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£100K project aims to 'rebuild' Oldham community

A £100,000 project is looking to ‘rebuild the community’ in an Oldham neighbourhood that was shaken by tragedy earlier this year.

Limeside in Hollinwood has seen a surge in 'youths carrying weapons’ according to the GMP, who descended on the area after a teenager was stabbed in an Aldi car park in February.

But local councillors and the housing association who run the estate are now working together to bring about change. 

Onward Homes and councillor Abdul Wahid are aiming to reopen a community centre in Limeside Park to create a new ‘focal point’ for local residents. The centre on the corner of First Avenue and Ninth Ave closed down during Covid but is due to reopen this August, according to Cllr Wahid. 

The councillor said: “I’m hoping it will bring a bit of community back to Hollinwood, because we’re definitely losing it. 

“People don’t really go there. I’ve known of residents and parents who just don’t want to send their kids anywhere near Limeside Park because of knife crime and such things.” 

In February, a 19-year-old was arrested and police stop-and-search powers were extended in the area after an 18-year-old was violently assaulted. The area was also linked to a mass-brawl that broke out between two groups of teenagers in neighbouring Failsworth. 

Local resident Angela Reeves told the LDRS things ‘had gotten worse’ in the area, ‘especially in the last year’. Angela has lived in the neighbourhood for 50 years and regularly walks her dog Luna at Limeside Park, where there have been reports of antisocial behaviour.

She said: “The police can’t do anything because they’re going around with masks on and can’t be identified.

“It makes you wary. I like to take my dog out at night before I go to bed and I feel like I’m checking all around me the whole time.

“Luckily, I know most of the people round here so I’ve got a house to run into if I need to.”

And a First Avenue resident on  who didn’t wish to be named told the LDRS: “There’s been quite a few [stabbings] in different streets. You see people driving round in cars with knives and machetes.

“Thing is, there’s nothing for them to do. The kids are left to run wild on the estate.”

But Coun Wahid believes having a community centre could help address the problem. 

“They’re not bad kids,” he said. “I know a lot of the youngsters who get in trouble – they’re just idle because they don’t have anywhere to go. 

“And they’re almost forgotten about. The only ones who pay any attention to them are the police. We don’t want that. 

“Getting this open will mean there’s always things going on there and hopefully we can get some of those youths into the community centre and give them activities to do.”

Though the details are still under consideration, the centre hopes to offer short courses to youngsters to learn more skills and help them into further education or apprenticeship schemes. There are also plans for morning groups for the elderly, a community cafe, a bookable event space as well as yoga and fitness classes. 

Onward Homes have reportedly provided 100k of funding for the project, with the remainder raised by local charities. 

Andrew Lord, a spokesperson for the housing association, said: “This will be a significant milestone in our local plans for the area, and ongoing commitment to making The Onward Difference.

“We hope the new facility will be the heart and soul of the community, and a place to foster connections and we look forward to working with our customers in Limeside on developing this community space.”

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