Oldham Council that wonderful institution that champions equality and an inclusive society, those forward thinkers who removed funding and green flag status from five of the boroughs parks because of budget cuts but then continued sponsoring the North West in bloom competition and spending hundreds of thousands within Alexandra Park is now developing an Eco-Centre at the park the cost of which will be forever withheld from Oldham’s dwindling pool of tax contributors. The Council states “the development of the Northern Roots project, the proposed Alexandra Park Eco-Centre being the first phase. Under this project there will be consideration of opportunities to work with local communities to investigate ways that we can celebrate, protect and enhance our green spaces for the benefit of local people, the local economy and the planet. Northern Roots will initially focus on the 160 acre Snipe Clough site adjacent to Alexandra Park investigating ways to enhance the sustainability and biodiversity of the site, to offer even greater opportunities for recreation and leisure for local people, and to promote growing and green enterprise projects”
We reported on the secretive Northern Roots program in 2018 which had clearly been in operation for some time but no information was available about the scheme. We came across it after two contractors Salford University and Planit-IE had contract extensions agreed. We wrote has “Anyone heard of “Northern Roots”? No neither have we, it appears to be another of those secretive Oldham Council public funded schemes which should be filed in a utopia wishful thinking portfolio. Although the council are renewing contracts for phase 2 of the scheme we cannot find any documentation on the scheme whatsoever. What we found was a small snippet of text from a trainee on a contractors website who worked on the scheme they stated it was “a large-scale demonstrator of how the natural environment can be harnessed and enhanced to be productive, whilst helping to improve local economic and social outcomes” So it appears to be another expansion of the councils central Oldham vegetable growing obsession, we would love to know how this vegetable pipe dream will deliver any benefits for Oldham other than gathering more meaningless awards for the council. Oldham has almost quarter of a million residents, unemployment here grew at the fastest rate in the UK in the last year, Oldham has the lowest number of children living in fully working households outside London and there are over 20,000 on the social housing waiting list more than three times the demand seen in neighbouring authorities.”
Labour Oldham’s unequal equality is evident in all their spending schemes but at the end of last year the Council managed to allocate another £100,000 to repair Alexandra Park’s conservatories while withholding and deferring funding for emergency repairs for the eighth consecutive year at the socially important Foxdenton Hall in Foxdenton Park home of suffragette Lydia Becker during what was the 100 year anniversary of women’s suffrage. This is how socialism works in Oldham we spend undisclosed millions around Alexandra Park promoting token sustainability projects that will win the council awards and allow sanitised exposure in the media. The irony is that this is occurring in the Oldham wards with birth rates 60% higher than the England average which also have by far the highest claim rates of every single working age benefit in the borough unlike the area around Foxdenton which has the boroughs lowest benefit claim rates. Foxdenton’s reward for actually making a positive and sustainable contribution to the economy has been to have its last sizeable green land sold to developers by Oldham Council and partners for houses and warehouses how does that fit in with the “celebrate, protect and enhance our green spaces for the benefit of local people” message of your Eco-Hub? The wards around Alexandra Park and it’s new green sustainability hub have seen the highest rates of immigration ever recorded in Oldham since 2013. Schools have been pushed to breaking point by 2,153 additional foreign born school children declared in just four years with more realistic estimates placing the number as at least 2,870 and 43% of mothers in Oldham with dependant children do not work which is almost a quarter less than the England average. Oldham is a lot of things but it is definitely not sustainable and no amount of hugely subsidised veg planting eating up undisclosed millions in public finance and charitable grants will change that.