(time limit 15 minutes)
Cabinet meetings held:
a. 27th February 2023
b. 20th March 2023
The Council was requested to note the minutes of the Cabinet meetings held on 27th February 2023 and 20th March 2023. The Council was asked to receive questions on these minutes, from members of the Council who are not members of the Cabinet and to receive appropriate responses from Cabinet members.
Members asked the following questions: -
a. Question from Councillor Gloster
The Council have stated that
Northern Roots is being funded by outside funding and grants, and
not by the council.
However, this means that significant bids have been made to fund Northern Roots that could have funded alternative projects across Oldham borough.
How many grant applications for capital funding have been made related to Northern Roots over the last five years? Given that very few capital funding applications have been put in for projects in other wards, such as Shaw and Crompton over the same period of time, does this mean that most wards have missed out on capital bids that could have been made if the Council were not focusing their attention on grant funding for this major project in Alexandra and Medlock Vale?
Councillor Jabbar, Cabinet member for Finance and Corporate Resources, replied, thank you for your follow up questions regarding Northern Roots’ funding.
Firstly, the capital funding for this project is from two funding bids that have been made over the last 5 years - the Towns Fund and the Levelling Up Fund, Round 2. These two successful grant awards were both from central government in alignment with the very strict eligibility criteria, and both grants were to support a package of projects not solely Northern Roots.
Grant funding applications are extremely limited now, many of the old grant awards have gone and simply don’t exist anymore. The latest opportunities have been extremely competitive geographically and thematically, pitching education and skills, against heritage and arts, against transport and accessibility etc.
During the Big Conversation a few years ago, significant community consultation, awareness and insight was collated to help shape and inform potential projects / priorities in readiness for when grant funding applications became available. This included feedback from members, keys stakeholders, businesses, and local communities in various different forums, methods and opportunities. The Oldham Big Town Centre Conversation engaged thousands of local residents, businesses and visitors.
We have already committed to supporting the development of District Growth Plans, and therefore this major engagement and consultation process will run once again to understand the issues and opportunities in all are local areas, in readiness for whatever new grant opportunities come along for further projects in Oldham.
b. Question from Councillor Al-Hamdani
With regards to the decision on the new theatre for Oldham, I warmly welcome the Council's decision to ensure a new theatre building for the town, and the decision to make Oldham Coliseum the anchor tenant.
The Arts Council has previously indicated that they are not supportive of producing theatres – one that creates its own shows such as the Oldham Coliseum. It has also been stated by other arts organisations that in order for a producing theatre to be financially viable, it requires a minimum seating capacity of 450 seats, considerably more than the current plans. Having a producing theatre gives people in Oldham an opportunity to build a career in theatre.
Can Oldham Council confirm that the Arts Council is fully supportive of Oldham Coliseum being a producing theatre in the new building, and confirm that the business plan is based on the Coliseum Theatre producing its own shows?
Councillor Dean, Cabinet member for Communities and Culture, replied, thank you, Councillor Al-Hamdani, for your question. There remains a joint determination between the Council and the Coliseum to work together to support a future for a producing theatre in Oldham, with regular discussions taking place between the Council and the new Board of Trustees at Oldham Coliseum Theatre, and with ongoing support of the Arts Council, we will continue to shape the business plans together.
c. Question from Councillor Hamblett
Could the Leader of the Council confirm if the recent works undertaken outside the site of Tommyfield Market in Oldham were subject to Equality Impact Assessments, as there had been a number of people who had suffered falls and tripping injuries in that area.
Councillor Shah, Leader of the Council, replied expressing her concern at the question but undertaking to provide Councillor Hamblett with a full written answer in due course.
1. That the Minutes of the Cabinet meetings held on 27th February 2023 and on 20th March 2023, be noted.
2. That the questions, above and responses thereon be noted.