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Executive Members Blogs

16 November 2017 Councillor Gerald Cooney

Time to Start Talking About Alcohol 

Cllr Ged Cooney

This week we’re supporting national charity Alcohol Concern to spread the word about Alcohol Awareness Week across the borough.

For many people a drink or two at the end of the week or after a long day at work is one of life’s little pleasures, and as long as it’s in moderation there’s nothing much wrong with that. Unfortunately, there are some who just can’t stop at one or two, and the consequences for them and the people around them can be harrowing indeed. We all know the effects on the liver, but excessive alcohol consumption can also lead to high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer and even mental illnesses like depression. To make it even worse, too often those affected by alcohol addiction will not receive the support they need. This can be because they don’t want to be stigmatised for being known to have issues with alcohol, or sometimes simply because they don’t know what support is available.

On Alcohol Awareness Week, 13-19th November, we’re doing our best to set that right in Tameside and Glossop. As the week has gone on we’ve been asking residents to have an honest discussion about alcohol – how it affects them, their families, their communities and society as a whole. The entire week can also be seen as a warm-up to Alcohol Concern’s Dry January campaign, where they’ll be challenging people to go without alcohol for 31 days. Since 2011 over 5 million people up and down the country have taken part, whether it’s because they want to ditch the hangovers, reduce their waistline, save money or just to see if they can do it. We’ll be putting out more information closer to the time, but for now it might be worth thinking about whether you want to add it your New Year’s Resolution list.

For those who want to take action now, we’re signposting to a number of services to help people manage or limit their alcohol intake. For those who aren’t addicted but want to cut down their drinking anyway, the Alcohol Concern webpage contains a number of factsheets and apps to help you not just reduce the amount you drink, but to keep it reduced as well. These include calorie counters, unit calculators and quizzes to check how healthy (relatively speaking) your drinking is. For those who think they need more intensive help, there are a variety of intervention and health services across Tameside and Glossop. Some of these are run by the NHS or council and can be accessed through your local GP or surgery, but there are also a number of organisations such as the Lees Substance Misuse Service and Lifeline Tameside that offer free and confidential advice on drug and alcohol issues.

There’s no time to waste. It’s estimated that there are over half a million dependent drinkers in England, but only one fifth of them are seeking treatment. In Tameside alone last year there were 46,508 hospital alcohol-related admissions or attendances (ranging from everything from severe liver damage to drunken injuries) and 115 deaths from alcohol related causes. In total, the cost of alcohol misuse averages out to £84 a year for every adult in Tameside.

Those are more than numbers, those are very human costs. Not just the cost of lives cut short that could have been prolonged, but the cost of emergency care that would never been needed had a helping hand been offered before it got that bad. The sooner we can bring talking about alcohol into the open, the sooner we’ll be able to start changing and saving lives.

 

19 October 2017 - Councillor Brenda Warrington

CQC Thumbs Up for Our Learning Disability Team

Councillor B Warrington
Among the many health and social care services provided in Tameside, one of the most important but least understood is our Learning Disability Team. Their job sounds simple on paper; to make sure that all adults with a learning disability in Tameside can lead as well a life as possible and reach their full potential. In reality, it’s anything but a simple job. Learning Disability professionals often need to be a combination of social worker, doctor, counsellor and housing advisor as the occasion calls for it. Day after day, they go above and beyond for the people in their care.

That’s why I’m delighted that the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the independent regulator of health and adult social care in England, has recognised the good work done by Tameside’s Learning Disability Team. The service, which provides personalised care for 80 people across the borough, was inspected by a CQC team in July with only 48 hours’ notice.    

Their final report came in last week. All services inspected by the CQC are judged under five very simple criteria. “Is the service safe?” “Is the service effective?” “Is the service caring?” “Is the service responsive?” and “Is the service well-led?”. Tameside’s Learning Disability Team was judged to be “Good” in four categories and “Outstanding” in terms of service responsiveness.

Going into the detail, inspectors reported that service users received an excellent, personalised and people-centred service that met their individual needs and preferences. They added that clients were fully involved in planning and developing their own care, and that staff routinely came up with innovative ideas and actions to improve their client’s opportunities and quality of life. The feedback from service users, which formed a considerable amount of the CQC’s final judgement, was unambiguously positive. Service users felt like their views were routinely sought and that they were able to raise issues if something wasn’t to their liking. They were fully supported in taking risks to improve their independence and protected from mistreatment at all times. The CQC was also satisfied that staff received the necessary training and support to carry out their roles effectively, especially around administering medicines and identifying signs of possible abuse.

Though for me some of the best parts of the report were the stories about how individual’s lives have been made better through simple things. Simple things like recognising that a service user got anxious when they went for a medical appointment, and arranging for their teddy bear to be taken with them so the nurse could use it as a communication aid. Simple things like putting food through a small handhold blender so that a service user with a feeding tube could safely eat it, giving them the chance to experience an everyday pleasure that most of us take for granted. None of these things were big, flashy or expensive. All it took to make them happen was the attention and expertise of professionals who knew and cared about the people they worked with.

The report is a brilliant vindication of all this work, and fully reflects Tameside’s priority of putting people at the heart of everything we do. I feel extremely proud that the Care Quality Commission has recognised the dedicated care offered by all of our members of staff, to all of our clients, all of the time. My congratulations to everybody concerned.

 

18 September 2017 - Councillor Jim fitzpatrick

Are you eligible for business rates relief?

It’s been a busy summer here at Tameside Council. Over the space of a few short months we’ve rolled out free WiFi across all our town centres, put on a variety of free activities for children and families, and awarded local hero and World Cup winner Geoff Hurst with the freedom of the borough. These are all things worth shouting about, but there were a few other things as well, things that went by quieter but were no less important. One of those was our consultation on business rates relief.

The relief scheme has been opened by central government as a direct response to the latest revaluation of business rates, which came into effect on 1st April of this year. This revaluation, which was due in 2015 but was delayed for 2 years by the coalition government, had significant consequences for the 7,000+ small and medium businesses in Tameside. While many have seen their business rate bill go down as a result of the revaluation, a smaller number have been faced with a significant increase, as much as 400% in the most extreme cases. Due to increased competition and rising property values, pubs and restaurants have been particularly affected.

The total package of relief has been provided in three separate elements. The first two parts, a cap on rates increases for business that have lost some or all of their small business rates relief due to the revaluation, and a discount on business rates for pubs with a rateable value of under £100,000, have not been consulted on as we have strict instructions from the government about how these must be used. The third element, however, has been designed to allow local authorities to support whoever they feel are hardest hit in their own area. Tameside’s share of the £300 million set aside for this purpose is around £490,000. Our consultation, which ran from 18th July to 15th August, asked those directly affected, our local business owners, about how this money should best be used to help them.

We received a significant number of responses to the consultation, and after reviewing and considering every reply we are now in a position to present Tameside’s discretionary business rate relief scheme. Applications for relief will be considered on a case by cases basis for business meeting the criteria, including; being valued at less than £200,000 for business rates purposes, facing an increase of 12.5% or more as a result of the 2017 revaluation, owning less than 3 rateable properties in the UK and not being in receipt of either of the other two parts of the new business rates relief. The council will also reserve the right to not grant any relief when they feel the business applying has a detrimental impact on their neighbours and communities. Any relief will be granted for a year at a time until the expiry of government funding in 2021, and all successful applications this year will be backdated to April 1st 2017.

At the time of writing this the link to the online application process is not yet available, however when it goes up you’ll be able to access it here. Don’t forget to sign up for The Big Conversation as well to have your say in any future consultations. There’ll no doubt be more changes over the next few years, and we want to make sure we’re always keeping Tameside’s residents and businesses informed every step of the way.
 

24 August 2017 - Councillor Lynn Travis

Don’t Miss Out On More Free Childcare

Councillor John Taylor
Imagine this scenario. It’s one that has been played out in many households across Britain over in recent times. You left work a few years ago to take care of a child, but now they’ve grown up a bit you’re looking to get back into employment. You have a couple of job offers, but when you look at how much they pay you realise that the money would just disappear into paying for childcare during the working day. You’re not fortunate enough to have friends or family nearby that could look after your child instead. What do you do?

For most people the question answers itself. It simply doesn’t make financial sense to go back to work. According to research by the Family and Childcare Trust, British parents now pay around £6,000 every year on average for a single part-time nursery place. That’s more than the annual wage of an average part-time worker, and twice as much as what the average family pays for food and drink a year. It’s not just an economic problem; it’s a social one as well as people find their working lives and careers cut short through absolutely no fault of their own. 

