WITH THE start of the new Civic Year this week it is vitally important that Oldham Council’s focus and agenda are clear from the outset.
I make no apologies for reiterating that this means we need to send out the clearest possible message that Oldham is not just open for business, but also deadly serious and proactive about attracting inward investment.
Our focus in these times as a Co-operative Council is simple. It’s about doing our bit on regeneration, job creation and delivering real opportunities that improve people’s lives and help them into work.
That’s why I was delighted to be able to confirm today a deal that sees Nov Mono – an internationally recognised pump manufacturer – relocating here to Oldham.
The firm, currently based in Audenshaw, is taking the former BAE Systems site at Greengate, Chadderton, in a move that will see it expand and increase its manufacturing capacity with the potential for it to be home to more than 1,000 jobs.
That site has a proud history – not least as the production line of the Lancaster Bomber – and it was absolutely vital that it remained an industrial hub.
Oldham Council has worked proactively within the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA) to pull together a package that ensures this could be done quickly.
This was crucial work not just for our Borough but also in terms of ensuring this firm and its jobs were not lost to the region.
This news also comes just days after Global Draw, one of the biggest global gaming machine operators, announced it is planning a major expansion at Broadway.
Deals like this are just the start, of course, but they are clear indications that businesses are starting to see Oldham as a place to invest.
Our new Cabinet line-up, approved by Annual Council on Wednesday, is another important step in this work.
Crucially it sees Councillor Shoab Akhtar becoming the new dedicated Cabinet Member for Business, Skills and the Town Centre. This is a new portfolio and he is the ideal person with the energy and commitment to make a vital contribution.
Shoab’s task is to not only ensure we capitalise on Metrolink but also to drive the business and employment agenda, work to promote the Borough’s markets, and oversee the vital offer we provide in terms of post-16 education.
As Council Leader I will continue to direct our national and city relationships and our overall regeneration strategy but having this new support will undoubtedly assist me in bolstering our focus on these clear priorities across all that we do.
We know from ongoing conversations with potential investors and business outside our Borough that they believe it is vital they can see our commitment to this agenda – and that they can deal quickly and directly with dedicated people to get results.
Finally – continuing on that regeneration theme – there is a hugely important event taking place next Tuesday (May 29) at which residents can go back into the Old Town Hall for the first time in almost two decades.
Back in March we appointed BDP to come up with a scheme to bring this building back into use. This is the first result of that work.
You can come along on the day at any time between 12.30pm and 7pm to view and comment on the new drawings and proposals that they have come up with.
This is a really fantastic opportunity for us to correct two things that people have rightly moaned about for years on doorsteps across the Borough – the desperate need for a cinema facility, and to transform the Old Town Hall back to a symbol of civic pride rather than neglect.
By using this historic Grade-II listed building for this purpose (plus restaurants) we have a great chance here to create something so much better than those out-of-town developments elsewhere that lack character.
The potential impact of delivering this for our town centre – making it a destination for families to visit and enjoy leisure time – is clear to everyone.
There is a lot at stake here in terms of our future. That’s why I would urge as many of you as possible to please take a few minutes next Tuesday to come along and give some serious feedback and momentum to these plans.
Thanks for listening,