Agenda item

Questions on Cabinet Minutes

(time limit 15 minutes)

17th June 2022

25th July 2022


The Council was requested to note the minutes of the Cabinet meetings held on the undermentioned dates, to receive questions on any items within the minutes from members of the Council that are not members of the Cabinet and to receive appropriate responses from Cabinet members. The minutes of the Cabinet meetings held on 17th June 2022 and 25th July 2022 were submitted.


Members asked the following questions: -


a.    Question from Councillor Woodvine:

Further to the minutes of the Cabinet meeting held 25th July 2022, Councillor Woodvine asked: where the civic offices will be in the Spindles Development and whether Oldham’s ‘Coat of Arms’ can be displayed rather than the Borough Council’s logo.


Councillor Chadderton, Leader of the Council, replied that the civic functions, meaning office space for Councillors and meeting’s venues, would be based in the old Library Building on Union Street, Oldham rather than in the Spindles shopping centre area. The Leader added that designs for the development at the Old Library were still under development so there should be space for the coat of arms.


b.    Question from Councillor C. Gloster:

Further to the minutes of the Cabinet meeting held 17th June 2022, Councillor C. Gloster asked: ‘A decision was taken to award a contract for provision of water and wastewater services. It was noted that the council was paying 'out of contract' rates, and that the decision to award the contract would save £51,000 a year. How long had the council been paying out of contract rates for, and why was a proposal not put forward before the Council went out of contract, and started paying those additional fees?’


Councillor Stretton, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods replied that the water services industry in England was deregulated on 01/04/2017. Oldham Council has been paying deemed rates since 01/04/2017 when the supplier changed to Water Plus. Consequently, all of Oldham Council’s commercial supplies were placed with Water Plus on deemed out of contract rates and conditions.

At the point of deregulation in England, United Utilities were instructed to transfer all non-domestic water accounts to a new supply company (Water Plus). The water industry was in some disarray at the start of deregulation with multiple new supply companies being created to take advantage of the new market.

At this time consensus in the industry and advice given by the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA) was not to enter a contract and to wait until the water industry had settled down and reliable suppliers had been established. Part of the reason for this advice was that any potential cost savings would be minimal in view of the potential risks associated with entering a bad contract. Most costs for water (circa 93%) are set by United Utilities, only circa 7% are subject to competition because of the selected supplier (de-regulation).

In 2020 the water market had stabilised. At this time Manchester City Council carried out a procurement exercise. On completion they offered to extend access (framework) to other local authorities. The opportunity was discussed at an AGMA group Energy Managers meeting and the Council has taken the decision to move forward with the procurement.


c.    Question from Councillor Kenyon:

Further to the Cabinet meeting held 25th July 2022 (Creating a Better Place update: Spindles redevelopment), Councillor Kenyon asked:

‘The demolition of the former TJ Hughes site, one of the first phases of development, was expected to start in July, but was delayed. Given the ongoing cost increases in energy and construction materials and the expected future rates of inflation and therefore cost of borrowing, could the cabinet member responsible please details the impacts this delay will have on costs for the development? Given that the development has started with a delay, what guarantees can the cabinet member offer that there will be no further delays, and what provision has been made for cost increases from further delays? No one would want a prime location in the centre of Oldham to be delivered over-budget and late.’


Councillor Chadderton, Leader of the Council, replied as follows: ‘thank you for your question Cllr Kenyon, however while the physical demolition of the external façade has been delayed while plans to divert the electricity cable have been confirmed with Electricity North West, the demolition has commenced inside with internal decommissioning, the stripping out and the removal of internal walls.  The programme included periods of flexibility and parallel activities to allow for slippage and acceleration across the different elements of the redevelopment.  The impact of inflation and other financial matters post covid – post Brexit etc were considered at a very early stage by the project team, and therefore the project continues to be within the budget allocation. There is monthly monitoring of this high profile project, with updates reported back to the Cabinet at key milestones, and there was also a detailed discussion and debate at an Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting recently which included risks and mitigation for inflation, material availability and construction insurance which are national issues impacting on the construction industry at this time.’



1.    The minutes of the Cabinet meetings held on 17th June 2022 and 25th July 2022 be noted.

2.    The questions and responses provided thereon be noted.

Supporting documents: