Executive Leader Cllr Kieran Quinn

Kieran Quinn's Blog  

Councillor Kieran Quinn

Archive for January 2016

Explore Tameside’s Countryside

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Picture this scenario; a scenario that I’m fairly sure every one of us has experienced at some point in our lives. You think you’re not looking after yourself as well as you could, and you resolve to do something about it. How would you do it? I imagine most people would perhaps draw up a diet plan, maybe get a gym membership or even try and give up smoking or cut down on drinking. I doubt that most people would get off the couch and, with little to no training, attempt to walk 150 miles from one side of Northern England to the other in a week for charity, battling inhospitable terrain, 70mph gales and driving rain in the process.

Comedian Jo Brand is not “most people”.

Hartshead Pike

It was because of this that she ended up in Tameside this week, walking through Broadbottom and Denton on Day 5 of her 7 day journey from the Humber Bridge to Liverpool for Sport Relief. So far she has raised over £400,000 for mental health and issues that affect women and girls in the UK and in the world’s poorest communities. If you want to donate yourself you can do so on the Sport Relief website here.

Jo’s walk has also given us an opportunity to show off some of Tameside’s countryside to a national audience. People that think of us as just a satellite region for Manchester often forget that we have some of the most striking and atmospheric walks and scenery in the country. We have the Longdendale Trail, once a section of the Manchester-Sheffield line and an artery of the Industrial Revolution. We have Werneth Low, with its spectacular views across Manchester and Cheshire, including (on a clear day) the world famous Jodrell Bank Observatory. We have Stalybridge Country Park, whose reservoirs and moors provide a backdrop for all manner of hiking, riding and cycling routes.

These are natural wonders the equal of anything else in the country, and it is right that we should take every opportunity to shout about how proud we are of them. But we also need to think about how we can create natural beauty in Tameside’s urban areas as well. That’s why I will shortly be able to give you details about how we’re going to be planting more trees to encourage greater biodiversity, improve the look of our streets and offset some of our carbon footprint.

If you haven’t yet experienced some of the countryside treasures that Tameside has to offer, then I would urge you to do so as soon as time and weather allow. With over 126 miles of paths and rights of way I’m sure there will be something to suit everybody from the casual stroller to the committed hiker. I hope to see you out there soon.

Posted by: Kieran Quinn

Proud of our History

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

In 2014 we celebrated the 40th anniversary of the creation of Tameside Council. Figures from the Office of National Statistics have shown that the average (median) age of a UK resident is also 40. Put simply, this means that a majority of our residents do not remember a time before the existence of Tameside Council. In recognition of this, I’ve decided this week to explain how our nine towns on the banks of the River Tame came to be grouped together.

One of Tameside’s most defining features is that, unlike most of the other Greater Manchester councils, no one town has grown to dominate the area in the manner of Stockport, Bolton, Wigan etc. This is no accident. Unlike most of the other new local government areas created by the Local Government Act 1972, Tameside did not have a County Borough town to build itself around. Although they shared close links with each other due to history and existing or proposed development, to the outside world the nine towns of Tameside clung to the very fringes of Lancashire and Cheshire, out of sight and out of mind to the people who made the big decisions in Preston and Chester. People who complain about the council being distant and unresponsive now would have been tearing their hair out back then.

Industrialisation and urban growth in the preceding century had also made nonsense of traditional local government boundaries. To give an extreme example, the area that would be reorganised into the West Midlands metropolitan county was split between no fewer than eleven separate counties and boroughs. Tameside was scarcely any better, as below county level administration was split between five boroughs and four urban/district councils, which together formed the historical nine towns. This proved as much of an organisational nightmare as you could imagine, and vital issues that covered anything more than a couple of towns, such as housing and traffic congestion, were almost impossible to handle effectively.

Tameside gives us the best of both worlds. It retains the identities of the nine historic towns, which people rightly continue to take pride in, but also allows us to do what needs to be done to make all of Tameside a place to live, work and do business in in the 21st century. In no way does this invalidate Tameside’s historical legacy. We carry the history of the nine towns on with us, just as the nine towns carried the history of the four medieval manors, Roman Britain and the Celtic kingdom of Brigantia before them. If Tameside Council is replaced by something else in the future, does that invalidate everything that we have achieved? Tameside the borough may only have existed since 1974, but Tameside the place has thousands of years of history. If people want to play silly games with that history in the name of petty points-scoring, they should know that they do a grave disservice to the history and the towns that they claim to hold dear in the process.

Posted by: Kieran Quinn

Looking Forward to 2016

Friday, 15 January 2016

The beginning of the year is traditionally a time for taking stock of what you’ve achieved and planning out where you want to go in the future. This involves reflection, evaluation, reviewing and planning, using the experience you have acquired to not just inform the future, but help create the future.

Looking back at 2015 I can see much that we can be proud of in Tameside and much that we can learn from. We came into the year determined to invest in our borough and our residents despite the pressures of austerity, and I’m glad to say that we made great strides in achieving that.

Our new recycling scheme has transformed the way we manage waste in Tameside, saving almost £800,000 and diverting over 2600 tonnes of rubbish from landfill. The Big Tidy Up has worked its way through Stalybridge, Denton and Droyslden, and work is also due to begin in Hyde this month, improving the street scene in the borough and providing work for local businesses and tradesmen. The rollout of schemes such as the Tameside Loyalty Card, cheaper card parking and jobs pledges for young people and veterans have made Tameside a better place to live, work and do business in. Towards the end of the year, our online budget consultation gave residents an unparalleled level of input into the council’s decision-making process, and all the responses we received will feed into the council’s budget next month. As recognition for this good work, we have also been shortlisted for the LGCs “Council of the Year” award, the winner of which will be announced in March.

