April 2018
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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.

Dog owners asked to keep pets under close control in countryside 

Dog owners are urged to keep their pets on short leads to protect wildlife in the Peak District National Park.

During the breeding season of spring and early summer, new-born lambs and ground-nesting birds, such as lapwing, curlew and snipe, are particularly vulnerable to harm from dogs roaming free or on long leads.

By law, dogs must be under control on public rights of way and on a short lead on open access land from March 1 to July 31. In fields containing farm animals and nesting birds, it is sensible to keep dogs on leads.

Peak District National Park access and rights of way manager Mike Rhodes said: “Walking a dog is one of the joys of being in the countryside, but we need all dog owners to keep their pets under proper control during this sensitive time, which usually means being on a short lead.

“Ground nesting birds are particularly at risk, while sheep and lambs can also be badly injured or killed by uncontrolled dogs. For its own safety, never let a dog approach or chase farm animals or wildlife – your dog could get kicked, trampled or lost and it could be legally shot for chasing farm animals.

“It is not a legal requirement to use a lead on public paths, but you should be extra vigilant in the breeding season and always use a lead if you can’t rely on your dog’s obedience.”

Dogs are not allowed at all on some moors to protect sensitive breeding sites – and signs will indicate this on site.

To report incidents involving dogs on farmland or moors, call the police on 101. To ask for signs to go up in problem areas, please contact Peak District National Park on 01629 816200 (weekdays).

More advice can be found in the Countryside Code at www.naturalengland.org.uk/countrysidecode

Yorkshire meets Paris at the Millgate this April!

John Godber’s brilliantly funny look at the English abroad, April in Paris, will be performed by the Saddleworth Players at the Millgate Arts Centre in Delph from April 7 to 14.

Al and Bet lead a quiet, boring life in Yorkshire. After 20 years working for the same company, Al is made redundant and is unable to find another job. Frustrated with life and worried about the future, their marriage has stagnated. Then Bet wins a romantic break competition in a magazine. The prize: a holiday for two in Paris. Their first trip abroad, they struggle with French cuisine, the French language and muggers in the Metro! This brilliantly funny story is about the reawakening of a relationship and how people view the world outside their horizons.

April in Paris is directed by Verity Mann and co-directed by John Matthews. Liz Travis plays the role of Bet and Paul Dawson plays Al.

Saddleworth Players will perform April in Paris at the Millgate Arts Centre, Delph, from April 7 to 14. Tickets can be purchased online at www.saddleworthplayers.org.uk, from the Millgate Arts Centre box office: 01457 874644 (Tuesdays 2pm – 5pm, Wednesday & Thursday 2pm – 7pm and Fridays & Saturdays 9:30am – 1pm), or from Delph Library, Millgate, Delph, Oldham OL3 5JG.

Local Elections on May 3rd. Are you registered to vote?

Alpha Stock Images - link to - http://alphastockimages.com/Oldham Council is encouraging residents to ensure they’re registered to vote ahead of the local elections in May.

The town will go to the polls on May 3 when one seat will be contested in each ward.

Voters will not be able to vote if they are not registered so, Oldham Council is urging people to exercise their democratic rights by registering to vote early.

The Returning officer and Council Chief Executive, Dr Carolyn Wilkins OBE, said: “Democracy is important on many levels from the EU referendum and general elections to those issues addressed at a local level from roads and bins to schools and libraries. These issues are very important but often the things that have the most direct on people’s lives are at a local level which is why it’s so important to participate in local elections. That’s why we’re urging people to ensure they’re registered and have their say.”

A social media campaign is also underway to ensure residents don’t forget to register.

To register to vote, simply visit https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote and to register for a postal vote, visit https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/apply-for-a-postal-vote.

A final list of candidates for the local elections will be issued on April 9.

Social Care Team and OMT battle icy conditions to reach Diggle pensioner

Through the strongest blizzards and the deepest snowdrifts, there’s a team of everyday heroes checking in on all elderly and vulnerable people in Oldham.

Many people have been affected by the severe weather in recent days but spare a thought for those who rely on the help of others.

Staff from Oldham Council and MioCare, which is responsible for delivering social care provision in Oldham, have literally been digging their way into the homes of elderly and vulnerable people as the Beast from the East hits the borough with blizzards and drifting snow. The winter weather has left many elderly people cut off from the outside world. Often completely immobile and in some instances, left without sufficient heat and food.

