Liberal Democrat Councillors Hazel Gloster and Howard Sykes MBE will be proposing a motion at the next full meeting of Oldham Council (Wednesday 12 December) calling for the establishment of Safe Zones and for the ‘Ask Angela’ scheme to be adopted to help make Oldham town and district centres in the borough safer for night-time revellers.
Commenting Councillor Gloster said: “When the Liberal Democrats were in power, we tackled the anti-social issues that resulted from problem drinking in Oldham town centre, issues that attracted lots of unwanted media attention with Yorkshire Street being dubbed ‘the Wild West’ and I am pleased to say that things are now a lot quieter. However, people do sometimes have too much to drink or they can feel threatened late at night, and we should take action to ensure that young people and vulnerable people who get into difficulty are able to find help when they need it.”
The Liberal Democrats are calling for a Student Safe Spot / Zone scheme and an ‘Ask Angela’ scheme to be established in Oldham and in other district centres across the borough, as they are in other places with student populations such as Bradford and Manchester.
Councillor Gloster added: “Although ours is not a big university town, we do have the Oldham Sixth Form College, the Oldham College and University Campus Oldham in our town centre. Safe Spots are designated venues where staff offer support to students who feel unwell or unsafe late at night by phoning for a taxi, a friend or the emergency services. These venues display a prominent sticker in their window and new students receive information about the scheme as part of their induction. In Bradford, there is also an arrangement with a local taxi firm to transport students home who find themselves without money, with the bill later being settled via the university authorities.”
“The Ask Angela scheme is operated nationwide in many pubs and clubs. Like Student Safe Spots, staff will swing into action to help when someone who feels vulnerable or threatened ‘asks for Angela’ at the bar. This scheme is primarily, though not exclusively, aimed at lone women, who may for instance meet someone new for a date and find they feel increasingly uncomfortable or unsafe and want to leave discreetly. Premises promoting the scheme display posters, which are usually placed in the toilets of those establishments to be discreet.”
Councillor Gloster concluded: “These ideas are common-sense suggestions that will help people feel safer when they go out for a drink or a meal in the evening. They complement other excellent initiatives, such as the Street Angels scheme. The Liberal Democrats would like to see the Council work with the licensed trade, the Police and our social partners to introduce these measures in our town centre and in our district centres, for example in Shaw, and I do hope that Council will support them.”