What’s more, businesses have started sounding the alarm as well. A joint survey by Middlesex University and the British Chambers of Commerce found that a third of businesses regard the availability of childcare as a key issue in recruiting or retaining staff.  For those surveyed, the lack of affordable childcare had real consequences as well. 28% of businesses said they saw a reduction of working hours, with 12% also reporting a loss of productivity. Even more concerning, 9% saw staff change job roles within the business to better fit around childcare commitments, and 8% saw employees leave their job entirely.

Even the government are belatedly recognising that it’s an issue, which is why they’ve doubled the weekly free childcare entitlement to 30 hours a week for 38 weeks (the equivalent of school term times), starting from next month. The offer is open to any family in England where both parents work (or one parent works in a single parent family), earn between the weekly minimum equivalent to 16 hours National Minimum Wage at least or £100,000 a year at most, and whose child is 3-4 years of age at the time of the scheme commencing in their area.

The Childcare Choices website, https://www.childcarechoices.gov.uk/, contains more information on eligibility (including what other support is on offer if you don’t meet the criteria) and how to apply. You must apply before the 31st August if you want your funding to start in September, so don’t delay.

A note of caution should be sounded though; while this increase in free childcare is welcome I still don’t believe it goes far enough. Much will depend on whether the government will address concerns about how they will support childcare providers and local authorities to ensure that places are available for any family which needs one.

Perhaps we need to think again about the importance of childcare services, especially when extended families are further away and many women can’t or won’t play the stay-at-home Mum. We already have world-leading examples in Britain of how vital services like schools and hospitals can be made free at the point of use. Why shouldn’t childcare be the same? It’s good for children, good for families and good for society. Let’s celebrate the measures that have been put in place now, but let’s also think how much a bit of ambition could get us in the future.
 

07 August 2017 Councillor John Taylor

Tameside Gets Tough on Modern Day Slavery

Councillor John Taylor
What do you think of when I say the word “slavery”? For many, I’d be willing to bet their minds go first to either cotton picking in the American South, building pyramids in Ancient Egypt or something equally historical. If I asked you to try and come up with some more modern examples, you’d probably think of the poor souls building football stadiums in the Middle East. But what if I told you that slavery is happening not just right now in 2017, but right here in Britain?

Of course, the slavery we see in the modern world can sometimes look rather different to its past cousin, but that only makes the need to stamp it out all the greater. The International Labour Organisation estimates that 21 million people worldwide, a quarter of them children, are in slavery. 13,000 of those are believed to be in Britain. Some of them are brought or come to our shores under false pretences, some of them are British born and bred. All of them need our help.

That’s why in the middle of last month, officers from Tameside’s Environmental Services joined forces with Greater Manchester Police, immigration officers, enforcement agents from utilities companies and members of the Fire Service to take part in a modern slavery Week of Action.

As part of this, a number of businesses and buildings in Tameside were searched based on information and evidence we’d received about modern slavery taking place. Upon raiding an industrial estate, they discovered that part of a boiler room had been converted into a “bedsit” (and I use that term very loosely) for a man over retirement age. No planning permission had been obtained for such a conversion and it failed to meet even the most basic safety regulations. The owner of the industrial estate stated that the man was homeless and had been taken in by him and given accommodation and fed, in exchange for carrying out certain cleaning and repair jobs around the buildings. That explanation raised alarm bells for the officers trained in spotting the signs of slavery, and further investigations into both the man and the owner of the estate are currently taking place.

Our Housing Standards Officers also investigated a number of business areas considered to be hotspots for modern slavery issues, including car washes and nail bars. A search of one particular car wash found a number of individuals living in poor, squalid conditions. A large amount of cash, whose origins remain unclear, was also found in the same location. The owner of the car wash was arrested and taken away for questioning, and regardless of how that ends enforcement action will also be taken against him for allowing employees to live in sub-standard accommodation.

Thanks to the efforts and expertise of the council’s officers and our partner organisations, the Week of Action ended up striking a great blow against slavery and exploitation in Tameside. Our work is nowhere near done however, and we need your help to do more. If a house near where you live seems to receive visitors at odd times of the day and night, if you’re at a nail bar, car wash or cafĂ© where workers seem reluctant to engage or look ill-fed and unkempt, then let us know about your concerns. It could be nothing, but it could also be slavery happening in front of your eyes. Let’s all do what we can to make sure that no more people ever have to suffer through that in Tameside.
 

