Citizen’s budget would make Oldham safer, greener and cleaner

Shaw Councillor Chris Gloster, Shadow Cabinet Member for Finance and Low Carbon, is looking forward to presenting the Liberal Democrat budget amendment to Oldham’s annual Budget Council 2 March 2022.

Many of the proposals have been shaped by feedback from the Borough’s residents and Councillor Gloster’s confident that the Opposition Group has produced a budget amendment that will have no adverse impact on council finances, whilst delivering further improvements in the Council services that residents most value.

Councillor Gloster, who is Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrat Opposition Group on Oldham Council will present this amendment on Wednesday 2 March 2022 in response to the Labour Administration’s proposal that recommends a 3.99% increase in Council Tax, coupled with the Labour Metro Mayor Andy Burnham’s proposal to increase the Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s ask by 7.1%.

Councillor Gloster said: “The Oldham Liberal Democrats want to reduce civic centre bureaucracy to squeeze out more money to spend on the front-line services most valued by the public. As we begin to emerge from the nightmare of COVID-19, we wish to look at building back better in our Borough by focussing on making Oldham safer, greener and cleaner.”

Liberal Democrat Councillors are proposing to change part of Labour’s capital investment programme and finding more money from cutting bureaucracy and waste elsewhere in the Council’s budget to allow them to:

  • Invest £3,750,000 between 2022 and 2027 to fund the fight to get to net zero.
  • Over the next two years, create a dedicated fund worth £3 million to repair our roads and footways, fund traffic and pedestrian safety initiatives and address the issue of disabled parking bays which have been under resourced.
  • Increase the investment in tackling environmental crime by £200,000 over the next two years to combat the scourge of fly tipping, dog fouling and litter.
  • Support a 20s Plenty scheme to reduce road speeds on roads across the borough, making them safer and reducing air pollution, at a cost of £235,000 over the next two years.
  • Reverse Labour’s cuts to Early Help funding, by providing an extra £100,000 to pay for more help for the borough’s most vulnerable people. This saves money elsewhere by reducing the demands made upon our overstretched health, mental and social work teams.
  • Introduce a fund for free bulky waste collection to prevent fly tipping.
  • Invest £100,000 more into Youth Services, with an emphasis on supporting outreach youth work to support vulnerable young people and helps prevent anti-social behaviour and crime in our communities.
  • Invest an additional £150,000 on crime prevention and safety measures to make our borough’s residents feel safer.
  • Reinstate the £15,000 grant to both Shaw and Crompton and Saddleworth Parish Councils to recognise the work of these unpaid elected volunteers and to enhance local democracy.

Councillor Howard Sykes, Liberal Democrat Opposition Leader, who is seconding the proposal said: “Our budget amendment is simple but effective. After listening to the people that actually pay for these services in the first place, we have identified savings that will release money to re-invest in the front-line services that the public value.”

Howard Sykes at the former Crompton Baths site

“In the next year, the Liberal Democrats will save £1 million by cutting Civic Centre bureaucracy and waste to spend on these front-line services as well as tweaking the Capital Programme to achieve maximum benefit to the people who matter, the public, without any additional increase in expenditure or loss of service,” added Councillor Sykes.

Councillor Gloster added “It would be remiss of me not to mention the so-called proposals the Conservative Group on Oldham Council have submitted, the first time in living memory for me. At least they will have something different to vote for instead of, as usual, voting for the Labour budget.

“When it was first released, I thought for a moment that it was an old Liberal Democrat amendment that had been incorrectly published, however, upon further reading it is clear that the Conservative Group, who failed to submit any Equality Impact Assessments with their proposals for scrutiny, they have stolen a number of our previous budget amendments. Ironically in the past they voted against some of these very same proposals when we brought them before the Council, but now appear to have had a change of heart.”

Councillor Sykes concluded: “The Conservatives have dragged together a hotch potch of mainly our old suggestions and published a so-called amendment that relies upon raiding council reserves as an alternative to finding real savings. They simply rely, in the main, upon money within rapidly depleting council reserves which is risky and reckless and just delays larger cuts – which will be in key front-line services – until next year. A typical Conservative tactic of kicking the can down the road, something they have clearly learned from the Government.”

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