A TIME of change and challenge faced the community, the new chair of Saddleworth Parish Council has warned.

In his inaugural speech, Cllr Jamie Curley, who also serves on Oldham Council, highlighted changes in population, expectations, tourism, housing, green spaces, transport, demographics, and the relationship Oldham and Greater Manchester.

And he declared: “Along with these changes, there are many challenges not least is the impending decisions on the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework which may have profound consequences for us.

“There are decisions on housebuilding, green spaces, health care and the consequences of social isolation, the development of our neighbourhood plan, pressure on roads and transport and the ongoing issue of the moorland fires — a challenge which has not gone away.

“All will require ideas and input from many sources and this is one area where you will find Saddleworth Parish Council front and centre in leading the efforts to find solutions to these challenges.

“But as chairman I make a commitment to my fellow councillors and the people of Saddleworth I will make it my task to enable us to work together, as a council and as a community to meet all the challenges that face us and put in place the solutions which will benefit Saddleworth and allow us to grow and prosper.

“We can do this through our shared commitment, shared ideas and shared love of our community. While we have a broad spread of political affiliations we all have the future and prosperity of the people of Saddleworth as our ambition.”

He said Saddleworth was as an “epicentre of volunteer effort and praised the Chairman’s Charity Committee who in the last four years raised £55,000 for local charities.

Welcoming the the return of familiar faces on the council, he added: “I’m delighted to welcome some new faces, including the youngest ever Parish Councillor, Max Woodvine.

“ I hope the new Councillors will be bringing new ideas and perspectives to help with these challenges over the next four years.”

Outgoing chair Cllr Robert Knotts listed an array of achievements during his year and reminded councillors. He said: “Whatever your political colours the most important party in Saddleworth is made up of the 25,500 residents who live here.

“The prime duty of all councillors is to act on their behalf, not on party political lines. During the past four years politics has not raised its head in the chamber, long may that continue.

He added: “Last year OMBC’s leader questioning the need for Parish Councils and criticising their role. Some question the value of the precept and the effectiveness of the Parish Council.

“Without the checks and balances presented by a very able Parish Council, Saddleworth would be walked all over and left to the whims of the borough. While we must work with Oldham the Parish Council enables Saddleworth’s voice to be heard.”