WE DIDN’T get a White Christmas but the long-awaited snow finally arrived across the Pennines this week.
Whilst most normal people look forward to the prospect of a day off work or a quick snowball fight with the kids, I’m usually left wondering how much the extra grit and catch-up bin collections will cost the council purse – not that we are cutting corners, of course!
I do find it slightly odd how countries that see regular snowfall just accept it as a part of life but, when it comes to Britain, the whole country seems to more or less grind to a standstill with trains, planes and automobiles all seemingly unable to cope.
As a Council the part we play is important and, after a few bumpy experiences in the past I think it is now true to say that Oldham is one of the best performing local authorities for ‘winter maintenance’.
Our approach isn’t to grit everyway highway and byway – that’s just not possible – but instead we focus on main routes to keep the economy moving i.e. cash and food delivery routes, and those key to emergency services.
After that we move onto bus routes and heavily-used secondary routes plus town centre footpaths and pavements, as well as footpaths near hospitals and health centres.
We also keep almost 600 grit bins shocked across the Borough, giving priority to areas on higher ground or with steep inclines.
What sometimes doesn’t get appreciated is the sheer amount of planning needed across all Council services: schools, social services, environmental services such as waste collection, as well as all the clearing and gritting.
If you need grit for your own use, such as on driveways, you can also purchase supplies from Moorhey Street Depot (subject to availability).
The most important thing which stands out for me at times like this is communication – not least of all as a parent when you’re never sure until the last minute whether a school will be open or closed.
Not all of our schools shared that information with the Council this year in as timely a fashion as we would have liked and that is frustrating. Having one place to go to for that information is vital – particularly if you have children at different schools – and I hope that will improve in future.
We all have a duty to act in a responsible way in bad weather, of course. That means not making unnecessary journeys or putting yourself at risk, and also being prepared – as well as checking on elderly family members and neighbours.
And finally, despite cries of compensation culture and the ‘world going mad’ you are more than welcome to clear snow outside your property. All I’d say is just use some common sense and don’t create a hazard for other people – like shifting a huge pile of snow and plonking it in front of your neighbour’s driveway…
If the snow returns in the days and weeks ahead, you can find out more information about all our winter maintenance arrangements here
Whilst our Borough looks beautiful in this type of weather I do also know the thought of the additional heating costs keeps many people awake at night.
If that applies to you – or if you just like a good deal – please remember that the Fair Energy scheme is now UK-wide with a host of councils joining up to the successful Oldham scheme that is now running across Greater Manchester.
The average saving first time round was £171 with one local family saving more than £700. This enlarged scheme could net you a saving of up to £250 as the energy suppliers compete for your custom as a huge group. Clearly not everyone will save, so there are no guarantees, but many will – so why not give it a shot?
Registration for this auction round, under no obligation to switch later, ends next week on Monday, January 28 at 11pm. For more information click here
News that the Arts Council has granted £5 million towards our flagship theatre and heritage centre plans is a real boost this week to our regeneration plans. It’s also recognition that the Coliseum is a national treasure as well as an Oldham success story.
That project is really gaining momentum now following the award of a Lottery grant before Christmas and this latest contribution means our fundraising task is well and truly on track.
It just goes to show that fighting for the best sometimes pays off – and it’s certainly better than settling for what we’ve always known.
Last this week – but certainly not least – I want to wish good luck to Oldham Athletic in their FA Cup Fourth Round tie against Liverpool on Sunday.
The game is being televised live on ITV1 at 4pm and is a sell-out at Boundary Park.
Here’s hoping the Latics will again do us proud as they represent the Borough on a national stage.
Thanks for listening,