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Debbie Abrahams responds to ‘band contest’ concerns

The Dobcross Silver Band on Woods Lane 2011.

Debbie Abrahams, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, has issued a response addressing concerns about the future of Saddleworth’s Whit Friday Band Contests.

Debbie Abrahams said: “Following approaches from constituents I will do everything I can to support the organisers of Saddleworth’s Whit Friday Band Concerts as these events are such an important part of the area’s heritage and it’s local volunteers who are putting their hearts and souls into trying to keep this wonderful tradition going. 

“I have spoken with some of the contest organisers, the Police and the council so I can understand the specific issues each has and how these might be addressed so the future of the Band Contest can be secured. 

“Although I know Chief Superintendent Tim Forber is committed to supporting the contest he has had to make some changes to the event’s finish times as he is juggling a reduced budget and cuts to the number of police officers available to him. And the Council is also facing severe cuts so it’s not unreasonable that the band contest organisers are being asked to share responsibility for the clean-up afterwards. 

“I am concerned, however, that some organisers are saying that the Council was slow to respond to their event plans which made it very hard to get everything done on time. The Council deny this was the case but it’s clearly an issue that needs to be addressed by both sides so I will be monitoring the progress of the planning process for next year’s events. 

“Finally, everyone agrees that the tragic death of Alan Chamberlain at the Greenfield contest in 2010 is one too many. We do need to make sure that health & safety requirements are adhered to. Those people that I have spoken to accept the need for undertaking risk assessments for the events and all have a common sense approach helping wherever they can to mitigate any risks.”

10 comments to Debbie Abrahams responds to ‘band contest’ concerns

  • George

    The conservatives/Lib dems support 20% cuts in the police budget. The Labour party support 14% cuts in the police budget. Remember that the next time they whinge about “police cuts” which they basically support but try to make political capital out of

  • Michael Wood

    The cuts in the Police budget should not make any difference to this tradition and the chief Supt said he had to change the time of finishing be brcause of the rosta, rubbish just make them start later but all the Police which is being sent is a total waste of money, when I was a Police Officer at Uppermill and Saddleworth we 8 Police Officers and let the people get on with it, it does not need all that nonsences he is just saying that because they want to get rid of anything that goesd on in Saddleworth. They are all blaming the cuts there was 4 officers from 8am., until 4pm., and 4 from 4pm., until it finished what more do you want and there was people drinking every where just lset them enjoy themselves and there will be not trouble.

  • Helen Bishop

    It is outrageous! I consider it cultural cleansing and we warned about this in our election leaflet. There is only one solution if we want to safeguard our traditions……..devolutionfor Saddleworth! The sooner the better! Only with the threat of removing our financial contribution to Oldham will we get what we want, one way or another.

  • Michael Wood

    Miss Abrahams. Please get awy from these cuts that you keep going on about, the Supt is pulling the wool over your eyes. one organistion or another have been trying for years to get rid of this tradition because it comes out of Yorkshire. You have to do better than that and get stuck into the Police Supt and tell him there is no way that excuse will work. Its very simple less police organise the rota better which is quite simple. You will Find the more police the more chance of trouble. Get into Oldham MBC Saddleworth and put them in order. You are dealing with strong people.

  • Nicola

    Miss Abrahams … if Police cutbacks are so severe then what on earth are Cheshire Constabulary doing parading a full brass band with excellent marching skills (obviously well rehearsed) do they practise it in their time off?? well maybe some of their colleagues could come and help GM police out of the kindness of their hearts for the night?? or are they all busy policing Cheshire whilst the others are playing in the contest in Saddleworth?
    Also may i suggest checking the arrests for the nights? what percentage of people arrested live in saddleworth? I met a friend from Greenfield station at 7pm yesterday evening as she was coming from Manchester to enjoy our tradition. Many of the young people getting off the train had alcoholic drinks with them and were coming into saddleworth drunk already! perhaps if Northern rail took some responsibility and manned the stations to ensure no BYO drinks were brought in, maybe if Tesco closed at 6pm so people couldn’t buy cheaper drinks in bulk there and take them to the contests this would help (although the toilets in Tesco were useful!!)Problems are never going to be 100% solved. But there are always things to help. You will never have a public event with no arrests, Notting Hill, Mardi Gras etc there have even been problems on the Olympic Torch relay!! However the introduction of using Traffic Wardens alongside fewer police for road closures was a welcome sight in the Morning Walks & makes sense!

  • Suzanne

    We never had as many issues in Saddleworth, West Yorkshire as we do now we are under the clutches of O.M.B.C who once publicised that Saddleworth was the Jewel in Oldhams crown. How about looking after the crown jewels then Oldham ! ( no pun intended)

  • Michael Wood

    Nicola I would just like to point out to you which you would not have known but your point is correct. The Cheshire Police Band is made up of full time officers and from people outside the force. the MD is a retired Insp, and all the practice with the band is done in their own time. People within the band give up work time for Police engagements and others but also a good Chief Constable.
    Tesco should not have been allowed to open on Whit Friday knowing what trouble it could have caused, but the Police will use anything against this tradition to try and get rid of it. The trouble with the Police now is they join the Police with a degree and go almost straight into a rank, they have no beat expereince or with village traditions, I don,t no about this Supt who covers Saddleworth but he does not seem to be very helpful to the villages or his people who do the rota have any idea, they should not be able to say startingand finishing time it is nothing to do with them, but they have been very helpful in getting rid of Scouthead. I do not think it is because of people wanting to help. The local MP Mrs Abrahams has to stand up to this Officer and tell him this tradition will keep going. Congratulations to the people who did the beer walk telling the Parish Council and Oldham MBC and the Police we will do it, we have done it for years.

  • Saddbarsteward

    Devolution for Saddleworth? What next – the Saddleworth Pound? Saddleworth passports? Get a grip!

    The reason you get trouble is down to only a few simple factors – alcohol (and too much of it), a general lack of respect for people, and most importantly – those who just want to go out and cause trouble. No amount of policing will solve the problem, those idiots who want to create tension will just look at more Police as a challenge. I would imagine that none of us want to turn Saddleworth into a Police state once a year.

    As for the comment “Cultural Cleansing” – come on Helen. No amount of scaremongering and lack of support stopped the beer walkers on Saturday. Traditions will always win out as long as the folk who want it support it. Saddleworth residents are not so stupid, or without conviction to let a reduced Police budget get in the way of an annual tradition.

    The real cultural issue here goes much deeper, it is about bringing children and young adults up to respect and get involved in their local communities and not necessarily their elders (some of them don’t know any better!). Less selfish attitudes towards others will keep traditions alive and thriving.

  • Phil

    If police budgets are going down, why does what I get “charged” for the service go down?

  • Helen Bishop

    Sadd Barsteward, you seem to have positioned yourself as as my personal critic for reasons unknown. I have offered you the opportunity to meet with me personally, or you can e-mail me (helenbishop25@yahoo.co.uk) at any time to discuss any issues or questions you have. However, if you are in some way expecting me to respond negatively to your comments you will be disappointed. I’m not sure what your grievance is but If you would like to contact me I would still be happy to discuss it, I am very approachable and open to alternative points of view. I cannot offer you a better deal. There is information that I cannot share on here which informs my opinion of the situation.
    I would also like to say that I agree with a number of your points, primarily because I have worked with young people in Saddleworth for 14 years, (as well as being a Greenfield girl), working with minimal resources to address the problems you have rightly addressed. I am perfectly happy for you to challenge me but I would prefer it if you did so knowing a bit more about me first and dilute the animosity a little. It’s unecessary. As Saddleworthians we are on the same side.

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