In his latest leader’s blog, perhaps a more appropriate title would be self-serving socialist blurb, Oldham Council leader and hypocrite horticulturalist Jim McMahon tells of his green vision for Oldham where people create green areas and home grown produce in their neighbourhoods entitled “Green spaces and great places”. This is a man whose green vision has driven the Foxdenton development which plans to create a million feet of warehouse space and five hundred homes on the last sizable piece of undeveloped green land in Chadderton. This is a man whose green vision allocates an ever expanding percentage of Council spending and new debt creation to core voter wards with high levels of self-inflicted cultural and social deprivation with the clear intention of population expansion and increased provision in these core Labour voting areas. This is a man whose green vision under his tenure as Council leader has seen Oldham drop from having seven green flag award parks to just two, whilst Oldham continues spending tens of thousands on Britain in Bloom Town Centre displays.
As with most things political and Oldham based reality bears no resemblance to rhetoric it is the 21st century lack of knowledge is no excuse because the greatest repository of information ever created, the internet, is freely available. People chose not to learn, not to exercise, not to eat good food, cultures chose to not integrate or respect equality and telling people to grow vegetables in pots, verges and alleyways will not be taken in or up by the majority of Oldham residents nor will it deliver a measurable improvement in the diets of those who could care less. Leader’s blog quote “An initial enquiry from a community group about the use of a small piece of land there has now led to the transfer of a 1,600 sq m disused bowling green. ‘Veg in the Park’, as it is known, is now a district food growing hub, managed by local people for the benefit of all. It has the potential to not only engage people of all ages and abilities, but also to generate income which will be reinvested back into the community in the years ahead.” Multiple sources Chronic-Oldham have researched indicate that non-intensive cultivation by which we mean organic cultivation that would not exhaust the soils ongoing ability to naturally produce food would require 1,220 m² of land to feed just one vegetarian. You can arguably extrapolate from this that 1,220 m² would produce at most enough vegetables for a family of four non-vegetarians which makes 1,600 m² of land, even if it was aggressively cultivated, completely unimpressive other than for the purpose of press releases. Labour Oldham steers away from population size and growth, green economics and ongoing over-population are not comfortable bed fellows. This is why the Council leader’s article makes no mention of current population numbers, high birth rates, huge annual increases in poor migrant numbers or that its vast PFI and other similar loan debts are to be repaid over the next sixty plus years by increasing population numbers to increase Council tax revenue and they could care less if every penny was paid from supplementary benefits or wages earned. The Council has £100,000 for grants to community groups and residents with a further £100,000, and the following are their words if your thinking they make little sense, “to be used to create green spaces in the areas where we have recently introduced Selective Licensing for private landlords” More smoke and mirrors as these areas of Selective Licensing are the very same areas that are already responsible for the highest birth rates, highest migrant increases, highest rates of unemployment, highest rates of benefit caps and current community tensions. These are also the areas that have already had the lions share of Council budgets, Priority Program spending and PFI debts created to expand the housing offer and regenerate the areas namely St Mary’s, Coldhurst, Werneth, Hathershaw, Alexandra and Hollinwood.
Away from Saddleworth in traditional Oldham, we have a heritage of mining and industrialisation, which has also left a heritage of high levels of heavy metals such as arsenic, lead and copper in soil all over Oldham and an increased risk of elevated asbestos levels on previously industrialised land. I for one will continue to buy my produce from the same commercial and by definition intensely grown agricultural suppliers I always have. Pollution in Oldham is on-going, simultaneous to the Greater Manchester Combined Authority stating in 2015 that 25,000 potential inward jobs for Greater Manchester are in the finance and business sectors Jim McMahon announces transport and warehousing, and all the pollutants that industry and transport produces, is projected to grow by twenty per cent in Oldham. Smoke and mirrors I hear you say; transport and warehousing is not as such projected to grow by twenty per cent but has been seeded to grow by this amount by Jim McMahons policies. The current administration has railroaded over residents to actively promote changing the green fields of Foxdenton and the Hollinwood old gas works sites into warehouse and transport hubs despite the fact that sites adjacent to Foxdenton have many empty industrial and warehouse units.
The Oldham Labour leader goes on to say “Our partners voluntary Action Oldham will be managing the Green Dividend” In April cash strapped Oldham Council agreed another two years of funding at a cost of £605,000 for Voluntary Action Oldham. It leaves me in a never ending sense of wonderment that so many co-op Council partner businesses are funded from the limited coffers of austerity and reduced budgets. VA Oldham ironically employs fifteen people to promote, support & expand the voluntary sector & Oldham Council’s co-op agenda. VA Oldham’s last filed accounts from 2014 show they already had almost £600,000 in cash retained for future use. Jim McMahon also wants people to know that he will be launcing a fund for urban street planting and that “Aside from aesthetic value, trees have many environmental and ecosystem benefits ranging from pollution control to reducing the effects of climate change, and carbon storage.” We, Oldham Labour Council, don’t mention the felling of trees at Foxdenton or that the creation of 1000 homes in a straignt line from the Hartford Mill through Crossley Estate to Broadway and Foxdenton and a million feet of new warehouse space and a new service road at Broadway and Foxdenton will increase pollution and traffic issues on Broadway a road that already fails EU pollution levels. We would like to know Mr McMahon how many trees need to be planted at Foxdenton to carbon offset the green area you have and are continuing to destroy plus how many more to offset the carbon released in building the road, houses and warehouses?
Let us finish with a list of things that Jim McMahon and Labour Oldham Council thought not worthy of a press release or a leaders blog in the modern Eutopia that is 2015 Oldham.
- Oldham celebrated a decade of the lowest wages in Greater Manchester.
- Crime in Oldham grew by 20% in a year the highest rise in Greater Manchester with sexual offences increasing by 60%.
- Oldham continued to celebrate the highest migrant percentage increase in Greater Manchester.
- Oldham once again had the highest birth rate in Greater Manchester.
- Oldham Council, which no longer runs social housing, continued to run the St Mary’s district heating system as First Choice Homes Oldham did not want the responsibility or expense.
- When we checked the Independent Quarter rateable values and new tenancies in January 2015 we could not find a single new tenant that was paying any business rates.
- All business rates from Oldham now go to a central pot at the Greater Manchester Combined Authority to support the Greater Manchester area rather than stay in Oldham, this will also apply to the New Town Hall Cinema paid for with money taken directly from the Oldham Council budget and Oldham public sector resources.
- Oldham Council allocated £50,000 from the public health grant to the provision of free weight watchers & slimming world vouchers for the obese.
- Oldham Councils 2014/15 financial accounts deliberately used population statistics from 2011 so they would not have to address the huge increase in EU2 Romanian & Bulgarian poor migrants.
- In 15 months foreign nationals registering for new NI numbers in Oldham surpassed jobs created by the “Get Oldham Working” scheme in 22 months by 68%.