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WILDFIRES highlight the vulnerability of the diverse and valuable South Pennines habitat

The South Pennines Fire Operations Group (FOG) has warned of the danger posed by wildfires, which can strike anywhere in the South Pennines, to endangered wildlife, farm livestock, valuable habitat and human health.

As good weather both dries out the peatland and encourages more people into the countryside the likelihood of wildfires increases at this time of year, explained Danny Jackson, FOG chairman. “Spring is a real danger period for moorland wildfires, which is why the partners working together through FOG, including firefighters, local authorities, local police and landowners, are asking members of the public to be extra vigilant when out in the countryside.

“The negative impact of wildfires across the moors is widely recognised, including the economic impact on farmers through the loss of grazing,” said Danny. “The loss of habitat and the effect that these fires have on nesting birds, such as the endangered twite, can also clearly be seen but in addition we want to highlight the hidden dangers; the pollution, the release of carbon into the atmosphere, and the impact on people’s health.”

Between October 1 and April 15 some controlled burning by landowners takes place, but a fire started outside of these dates, or without the appropriate control measures, is a wildfire and any person caught starting one can be prosecuted for arson.

Adam Greenwood, wildfire officer for the West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, said the message was clear: “Please be very careful when you are out on the moors. Dispose of any glass bottles and cigarettes in a responsible manner and remember to use your barbecue at home rather than on the moors. If you see a wildfire please report it through the 999 service giving its location as precisely as possible. And we would also ask people to report anyone acting suspiciously.

“Until recently moorland fires were seen as a low priority but now the uplands are recognised as being as valuable as bricks and mortar. If the peat burns it can be very difficult to extinguish and these fast moving fires in off-road locations can be tiring for firefighting crews and resource intensive, which means that we may be stretched if fires occur elsewhere,” he added.

Established by the rural regeneration company for the South Pennines, Pennine Prospects, Fire Operations Group brings together representatives from the three fire services of the area, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and West Yorkshire; the area’s water companies Yorkshire Water and United Utilities, as well as private estates; the six South Pennines local authorities and Natural England.

Mr Greenwood added: “Through the Fire Operations Group landowners can see how the fire services operate and how they can assist when dealing with a wildfire. They know the areas well and have their own specialist equipment, such as all-terrain vehicles, as well as additional human resources to tackle fires. We are firefighting together.”

And hopefully this will also benefit the wildlife at risk, including the twite, which is an endangered species on the national red list. Fires during their breeding season can have a devastating impact said Robin Gray, South Pennines Local Nature Partnership Development Manager.

“Twite is England’s most threatened song bird with only approximately 100 breeding pairs, the majority of which breed on moorland to the north of the M62,” Robin explained. “Many farmers in the Calderdale area have been working really hard to restore meadows and pasture where twite feed so that this enigmatic little finch isn’t lost from England, it would be very sad if moorland fires meant that this effort was wasted.”


Oldham Council recently invited residents to celebrate the completion of a natural wooden sculpture in Uppermill Gardens. The masterpiece, which was shaped in the form of a heron, was carved from the trunk of a recently felled cherry tree which has been in decline in recent years.

The sculpting took place during the Easter school holidays with the finishing touches added on Friday 13 April. To mark the occasion a variety of woodland craft stalls were put on alongside a range of family activities.

This project initially came to light following detailed discussions with the council’s Arbor and Countryside Service over the tree’s deteriorating condition. When a decision was made for the tree to be removed, it was seen as the perfect opportunity to create a lasting feature in the gardens with what remained of the trunk. With the trunk’s prominent position and proximity to the nearby river and local wildlife – of which there have been several sightings of a heron on

The sculpted Heron and the Saddleworth District Team (From right to left: Christine Wilson, Linda Cain, Lisa Macdonald, and Jane Soriente)

the riverbank – the coastal bird was chosen as the figure to mark this carving.

The heron has a variety of positive meanings and symbolisms in a number of cultures, including self-determination, self-reflection, inquisitiveness, curiosity and determination along with strength and patience. This suited the sculpture’s location as it would be based near Uppermill Library and alongside the existing peace pole situated in the gardens.



Oldham Council is reminding residents of, ‘Get Oldham Working’s Career and Apprenticeship Fair’, following two recent closure announcements.