19 July 2017 - Councillor Jim fitzpatrick

A New Era for Ashton Old Baths

After the election season its business as usual back here in Tameside. With the chaos and confusion that seems to be engulfing Westminster it’s even more important than ever that local government steps in to fill the gap, continuing to invest in and deliver for communities up and down the country.

That’s why there’s nothing more satisfying than seeing plans to do just that come to fruition. I’ve written in the past about our work to revive the Ashton Old Baths, turning the treasured old Victorian building into a 21st century business incubator. Working with Place First, we secured the funding from the European Regional Development Fund and Heritage Lottery Fund to make the restoration works a reality. The beginning of Ashton Old Baths’ second life with a spectacular opening ceremony, including a light show and performances by local dancers and youth groups. Now we’ve finalised a deal with flexible workplace operator Oxford Innovation to secure tenant businesses and run the day-to-day management of the building on behalf of the council.

To date, 50% of the space in the digital hub has been rented out a variety of diverse companies and start-ups from the design, media and technology sectors. One of these new arrivals to Tameside is Zestme, a corporate events company with over 20 years of combined experience in their industry. Their statement when they closed the deal summed it up perfectly: “As a creative events management company we didn’t just want any office to grow our business - we wanted an innovative, truly iconic space with a creative community to work in. When we discovered Ashton Old Baths we were instantly excited about the prospect of being here alongside so many other creative businesses. It’s a place where we see our ideas flourishing and, coupled with the access to expert business support, we envisage good things will happen”.

As lead for the project to restore Ashton Old Baths I’ve been following the restoration and renovation work closely, and its restored, finished glory has been wonderful thing to witness. From the outside, the Grade 2 listed building looks much the same as I imagine it looked when it first opened its doors to the Tameside public in 1870. On the inside however, an “office pod”, installed in the middle of the former bathing hall, contains 6000 square feet of offices and 4000 square feet of meeting rooms and break out space. The building is also in an idea spot for businesses and meetings, with easy access to the motorway network and the shops and restaurants in the centre of Ashton. Last, but not least, the entire centre is hooked up to a state-of-the-art dark fibre WiFi system, providing the fastest broadband speeds available in Britain today.

So if you’re a creative or digital business and want to get your hands on some first-rate office space then get in touch with the Ashton Old Baths at 0161 804 2030, or visit their website at https://www.ashtonoldbaths.co.uk. There are options for pay-as-you-go desk and meeting room hire, private or shared offices, and even a virtual office, with a business address and landline included.

So I hope you’ll join me in wishing very success to the new Ashton Old Baths. In my opinion they sum up the absolute best of Tameside, honouring and building on our unique past to pave the way to our bright future.

29 June 2016 - Councillor Lynn Travis

Committed to Lifelong Learning

Councillor L Travis

One of the sayings that informs everything I do as Executive Member for Lifelong Learning, and for that matter a great deal of my personal life, is that “You learn something new every day”. Whether it’s in a classroom, at home, in employment or anywhere in between, we are always learning and growing as people.

That’s something that Tameside Council wants to encourage, and with the help of local charities and partners we have a wide variety of ways to do it. Our most popular route for adult learning in the traditional sense is the Tameside Adult Community Education (ACE) service. Based in the Stamford Chambers on Old Street in Ashton, the Tameside ACE gives residents the chance to return to or continue learning in a variety of subjects like IT, family learning, employability and skills for life. For anybody who walks through their doors, even those who may have experienced barriers to learning in the past, Tameside ACE offers opportunities to gain the knowledge, skills and expertise they need to achieve their goals in life and work.

That’s why they kicked off the Festival of Learning, a national celebration of lifelong learning, by holding an open day on Tuesday 13th June. Between 9.30am-7pm anybody who wished to could have a look at what courses were on offer or sign up to any of the taster sessions taking place during the day.

That was the starting gun for a whole series of events at Tameside Central Library, giving people the chance to learn something new and the inspiration to try things a little out of the ordinary. These events, lasting around an hour or so each, included everything from yoga sessions, to still life drawings, to hanging basket crafting, to authors David Hewitt and Mark Henderson talking about their books showing alternative perspectives of World War 1. Thanks to the hard work of Tameside ACE, council staff and volunteers, the Festival of Learning has proven to be a brilliant promotion of what adult learning can give to people, and how it can cater to those who would not usually consider it as something for them.

