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Executive Leader Cllr Brenda Warrington

Leader's Blog  

Councillor Brenda Warrington, Executive Leader of Tameside Council

Archive for August 2019

Tameside Pupils Get Results

Thursday, 29 August 2019

This August, as has happened every year, young people in Tameside took the first step in the rest of their lives as they received their A-Level and GCSE results.

This is the third year of the reformed GCSE exams, which use a grading scale of 9 to 1 – with 9 being the highest grade. Students are required to score at least a 4 or above to pass, with anything above 5 considered to be a “strong” pass. I’m delighted to announce that Tameside’s students have raised the bar once more with their GCSE results. 63% of the borough’s high school pupils achieved a standard pass of Grade 4 and above in both English and Maths – up from 62% last year – while 40% achieved a strong pass of Grade 5 and above. Audenshaw School, St. Damian’s RC Science College and Fairfield High School for Girls were the top performing schools, however the biggest improvement was found at Droylsden Academy – which recorded a 15% rise in standard passes and a 10% rise in strong passes compared to results last year. Strong passes also improved by 8% at Longdendale High School and by 6% at Audenshaw School.

Our three A-Level providers; Ashton Sixth Form College, Audenshaw School and Clarendon Sixth Form, also continued their strong record of success. A special mention has to be given out to Clarendon Sixth Form, which maintained its position as the highest performing college in Greater Manchester for school leavers and apprentices. Their pass rate this year held at 100%, with 84% of those students receiving high grades. I have no doubt that many of those students will fly the flag for Tameside as they go onwards to prestigious universities and jobs across the country, and maybe even further afield.

As important as these exam results are, we can’t forget that they are by no means the beginning or the end of education. I’ve said in the past that learning is a lifelong commitment, and we’ve put that belief into practice in Tameside. Our “Tameside Loves Reading” project, which gives residents of all ages a chance to improve their literacy skills, is starting to bear fruit. For the next 12 months, every baby born in Tameside Hospital will receive a free book. We’ve also trained up almost 100 “reading volunteers” to go into schools and support children, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, to develop a love of reading. As of July over 200 children in 27 schools had at least half an hour’s reading time with a volunteer, every week for ten weeks. That’s a total of 1,000 hours of learning in total. As I write this more volunteers and partner organisations are also being signed up to expand the programme in the new academic year.

But we also have plenty of schemes to give our adult residents the chance to get back into learning as well. This time last year we signed up to the Inspiring Digital Enterprise Award (iDEA), which gives residents access to free online courses to improve their computer literacy, enterprise skills and employability. We’ve also rolled out “Learn My Way”, which teaches residents about basic skills such as online safety, money management and looking for a job at a pace that suits them. As I wrote in my blog at the beginning of the month, the new term for Tameside Adult and Community Education (ACE) starts on 9th September, providing courses in English, Maths and IT up to GCSE level as well as vocational modules in retail, child care and English for Speakers of Other Languages.

Congratulations to all the students who’ve done themselves, their schools and Tameside proud with their exam results, and the teachers and school staff who supported them to get there. Remember that no matter how young or old you are, right now is always the right time to begin your journey into education. 

Posted by: Executive Leader

Tameside Remembers Peterloo

Thursday, 22 August 2019

On 16th August 1819, 18 men and women were killed and hundreds more wounded on St. Peter’s Field for the crime of peacefully protesting for their democratic rights. Two hundred years later, Tameside and every other part of Greater Manchester have come together to commemorate the “Peterloo Massacre” and its lasting impact on our country.

To understand what brought enough people to fill Old Trafford out on to what is now St. Peter’s Square on that fateful day, we need to talk about how Parliament worked at the time. The right to vote was restricted to men who owned at least 40 shillings, a large sum at the time, of land or property. Members of Parliament were also unpaid, which in practice meant that only the very wealthy could stand for election. The result was governments that were elected by, and represented the views of, a tiny minority of the country as a whole.

The Industrial Revolution and the rise of places like Manchester, which had previously been a small market town, created another injustice.  For centuries, constituencies electing members to Parliament had not changed to reflect population shifts. This meant that towns like Manchester and Salford, which by the 1800s had a population of 150,000, had no MPs in Parliament at all. On the other hand, there were a number of “rotten boroughs”, or constituencies with populations so small that one person could bribe or control the entire electorate. These included Old Sarum, a constituency that returned two MPs despite having a population of zero, and the town of Dunwich, which had collapsed into the sea 150 years before.