Digital retail firm Shop Direct outlined plans yesterday to close its centres in Shaw and Chadderton, whilst Carpetright has also announced the closure of their store at Elk Mill Retail Park in Royton. Oldham Council is disappointed that workers are set to lose their jobs and will prioritise support to all those affected.

Opportunities across various employment sectors will be available at the upcoming Career and Apprenticeship Fair, with a wide range of apprenticeships, work experience, training courses and jobs on offer from various employers within the borough and beyond. Employers attending this event include Barclays, North West Ambulance Services and O2 along with Greater Manchester Police (GMP), Lloyds Bank, Web Applications, Greater Manchester Fire service and many more.

One of the great myths around apprenticeships is that they are exclusive to the younger generation – this is incorrect. Apprenticeships are open to anyone over the age of 16 and there is no upper age limit. If you have been affected by the recent closure news and you think OMBC can help, or if you’re job hunting for the first time, looking for a return to work, or searching for the next step in your career, this event is open to everyone and it’s free to attend – just turn up on the day.

Working in partnership with Jobcentre Plus, the National Careers Service, and Ingeus, the fair runs from 9am-2pm on Wednesday 18 April at Oldham Library and Lifelong Learning Centre, Greaves Street, OL1 1AL. Staff from our GOW team and other partners will be available to advise you about careers, apprenticeships and access to training. There will also be plenty of space for you to complete any applications that you pick up, with additional support on hand in case you get stuck with any questions. Don’t worry if you have your little ones, there will be story time sessions in the library at 10am, 11am and 12 noon, so there’s no excuse to miss out.

Helen Lockwood, Executive Director for Economy, Skills and Neighbourhoods, said: “We were disappointed to hear the news of these planned closures and I’m sure this is really difficult for the staff and their families affected. Our Get Oldham Working team are ready to offer our help and support to staff, and with our Career and Apprenticeship Fair coming up next week – I’d urge anyone to attend if you think we can offer support. These events have proved to be a great success in securing residents with employment in the past and they also open up new avenues of opportunity.”

Make sure you follow the Get Oldham Working team via social media in the build-up to the Career and Apprenticeship Fair event for all of the latest updates. Facebook: @GetOldhamWorking / Twitter: @EmployOldham

If you cannot attend on the day it’s now even easier to contact the GOW team. They are located on the first floor of Metropolitan Place, Hobson Street, Oldham, OL1 1TT – across the road from the Job Centre Plus – and operate an ‘open door’ policy.

This means residents of working age can go along – without an appointment – and speak to a careers advisor, weekdays 9am until 4pm.

Contact the GOW team via their website www.oldham.gov.uk/gow, by email employability@oldham.gov.uk or by telephone 0161 770 4674.

Greater Manchester powers ahead with electric vehicle charging network

Greater Manchester’s ambition to become a leading green city has been boosted with £3 million of new funding to expand and promote its electric vehicle charging network.

The Greater Manchester Electric Vehicle (GMEV) network is already one of the biggest and most modern in the UK, with 318 charging points.

A further 48 rapid charging points (24 dual bays) are now set to be installed next year.

The announcement follows hot on the heels of the region’s first Green Summit, where Mayor Andy Burnham outlined plans to double the size of the GMEV network.

Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) successfully bid for the maximum amount of funding available from the Government’s £40 million Clean Air Plan ‘early measures’ national fund.1

The fund is specifically aimed at helping areas like Greater Manchester introduce quick steps to meet legal air quality targets as soon as possible.

Road transport in Greater Manchester is responsible for almost two-thirds of the emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx)2, one of the most harmful pollutants, and the region has been in breach of its legal limits for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) every year since 2011.

The new rapid charging points will be installed in areas of Greater Manchester where they can best help reduce high levels of NO2.

As well as the new charging points, the funding will support a major push to raise awareness and take-up of electric vehicles in the region.

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “This week I issued a challenge to people across Greater Manchester to help make us a leading green city-region across the UK and Europe. Tackling transport-related air pollutants is a key part of this and one of our biggest challenges.

“The Greater Manchester Electric Vehicle scheme is proving to be a real success, with nearly 2,000 drivers now registered and more joining every month. As vehicle costs reduce and battery capacity increases, with some vehicles now offering more than a 300-mile range, uptake in electric vehicles will surely increase. Going electric is becoming easier than ever so it’s vital that we have the right charging infrastructure to support demand for greener travel. This funding is a step in the right direction, but ultimately I want to see the GMEV network double in size – and everyone playing their part in reducing car-related fumes.”