Not that we plan on resting on our laurels now that the Festival of Learning is done. In a previous blog I talked about the importance of making sure that our children have a solid grounding in computer science and how programming works through our Tameside Hackathons. This summer we’re giving young people in Tameside the chance to develop those skills further by opening the borough’s first dedicated CoderDojo. Based in Active Medlock and run entirely by volunteers, the CoderDojo offers free lessons in coding for young people between 7-17 years in a safe, friendly and relaxed environment. It’s due to open its doors on 9th July between 11am-3pm, with further sessions scheduled for the first Sunday of every month.

For more information about Tameside ACE and other adult learning opportunities, visit our website at: https://www.tameside.gov.uk/adultlearning. The Tameside CoderDojo have also put together their own website at: http://www.tamesidecoderdojo.org.uk/. No matter who you are, no matter how old you are, no matter where you’re from, lifelong learning has something to offer you.

15 June 2017 - Councillor Brenda Warrington

Tameside and Glossop Leads the Way in Digital Healthcare

Councillor B Warrington
It seems like not a day has gone by recently without some kind of reminder that we are currently in the midst of a social care crisis. Just before the announcement of the election, an investigation by the BBC revealed that every day last year over 900 adult social care workers left their job. These people are the frontline and the backbone of our services. No wonder that Mark Padgham, the head of the UK Homecare Association, publically said that the UK’s social care system has already begun to show signs of collapse.

I’ve made clear many times that we need additional support and funding from the government to truly resolve the social care crisis, because we cannot afford for them to continue to ignore this crisis. Councils and partners up and down the country are trying to find ways to do a lot more with significantly less funding. Tameside and Glossop are no different.

It’s for that reason that four of our local care and residential homes took part in an innovative pilot launched by Tameside Hospital at the beginning of March. For four weeks they were all linked up to a digital healthcare centre at the Hospital.

At the Hospital, a dedicated and trained nurse was on duty at all times to give expert advice via Skype. If a resident of one of the care homes became ill, instead of taking them straight to A&E (as has been the standard procedure in the past) staff can contact the health professional to see if it’s something that can be handled on site and be advised on the best course of treatment. The staff members in the care homes have also received training in observation (heart rate, blood pressure etc) to assist with this. Not only does this save money and time by reducing the demand on our overstretched accident and emergency services, it also allows care home residents to receive immediate treatment in familiar, comfortable surroundings. Should it be deemed necessary for a person to attend hospital, then of course that decision is made and the normal procedures will apply.
 
The results during the four week trial period speak for themselves. In total, the digital health team received 33 calls, of which 19 were able to be successfully treated in the care home instead of being referred to A&E. 8 of those 19 were dealt with by the care home staff themselves, eliminating the need for a visit or intervention by a doctor. Although some calls did result in a referral to A&E, thanks to the work done beforehand through the digital health centre some of them could be referred on arrival to the appropriate hospital department, ensuring they got treatment as quickly as possible and reducing demand on doctors and staff in A&E. The feedback from care home staff has also been positive, including among those who were initially sceptical. It’s been such a success that not only is it being rolled out to all care homes in Tameside and Glossop, but the council’s Community Response service has also started using iPads hooked up to the same digital health centre, taking it beyond care homes into the homes of every elderly and vulnerable person in Tameside.

The digital healthcare pilot shows the value of the Care Together project, bringing care out to people in their own community (or in this case, their own care home) in a more efficient way. Amidst the very difficult financial challenges that we face, the council, Tameside and Glossop Hospital Trust, our local care homes and other partners are continuing to do everything possible within the financial constraints that we face to make sure that our vital adult social care services are there for those who need them.

06 April 2017 - Councillor Peter Robinson

Taking the Lead Against Child Sexual Exploitation

 

Councillor Peter RobinsonIn my first ever blog I wrote about the importance of becoming aware of and protecting against the dangers of Child Sexual Exploitation. To achieve this, we’ve been working since 2014 with public sector organisations and charities across Greater Manchester through “Project Phoenix”. The aim of this unique collaboration is simple; to shine a light in the dark corners where child sexual exploitation takes place by raising public awareness, helping people recognise the signs of it taking place and encouraging people to report it. It’s a campaign that I have been proud to support in my time as Executive Member for Children and Families.

