Garth Harkness

Parish Councillor, Garth Harkness, has reacted strongly to an announcement by the leader of Oldham Council, Jim McMahon concerning the allocation of funding from the District Investment Fund.

He says that the fund is designed to help improve Oldham’s neighbourhoods and the lives of its residents yet the recent agreement on spending sees Saddleworth receive just 7.5% of the total fund despite it representing 52% of the landmass of Oldham Borough.

The announcement from Oldham Council reads, “The first community initiatives set to benefit from Oldham Council’s £360,000 District Investment Fund (DIF) have been agreed.

The new DIF was set up as part of the Authority’s commitment to giving residents more say over spending decisions in their local areas – enabling them to prioritise schemes that matter to them. In total, over the next two years £720,000 worth of funding will be handed out to local projects so they can help improve neighbourhoods and the lives of residents.”

Councillor Jim McMahon, Leader of Oldham Council said: “The District Investment Fund was set up to make it possible to invest in schemes that can make a real difference in communities and neighbourhoods and reflect their priorities.”

“In the past it has been difficult for District Partnerships to pay for worthwhile projects due to ring-fenced budgets but the DIF gives us a lot more flexibility and cuts through a lot of the red tape that has bound projects in the past.”

“Coupled with money we are reinvesting in Oldham through the sale of buildings and property from the Council’s portfolio it signals our commitment to investing resources across the six district areas. We’ve listened to what residents want and we are helping them do their bit and deliver their ideas so they can improve lives. Once people start seeing work start in their areas I’m sure they’ll be glad they got involved and contributed so many good ideas.”

All six districts across the Borough will benefit and major schemes approved include:

The home of Hollinwood ARLFC – Melrose Playing Fields – can now be redeveloped to become a state-of-the-art facility open to the club and the wider community after £61,000 funding was approved. Councillors were told not only will the facility help promote health and well-being but it will also reduce anti-social behaviour.

In Chadderton, £45,000 has been granted to help improve and update the skateboard park in Coalshaw Green Park . A modern and attractive facility will help the District Partnership and partner agencies connect with young people in area.

Residents who use Royton’s Bullcote Green bowling fields and its associated portable unit can look forward to being able to play more games in the future. Improvement works worth £46,000 will improve drainage and refurbish the facilities after reports the green was sometimes unplayable.

Footpaths in Saddleworth and Lees are set to be improved following the injection of £27,000. The local community can also get involved as volunteer opportunities will also be explored, in particular for the surveying work and potentially in the delivery of the improvement works.

Amateur sports stars will receive a boost after £54,000 was allocated to carry out drainage works at Bardsley Playing Fields. The boggy conditions had previously meant games could not be played.

A management group incorporating local residents will help deliver a formal play space in Clarksfield. The proposals will help bring back into use a neglected area of the land and incorporate facilities that will cater to all sections of the community. A grant of £65,000 was approved.

Councillor Harkness says that, “Under the District Investment Fund In total, over the next two years £720,000 worth of funding will be handed out to local projects so they can help improve neighbourhoods and the lives of residents. Saddleworth and Lees District partnership had their budget cut by nearly a third have been given £54,000 for projects on footpaths and allotments with other bids such as improving parking rejected. This accounts for 7.5% of the total for Saddleworth and Lees. There are 8 District partnerships looking at others such as Chadderton £106,000 and Oldham West £263,000 It is hard reading for Saddleworth and Lees which has 52% of the landmass of the borough. Yet again Saddleworth is being ignored. This just is not good enough!”

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