Oldham counts the cost of clearing up

31 May 01
Oldham council is seeking aid from the government following the rioting in the town last weekend.

01 June 2001

Senior council officers met representatives from the Government Office for the North West on May 30 to put their case for financial assistance. Oldham fears it will have problems meeting the cost of repairs – which could reach £100,000 – because it faces cumulative budget cuts of £15m by 2003.

Oldham has received government aid in the past. Over the past ten years the Glodwick district, the area most affected by rioting, has been given £5m from the Single Regeneration Budget, said deputy mayor Riaz Ahmad.

However, he claimed little had been achieved with the money and said that future funding should be centred on making local businesses and the community self-sufficient. 'It's very difficult to see anything tangible coming out of the Single Regeneration Budget,' he told Public Finance.

Moves to restore confidence in the town also began this week. An announcement of an independent public inquiry was imminent. 'I think there's strong public demand for one and there's likely to be one,' said Ahmad.

Council leader Richard Knowles announced that Oldham would consider giving business rate relief to companies affected by the rioting. 'The council sympathises with the plight of many small businesses which have had their normal business disrupted. We are committed to offering whatever help and support we can,' he said.

Oldham fears it has not seen the last of the riots. Ahmad said the presence of the British National Party, whose leader Nick Griffin is standing in Oldham at the general election, and National Front supporters visiting the area could provoke more trouble.

Rioting began on May 27 when up to 500 Asian youths battled with police. Asian community leaders were angry at the alleged failure of police to respond to attacks on their community. The BNP said 'the multi-racial "experiment" had failed dismally in Oldham'.


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