THERE is plenty of progress to come for Oldham in 2018 is the New Year message from council leader Jean Stretton.
In her Leader’s Blog, Cllr Stretton wishes residents all the best for the year, and highlights some of the plans for the borough, as well as projects already completed.
She says: “I’d like to wish all our residents a Happy New Year.
“The last 12 months have seen some genuine highlights and progress for Oldham.
“A personal favourite was confirming all the funding is in place for our exciting plans for a new Arts and Heritage Centre and Coliseum Theatre.
“Another highpoint was opening our Digital Enterprise Hub as home to Wayra UK – backed by an £8m investment fund to help tech sector companies grow here – and Hack Oldham.
“We’ve also unveiled the stunning Maggie’s Oldham cancer care centre and welcomed many new faces to our Independent Quarter, including Stocco and Furniture by Lauren.”
She continues: “Oldham showed great resilience this year responding to all kinds of events from flooding to police incidents and wintry weather with brilliant partnership working across all sectors and communities. We will need more of the same in 2018.
“Looking ahead my priority is continuing the job of making this a place where everyone has a fair chance to access new opportunities and improve their lives. Better living standards, wages and skills are key to becoming an inclusive economy where nobody is left behind.
“Once legal issues are finalised, I’ll soon be able to announce next steps at the Prince’s Gate development and we’ll also be announcing another tenant at the Old Town Hall.
“Our young and growing population is one of our biggest strengths and we must do everything to help them shine.
“We’re also progressing well towards targets from the Oldham Education and Skills Commission. Having pledged that every child must attend a school rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted by 2020 we now have 98 per cent of primary and 81 per cent of secondary pupils doing just that.
“Key to all our futures is the amazing co-operative work we’re doing with partners and residents.
“An eight per cent increase in recycling rates this year is all down to you doing #your bit: and schemes like Warm Homes Oldham, #1Pieceofrubbish, Get Oldham Growing – plus our work to integrate health and social care into one system – all point the way to a brighter future.
“But challenges persist and we know many people are still struggling with problems with Universal Credit and welfare sanctions. We are still lobbying at the highest level for change and our Welfare Rights team have this year helped hundreds of residents to claim an extra £2million they were rightly entitled to.”
She adds: “We’ve had many positive accolades for our Old Town Hall, Bloom and Grow, community energy schemes and other initiatives this year, but it is what residents think that matters most.
“The defining moment in 2017 for me was launching the Town Centre Masterplan – our biggest-ever forward planning exercise.
“I thank everyone who’s taken part in the consultation so far and would encourage everyone to do the same.
“I’m fiercely proud of our place and will continue pushing to give us an even stronger voice within Greater Manchester in 2018.
“Oldham is not perfect, but it is changing – and for the better.”
Read Cllr Stretton’s full blog online at: http://oldhamcouncil.wordpress.com/