Greater Manchester’s lead for environment, green spaces and air quality, Councillor Alex Ganotis, added: “Tackling air pollution is one of the most urgent problems facing Greater Manchester.

“Poor air quality contributes to ill health and is also a contributing factor in thousands of deaths across the region each year, as well as limiting economic growth. Electric vehicles are cleaner and quieter than ordinary cars – improving air quality, reducing noise pollution and lowering carbon emissions. This ‘early measure’ funding should help make a real difference to air quality in the worst affected areas of Greater Manchester. But it’s just part of a much bigger picture, as we work with Government to develop a wide-ranging Greater Manchester plan to clean up the air we all breathe as quickly as possible.”

The GMEV scheme launched in July 2013 with £2.1 million funding from the Office of Low-Emission Vehicles (OLEV), against a backdrop of low electric vehicle use.

The number of drivers registered with GMEV increased from 48 in 2013 to nearly 2,000 by the end of 2017. On average, 50 new members are joining each month.

Nearly 54,000 charging sessions took place in 2017, compared to around 10,000 in 2014, and the GMEV network has charged 2.5 million electrically powered vehicle miles. This has saved 651 tonnes of CO2 emissions and 1,600kg of NO2 compared with the same journeys made in Greater Manchester by petrol or diesel vehicles.

There are 2,234 registered plug-in vehicles in Greater Manchester and, nationally, ultra-low-emission vehicles (ULEV) form 2.9% of all new car sales.

The UK Climate Change Commission has set a target for all car sales to be ULEVs by 2040. Within Greater Manchester, this would mean sales of 6,300 vehicles in 2020, increasing to 25,600 sales in 2025.

Find out more at www.ev.tfgm.com.


Explore hundreds of opportunities across various employment sectors at the next Get Oldham Working (GOW) Career and Apprenticeship Fair.

With a wide range of apprenticeships, work experience openings, training courses and jobs on offer from various employers within the borough and beyond, this is a great chance for residents to start or further their careers. One of the great myths around apprenticeships is that they are exclusive to the younger generation – this is incorrect. It doesn’t matter if you are 18 or 40, apprenticeships are open to anyone over the age of 16 and there is no upper age limit.

So whether you are job hunting for the first time, looking for a return to work, or searching for the next step in your career, this event is open to everyone and it’s free to attend – just turn up on the day, no booking is required.

Working in partnership with Jobcentre Plus, the National Careers Service, and Ingeus, the fair runs from 9am-2pm on Wednesday 18 April at Oldham Library and Lifelong Learning Centre. Some of the employers attending this event include BT, United Utilities, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) and Oldham Coliseum.

Parking is available just outside the venue at the Southgate Street Car Park and Metrolink’s Oldham Central stop is only a 2-3 minute walk away. Staff from our GOW team and other partners will be available on the day to advise you about careers, apprenticeships and access to training. There will also be plenty of space for you to complete any applications that you pick up, with additional support on hand in case you get stuck with any questions.

Councillor Shoab Akhtar, Cabinet Member for Employment and Skills, said:We want to provide residents with the best possible opportunities to find employment. Whether it is through speaking with a member of our Get Oldham Working team via a one-to-one appointment or by attending one of our events such as this one – which enables you to speak with potential employers and gain access to valuable training – there are several avenues to choose from. So make sure you come down to our latest Career and Apprenticeship fair because this could be the beginning of the next step in your career like it has been for so many other residents who have previously attended.”

Make sure you follow the Get Oldham Working team via social media in the build-up to the Career and Apprenticeship Fair event for all of the latest updates. Facebook: @GetOldhamWorking / Twitter: @EmployOldham

If you cannot attend on the day it’s now even easier to contact the GOW team, which has supported the creation of more than 6,000 employment opportunities in less than three years. They are located on the first floor of Metropolitan Place, Hobson Street, Oldham, OL1 1TT – across the road from the Job Centre Plus. The base is operating an ‘open door’ policy, which means residents of working age can go along – without an appointment – and speak to a careers advisor, weekdays 9am until 4pm.

As part of GOW, residents can also use our Career Advancement Service (CAS) which helps to develop career aspirations with tailored information, advice and guidance. The service helps to identify and access training courses which aid career progression with your current or new employer.

