THE FESTIVE season can be the best of times for many people – and, cruelly, the worst of times for others…
Although I’m yet to hear a Slade record, the shopping season is clearly getting into full swing and this Sunday sees our Christmas Lights Switch-On event in Oldham.
My primary thoughts this week, however, are for all those people who have just learned that they are set to lose their jobs at local retail firm Betta Living.
The company, based on Suthers Street in Werneth, sold kitchens, bedrooms and wardrobes with outlets in more than 70 towns nationwide.
Administrators were appointed on November 4 and last Friday they notified staff of their decision to make all employees redundant.
We understand that up to 50 staff could be affected locally and the Council’s Get Oldham Working (GOW) team are already on the case offering our help.
There’s never a good time to lose your job, of course, but at this time of year – when cashflow is so key to your family plans and people are looking forward to relaxing and having fun together – it is especially hard to take. My heart goes out to them all.
Our Get Oldham Working staff have contacted JobCentre Plus to agree an approach and we will work with them and other partners to do all we can to minimise the impact.
As in the case of BHS, where we were able to help every staff member affected to find new employment, we will also be offering practical support such as help with CVs and interview practice.
At a time like this we all have a part to play, so I would ask any Oldham businesses that might have suitable vacancies to please contact Get Oldham Working and offer your support.
If you are directly affected, or think you can help, the GOW Team can be contacted on 0161 770 4674 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Moving onto other matters, I was delighted to see attendances at Remembrance Sunday services at such a high level across the borough.
I was in Oldham and the huge turnout of people to pay their respects – young and old – was absolutely heartwarming.
The service was very poignant and it was also great to see the area in front of the Old Town Hall back in use again. This will be a perfect venue for all manner of civic events like this when the phased opening culminates in Parliament Square’s completion.
For that reason this year is also likely to be the last time that we host our Christmas Lights Switch-On at Tommyfield Market.
This venue has worked well for the last couple of years and Sunday’s event promises to be another great free family show.
The fun starts in the town centre at 1pm with TV favourites Chase and Marshall from PAW Patrol making the first of several appearances during the day.
Tommyfield will then host a spectacular stage show at 4.45pm featuring Britain’s Got Talent’s ‘Stormtroopers’, Boogie Storm, our very own Ollie and Millie, and another fantastic firework display.
Why not plan ahead for the day and pay a visit to the Old Town Hall for a family movie, do some shopping, or visit one of the excellent restaurants in the area?
There’s also a whole series of district lights switch-on events going on across the borough between November 24 and December 8 and you can find out what’s going on where you live here.
Finally, the weather has been comparatively mild of late, and I hope that this continues, but if we do get hit by some early-season snow you can keep fully updated on the impact on our website at www.oldham.gov.uk/winter