In response, Oldham Council and MioCare staff have pulled out all the stops to make sure older people are safe and well. In the height of the treacherous conditions on Thursday (March 1), MioCare staff trekked through the snow to visit 160 elderly and vulnerable people to make sure they were safe and had everything they needed. Thousands of other vulnerable residents were also contacted by phone.

MioCare workers marched through snow up to their waist to reach a 94-year-old woman in Strinesdale to make sure she had plenty of food and that she was warm.

Oldham Council’s Adult Social Care team became very worried about a 90-year-old woman who lives alone on a farm in Diggle. She had no heating other than a coal fire and, unfortunately, all her coal was outside. Drifting snow stopped the team from reaching the woman as they tried twice to battle the icy conditions. She was given support over the phone until the team aided by the Oldham Mountain Rescue Service were finally able to break through and help her.

Cllr Jenny Harrison, Cabinet Member for Social Care and Safeguarding, said: “This week has been a very testing time for everyone in Oldham. Simple tasks such as going to the shop for food have become an enormous struggle. At Oldham Council, we are urging those who can to support the vulnerable and elderly during these challenging times.

“We are doing our bit. There isn’t a single call for help not being answered by our incredible teams who put others first every day. We urge residents to do their bit and check on any elderly neighbours. Make sure their heating is working, they have enough food and water and don’t feel alone. The result is that everyone remains safe and well during this period of severe weather.”

Karl Dean, Managing Director at MioCare, said: “The team successfully met every single call out. The care of our most vulnerable was at the forefront of our minds with every staff member going the extra mile to ensure the safety of those who needed our help most.

“I am enormously proud of the team and the work they do.”

If you or someone you know, is in need of urgent care in these adverse weather conditions please call 0161 770 7777. (Between 5pm and 9am call 0161 770 6936).

Delph Library needs your help!

One of the consequences of the financial squeeze on Oldham Libraries is the plan to reduce support to Delph Library.

For the past six years, a Library Assistant has worked alongside a volunteer during library opening hours. From the end of April, this support will be reduced so that there will not be a Library Assistant working in the library for most of the time.

In order to keep the library open Delph Community Association is looking for more volunteers to work in the library. This is interesting and rewarding work and appropriate training will be given. The working sessions will be no longer than three hours. Ideally, volunteers would work one session a week.

Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer should phone 01457 875171 for more information.

A Load of Poo

Local residents and dog walkers, Gill and Les Pearce, are appalled at how irresponsible some dog walkers are when it comes to picking up poo.

Whilst recently walking their dog along the canal towpath in Diggle, between the tunnel end and the first canal lock by the children’s play area, they collected fifty-two discarded poo bags. Mr Pearce said, “With waste bins at either end of this section of towpath, it’s  difficult to understand why some dog owners would choose to do this. It’s not only irresponsible,  it’s a danger to health. The carrier bag we put the poo bags in weighed as much as a heavy bag of shopping!”

Please, if you’re a dog walker, pick it up, bag it and bin it!

EA Object to new Saddleworth School Planning Application


Flooding downstream in Uppermill 2016 (Photo: ©StuartColeman)

The Environment Agency has recently recommended the revised planning application for a new Saddleworth school in Diggle be refused.

The Environment Agency (EA), in a recent statement, have informed Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council Planning that they will be objecting to the revised planning application for a new Saddleworth School in Diggle. They state that, “in the absence of an acceptable Flood Risk Assessment they will object to the grant of planning permission and recommend refusal.”

The EA felt the revised flood risk assessment did not comply with the requirements set out in the National Planning Policy Framework stating that, ” the submitted FRA fails to:

1.Take the impacts of climate change into account in setting finished floor levels, new climate change allowances have been published on 19th February 2016, see https://www.gov.uk/guidance/flood-risk-assessments-climate-change-allowances for full details. The Environment Agency does not have updated flood levels with the revised climate change allowances. Finished floor level should be set at least 600mm above the 1%AEP 35%cc level, or 1%AEP 70%cc, whichever is greater.

2. Provide compensatory flood storage for the proposed ground raising, gabion walls and finished floor level. The development must not increase flood risk elsewhere. Floodplain compensation works should be based on the 1%AEP 35%cc levels as a minimum to ensure risk is not increased elsewhere as the impacts of climate change occur. As per your comment in section 4.13 of the FRA, we would recommend the use of the Oldham SFRA 1D/2D model to calculate floodplain compensatory storage, which must be provided level by level. A drawing should be provided detailing the design and location of proposed compensatory flood volumes.

