Leaderís attack on the cynics
Reporter: Iram Ramzan
Date online: 18 October 2013
PEOPLE need to stop putting Oldham down says Oldham Council leader Jim McMahon.
He spoke out last night at the council’s cabinet question time, part of Local Democracy Week.
Residents were invited to put questions by email, Facebook and Twitter and the session was streamed live on the council website. Chronicle business editor Martyn Torr chaired the meeting.
Many questions regarded Oldham regeneration plans. Councillor McMahon said he understood the frustrations of Oldham residents hit by the massive building works - but insisted it was time for cynicism to stop.
“The next six months will be a game changer,” he said. “We’ve no problem with people saying there are issues, but we need people to recognise they have a part to play. People in Oldham need to vote with their feet and spend money in the town. The future is positive: we need people to see it too.”
He confirmed that £1m is being invested in Yorkshire Street to improve shop fronts and provide business support.
While cuts of another £80m have to be made over the next few years, the cabinet remains confident that plans to convert the former town hall into a cinema and restaurant complex would encourage private investors to come to the town.
The atmosphere rose excitedly as cabinet members discussed plans for Hotel Future, the new Coliseum theatre and a heritage centre.
Councillor McMahon said: “Conferences and functions will be far more fun if people have somewhere to stay afterwards. It’s a complete win-win.”
Councillor Barbara Brownridge wanted to see a town that has “ higher aspirations again”.
Council deputy leader Shoab Akhtar said: “Oldham town centre is the heartbeat of the borough; it’s vital we get it right. I see a town centre leading the way nationally and residents will speak proudly of it.”
The council can’t afford to have separate leisure centres serving Shaw and Royton, the senior cabinet members confirmed.
Councillor Jean Stretton said the council’s review doesn’t include Shaw Baths — but the council is prepared to talk to the voluntary “Save Shaw Baths” group about their ambitions to continue its operations. “But that has to come from them,” she said.
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