Over the next five years GOW is looking to engage with 6,000 residents and fill 5,000 work-related opportunities, so if you are looking for work it is a good time to get in touch.

Contact the GOW team via their website www.oldham.gov.uk/gow, by email employability@oldham.gov.uk or by telephone 0161 770 4674.

Spring Clean with Bulky Bob’s – at home and at work

Bulky Bob’s is relaunching the bulky household waste collection service in Oldham with a new van, a new Bob and a new service for businesses.

The social enterprise has been collecting unwanted furniture, white goods and much more from Oldham homes for the past 8 years on behalf of Oldham Council and have just won a new contract for a further 2 years. Bulky Bob’s works with local referral agencies to give away any suitable furniture to families in need and recycle as much of the rest as possible.

Bulky Bob’s is now offering the collection service to local landlords and businesses, again giving away what they collect where possible to local people and community groups. Bulky Bob’s has also launched a new office and commercial waste service, with confidential shredding and office recycling available.

Mick Hart, Bulky Bob’s Operations Manager, said: “We’re delighted to be continuing to deliver this service to the people of Oldham, and to be expanding the range of services we offer to include landlords and businesses.”

Councillor Barbara Brownridge, Oldham Council’s Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Co-operatives, said: “Over the years hundreds of residents have used Bulky Bob’s to dispose of their unwanted household goods. The service is the cheapest in Greater Manchester and we are pleased people across the borough will be able to use it for years to come.

“As a council we are committed to making it as easy as possible for residents to dispose of, and recycle, their unwanted goods, which protects the local environment and saves money. Also the recycling of quality goods means other residents, who may not be able to afford them, will get use out of them.”   

Bulky Bob’s is also a registered charity and has helped over 300 people into sustainable employment through Driving Change, a paid-training programme focusing on logistics and warehouse skills.

They can collect up to three bulky or large items from homes for just £17.43 with additional items at £8.20 each. Anyone entitled to an assisted bin collection, (those with a physical disability, pregnant, or infirm due to old age and no other permanent householders over 18), can also receive one free bulky household collection each year.

Bulky Bob’s also sells preloved furniture items at low prices from their warehouse at Unit A, Oldham Central Trading Park, Oldham, OL1 4EB.

For more information on what Bulky Bob’s collects and how to book your collection, please visit www.bulkybobs.co.uk/

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.”

Police crackdown on driving offences in Saddleworth

Last week, the Saddleworth Neighbourhood Policing Team, in conjunction with the Specialist Operations Department of Greater Manchester Police and various partner agencies, conducted a two-day traffic enforcement operation across the Saddleworth area, in response to community concerns.

This close liaison resulted in a very successful operation, leading to fixed penalty tickets being issued and vehicles seized for a variety of offences, including the use of mobile phones whilst driving, no insurance, no seatbelts, no MOT or tax, fuel duty evasion and number plate offences. Additionally, nearly £3000 was collected in unpaid fines where warrants were issued.

Bash Anwar, the Neighbourhood Policing Inspector for Saddleworth said “ I would like to thank Sergeant Neil Barker from Saddleworth Police and PC Jonathan Griffiths from Specialist Operations for their work in organising this complex operation, bringing together numerous external partners to address the concerns of our Saddleworth residents. A number of student police officers also worked over both days, gaining invaluable experience of dealing with members of the public for traffic matters and taking offending vehicles off the road, thus making the area safer for those drivers who abide by the law. There are plans to continue such operations in the future, sending a clear message out that we will not tolerate those who flout the rules. I would also like to thank members of the public for their patience over the two days.”

New Bus Service for Saddleworth

From Monday 9th April 2018 a new bus service will operate in Saddleworth connecting the villages of Denshaw, Delph, Dobcross, Diggle and Uppermill.

During peak times the new service will connect with Greenfield Station and, during the day, Uppermill.

The timetable will be synced with the trains at peak times and with the 350 bus for the rest of the day. To help passengers the timing of the bus will be at the same time past the hour at each stop. It will run from 0700 to 23.00 during Monday – Thursday.  A later finishing time 07.00 to 00.00 Friday and Saturday is timed to pick people up at Greenfield Station when the last train from Manchester arrives.  Campaigner Royce Franklyn said, “It will allow people to stay out later and get public transport home. This will be a large improvement and will hopefully provide a real public transport boost to the local economy.”

