Reporter: Stuart Littleford
Saddleworth business owners have organised an urgent meeting to discuss their concerns over an alarming increase in burglaries and other crimes in the area.
The meeting will be held at The White Hart in Lydgate next Monday and will be attended by local councillors, police and members of the local business community.
Jo Fern, owner of Jo Ferns Salon in Lydgate Village, decided to organise the meeting after her premises were broken into last weekend along with several others.
Speaking to Saddleworth News, Jo said: “I have organised the meeting to discuss with other business owners what we can do to help address this increase in local crime, and to raise the concerns of the local business community to the authorities.
“We have all become increasingly worried at the high crime rate in the area.”
An Uppermill shop owner told us he had now “increased his contents insurance cover” and was deeply concerned about the developing situation.
A spokesperson for Greater Manchester Police told Saddleworth News: “We have recently seen a spike in burglary offences across Oldham, in particular business premises in Saddleworth, Royton, Shaw and Oldham Town Centre.
“We have had 19 reported since the start of January and 12 of these are in the Uppermill area. We have deployed patrols in the area on nights to try and tackle the problem. The PCSO’s are working with business owners to raise awareness and target harden premises.
“We need the help of the public to try and tackle this problem and would urge people to contact us with information.”
Saddleworth News understands that police operated CCTV cameras in Uppermill village have not been working for a number of years due to budget cuts.
Speaking in the House of Commons this week Debbie Abrahams, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, also highlighted the recent spate of burglaries in Greenfield and Uppermill linking them to Greater Manchester Police’s (GMP) reduction of approximately 2,000 front line posts.
During her intervention in the debate Debbie said: “We cannot possibly say that there is no link between such events and the front-line cuts to staff in the Greater Manchester Police.”
She then directly asked the Government Minister, Mike Penning MP, “What can the Minister say to my many constituents who have contacted me to say that they are very concerned about their safety? Surely this must be a priority for him.”
After the debate Debbie said: “Since being made aware of this matter last week and I have been in contact with Superintendent Denise Worth, who has expressed her willingness for community PCSO’s to meet with residents at a local meeting to discuss what action is currently underway to detect who may be responsible for these crimes as well as preventing further burglaries.
“This will take place at 11.30am-12.30pm on Saturday 27th February at the Uppermill Civic Hall, Lee St, Oldham OL3 6AE and all residents are welcome to attend.
“I’ll also be visiting businesses in Uppermill who have been affected on Saturday 13th February and I will also continue to raise constituents’ concerns about safety in Saddleworth with GMP in my regular meetings with them.
“It is important that the local community feel safe and that effective action is taken by our local police service to reduce crime and they have informed me that an operation in response to the increase in burglaries was put in to place in early January.
“GMP also tells me that they have been working with their partners and businesses to increase awareness and tackle the problem to ensure the safety of constituents living in the Saddleworth area.
“I’m assured by GMP that Police Community Support Officers (PCSO’s) have been visiting premises to offer advice on crime prevention and are assisting in the introduction of a business watch scheme.
Referring to the debate in Parliament Debbie said: “The first duty of any Government is the safety and security of our citizens. This is why during Wednesday’s debate in Parliament on the Police Grant Settlement, I raised the issue of burglaries in Saddleworth and cuts to our local police service, as GMP has seen a reduction of 2,000 front line posts.
“I will continue to monitor this situation closely and keep in close contact with GMP.”
If you witness a burglary in progress or any suspicious criminal activity put your safety first and ensure you contact the police immediately. You can call 101 in a non-emergency and 999 in case of an emergency.