‘Keep Clean Air Zone free’ say Oldham Liberal Democrats

‘Keep Clean Air Zone free’ say Oldham Liberal Democrats

Borough news, environment
Liberal Democrat Opposition Leader councillor Howard Sykes MBE has called for common sense as Andy Burnham’s war of words with the government over the Clean Air Zone (CAZ) continues. The Greater Manchester Mayor is locked in a bitter stalemate with Conservative ministers after he rejected Government proposals to limit the Clean Air Zone to Manchester City Centre only. Councillor Sykes said, “It’s about time we had some common sense instead of bickering between Mayor Burnham and the Conservatives. The Liberal Democrats want to see people’s jobs and income protected at a time when many are struggling. Keeping CAZ free is the best way forward if we want to protect jobs during the cost-of-living crisis. “If the Conservative government force a charging zone on Greater Manchester then the area affected by…
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Millions lost on failed PoliceWorks system – who will pay?

Millions lost on failed PoliceWorks system – who will pay?

Borough news
Responding to the news that the PoliceWorks system – the failed part of GMPs iOPS computer system costing millions of pounds – will be scrapped, Liberal Democrat Councillor Sam Al-Hamdani called for those responsible to be held accountable. Councillor Al-Hamdani said: “We have waited years for GMP and the police and crime commissioner to finally step up and acknowledge this massive failure. Now they have accepted it, who is going to carry the can? “We have just seen a substantial increase in the Mayoral precept for every Council Tax payer in Greater Manchester. Is that money going straight from everyone’s pockets to cover this catastrophic investment in a failed IT system?” Councillor Al-Hamdani, who has raised the iOPS system at the last two Oldham Council meetings after repeated failures to…
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GMP miss decision deadline on failing IT system

GMP miss decision deadline on failing IT system

Borough news
A decision on the failing multi-million pound iOPS system has still not taken, despite Manchester’s chief constable saying that one was due to be made in December. The computer system, which has cost over £29 million to implement – although the exact figure may never be known – still has major flaws, particularly in the “Police Works” system, which is used to track investigations. Chief Constable Stephen Watson, who was landed with the unenviable task of managing the problems when he took over in 2021, organised an ‘Options Review’ of the system earlier this year, and had stated that a decision would be taken in December. Local Liberal Democrat Councillor Sam Al-Hamdani said: “This whole thing has been shambolic. Delay after delay, review after review, problem after problem. “We keep…
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Burnham must keep his promises: clean air and no job losses

Burnham must keep his promises: clean air and no job losses

Borough news, environment
Andy Burnham must keep his manifesto promise to clean up air pollution in Greater Manchester without “the loss of a single job or business”. His plans to implement a Clean Air Zone – following the instructions of the Conservative Government – were clear in his manifesto but have come under withering public attack as the implementation date nears. “The Liberal Democrats have a simple message for Mayor Burnham,” said Oldham’s Opposition Leader and Transport Spokesperson for Greater Manchester, Councillor Howard Sykes MBE. “Keep your promises, or admit you were elected on a platform you couldn’t stick to. You need to pause and re-think the whole scheme, and you need to do it now!” The Clean Air Zone is being introduced because there are an estimated 1,200 deaths a year in…
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Andy Burnham and GMP fail to provide matched funding for child safeguarding

Andy Burnham and GMP fail to provide matched funding for child safeguarding

Borough news, domestic abuse and violence
A year after the child and safeguarding teams in all 10 areas of Greater Manchester wrote to highlight the failure of Greater Manchester Police and the GM Mayor to provide equitable funding for child safeguarding across the whole of the region, there has been no change to the funding made. At November’s Overview and Scrutiny meeting in Oldham (14/11/21), Liberal Democrat Councillor Mark Kenyon identified the funding gap, and demanded to know why it still existed. Councillor Kenyon said: “Safeguarding children is crucial work in Oldham and across the whole of Greater Manchester so I was alarmed to see that despite the funding inequalities being highlighted to the GM Mayor’s office over a year ago, nothing has changed.” Government guidance indicates that safeguarding partners – in this case the local…
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Review of Greater Manchester scrutiny practices ‘long-overdue’, says Sykes

