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SADDLEWORTH

As one the main points of discussion surrounding O.M.B.C at the moment appears to be the continuing unhappiness felt by just one particular area of the borough who see themselves as a bit more special than the rest. I feel this area deserves it's own page. In any case it would only be a matter of time before I am subject to derogatory comments from the big voices in Saddleworth that I am somehow being unfair to Saddleworth in not devoting an unfair amount of coverage to what is just one of several parts of the borough.

So what do the big voices (Cllr. Ken Hulme, Mike McCann et al) want? Lets be clear from the outset that at this moment, there is no consensus in Saddleworth at this time that Saddleworth should leave O.M.B.C., just the few highest profiled Saddleworthians who feel they can speak for everyone else.
They appear to want Saddleworth to be taken back in time to a non-existent 'Emmerdale Farm' of the 70's era where wholesome farming communities communed with nature at no financial or environmental cost to themselves, where the grass was greener and the sun shone more brightly on the sleepy meadows of Saddleworthshire. These Big Voices want to break free of O.M.B.C, a group whose only aim would seem to be to crush the pretty hamlet of Saddleworth under the jackboot of greedy developers, out to slaughter the grey twitterer to extinction, to rape the woodland glades and concrete over the beautiful moorland (which nobody uses) in order to squeeze every last penny of profit from the teeming hoards of tourists.
But hang on a minute. What tourists? The Big Voices would have us believe that the tourism which flows into Saddleworth (and apparently stops at any border) is worth around 100 million pounds a year. Where the hell is a figure like that plucked from? What are the tourist traps of Saddleworth? Where exactly do the brown signs advertising the Saddleworth Tourist Attractions send visitors clamouring to see the 'jewel of Oldham'? They just point beyond Lees and then halt. True the countryside around Oldham (sorry that should read 'the Saddleworth countryside') is pretty (when one looks past the man made stone walls, the electricity pylons, the roads, car parks, homes farms, reservoirs, train tracks, pubs, 4x4's etc.) and many of the buildings are old but that's not enough to drive tourism. Nor is a part time museum with little if anything of interest to non-Saddleworthians. The canal system does bring a few narrowboats a week through the villages (they have absolutely no choice) but other than looking slightly quaint and a bit crumbly I cannot see where the massive well of interest in this area lies.
I'd be astounded to see proof of the 100 million p.a. claim.

And what do the Big Voices NOT want. Well the list is almost endless but current NIMBYISM is focused on not having windfarms, not having any further development of housing or business (but we want affordable housing and jobs please! (only for Saddleworthians of course)) and not wanting the same levels of service as everyone else in the borough. Saddleworthians want to pay less than the town dwellers but demand better service over a wider spread location. They want to pay less for gritting but want a massively greater swathe of streets gritting, want to pay less but receive more cleaning (complaints that too many leaves fall etc.). They want to opt out of O.M.B.C. but want a reliable and immediate local fire / medical / police / presence etc. etc.

Well here's a newsflash for the Big Voices. With the quaint views and amenities comes a certain price! Or at least is should. Lets have a look at the maths. Saddleworth North has 7,826 registered voters, Saddleworth South 7,731 and Saddleworth West and Lees 8,521. We'll be charitable and include all the Lees folk (if you'd allow these in) so thats 24,078 registered voters, lets be even more charitable and say that only 2 people live in each household and that council tax is an average of £1,000 a year. That will be 12,039 households paying £1k per annum council tax gives a whopping £12 million a year to O.M.B.C. who spent around £240 million pounds on the O.M.B.C. area last year. 217,273 were recorded as living in Oldham in the 2001 census which equates to about £1,105 being spent on every man woman and child in the borough. No matter which way you cut it up, Saddleworth actually does as well if not better out of O.M.B.C. than any other section of the borough.

So I, my wallet and probably a majority of people living within O.M.B.C. boundaries would certainly be fully supportive of a move to remove Saddleworth from O.M.B.C. The sooner the better. The bleating from Saddleworth is disturbing the peace of car alarms, house alarms, crime and fighting that the rest of the borough normally enjoy with a thrash metal backing track from the local youth section of the car fraternity. Maybe then the rest of the borough would have more resources to spend on things that matter, we'd hear less hot air from the big voices and would not be subjected to a minority constantly taking over and talking over the agenda of the majority. Next time Mr Hulme & co. wish to prevaricate on matters Saddleworthian wouldn't it be nice to see them address the people of Saddleworth instead of the people of O.M.B.C.?
In any case, I rather suspect it will all be in vain. There is no popular support for this whimsical move to Yorkshire (or whomsoever it is that would want to support Saddleworths 'independence') in Saddleworth. It's been almost comical to see the optimistic five or six page petitions in shops waiting to be signed with no more than a handful of signatures on them. I guess those will be from the millionaire tourist playboy jetsetters who spend such inordinate sums on their tourism?
I'm afraid that by Christmas this latest protest against the lower classes (Oldhamers to you and me) will have petered out and it'll be onto the next protest group formation. Hey, maybe you could include the Saddleworth parish council this time or would they simply never put their name to such childish, simplistic, introverted posturing ?.........

Saddleworth is for
Opting out of OMBC
Erm...
Saddleworth is against
Development
Housing
Outsiders
Tesco (in Saddleworth)
Windfarms
Pickhill
Youth/s
Anything 'new'