Buyer beware on reservoirs

WATER BARGAIN? Reservoirs are costly structures to maintain and failure to maintain them could have serious consequences.
WATER BARGAIN? Reservoirs are costly structures to maintain and failure to maintain them could have serious consequences.

ROLL UP! Roll up! There’s a bargain to be had…

For just £5,000 you could soon own a piece of Oldham’s beautiful countryside – and a little piece of history dating back to 1860.

That’s because United Utilities (UU) is sending both Brushes Clough reservoir, on Crompton Moor, and Besom Hill reservoir, off Grains Road, off to auction this month – but I won’t be joining the queue.

Why would a water company sell a reservoir?

Five thousand pounds is a metaphorical ‘drop in the ocean’ in financial terms, so it can’t be about money.

Nor do I think this move is about a tidying-up exercise whereby surplus property UU no longer require is simply being disposed of.

But their spokesperson said it all for me when he referred to the need to keep costs down for customers and therefore to dispose of expensive reservoirs.

These aging water structures are not maintenance-free and our own experience as a Council is that the associated costs are actually very expensive.

In my own ward the former Hollinwood Branch Canal aqueduct loses water and it requires repairs running into tens of thousands of pounds on a regular basis just to keep it safe.

It’s my belief that former nationalised industries which are now in private sector hands should have to take the good and the bad – not cherry pick.

The reality is that should someone acquire the liability and subsequently fail to maintain these structures to retain the body of water then it could have very serious implications for our Borough.

In the paperwork issued by United Utilities it makes it clear that the buyer here will take on all health and safety responsibilities and that currently, in order to comply with these, UU undertake a weekly inspection plus an annual engineer survey.

Failure to ensure the land and any structures are safe could create all sorts of legal headaches.

To be fair, UU have been upfront about this. The auction documents are detailed and clear about those responsibilities, but it really is a case of ‘buyer beware’ here.

Having resisted water-based puns (mostly) I now move on to the growing independent retail offer that is breathing new life into our market scene.

The monthly O Project students market continues to boom and there is now also a new Crafts Market giving another great reason to visit Oldham town centre.

It is vital that local people get behind these new ventures and spend cash.

It’s easy to sit at home and mourn the passing of Tommyfield in its heyday but what we’re beginning to see now is a new type of market offer in Oldham – and it needs your backing.

The O Project hosts its specialist teenage market in the Hilton Arcade on the last Saturday of every month between 10am and 4pm.

This boasts a range of stalls selling clothing, jewellery, accessories, cakes, handmade goods, crafts and beauty therapies. For more information call 0161 770 4516 or you can find OProject on Facebook or follow @OProject1 on Twitter.

There is also a new Crafts Market now being held every second Saturday in the Hilton Arcade. This features local craftspeople selling gifts, cards, soaps, cushions and all sorts of wares.

Don’t forget, of course, that you can take also take advantage of our parking offer at weekends.

You can park for free for up to three hours on all Council-owned car parks in Oldham town centre. To take advantage of this you must take a ticket from the pay and display machine.

You can also park free of charge for up to 30 minutes on-street seven days a week – again just be sure to take a ticket from the machine first,

More information about the free parking offer – with details of the sites – can be found here

Ventures like these in the Hilton Arcade could be the foundation for a whole new market offer in Oldham. Please support them and take the time to give them a try for yourselves.

Thanks for listening,


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