In its latest round of capital spending changes Oldham Council has once again moved spending on its “gamechanging” “flagship” and wishful thinking regeneration projects forward in time. £9.5 million of spending for Prince’s Gate has been moved forward to 2021/2022 that is four years after the project was scheduled to open and eight years since then council leader MP Jim McMahon made a video about Prince’s Gate and his regeneration plans all coming together. As we all know Jim McMahons administration did not dot its i’s or cross its t’s and its anchor tenant M&S pulled out of the project leaving a multi-million black-hole of money wasted on planning, procurement, infrastructure works and the relocation of the Metrolink tram stop.
Next to step up with another inept Prince’s Gate recipe for failure and woeful economic Masterplan was Jim McMahons replacement Jean Stretton who commissioned a whole set of expensive new design plans and economic projections and set about wasting more public sector monies securing new anchor tenants and delivery partners. By the time she was ousted as Oldham Council leader after an internal Labour Oldham political coup in May 2018 the Oldham public had been waiting for ten months for the announcement of a delivery partner and new anchor tenant she stated would be made in July 2017.
If Oldham ever gets a Prince’s Gate it will have no resemblance to the “Gamechanger” scheme promoted as offering tens of millions in increased revenue and a move away from the bargain basement retail currently on offer. The scheme will be at least a decade behind schedule and many millions of undisclosed wasted public finances will have been lost on the arrogant whims of inept and unaccountable politicians.
Next in Oldham Council’s list of schemes that have seen more time movement than Doctor Who’s tardis is Foxdenton (Broadway Green) Oldham’s premiere and largest employment scheme announced six years ago with the promise of delivering 4,000 new jobs ranging from office to logistics and up to 380 new aspirational homes. This controversial scheme developing Central Chadderton’s last sizeable area of green land was only granted planning permission because of the number of jobs it would create. True to form for all the regeneration schemes introduced under Jim McMahon’s tenure as leader it quickly became apparent after planning permission was granted that the populous had been misled again as job projection numbers fell by over 50% and house numbers increased by over 30%. In Oldham’s latest capital spending plans nearly £3 million of spending for phase 2 at Foxdenton has been moved to 2020/2021. The first question to ask is what is phase 2 and why is Oldham Council funding it. The Foxdenton scheme has 3 phase 2’s a phase 2 housing development a phase 2 employment development and a phase 2 relating to infrastructure namely a new road for which Oldham Council received £4.9 million from the governments housing infrastructure works scheme. As the council don’t share details we will make the presumption this is for completion of the new road yet the original planning details showed that the road had to be in place before the housing and industrial building could commence. This is clearly no longer the case as the housing element has already commenced and Redrow homes have a show office on sight. So when will the employment aspect of this development commence and will the ever diminishing percentage of the 4,000 jobs originally announced actually ever materialise? If the road is not due to be finished until 2021 that will be over eight years after the development was announced and Oldham Council and partners will not have created one single permanent job.
While the less than useless Conservatives have delivered no economic solution after two years of abysmal Brexit discussions let’s put that into the context that Labour Oldham have failed to secure any trade and employment deals at Foxdenton after six years and Prince’s Gate after four years.