12 February, 2008 – Oldham Beyond re-branding exercise takes a vital step forward
The process of rebranding Oldham takes a step forward today with the publication of a summary report into perceptions of the borough and what it has to offer for the future.
The report, commissioned by the Oldham Strategic Partnership, is the result of focus group research and consultation both inside the borough and outside with potential business locators and key regional figures.
It highlights what people think are the main features of the borough that can be used in its promotion and publicity and also what are seen as the main negatives that Oldham has got to get over in order to put itself in a better position for regeneration and development.
The main positive findings are that Oldham is seen as having lots of potential for regeneration and that its multicultural communities and variety of environments, from urban to rural, mean that it can be a vibrant and diverse place if it focuses on its main assets.
The high proportion of young people in Oldham is also seen as a key opportunity for the future, as well as the high reputation of its colleges in scientific and technical subjects; an area where it is bucking all national trends.
The report also concluded that one of the neagtive factors affecting Oldham is the ongoing disagreement about the name and constitution of Oldham as a place. Certain sectors of the community were acknowledged to have strong negative views about being associated with Oldham since the boundary reorganisation of 1974, asserting that this did not reflect the historical importance of the original townships that make up the borough.
However, the sensitivity about this issue is seen by many as having stopped the borough from promoting itself in a joined up way and therefore been a significant factor in holding back its progress.
Nick Brown, Chair of Oldham Strategic Partnership, commented: “The research would seem to indicate that there would not be a great deal to be gained from changing the borough name and it would therefore be better to build on the current identity rather than start again from scratch.
“It is more a case of what Oldham is capable of becoming rather than what it is called.”
One of the research consultees, Colin Sinclair, Chief Executive of MIDAS, the Greater Manchester Inward Investment Agency, added: “Names that are made up to cover local authority boundaries are difficult for inward investors to understand – they want to get their head around the place, not the local authority, and that means understanding its history, its positive assets and its vision for the future. Oldham needs to present itself as the sum of all its constituent parts if it is to take advantage of future opportunities.”
Council Leader, Councillor David Jones, commented: “This report is a wake-up call for Oldham to start thinking and acting more positively about its future.
“One of the views expressed in the research was that the political divisions in the borough have held us back, with no one party being willing to make bold decisions.
“There has never been a more appropriate time for us to use Oldham’s motto and ‘dare to be wise’ – we need to acknowledge that, as far as the future of the borough goes, we are all in it together.”
Tom Flanagan, Executive Director for Regeneration at Oldham Council added: “It is good to know that many of the key areas we are focussing on as part of the Oldham Beyond Implementation Plan are still what our partners and stakeholders see as the most important.
“As the next phase of the rebranding process, the consultants, Hemisphere, will be creating a new visual identity for Oldham as a whole and showing how this can be used to promote the borough to our different target audiences.”
The new identity is currently in development and will be launched later this Spring.
Source: Oldham Council press release