That’s why I also welcome the release of a report by Stockport MP Ann Coffey. Entitled “Real Voices, Are They Being Heard?”, the report lays out, in black and white, how Greater Manchester has responded to the challenge of tackling child sexual exploitation in the past few years.

I find the report to be comprehensive and balanced, striking the right tone between acknowledging the good work that has been done and highlighting areas for future improvement. I know that even as I write this the people and organisations fighting against child sexual exploitation in Greater Manchester will be thinking about how to incorporate its findings into their work. Tameside Council will have a big part to play in this. Our efforts to raise awareness has been highlighted as being among the best in Greater Manchester and we have now been asked to lead on the communications for the campaign on behalf of all the other Greater Manchester councils.

The report’s conclusions are both encouraging and troubling. The encouraging bit is that we are all getting far better at identifying and reporting situations where children may be at risk from exploitation and other sexual offences. The number of child sexual exploitation offences uncovered in Greater Manchester has almost quadrupled from 146 in 2013 to 714 in 2016, and the amount of intelligence received about actual or suspected cases of child sexual exploitation (including tip-offs from the public) has also increased dramatically. In ten months between March 2013 and January 2014, Greater Manchester Police received 2,286 pieces of intelligence (an average of about 229 a month). A few years later, they received 3,277 in the six months between January and June 2016, around 546 a month on average. That’s 137% more.

On the other hand, the report is troubling because it shows that we still have some way to go to establish the true scale of child sexual exploitation in Greater Manchester. 1,732 young people have been “flagged” on the Greater Manchester Police computer system as victims of or at risk of child sexual exploitation – a threefold increase from 2015. The number of known or suspected offenders on record has also doubled to 1,139. In particular, the report identifies a number of areas where more can be done to protect children who could be particularly vulnerable. This includes continuing to teach children about the dangers of “sexting” (the sending of sexually explicit messages or images via mobile phones) and seeing if Greater Manchester councils (including Tameside) are doing everything they can around the local provision of children’s homes.

I intend to make sure that Tameside continues to be at the forefront of the fight against child sexual exploitation. For more information on how to spot the signs of child sexual exploitation, or to find details of how to report it, please visit www.itsnotokay.co.uk.

 

28 March 2017 Councillor John Taylor

Our CCTV Services

Councillor John Taylor
Deep in the bowels of the Council offices is Tameside’s state of the art CCTV monitoring suite.

Nine members of staff keep the service operating 24/7, 365 days a year, by monitoring live footage from cameras in 100 different locations across Tameside.

The service provides an invaluable supporting role to Greater Manchester Police by recording evidence that could later be used as part of an investigation, and compliments local police patrols. The monitoring equipment also helps the Council to identify offenders of low level environmental crime and nuisance such as fly-tipping.

Examples of incidents that the Council’s CCTV service was essential in helping to resolve have included; surveillance leading to the arrest a man carrying a weapon, the re-uniting of a young man with learning difficulties with his family after he went missing and the arrest of a man who had assaulted door staff in one of Tameside’s licensed premises.

Clearly, with a service that has the capacity to monitor hundreds of thousands of people going about their daily business, there need to be strict rules governing its use to ensure that it is not misused or abused. Service operators therefore adhere to the ‘Code of Practice’. The Code ensures that the CCTV staff members do not monitor or target particular individuals without good reason. Whilst targeted observations can be justified in some cases they must be authorised by both a senior Council officer and Police Superintendent. The reality is that these are very rare, with only 2 requests in 2016.

Whilst there will always be debate about what level of surveillance is appropriate in society I am confident that in Tameside we have got the balance right. Our residents tell us that they find the work that the CCTV unit undertakes to protect our communities reassuring, and the examples above show that it is doing the job it was designed for, and doing it well.

17 March 2017 Councillor Alison Gwynne

Helping Tameside Recycle

Councillor A Gwynne
One of the Council’s long term goals is reducing Tameside’s dependence on landfill when it comes to managing our waste. Not only does this help protect the environment but it also saves money as well. Every tonne of waste sent to landfill costs us approximately £300. That’s money that could be used to fund vital services like adult social care literally being thrown into a hole in the ground.