3. Take into account the impact of climate change on the proposed replacement bridge. We note your comment in section 3.1.2 regarding replacement bridge. The soffit level (not the deck level) should be set at least 600mm above the 1%AEP 35%cc level, or 1%AEP 70%cc, whichever is greater.

4. Identify whether there is a loss of floodplain volume as a result of the proposed replacement bridge. Any loss of floodplain volume must be compensated for.”

WYG who submitted the FRA has been told they can overcome the objections raised if they are able to resubmit an FRA that, “covers the deficiencies highlighted [in the EA’s statement] and demonstrates that the development will not increase risk elsewhere and where possible reduce flood risk overall. If this cannot be achieved [the EA] are likely to maintain their objection to the application.

Cllr. Keith Lucas spokesperson for the Save Diggle Action Group said, ‘While I understand the frustration of parents and pupils in getting a new school for Saddleworth, what has never been acknowledged from a section of the community is the impact building the school in Diggle will have environmentally and infra-structurally on the quality of life for Diggle and its surrounding habitat and villages.

The unresolved issues, to do with increased flood risk, on which the EA have objected, have been brought to the council’s attention again and again by objectors but persistently ignored. Even after the Judicial Review hearing, where the same issue was aired and acknowledged as a flaw – nothing was done to address it. The Council and ESFA appear to be burying their heads in the sand about the issues at Diggle instead of facing them and reviewing the rationale behind this site choice.’

Diggle News contacted Oldham Council for more information but they were unavailable for comment.



Chip shop owner attacked and robbed in Diggle. Can you help?

A personal Robbery incident took place on Huddersfield Road, Diggle at its junction with Ward Lane at 7:40 pm on the evening of Thursday 1st February 2018.

Here the female proprietor of  Diggle chip shop had left for the night carrying a black rucksack. As she crossed the bottom of Ward Lane opposite her premises she was grabbed from behind by a male who was described as wearing a dark coloured hoodie. He had his hood up and his face was covered. A short struggle ensued with the offending male attempting to prise the rucksack from the grip of the owner who valiantly fought back. She was punched in the face in the struggle and fell to the floor.

Still hanging onto the bag the woman was dragged along the ground sustaining injuries to her hands. Eventually, she had to let the bag go and the offender and a male accomplice wearing a light grey /silver hoodie ran off up Spurn Lane and away from view.

This was a particularly nasty unprovoked attack on a member of our local community and Greater Manchester Police ask that if you have any information regarding this incident to please get in touch with them on 101 quoting Police log 1812 01/02/18

Officers have been conducting enquiries at the scene and there are a number of leads they are following encompassing both eyewitness and CCTV evidence.

Police are appealing for the public’s help. Did you see anything around this time? Information suggests that these offenders had been in the area on previous evenings, did you see them?

Any information should be passed to Police on 101 quoting log number 1812

Peak District walks among Britain’s best-loved routes

The Peak District’s iconic Mam Tor has been named as one of the country’s favourite places to explore.

It was voted number 10 in Britain’s 100 Favourite Walks, screened last night on ITV.

Five other routes were also highlighted, with Kinder Scout at number 21, Dovedale to Milldale (26), Stanage Edge (35), The Roaches (53) and the Nine Ladies stone circle (96).

Peak District National Park chief executive Sarah Fowler said:  “We’re thrilled that Britain’s original National Park had such a strong showing in this popular countdown, including a place in the top ten with the stunning Mam Tor.

“It was also great to see Kinder Scout feature strongly as this was the scene of the Mass Trespass in 1932, which earned people the right to roam the moors and ultimately led to the creation of our National Parks.

“The inclusion of the rugged and breathtaking Stanage Edge and the secluded valley of Dovedale within the top 50 really showcased the variety of landscape and walking opportunities the Peak District has to offer.

“The programme also highlighted how vital it is that we continue to look after these most sought after routes, and it was particularly fitting that Mam Tor made it into the top ten. The Great Ridge walk – between Mam Tor and Lose Hill – is one of the routes featured in this year’s Mend our Mountains campaign led by the British Mountaineering Council.”