional flood resilience or resistance measures for their properties.
The resilience grant presents a great opportunity for those who have been flooded to better prepare their homes for future flood events, both to prevent flood water from entering the property and to speed the recovery if it does.


Grants are intended only to fund measures which improve the property’s resilience or resistance to flooding, over and above repairs that would normally be covered by insurance.

Flood Resilience Grant Application Form
Property Resilience Grant Scheme Participation Agreement Form
Applications must be submitted by 31st December 2016 with all expenditure by 30th June 2017.

To apply please complete the “Flood Resilience Grant Application Form” and return it via post email:
The Head of Corporate Governance,
Financial Services,
Floor 14,
Civic Centre,
West Street,
OL1 1UG.
Applications should be submitted and approved in advance of any work being carried out. If applications are submitted after work has been started there is a risk to the homeowner/business that they may not be eligible for the grant.