In recent years we’ve launched a number of measures to encourage recycling in Tameside. Our Bin Swap increased the recycling capacity of households in an easy-to-understand, low cost way, and we’ve delivered on our 2016 Pledge to put public recycling bins in all of Tameside’s town centres. On the doorstop and through social media we’ve heard that most residents are supportive of these changes, but they also think we can do even more to help them recycle.

We’ve listened to that feedback, which is why starting from Monday 20th March we’re changing the way we collect blue bins in Tameside. As I’m sure most of you know, this is the bin for paper and cardboard, including things like drinks cartons, junk mail, magazines and newspapers. Until now these bins have been collected every three weeks, but following the change they will now be collected every two weeks instead. That means more recycling capacity, ending those awkward situations where people end up putting recyclable waste into their landfill bin because they don’t have enough room left in their blue bin.

We want to roll out this change in with minimal disruption to bin collections. By now everybody should have received a new calendar showing their revised bin collections. For many there will be no change in their collections beyond their blue bins being picked up more often. However, in some cases we’ve had to move other collection dates around to make everything fit together. If you want to be sure then you can download our Bin App. Not only will it automatically update your collection dates whenever they change, you can also use it to set reminders to yourself and report missed, lost or damaged bins.

We know that the measures we’re putting in place are making a big difference to how we manage waste in Tameside. At the last count, we’ve reduced the amount of waste we sent to landfill by 9,648 tonnes since last year. Or, to put it another way, we’ve saved almost £2.9 million. That wouldn’t have happened without the support and hard work of our residents and businesses.

I don’t think we’re finished yet either. We’ve got a long way to go before we reduce the amount of landfill waste we produce in Tameside down to zero, but if we continue to work together to find new and better ways to eliminate, re-use, reduce and recycle our waste that dream has a real chance of becoming reality. The reward will be freeing up more money to combat government cuts and the satisfaction of doing our bit to make Tameside a cleaner and greener borough. Let’s make it happen.

02 March 2017 Councillor Gerald Cooney

Time To Celebrate Tameside’s Apprentices

Cllr Ged Cooney

For a lot of people, the beginning of March is one of the quieter periods of the year, the time which bridges the end of winter and the start of the spring. Not so for Tameside Council, where we’re gearing up for what I think is one of the most important events of the year. From March 6-10th we’re joining businesses, colleges and councils across the country to support the 10th National Apprenticeship Week, but we got a head start on the rest of the country as well. On the very first day of the month the Leader of the Council and I attended the Apprenticeship Awards at Tameside College, celebrating the success and hard work of 30 young apprentices from across the borough.
 
I stand by my belief that there is no better way into a good, well-paid job than through a decent apprenticeship. They provide key training to young people (and some older people as well) while giving them a chance to get some money in their pocket as well. Nationally, it’s estimated that up to ¾ of company directors are expecting a skills shortfall as older workers (those born between the end of the Second World War and the mid-1960s) begin to retire, places that can be taken up tomorrow by the apprentices of today. Locally, the council works closely with businesses and colleges so that residents can find an apprenticeship that suits them in a range of technical and vocational subjects. Through grants and other funding assistance to business and residents we saw almost 3,000 apprentices of all ages start their courses in Tameside in 2016. This year we want that number to grow, and grow quickly.

That’s why we’re going to spend this National Apprenticeship Week making people aware of the opportunities and employers right on their doorstep. As well as putting information stands in colleges and town centres, from now until the end of March we’re running an online “Tameside Apprenticeship Consultation”. This online survey will ask our residents what they know about apprenticeships and challenge the false information that people often have about them. Did you know, for example, that there are apprenticeships you can take which are equivalent to a university degree?

Businesses in Tameside will be getting in on the act as well. On the 10th March Brother UK, which sells printers and office supplies out of their office in Audenshaw, will be inviting pupils from three local high schools onsite to talk about apprenticeships, mentoring and future career opportunities within their company. They’re also sending one of their Higher Apprentices, Gemma Crozier, to a lunch reception at the House of Commons so that the government can hear about how young people in Tameside have found employment and careers through successful apprenticeships.

So take a look at what the council and its partners have to offer during National Apprenticeship Week. Whether you’re somebody who wants to know what the best step into a new world of work could be, or a parent, friend or neighbour who wants to guide somebody in the right direction, we may have something that will help and inform you.
 
If you want to take part in our Apprenticeship Consultation you can do so online at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/tamesideapprenticeshipconsultation. If you want to know what events are going on in your area, in Tameside or further afield, take a look at https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/national-apprenticeship-week-2017.