A timetable will be published nearer to the time of the service launch and will take into account the new train timetables from May 2018.

Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) will be continuing the Local Link service ensuring that people in villages who cannot access the new bus service will still have access to this existing service.

Diggle is currently facing a problem accessing the new service as there is, to-date, nowhere for a bus to turn safely without having to reverse. The old turning circle at Diggle is not an option as repairing the damaged road is deemed to be too costly. Ideas are being explored but so far a solution has not been identified.

Saddleworth Parish Council increases its precept for 2018

At the Saddleworth Parish Council meeting held on 22nd January 2018 councillors agreed a 2% increase in the precept for 2018/19. This, for eaxample, equates to an increase of 36p/year for a Band D property bringing the total precept to £20.76 for the year (40p a week).

Although the Parish Council has made significant budget cuts and increased its income targets for 2018/19 it has been unable to totally offset the further reduction in funding of £10,000 by Oldham Council, who are continuing to implement their decision, made last year, to withdraw the Council Tax Support Grant from the Parish Council. The council says that, “If we are to maintain our current level of service the shortfall of £3,500 has to be met by increasing the precept.”

The total reduction in Council Tax Support Grant in 2017/18 and 2018/19 is £16,000, or 40.52% over the two years. With a further £10,000 reduction expected in 2019/20. The Parish Council will continue to press for the decision to further reduce the Council Tax Support Grant to be reversed as this funding is vital to allow for the provision of services such as footpath clearances, litter picking, etc. Services previously provided by Oldham Council but withdrawn as part of their own budget savings.

Despite the reductions in funding Saddleworth Parish Council says it is determined to continue delivering high quality, value for money services to the people of Saddleworth, protecting our environment, villages, businesses and heritage.


Cliff Richard with the Barry Sisters at the Empire Theatre, Town Centre, Oldham, 1959

An “outstanding” historic trove of documents, newspaper clippings and images has been saved and will be accessible for public use at the new Oldham Heritage and Arts Centre.

The fate of the former archives of the Oldham Evening Chronicle newspaper was uncertain after the daily newspaper printed its last-ever edition in August 2017. The ‘Chron’ had been publishing as a weekday daily since 1854 and was one of the last local independent newspapers left in England. An independent assessment of its archives found that the photographic and documentary archive at the Union Street office was “outstanding and absolutely vital for telling the story of the borough of Oldham”.

Oldham Council has since worked closely with the joint administrators of the newspaper to ensure the collection is saved. The archives have now been transferred to public ownership and are set to take pride of place in the new Oldham Heritage and Arts Centre. The facility – which sees the welcome restoration of the Grade II former library building on Union Street for a new use – will showcase the story of Oldham’s past from its time as the cotton spinning capital of the world to the present day. This move ensures the Chronicle archives will be accessible to the public alongside the borough’s extensive collection of objects, works of art, heritage and archive information.

Jean Stretton, Oldham Council Leader, said: “This is brilliant news – it would have been a tragedy for this important collection to have been lost to future generations. So many Oldham residents appeared in the Chronicle’s pages or depended upon it for information and the new Heritage and Arts Centre will be the perfect home for this unique collection. I’m thrilled we’ve been able to get this deal done and would like to thank KPMG for their support in transferring this archive to our stewardship.”

Winston Churchill (former Oldham MP) electioneering in Oldham in 1945

Paul Flint and Jonathan Marston of KPMG were appointed joint administrators of Hirst, Kidd & Rennie on August 31 2017, and shared the view the archives should be placed in public ownership.

Paul Flint said: “We are delighted to have been able to preserve this historic collection which provides such an important and fascinating record of OIdham’s recent past. Ensuring that the archives will be available for generations to come was an important consideration during the administration process, and we are grateful for the support of Oldham Council in facilitating their transfer to their new home.”

The Chronicle archive is 25.35 cubic metres in size and consists of the firm’s own business records, news cuttings covering key people, events, places, communities, crime and sport (in hard copy and microfilm) plus photographs and negatives or glass slides dating back to the 1930s.

The collection has been boxed and bar-coded before being moved to temporary storage. It will remain in this safe environment until the new collections store – being developed as part of the Oldham Heritage and Arts Centre – is ready to open in late 2019/early 2020 when it will be made available for public use.

Oldham Council is looking to progress a grant funding application to assist with funding the work needed to catalogue and digitise this collection.

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