Newsletter, April 2022

A brief summary of what’s in our April 2022 newsletter…

This month we report on whether or not the temporary 20mph speed limits introduced as a Covid measure will stay, why we feel let down about our drive to make Greenfield station accessible and what we’re doing about it, why Greater Manchester’s “Clean Air Zone” planned for May has been postponed and finally why it’s All Systems Go for supporting Fairtrade in Saddleworth!


Will the temporary 20mph speed limit zones (introduced as temporary Covid measures) stay?

A Saddleworth resident asked SPC if Saddleworth Parish Councillors can use their influence to encourage the necessary authorities to retain the 20mph areas that were introduced under temporary Covid 19 powers, AND can they also use their influence and connections to put pressure on the police to carry out regular enforcements of the 20mph speed limits, to encourage more drivers to stick to the limits?

Living Streets – an organisation set up to “achieve a better walking environment and inspire people to walk more” – is lobbying for more 20mph speed limits across the UK “to create safer streets, and more vibrant communities where people live, work and shop”. They state that “If a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle at 20mph they have a 97% chance of survival. Just 10mph faster it drops to 92% – all for the sake of arriving somewhere slightly earlier”.

Here in Saddleworth, a range of 20mph areas were introduced under temporary Covid powers. The UK Government has also signed up to the Helsinki declaration, committing the country to introduce lower speed limits by default, but that legislation has not come forward.

A 20mph speed limit isn’t practical on some roads, but there may be other measures which could be used instead to force drivers to slow down, for example traffic calming measures. Oldham Council recently wrote to Safer Roads for Greater Manchester to request changes to speed camera guidance to make them easier to introduce.

Please watch this space for more news on 20mph zones.

In the meantime, please visit https://www.livingstreets.org.uk/policy-and-resources/our-policy/20mph and https://tfgm.com/safer-roads for more information on making UK streets safer for everyone.

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Not so fast – why we can’t afford to wait another 7 long years for accessibility for all at Greenfield station

As regular readers of this newsletter will know, SPC has been pushing for accessibility for all at Greenfield station for 27 long years. Last month we reported that things appeared to be moving at long last.

However…

…we have received a letter from Network Rail explaining that Greenfield may have to wait up to 7 MORE YEARS for anything to be done.

The reason appears to be that it’s the Department of Transport and not Network Rail which decides which stations will benefit from step-free access on the Government’s ‘Access for All’ (AfA) programme.

The AfA programme operates five-year funding periods and, unfortunately, Greenfield hadn’t been nominated for the current period because “this was on the basis that this improvement was already included in the TransPennine Route Upgrade scope of work in 2024”.

To say we are disappointed is an understatement.

What this essential means is that there are no plans to upgrade Greenfield station until after 2024, possibly having to wait until 2029 before any scheme would be in place. And, of course, that would be dependent on Greenfield being accepted for the DoT’s next five-year funding period.

The Department of Transport is in the process of setting the funding envelope for the next control period of 2024-2029. We have responded to Network Rail to ask if “we have your assurance that Network Rail will nominate Greenfield Station as a priority for this funding as this upgrading has become more vital in view of the fact that Greenfield is the only rail station in the borough of Oldham and the district of Saddleworth”.

A bit of a light at the end of the tunnel is that the Mayor of Manchester has said that if accessibility is not reached by 2025 then he would step in because, for Greenfield to wait another 7 years on top of the 27 years SPC has been campaigning for access, is unacceptable.

We will bring you news of any progress in future newsletters.

In the meantime, you can read about the AfA programme, and how it is funded, here: https://www.networkrail.co.uk/communities/passengers/station-improvements/access-for-all-improving-accessibility-at-railway-stations-nationwide/

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Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone – why it’s being postponed

Greater Manchester’s “Clean Air Zone” planned for May this year has been postponed to allow Mayor, Andy Burnham, and his administration to review their Clean Air Plan with the Government.

The Parish Council has emphasised its support for cleaning up the air that residents breathe – but only in a way that helps people to make the change to cleaner vehicles more easily and does not put jobs, livelihoods, and businesses at risk.

The original GM Clean Air Plan included a Greater Manchester-wide category C charging Clean Air Zone whereby only the most polluting vehicles which don’t meet emission standards would have been charged to drive in the Zone.

However, there are a number of problems that have made the original plan unworkable including supply chain issues on new vehicles, lack of retrofit kits for older diesel vehicles, reduced financial incentives to purchase electric and hybrid vehicles, the high price of such vehicles and the massively reduced re-sale / trade-in value of older diesel vehicles.

On top of this, the rising cost of living is making it financially impossible for many people to make the necessary changes to upgrade to cleaner vehicles meaning that those who would be penalised would be those that could least afford the emission charges.

The knock-on effect would be more older vehicles on the road with the result that the original Clean Air Plan would not have met the obligations in the direction to achieve compliance with the legal limit for harmful nitrogen dioxide (NO₂) air pollution by 2024.

The Parish Council is writing to the Mayor to ask for more monitoring of pollution levels, so any plans are based on more complete information, as well as to make clear the importance of ensuring any measures should not impact in the poorest people, or put any jobs or businesses at risk.

Greater Manchester is now working with government to deliver a new Clean Air Plan for Greater Manchester by this July.

You can read more about the GM Clean Air Plan here: https://cleanairgm.com/

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Fairtrade – here we come!

SPC’s Environment Committee has been advocating a Fairtrade initiative for several years but the pandemic meant that this had been put on a backburner. As a result this meant we had never got around to formally endorsing our commitment to Fairtrade.

At our last meeting, we put this right by agreeing unanimously to pass a resolution supporting Fairtrade in Saddleworth and agreed to use Fairtrade products within SPC.

The Five Goals for a Fairtrade Town

  1. Local council passes a resolution supporting Fairtrade, and agrees to serve Fairtrade products (for example, in meetings, offices and canteens).
  2. A range of (at least two) Fairtrade products are readily available in the area’s retail outlets (shops, supermarkets, newsagents, petrol stations) and served in local catering outlets (cafés, restaurants, pubs).
  3. Local workplaces and community organisations (places of worship, schools, universities, colleges and other community organisations) support Fairtrade and use Fairtrade products whenever possible. Populations over 100,000 will also need a flagship employer.
  4. Media coverage and events raise awareness and understanding of Fairtrade across the community.
  5. A local Fairtrade steering group is convened to ensure the Fairtrade Town campaign continues to develop and gain new support

Find out more about Fairtrade here: https://www.fairtrade.org.uk/