Cllr Richard Knowles is the new Mayor of Oldham. The former Liberal Democrat leader of the council, who lives in Greenfield and represents Saddleworth South, will serve in the role for the next 12 months.
He took over from Cllr David Jones at yesterday’s annual council meeting at the Civic Centre. Cllr Knowles has spent the past year as Deputy Mayor.
Cllr Knowles revealed the three charities which would be the focus of his fundraising during his time in office. They are children’s charity Barnardo’s Oldham, Dr Kershaw’s hospice, and Promobility, which helps disabled people get access to town centre shops.
For more details of what else he had to say in his first speech as Mayor, see a piece from the Chronicle here. (Editor’s note: The meeting took place during the day, so childcare duties meant I couldn’t go myself!)
Meanwhile, Labour group leader Jim McMahon was formally installed as the new leader of the council at the meeting, following his party’s success in the borough election earlier this month.
And he quickly moved to begin the process of trimming more money from the council’s budget, as he and four other senior councillors were appointed to a joint committee with Rochdale councillors, which will examine new ways in which the two authorities can work together to save cash.
Cllr McMahon will be joined by his Labour deputy Cllr Shoab Akhtar, his Lib Dem predecessor as council leader Cllr Howard Sykes, deputy Lib Dem leader Cllr Jackie Stanton, and the leader of the Conservative group, Cllr Jack Hulme.
Oldham has already been forced to save £41m from its budget for this financial year, because of cuts in central government funding. About £300,000 of those cuts will involve closer working with Rochdale.
A further £24m must be trimmed from the 2012/13 budget in Oldham, with another £14m needed in 2013/14 and an additional £13m required in 2014/15. Rochdale, having already found £64m of savings for this financial year, is facing even larger cutbacks than Oldham in the coming years.
In a statement issued after the meeting, Cllr McMahon said: “The level of savings we need to make mean that we cannot continue to deliver services in the way that we previously have. By working together both Oldham and Rochdale can reduce costs and also protect some of those services which may not otherwise have been able to continue.”
He went on: “The establishment of a joint committee is one of the first steps towards delivering services jointly and over the coming weeks we will be looking to identify exactly which services provide the best opportunities for collaboration. These will be considered by the joint committee, cabinet and full council before any final decisions are made.”
The Advertiser’s report of the meeting, focusing on the relationship between the two councils, can be read here.