THE £350 million town centre masterplan is set to be torn up following the election of a new leader of Oldham Council.

Cllr Sean Fielding is pledging to block the planned bulldozing of the Queen Elizabeth Hall and the “much-loved” Tommyfield Market Hall saying that while the civic centre is dated and in need of investment, “there is still life left in it”.

He stood against current leader Cllr Jean Stretton at the annual Labour group meeting and won in the aftermath of the local council elections which saw the party strengthen its grip on Oldham.

Failswort West ward Cllr Fielding will now become the leader at the annual meeting of Oldham Council on May 23.

In an open letter to chief executive Dr Carolyn Wilkins immediately following his leadership win he said the regeneration plans “fall far short of what is required to give a compelling vision for Oldham”.

He goes on: “There are, without doubt, ways to justify a move to a new civic centre, a key element of the masterplan; however, it cannot be justified in the context of the cuts being made to the vital services accessed by those which my councillor colleagues and I have been elected to represent.

“Whilst the current civic centre is dated and in need of investment there is still life left in it. Equally, the QE Hall is an important and unique facility, not just within the borough but within the wider city region, and it must not be lost.

“We will therefore revisit plans for a hotel supporting the QE hall to gain some value from feasibility and ground condition studies already undertaken.

“I recognise that a training hotel model which was originally hoped for may not be achievable in the current climate, but other models of operation are available.”

On the market hall, he continued: “It is a significant feature of Oldham town centre and again there is no denying that this is a building which is also in need of investment.

“However, I am firmly of the view that this is a valuable asset the town centre and is much loved by the people of the borough.

“I therefore believe that investment in the current Market Hall is a sensible course of action and would also enjoy the popular support of the current traders and the people of the borough and beyond who visit the market.

“We will therefore look at essential condition works and some reconfiguration including food and other uses, taking inspiration from market halls such as Altrincham which have reinvented themselves in this way.

“We will also need to review any other barriers to its viability including market rents and how we support existing and new traders.”

He said that in order to further support the market in other, indirect ways, he endorse the plans to develop a multi-storey car park to the rear of the market hall which would drive footfall and he sees no reason why this cannot happen whilst the current market remains in place.

However, Cllr Fielding backed some projects already underway, including the Heritage Centre and new Coliseum.

“This should not be delayed or compromised,” he said. “There are also other key sites which we will need to revisit including the former Magistrates Court.

“We can discuss this further as we draw together a team to add value to the work of council officers. We must be confident in our ambition and have the humility to accept that we cannot do this alone.”

Cllr Fielding, a councillor for six years, stood against Hollinwood ward Cllr Stretton at the annual meeting of Oldham Council Labour group following Thursday’s local council elections and won, although the margin of his victory has not been disclosed.

Cllr Fielding, 28, told The Oldham Times: “Following the successful election and based on our manifesto, there were some concerns with the group and on the doorstep while we out campaigning.

“These were related to the issues of getting the basics right on things like cleanliness of the streets and the condition of the roads.

“There are also certain elements of the town centre masterplan which need looking at.”

Cllr Fielding, a former Tesco worker, works as press and communications officer for Ashton MP Angela Rayner.

He added: “I pay tribute to Cllr Stretton for her public service. Leading Oldham Council is a difficult job, as I am sure I will come to appreciate even more during my own leadership, though I am ready for the challenge and am eager to build the right team to deliver for the people of the borough.”