Looking forward to 2016, once again managing the savage cuts imposed on us by the government while maintaining the quality of service we provide to residents is likely to dominate the agenda. On this blog you’ve already seen our proposals to consolidate and improve the leisure centre offer in Tameside, and throughout the year we will continue to keep you fully informed on this and our other financial plans. Looking outside the borough for a moment, moving forward with devolution and the referendum on Britain’s European Union membership will almost certainly be the key issues for Greater Manchester and the country. I promise that we will be deeply involved in making sure that the voice of Tameside and its residents are heard in both of those discussions.

I also want to take steps to make the inner workings of the Council more transparent to you, our residents. That’s why I am inviting my fellow councillors to write about their roles, responsibilities and goals for the coming year, and you can expect to start seeing their contributions to this in the very near future.

We should be under no illusions. This year will be at least as tough as the last, perhaps even more so if the dire predictions about the slowdown in the world economy come true. It can be easy to be overwhelmed by the scale and the gravity of what we need to do, but I prefer to keep things simple. Our goal this year is the same as it is every year, make sure Tameside is a better place at the end of the year than it was at the start. I hope you will join me in helping to make this happen.

Posted by: Kieran Quinn

New Year’s Honours for Proud Tameside

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

For over 120 years (with the exception of 1902 and 1940) people who have gone the extra mile to help others or those who have achieved outstandingly in their chosen field have been recognised for their achievements by inclusion into the New Year’s Honours List.

In total, 1,164 people were recommended to the Queen for an award this year. It was with great pleasure that I returned from the Christmas holidays to find out that five of them are Tameside residents.

Three of our residents were awarded MBEs; most notably the council’s very own Chief Executive Steven Pleasant, who received his MBE for in recognition of his work for the welfare of refugees and asylum seekers. I’ve stated in the past that I believe we have a moral duty to do with we can for those forced to flee Syria and elsewhere, and the work of Steven and staff and volunteers in organisations across the North West has been instrumental in turning those words into action for so many vulnerable people and children.

Another MBE recipient was Sandra Marston. She’s a lifelong member of St Hilda’s Church in Audenshaw and was Scouts District Commissioner Tameside South for 15 years, becoming both the first woman and the longest serving holder of the position. She has also been involved with the Manchester Netball League and the Denton Golf Club. Make no mistake, if you’ve ever worked with community groups in Tameside you’ve probably bumped into her at some point.

Anthony Emoabino Chaban of Denton also received an MBE for services to minority ethnic communities in Manchester, while Hollingworth’s Peter Fish was the proud recipient of a British Empire Medal (B.E.M.) for services to the elderly in Hollingworth, Hyde and Glossop.

Last but by no means least, Alan Humphreys from Stalybridge received the Queen’s Police Medal for his distinguished service to policing in Oldham. Prior to his well-deserved retirement in April of last year he was the Greater Manchester Police’s longest serving neighbourhood inspector.

These awards are brilliant pieces of recognition for Tameside and, more importantly, brilliant individual achievements for the recipients themselves. I hope you will join me in offering them all our sincerest congratulations.

Posted by: Kieran Quinn

A Healthier, Happier Tameside

Wednesday, 06 January 2016

Children enjoying local swimming facilities

Shortly before the Council closed for Christmas we launched a consultation on the future of our Leisure Estate. In layman’s terms, that’s the pools, gyms and other facilities operated by our partner, the charitable trust, Active Tameside. The consultation sets out plans to invest more than £17m to bring our leisure facilities up to the standard that local residents expect.

Many of our existing leisure centres were built in the 1970s and it shows. They have an eye-watering maintenance backlog, are only just compliant with disability regulations and have falling attendances as people choose newer facilities on offer from private providers. All of these factors led to a report by an independent auditor telling us that the Leisure Provision in Tameside was no longer viable in its current form. This is why we have taken the decision to act.

Active Tameside receives a subsidy from the Council to run leisure facilities across the Borough. We provide this subsidy so that there is greater coverage in terms of leisure provision across the Borough than would otherwise be provided by the private sector alone. We also recognise the importance of physical activity in improving health outcomes for our residents and want to ensure it’s easier for more people to be more active, more often.

The proposals being consulted on currently include the closure of 3 of our least viable and oldest pools in Ashton-under-Lyne, Denton and Dukinfield. However, these will be replaced with at least two pools, one in Hyde supplementing the existing leisure pool, and one in a brand new state of the art wellness centre at a location yet to be determined. As well as the new pools, there will be a new play centre in Longdendale – a corner of the Borough that has arguably been underserved in terms of leisure provision for years.

We’ve made great strides forward in improving the viability of our sports centres in recent years. As the only facility of its kind in the North West, the opening of the sky high adventure centre at Active Medlock has attracted visitors from across Greater Manchester and the wider North West. I’m confident that our new Wellness Centre will have a similar appeal for residents across the East of Greater Manchester, attracting people from further afield than just Tameside itself and therefore supporting some of our less profitable centres.

This £17m investment in bringing our Sports Centres up to scratch is a good news story for Tameside. Taking these decisions now against the backdrop of financial uncertainty for Council finances is imperative if we are to build a sustainable leisure estate that will create a healthier happier Tameside in the future.

I would urge everybody who has an interest in the future of our local sports centres to take part in the consultation. The consultation survey and proposals can be found here www.tameside.gov.uk/tbc/TamesideLeisureEstateReview .

Posted by: Kieran Quinn

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