22 February 2017 Councillor John Taylor

We Won’t Mess Around

Councillor John Taylor
Last year I wrote in my first Executive Member blog that my focus for 2016 would be rolling out the council’s Enforcement Strategy for fly-tipping and littering. Not only do Tameside residents deserve to live, work and do business in a clean and attractive borough, but the economic argument was unquestionable as well. Clearing almost 300 cases of fly-tipping a month cost the council £300,000 last year alone. That’s money that won’t go to looking after the vulnerable or disabled, money that won’t go into filling potholes, money that won’t be reinvested in projects that will benefit Tameside in the future. All because of the actions of a small number of people who not only won’t play by the rules, but have been allowed to get away with it for far too long.

That’s why we released our Environmental Enforcement Strategy. It makes clear, in black and white, what residents can expect from us and what we expect from our residents. When fly-tipping or littering does occur, the Strategy also lays out how this can be reported by residents and what actions the council will take to arrange removal and bring those responsible to justice. 

We know as well that it’s not just enough to take action against fly-tippers and litter louts; we must be seen to take action against them as well. So using every method at our disposal, from newspapers to social media, we’re publicising the good work that our Greenspace, Waste, Environment and Highways teams do. Naturally, a lot of this involves enforcement action (Search for #wewontmessaround on Twitter) but we want to take the chance to show off about some of the other great work they do as well. In the past week alone we’ve highlighted our Greenspace Volunteers keeping our hedgerows and pathways clear, our Environmental Health Officers maintaining and improve hygiene in Tameside’s shops and restaurants and our Highways Team’s work with Greater Manchester Police to improve safety for cyclists on our roads. We’re going to be doing much more of this in the future, and we want to take you along for the ride with us.

Don’t let anybody tell you what we’re doing isn’t working either. The Environmental Enforcement Strategy is just one part of a wider plan to increase recycling and reduce fly-tipping in Tameside, a plan that’s seen our recycling rate increase well above the national average to 58%. That’s 9,648 tonnes of waste that isn’t being sent off to landfill, polluting the environment and costing the council millions in the process. 

So, a year on from when we made our pledge to crack down on fly-tipping and littering in Tameside, I think we can look back with pride at the great progress we’ve made. That carries with it a responsibility to not keep the bar at the same level in the year ahead, but set it higher still. I think we can do it. The people of Tameside want us to do it. Let’s get on with it.

If you’re a Tameside resident and want to know more about the Council’s Environmental Enforcement Strategy you can visit our website here. A list of Frequently Asked Questions can also be found here.

31 January 2017 - Councillor Peter Robinson

Signing the Children in Care Council Pledge

Councillor Peter RobinsonAsk any person who has left the family home about the experience and they will probably say that it was one of the most challenging times of their lives, a precarious period where one wrong decision could leave their future hanging in the balance. Yet if you wish to make your own way in the world it is something that everybody will have to face one way or another.

Now imagine having to go through all that except without the benefit of a supportive network of family and friends. It’s for that reason that children leaving care are among one of the most vulnerable groups in our society. Research shows that they are three times more likely to be cautioned or convicted of an offence, four times more likely to have mental health issues, eight times more likely to be excluded from school and five times less likely to achieve at least 5 good GCSE grades.

That’s why at the last meeting of Full Council in 2016 I was delighted to put my signature next to those of other Tameside councillors on the Children in Care Council (CICC) Pledge.
 
This pledge, drawn up by the children and young people in the care of the council, promises that we will do everything in our power to let them reach their full potential and allow them the same opportunities in life as other young people their age. This pledge commits us to always involving children and young people when making decisions that will affect them. It commits us to understanding and accommodating the life stories of each and every person that comes into our care. It commits us to making sure that when children and young people leave our care they know what support (including financial support) they are entitled to. Finally, it commits us to listening to the experts at the Tameside Children in Care Council and seeking their advice in the recruitment of staff and the selection of service providers.

Every person working in the Council, be they an elected official or a member of staff, is a corporate parent. The work we all do has an impact on our children in care, even if it isn’t directly related to the service area itself. That carries with it responsibilities and duties that we need to take very seriously indeed. With the signing of this pledge, I believe that we are taking a big step in fulfilling them. Thank you to all the staff, councillors and members of the Tameside Children in Care Council who helped to make it happen.