Review of Greater Manchester scrutiny practices ‘long-overdue’, says Sykes

Borough news
One year on from a promise made by the Mayor of Greater Manchester to conduct an independent review of the way in which decisions made by the GM Mayor, Council leaders and chief officers are scrutinised and challenged, the city region’s Liberal Democrat remain frustrated and disappointed by the lack of progress. Councillor Howard Sykes MBE, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Opposition Group on Oldham Council, who serves as a member of Transport for Greater Manchester, feels that the current arrangements are ‘wholly unfit for purpose’. “Having efficient mechanisms in place to enable the effective scrutiny of decision-making by the Mayor, Council leaders and senior officers of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority is an essential prerequisite for good governance, a genuine democracy, and devolved power. At present they are not…
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Electric charging strategy is ‘divorced from reality’

Electric charging strategy is ‘divorced from reality’

Borough news
Urgent improvements are needed to the Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s electric charging strategy, according to the region’s Liberal Democrats, who have warned that the plan seems to have no plan for delivery. With a new clean air zone planned for Manchester, ensuring that there is the support needed for alternative fuels is crucial. Yet with 3,000 public chargers needed by 2025, the region has just 323 in place, and only plans to add another 54 in the next year. Oldham Liberal Democrat Councillor Sam Al-Hamdani said: “This strategy is completely divorced from reality if they think that this is good enough. At this rate, we wouldn’t have a public charging network in place in 50 years, never mind five. “It is an insult to the drivers who are being told…
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‘Computer Says No!’ – Police officers still failed by Mayor’s new iOPs system

‘Computer Says No!’ – Police officers still failed by Mayor’s new iOPs system

Borough news
Police officers and the victims of crime across Greater Manchester continue to be let down by a new computer system backed by £29 million in public money from Greater Manchester’s Labour Mayor and Police and Crime Commissioner, Andy Burnham. A report by accountants Price Waterhouse Coopers into police performance was finally published last Friday after being hidden for many months by Mayor Andy Burnham. Pressure from the Liberal Democrat Leader of Oldham Council, Councillor Howard Sykes MBE, helped bring the findings to light. It includes a damning litany of the inadequacies of the iOPs (Integrated Operational Policing System) system. Councillor Sykes said: “Police officers have complained to me about the inadequacies of iOPs from the time it was first introduced in June 2019. The PwC report candidly records the frustration…
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Police reforms and PwC report publication ‘eagerly awaited’

Borough news
The Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Oldham Council, Councillor Howard Sykes MBE, is ‘eagerly awaiting’ Friday 10 September, for this is the day that Greater Manchester’s new Police chief reveals his plan to reshape policing across the city region and the Mayor of Greater Manchester finally publishes a secret report into police failings. Councillor Sykes has previously written to Mayor Andy Burnham demanding a report prepared in the spring at public expense by accountants Price Waterhouse Coopers be published. His requests have met with obfuscation and outright refusal as Mayor Burnham kept the report under wraps during his re-election campaign and whilst a new Chief Constable was being appointed. The report allegedly exposes grave police failings; failings that Councillor Sykes has also repeatedly raised in correspondence with the…
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Most wanted: damning police report still remains at large

Most wanted: damning police report still remains at large

Borough news
One month after Oldham Liberal Democrat Leader Councillor Howard Sykes MBE wrote to Andy Burnham requesting publication of a report into the management and performance of Greater Manchester Police, the Greater Manchester Labour Mayor has failed to honour his promise to make the report public. Mayor Burnham contrived to delay publishing the report before his mayoral re-election, claiming that it would be inappropriate to do so before the new Police chief, Chief Constable Stephen Watson QPM, was sworn in. That happened over a month ago and the report has yet to see the light of day. Commenting Councillor Sykes said: “It is unsurprising really that Mayor Burnham, who also acts as Greater Manchester’s Police and Crime Commissioner, doesn’t want to publish this report as I understand it is critical about…
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