Newsletter, March 2020 – special CORONAVIRUS issue 1

A brief summary of what’s in our March 2020 newsletter..

SPECIAL CORONAVIRUS ISSUE (1): Things have been happening so quickly that, despite putting together our regular monthly newsletter, we’ve felt the need to make some changes to the original articles which are no longer appropriate due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak (such as hiring the Civic Hall for large gatherings and celebrations). Next month we’ll be bringing you a special issue outlining what our wonderful Saddleworth community is doing to help others throughout the crisis. In the meantime, please read on for news on what the COVID-19 outbreak means for Saddleworth Parish Council and how you can get involved in the drive to help others in the community through the crisis.

Parish Council meetings cancelled

In line with government guidance on social distancing during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, SPC has taken the decision to cancel all its committee meetings until further notice. Oldham Council has cancelled its meetings, too.

At the moment the law doesn’t permit us to have parish council meetings other than in person. So we are waiting for instructions from the government to see if meetings could be held by video link or some other means.

However, please be assured that your parish council is not “closing for business”. All your parish councilors are still busy working on your behalf via email, phone and video, from home.

We will keep you updated about any further developments in our April newsletter. Meanwhile you can access advice and guidance on staying safe and healthy during the Coronavirus outbreak on the government website:

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Helping others in the community during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

With people being advised to distance themselves socially and isolate at home, our incredible Saddleworth community is already mobilizing to help others weather the storm and keep safe. In next month’s issue we’ll be bringing you news of what local community groups are doing and how you can get involved – plus how they can help you, your family and neighbours in the crisis. Please keep coming back here to find out more.

In the meantime, anyone wishing to volunteer can do so via Action Together which is co-ordinating activities – the form to fill in is at

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Other news: Dawson’s Field

Back in January, we reported how Saddleworth Parish Council had agreed a 30-year lease for Dawson’s Field, Scouthead, removing the worry that this valuable area of Green Belt might become yet another housing estate.

Eventually we hope to have the field permanently transferred to our ownership and will continue to work with Oldham Council to achieve this aim.

Dawson’s Field is already a popular location for events like the Scouthead and Austerlands Whit Friday Brass Band Contest and the Family Fun Day. The field is also used as a playing field by local children and dog walkers.

Before the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, we were planning to liaise with the Scouthead and Austerlands Community Committee to talk about other outdoor events that could be held at Dawson’s Field. Obviously any events will need to be postponed for the time being but we look forward to planning outdoor events again as soon as the crisis is over.

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Other news: Plant a tree

For a few years now SPC has been committed to planting new trees and have been talking with the Woodland Trust about the most effective way to roll out a regular tree planting scheme. Some local community groups have already made plans to do their own planting but we firmly believe that the more trees that are planted, the merrier!

Why not plant some trees of your own?

The Woodland Trust says that the best time to plant trees is in November, so that gives all of us plenty of time to plan the planting and also to look at a variety of suitable sites where tree planting would enhance the landscape.

The Woodland Trust provides free tree packs to communities and is especially keen to involve schools and local community groups such as the Scouts.
Each pack comprises between 30 and 400 mixed variety whips that are around 12 months old. The whips can be easily planted but need protection from rabbits, deer and weeds. Guards are provided with the whips which are labelled to identify each species.

For landowners the Forestry Commission will meet up to 60% of both the cost of the trees and any planting costs if done by a contractor.

Let’s get planting!

SPC’s new Climate Change Leaflet will soon be available which describes how you can plant a suitable tree or two if you have a garden or open space. It will also explain why it’s important to choose the right kind of tree and how to avoid the problem of foliage and roots close to buildings.
In the meantime, to find out how your community group can get hold of a free tree pack, please contact David Sanderson at The Woodlands Trust on

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Other news: Reducing the risks of flooding

While we’re talking about trees… Did you know that strategic tree planting can reduce the risk of flooding? According to the Environment Agency, trees planted around a feeder stream can slow the rush of rainwater and save areas from flooding by as much as 20%. This is because the forested area releases water to the main stream later than water running off pastureland.

Keep gullies and culverts free from debris

Blocked gullies can also pose a flooding risk and Oldham MBC clean local gullies on an annual basis. However in-between cleans, gullies can become blocked again – for example rubble is being dumped in some of the gullies which can divert water washing down the hills so it completely missing the culverts resulting in potential flooding.

Heavy rains and storms make this even more of a problem. As a result we are updating our Flooding Leaflet which will be distributed to the local community, encouraging those with gullies and culverts on their land to ensure they are kept free of debris in-between annual cleans.

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Other news: Bidding a fond farewell to our Parish Clerk, Pam Bailey

After five years of dedicated service to the Parish Council and the people of Saddleworth, Parish Clerk Pam Bailey has decided to move on. Pam will be missed terribly by all of us, not only for her expertise and calm manner but her wonderful humour and ability to make the most difficult of tasks seem easy.

Being the clerk of a Parish Council is not an easy job, particularly with Saddleworth as one of the largest Parish Councils in the country. Over the last five years Pam has managed the team and office with calm and efficiency and has even managed to put up with all the councillors!

Chairman Cllr Jamie Curley said: “Pam really has been a tower of strength and during my year as chairman has been an invaluable source of knowledge and help and I couldn’t have done it without her.

“I would like, on behalf of all the Parish Councillors, to give a huge thanks to Pam for all she has done for us – overseeing the cemetery, allotment project and land transfer of Dawson’s Field to name just three big projects.”

Everyone at SPC wishes Pam the very best for the future. We’re going to miss you!!

SPC is now seeking a new Parish Clerk to take on the role. The closing date to apply for the role of Parish Clerk is 11.59pm on Sunday, April 5.

An application pack, including Person Specification, Job Description and Application Form can be downloaded from our News page or by telephoning the office on 01457 876665. Applications may also be made on-line through Greater Jobs via the Oldham Council website