Garth Harkness

Liberal Democrat Councillor for Saddleworth North Ward on Oldham Council Learn more

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‘A Grand Job’: Liberal Democrats budget amendment proposals to make Oldham ‘Healthier, Greener, and Cleaner’ presented to committee

by Garth Harkness on 15 February, 2021

Councillor Chris Gloster, Shadow Cabinet Member for Finance and Green, had his first opportunity to present the Liberal Democrat budget amendments to fellow Councillors on the Performance Value-for-Money Committee for the first-time last night.  The committee is responsible for scrutinising spending and saving proposals in advance of this year’s Budget Council meeting on 4 March.

Kindly commended on ‘a grand job’ by Committee Chair, Councillor Riaz Ahmed OBE, Chris was also able to respond to a series of challenging questions from members on this cross-party committee on the detailed report he had produced with assistance from professional Council finance officers.

The Liberal Councillors want to repurpose part of Labour’s capital investment programme and find more money from cutting bureaucracy and waste elsewhere in the Council’s budget to:

  • Invest £18 million to build three new health centres for patients in Shaw and Crompton, Saddleworth and Chadderton by 2026;
  • Invest £6.5 million in build a green infrastructure taking Oldham forward in its ambition to be Britain’s first carbon-neutral Council and Borough; and
  • Create a dedicated fund worth £2.5 million to repair our footpaths                         over the next five years.

In the next two years, the Liberal Democrats would save over £1.2 million by cutting Civic Centre bureaucracy and waste to spend on front-line services.  In the next financial year, £294,000 more would be spent on tackling the fly-tipping, litter and dog-fouling which blights the lives of so many Oldham residents, and a new fund of £200,000 to invest in 20-mph zones in residential streets to cut road deaths and injuries, especially amongst children and the elderly. 

Commenting Councillor Gloster said:  “I was delighted to be able to present our budget amendment proposals to this influential committee and I look forward to doing so again at the full meeting of the Council on 4 March.  Although Labour members felt unable to endorse our saving and spending proposals at this time it was gratifying to know they felt that many of them merited consideration in the longer-term and to make this recommendation to the Cabinet.” 

“One particular small victory was the reassurance that I received that the staff car allowance scheme will soon be reviewed to identify where it is possible to make the savings that we have suggested this year as we did last year.”

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