Why a blog?

 
 
WELCOME to my first blog as Oldham Council Leader.
 
You’re probably wondering why I am blogging? There’s a simple answer – but it’s also very important.
 
For too long I think there’s been a serious ‘disconnect’ between Oldham Council and local residents.
 
I’ve had my ears boxed on doorsteps for several years about this. People say the Council is too distant, its members sit in an ivory tower (i.e the Civic Centre), and are not listening to the concerns of ordinary folk.
 
This blog is just one part of a much wider programme that is trying to bring your Council back closer to you – the people we are here to serve.
 
So, in later blogposts, I’ll be explaining more about how other changes we’re planning – like devolving power back to local neighbourhoods with district offices – will do just that.
 
As I write I’m reflecting on my first full week in office. It is humbling that people gave myself and colleagues their electoral support, and taking office was a big day for me personally. But there’ll be no point in any of that if we don’t now make a positive difference.
 
I want to have a ‘common sense’ approach in all that we do here, which is why one of my first decisions was to decline the offer of a Leader’s credit card.
 
At a time when ordinary residents are struggling to pay household bills I think it sends out the wrong message for an elected politician to have this facility. It was a ‘no-brainer’ for me.
 
Another part of our new approach started on Monday.
 
We took Cabinet out of the Civic for the very first time and approved plans to re-open Limecroft Day Centre in that very same building.
 
The reason for doing this is that if we’re discussing matters that affect local people we should, whenever possible, visit their neighbourhoods to listen and engage with them.
 
Finally today, I’d like to say that without the support of my family I wouldn’t be able to commit the hours and effort that are going to be needed to make this Borough a better place.
 
I’m conscious then that if I am to deny them that time – as a partner, and a Dad – it would be pointless if I do not make this work. That is a determination that will spur me on to get things right for residents.
 
That’s all for my first post, but I’ll be back next week.
 
Don’t forget: if you’ve got any questions, comments, or topics you would like me to cover in future blogs, then please email
 
Thanks for listening.
 
Jim
 

9 thoughts on “Why a blog?

  1. The Doctor

    So how do you intend actually paying for stuff. Are you saying that by not having a Leaders credit card you will not claim any expenses whatsoever?

  2. Leon

    How much has this blogging facility cost taxpayers, and if that amount is anything more than nothing *including any administrative time, electricity or facilities access*, why is this money being wasted on non essential services?

  3. Tim Kinder

    So much for your hope that this wouldn’t be an opportunity for the moaners!!

    Good luck with your new approach, let’s hope this is a start to repairing the “disconnect” that you have rightly identified. Let’s also hope that this can be used as a vehicle for positive actions and suggestions to be expressed – there is enough doom and gloom around without another channel opening up!!

  4. The Doctor

    I thought I posed a genuine question. With the recent scandals regarding MP’s expenses etc is Jim making a statement that expenses should be stopped or curtailed or be upto more scrutiny. It has been suggested by others that all this is just political grandstanding?

  5. Excellent idea! So let get working with Jim. We need to change the way things are, we need jobs, houses, police etc… and hopefully this format will bring that to the front and enable the voice of the people to be heard and acted upon.
    Leon: everything costs now-a-days. No matter what we do, there is someone who’ll attach a cost to it.
    The Doctor: Good question! Lets give Jim a chance to put his money where his mouth is.

    At last we have someone, who’ll hoepfully will listen and structure the policies and services around what the people really need, and stop the unneccessary speeding.

    Good Luck

  6. If cynicism and political disaffection were a liquid, then Oldham and its citizens would be drowning in it: some eagerly gulping it down martyrs to their own doom laden outlook.

    The default position of so many – exacerbated by the shady machinations of recent years – has become a straitjacket in which a more receptive and less suspicious attitude of mind is mercilessly constricted.

    When Councillor McMahon says: “People may wonder why I have chosen to start a blog…” one can almost hear that chorus of disapproval, utterly convinced that any ‘reaching out to the masses’ must, by its very nature, be nothing more than a cynical exercise in image management: all talk and no substance.

    In fairness to Councillor McMahon, I fully accept the sincerity and genuineness of intention, with which this innovative and refreshing venture has been seized upon.

    His willingness to engage (in its fullest sense) with the electorate, to reach out into the furthest corners of that lingering apathy, and confront it head on, is in stark contrast to the haughty, self-interested and, quite frankly, nauseating indifference and contempt, that has suffused previous administrations.

    I’m quite sure that Councillor McMahon fully understands that this is merely the first step, on what will be a long and arduous journey. I don’t envy him the task ahead – but I do respect him for the courage and humility, with which he’s pursuing it!

  7. Shaun McGrath

    Regards Leon’s comment: “How much has this blogging facility cost taxpayers…” He will be pleased to know that ‘WordPress.com’ is a completely free site.

  8. Independent Cllr Ken Hulme

    Good start but what a mountain to climb ! Jim has to tackle an appalling political and officer culture in Oldham Council and the Labour Party. The legacy of the last Lib Dem administration is also pretty dreadful when it comes to open and transparent local government.

    Have to admire Jim’s guts in taking on this task – hope he isn’t worn down and undermined by senior council officers or the political dinosaurs still roaming in the Labour undergrowth.

    Good luck – you’ll need it.

  9. Now that power is to be devolved to local neighbourhoods with district offices. Does this mean at last we will be able to dispense with the pointless and ineffective shambles, that is Shaw Parish Council? I feel sure that the Council would work more efficiently without this farcical drain on resources. EDITED RESPONSE

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