The Oldham Liberal Democrats will be proposing in their amendment to Labour’s 2021-22 Council Budget measures to make Oldham a ‘Healthier, Greener and Cleaner’ Borough.
They have found cash to invest in:
- three much needed new health centres for Shaw and Crompton, Saddleworth, and Chadderton;
- make Oldham Council greener and more energy efficient;
- improve pavements;
- and tackle speeding, anti-social behaviour, fly-tipping and dog-fouling across communities.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition, and Shadow Cabinet Member for Finance and the Green agenda, Councillor Chris Gloster, will be first presenting the Liberal Democrat’s Budget Amendment to the Council’s Performance and Value for Money Committee when it meets on 9 February, for pre Council scrutiny before tabling it for consideration by the Full Council when it debates the budget on 4 March.
Over the next five years, the Liberal Democrats are proposing to invest £18 million to build three new health centres for patients in Shaw and Crompton, Saddleworth and Chadderton by 2026. Invest £6.5 million in building a green infrastructure taking Oldham forward in its ambition to be Britain’s first carbon-neutral Council and Borough. Create a dedicated fund worth £2.5 million to repair our pavements.
For the next financial year, the Liberal Democrats have also found £294,000 more to tackle the antisocial behaviour, such as fly-tipping, litter and dog-fouling, which ruins so many communities and blights the lives of so many Oldham residents. They will spend £200,000 to introduce 20-mph zones in residential streets to cut road deaths and injuries, especially amongst children and the elderly. This is also part of their build back better agenda and making sure we recognise and keep the increased amount of walking that has happened due to the lockdowns.
In the next two years, the Liberal Democrats have identified over £1.2 million in savings from cutting Civic Centre bureaucracy and waste, such as reducing or abolishing car mileage allowances for Council staff that no longer need them (working from home for example), to spend on front-line services. They also wish to redirect a significant sum from the Council’s Capital Programme currently allocated to ‘so called projects’ in Oldham town centre to realise their ambitions.
Commenting Councillor Gloster said: “As we hopefully emerge from the nightmare of Covid-19, the proposals we have outlined in our budget amendment will help make Oldham a healthier, greener and cleaner Borough, and I am looking forward to outlining them to the PVFM Committee.
“I anticipate some tough questions as – rightly – it is the job of PVFM to properly scrutinise any plans to save or spend the hard-earned cash of our residents, but I also expect that those of our proposals which are rejected by the committee this year may well be taken up by Labour next year, or in subsequent years, without fanfare and without giving credit to the Liberal Democrats, as has happened in the past.”
Councillor Howard Sykes MBE, Leader of the Opposition, spoke in support of the proposals: “I would first like to thank Chris and the finance team for their hard work in putting together this Budget Amendment. The Liberal Democrats have consistently, year-on-year, put forward common-sense proposals which cut waste at the Civic Centre to reinvest in the frontline services that matter to Council Tax-payers, and this has again been our approach this time around.”
“Although Council finances remain very tight and we have very little latitude to make changes, the Liberal Democrats have once again come up with some innovative ideas that would – if implemented – significantly improve the lives of many of the residents of our Borough. It is noticeable that yet again the Conservative Group has failed to put forward any proposals of its own. They talk tough but consistently fail to back it up with actions. This demonstrates once more that only the Liberal Democrats have credibility as an opposition to Labour in Oldham Borough.”