THE DRIVING ambition behind our redevelopment of the Old Town Hall was always about giving local families a town centre they can enjoy and be proud of.
That’s why I was delighted this week to be able to finally reveal the opening date for the new ODEON as Friday, October 21.
It’s the same day that local schools will break up for holidays and it would’ve been simply wrong to deny people the chance to visit their new seven-screen cinema and restaurants and have quality family time on their own doorstep.
We could’ve waited for every last paving stone to be laid on Parliament Square, of course, and fussed about other minor details – but this very definitely felt like the right timing.
I’d like to thank everyone involved for their patience in awaiting this news, and the fantastic reception they’ve given it on Social Media and elsewhere – positivity does wonders for us all!
I recently promised to spell out some of the main themes of my recent Annual Report to Full Council, so I will start this week by talking about the context we are operating in at present.
You can’t fail to have noticed that there’s great upheaval in British politics(!).
Following the EU Referendum – and the vote for Brexit on June 23 – we’ve also had a swift change of Prime Minister and Cabinet.
It’s claimed that we will soon see changes in the Government’s approach and key policies, away from the austerity agenda, but only time will tell on that front. We live in hope…
Clearly the Brexit vote is going to have a big impact in framing what we do – and can do – in the future as both a council and a borough.
And anyone who tells you they know what it means with any certainty is kidding both you and themselves.
The implications are going to touch every part of our work as a local authority: our budgets, community relations, our ability to invest, the strength of our local economy, and the confidence of our businesses and partners.
That’s why I am crystal clear that Oldham Council remains fully committed to stepping up and playing a leadership role, as it has done with the Old Town Hall.
I am determined that we will do that with a strong and focused Cabinet getting on with the crucial work that is needed – because the only thing we can be certain of these days is that nobody will come in from the outside and fix our problems for us.
It’s now more than five years since we started our journey as a Co-operative Council and what that period of time has shown me is a very simple lesson: Oldham only succeeds when we all pull together.
Oldham only succeeds when we all make our own very different contributions towards making it a better place – whether that is recycling well, reporting a pothole, checking on a neighbour’s wellbeing, creating new opportunities for local people or spreading good news and information.
Put simply, we can only build a better borough together.
Next week I will look at how that approach works in practice – and what we are doing next – in terms of our efforts to create a strong local economy and a place we can all be proud of.
That’s all about continuing to attract investment, regenerating our town and district centres and, crucially, building an economy that works for everyone.
Popcorn and politics may make for a curious mix, but I hope this week serves as a timely reminder of our determination to make Oldham an aspirational place to live and work.