YESTERDAY’S explosion in Shaw was a truly shocking incident and one that has touched the whole Borough.
As work goes on to review the secure area and return as many people to their homes as is safe to do so, I want to pay tribute to the work of Oldham Council staff, our partners – especially the emergency services – and the wider community for coming together at a time of great challenge.
The best of human nature comes out in times of crisis and the generosity on view was overwhelming.
From Asda running back and forth with supplies, to Primark sending clothing, to a little girl whose parents had brought her to the Rest Centre to donate her teddy bears to help the children left with out toys. To say this was Oldham at its best in one of the worst times is an understatement.
The loss of a home is one of the most difficult things to deal with and at this stage it would appear a number of properties will need to be demolished to prevent collapse. Our building control officers are onsite now assessing the soundness of each property.
When I attended the Rest Centre at Crompton House school on Tuesday it quickly became apparent that there are many personal issues here – from the loss of personal items, financial concerns and insurance cover etc, as well as medical issues and concerns about family pets.
Jean Stretton and I walked around the site last night and I can say it was harrowing.
Eye witness comments that it looked like a warzone are not too far from the reality on the ground with more than 50 properties and a number of vehicles damaged.
Overriding all this, of course, is the terrible loss of two-year-old Jamie Heaton and the pain felt by his parents, family and friends.
It will clearly take some considerable time for the community to recover from this incident, and for his parents it is unlikely they will ever reconcile this loss. The family will receive all the support we can offer.
As a Council we are on hand to help residents and have set up a single point of contact at 0161 770 7770 for any enquiries.
You can also find out the latest updates and information on our website at:
Our view is that we have a social and moral responsibility to get in and help the community to recover.
I have asked the Borough Treasurer to assess the likely impact of this, which is likely to be significant, although clearly much of the losses will be recovered through insurance etc.
Finally, I want to thank and pay tribute to Councillor Jean Stretton for the way in which she has represented not just the Council during this incident, but all 225,000 residents in Oldham to the world’s media.
Thanks for listening,