Please see State of the Area Address for more information
Tameside has firmly established itself as one of the north west's premier business destinations with the opening of Ikea in Ashton.
Thousands of people flocked to the opening of the store in October, and word of mouth feedback from local retailers in Ashton town centre indicates that many visitors to the Swedish furniture giant are choosing to walk into town after their visit to the store.
It's estimated that Ikea have created more than 500 jobs in Tameside, with a high percentage of these going to local people.
Councillor Kieran Quinn, Tameside Council's executive member for economic services, said: "We've seen an increase in footfall in the town centre since Ikea opened, and ultimately that can only be a good thing for traders in the town - it should translate into an increase in sales.
"I know the roads in Ashton have been very busy since the store opened, and I would like to thank Tameside residents for their patience while Ikea settles into the community.
"Tameside Council worked very hard in the run-up to the opening to ensure that there was a sensible and efficient traffic management plan in place, and while the roads have been very busy at times, I would say that the fact the town is still running efficiently is a vindication of our decision to allow Ikea to open here."
However, Cllr Quinn was keen to stress the massive financial boost Ikea will have in Tameside. He said: "From an economic perspective, Ikea's UK sales reached £1bn last year, with 14 stores in the UK up and running. Ashton is the 15th store and judging by the national figures, the sales potential is massive and if only a small percentage of that potential turnover is spent in the town centre this still represents a huge boost.
"Add to this the potential of £5m per annum in salaries that could be spent in the borough and you start to see what the economic spin-off could be."
Ashton Market Hall will be rebuilt - but without compromising on quality.
It is now clear that the reconstruction of the Market Hall will not be complete in time to hand over the building for opening before Christmas 2007, as previously hoped.
Cllr Quinn said: "The importance of the market and of this project to Ashton's future is enormous, and I am not willing to compromise the quality of the work and its impact on businesses by cutting corners to try and achieve a quicker completion.
"So, to avoid a prolonged period of uncertainty the council has made the decision to reschedule the opening of the refurbished Market Hall for late spring, 2008."
PO closes its doors
Ashton Post Office moved into the WH Smith store in The Arcades in October, despite a campaign by local people, Tameside Council and the media to stop the move going ahead.
Councillor Kieran Quinn, executive member for economic services, said: "We fought hard to keep the post office open in its old location but the Post Office were determined to go ahead with their plans, despite the tide of public feeling against the move.
"I would like to thank everyone who supported the campaign to keep the post office open, despite the end result."
Borough's bloomin brilliant!
Tameside has been looking blooming marvellous this year, thanks to everyone who worked towards the Britain In Bloom competition. The borough won the regional final and in its first ever national final, came second to Aberdeen.
Council staff, community groups, schools, residents and businesses all made sure the borough has been looking its best, not just for the judging days, but all year round.
The hot weather during July brought its own problems - gardeners needed to water more than a thousand hanging baskets daily as well as making sure the parks and flowerbeds were at their peak.
Judges for both the regional and national competition were taken on a tour of Tameside's horticultural highlights. These included Stamford Park, Willow Wood Hospice, Park Bridge Heritage Centre, Iris Garden Club, Holden Clough School, Mottram Road Allotments, Armentieres Square and Central Estate in Dukinfield. The BBC filmed for a day and broadcast live with the residents from the Central Estate, for North West Tonight.
The regional awards ceremony took place in Blackpool in September and Tameside was announced as the winner of the 'city' category for the second year running.
The national final was hosted in Perth, a city which has won many in Bloom awards in the past. Tameside was awarded silver-gilt in a tough category which included Oxford, Kensington & Chelsea and Aberdeen. The Scottish city took top prize with its highlights of Winter Gardens, Japanese Gardens, nature reserves and coastal footpaths.
Project head for sport and leisure Cllr Dave Sweeton (pictured with the Bloom team and the North West winners trophy) said: "We are delighted at the success that Tameside has achieved this year. Winning the North West Britain in Bloom award for the second year running is fantastic and coming as runner-up to Aberdeen in our first national competition is something we can all be proud of. It is a credit to everyone involved that the borough has been looking so fabulous, not just during the summer, but all year round."
Tameside in Bloom isn't just about nice flowerbeds, it's about creating an attractive place to live and work for the people of the borough. The project aims to encourage a sense of pride and environmental responsibility in the community and forms Tameside's entry into the Britain in Bloom competition.
The In Bloom projects take place throughout the borough all year round. Judges take this into consideration and make unannounced visits to check on progress.
Everyone in Tameside can take part by doing simple things like being extra careful about dropping litter and keeping their house or business frontage smart and clean. Local residents can also take part in their local garden competitions run by each District Assembly.
If you would like to become involved in Tameside in Bloom, please call 0161 342 2220 or log onto www.tameside.gov.uk/inbloom
Our children's future
£180m schools vision agreed
Six secondary schools are to be built and three further schools refurbished as part of a £180m vision to revolutionise Tameside's educational provision.
A review of secondary schools across the borough has been undertaken as part of the Government's Building Schools for the Future initiative - a national programme to transform secondary education to meet the needs of pupils and the wider community in the 21st Century.
Following massive consultation, Tameside Council has agreed to open three new schools while rebuilding three existing schools and refurbishing three others.
The move will involve closing six existing schools, with pupils moving to one of the three brand new establishments. Admission numbers at two other sites will be reduced.
Here's a summary of the changes:
Refurbishment of the remaining schools in Tameside is planned in future waves of the Building Schools for the Future programme.
Cllr Ged Cooney, cabinet deputy for lifelong learning, said: "All of our schools are successful schools but this is an exciting one-off opportunity to further develop sites to create top-quality provision for the future, giving our young people and the wider community the best possible life chances.
"Our vision is for a Tameside-wide campus where all the schools will work with each other to make optimum use of their particular qualities and facilities. We are starting from a good base but we need to bring a new lease of life to old stock to ensure it delivers for generations to come."
Statutory proposals for the proposed changes have been published and were due to be considered by the Schools Organisation Committee as the Citizen went to press. The final funding for the project is being discussed with Partnerships for Schools who are the non departmental governing body responsible for delivering the national Building Schools for the Future project.
A successful partnership
Partnership and appreciation is the best way to describe the relationship between the council and Willow Wood Hospice.
For not only have the charity and Tameside jointly worked on Britain in Bloom (see p5), the council has also given assistance in other ways as a mark of appreciation for all the hard work the hospice have done since opening their doors to the public in May 1999.
Below is listed a number of other ways the council and Willow Wood have worked in partnership: