OLDHAM COUNCIL has been accused of “pick pocketing” funds from Saddleworth as part of its cost-cutting measures.
The claim was made by Saddleworth Parish Councillor Jamie Curley during an emergency Parish Council meeting to discuss a letter from OMBC seeking a review of grants available.
Oldham say a “relentless reduction” in spending power by central government means they are making increasingly difficult decisions in spending priorities to meet the £192million cuts.
As part of this, the borough council is considering whether they can continue providing Council Tax Support Grant to support running costs and priorities of its Parish Councils in Saddleworth and Shaw and Crompton.
The move would reduce Saddleworth’s income by around £39,490 a year – 24 per cent – which raised concerns and frustrated protests at the meeting.
Cllr Curley said: “This is absolutely unacceptable and not what the people of Saddleworth deserve.
“We haven’t increased the precept for four years. We are giving more services and do more and more around Saddleworth.
“We are being punished for being a successful Parish Council and serving our community well.
“Oldham Council is pick-pocketing from the people of Saddleworth for being a nice place,” he declared.
“They love what Saddleworth gives Oldham but behind that they are a bunch of pick-pockets and thieves.”
Cllr Alan Belmore added: “This should not be Oldham Council’s money to take away. This is central government cash provided for people in Saddleworth who need support in paying their council tax and parish precept.
“It would be deeply unequal and deeply unfair for Oldham Council to take away Saddleworth rate payers’ money intended to support the Parish Council.”
Cllr Steve Hewitt said: “We should be looking at the positive things we provide for the community and make a dossier to put forward to Oldham.
“The social added value of many things we do – like work with community groups and the elderly – outweighs the money we are given.”
Cllr Rob Knotts said: “What we do not know is how much Oldham spends on Saddleworth. We need that figure and a comparison to how much is spent on the 19 other wards.”
Cllr Neil Allsopp, said: “I am sure there are other ways in which Oldham Council can economise further.
“We are asking for nothing more than our fair share but I think we are being treated shabbily.”
Chairman Cllr Pam Byrne concluded: “Oldham Council have recently invested highly in the town centre – a new sports centre, a cinema complex and the Mahdlo Youth Centre – but when did they last invest in Saddleworth?
“Should the cuts be approved, the Parish Council will either have to curtail provision of present services or pass the burden on to its residents by increasing its precept.
“Oldham Council has often referred to Saddleworth as its “Jewel in the Crown” and must show that it appreciates it.”
The Parish Council will be submitting its comments to Oldham Council before September 30.