The 1800s brought with them economic troubles as well, especially in the North of England. The end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 had resulted in periods of famine and chronic unemployment, especially as machines began to replace workers in factories and 350,000 veterans returned back to civilian life.  Against this background a public meeting was organised by the Manchester Patriotic Union. People came into Manchester from across the region, including up to 2,000 from Ashton-under-Lyne and Stalybridge, to hear the speech of famous radical Henry “Orator” Hunt. Their peaceful protest turned bloody when Manchester magistrates ordered the Manchester and Salford Yeomanry, a private militia paid for by rich locals, to storm the crowd with sabres. 

The massacre paved the way for the Great Reform Act of 1832, the first step in the creation of modern Parliamentary democracy and universal suffrage. Eventually all but one of the demands of the men and women who marched to St. Peters Field was met.

Over the past few weeks a number of events have taken place in Greater Manchester commemorating the Massacre and making sure that its importance is not forgotten.  With a design from Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller, a new memorial has been unveiled in Manchester city centre with engravings of the names of the 18 victims and the towns from which they travelled. Here in Tameside I attended a day of music, theatre, exhibitions and art activities at Ryecroft Hall last Friday, the anniversary of the Massacre itself. During this Bank Holiday Monday Portland Basin Museum will be hosting “Peterloo Power”, an event full of drama and art activities themed around remembering the events of 16th August 1819, put on with help from Scallywags Theatre. The Tameside History Forum are also hosting a number of exhibitions showing handmade display boards, banners and pendants telling the story of the people of Tameside and their involvement in Peterloo. You can find dates and locations for these events on the Peterloo 1819 website here.  

The lessons of Peterloo; that ordinary people have the power to change society, and that the struggle for justice will endure in the face of violence and  oppression, are as relevant now as they were two hundred years ago. It’s only fitting that such an important piece of Mancunian and British history is finally getting the recognition it deserves.


Posted by: Executive Leader

Welcome to The Den

Thursday, 15 August 2019

If you asked somebody to sit down and come up with a list of things that make us human, the existence of culture would be one of the first items you’d write down. From cave drawings from the Stone Age to video games in the 21st century, the desire to make music, to act and to express ourselves has been observed in every part of the Earth at every point in history.

At its best, culture is nothing short of transformative. It brings people who may not otherwise have a great deal in common together, lifts them up and makes them feel part of something bigger. It can help to explain the world we live in or can use the power of fantasy to create entirely new worlds. It shapes us into the people and communities that we are. In the age of austerity, I think there is another important aspect about culture as well. It proves that there are certain things that you can’t always record on a balance sheet, but that we would all undoubtedly be much poorer without.

It’s because of this that I was delighted and humbled to attend the opening of The Den at Stalybridge Civic Hall on Monday evening. The Den is a 120-seat pop-up theatre, a space within a space that can be built and dismantled on site. It’s come to Tameside as part of the Royal Exchange Theatre’s “Local Exchange” project, an ambitious programme which seeks to take the Royal Exchange Theatre, and its productions, out of Manchester city centre and into other parts of the region. Wherever they visit, in this case Stalybridge, the residents become the theatre’s ushers, box office staff, technical team and audience. It’s also designed as a space where people can build on and learn from what they see to create their own work and productions. The end result will be unique cultural event created by, and created for, the people of Tameside.

As part of the Local Exchange, the pop-up theatre is playing host to a number of plays and other productions over the next couple of weeks. A particular highlight will be “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out”, a fresh new play from the Royal Exchange that takes the economic and social uncertainty of the Luddite Rebellion in the 19th century and translates it into the modern world of zero-hours contracts. The 200th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre, where hundreds of Manchester men and women were killed or injured while peacefully protesting for representation in Parliament, also features prominently in a number of other works that will be shown at the theatre, including a commemorative concert put on by the Stalybridge Old Band and a writing workshop hosted by the Mossley Writer’s Club. As part of the build-up to this fortnight of events the Royal Exchange Theatre also worked with a number of our local partners, such as Jigsaw Homes and Age UK, to put on a number of free community events. These gave residents of all ages the opportunities to try out learning the basics of film-making, tidying up an allotment and even creating a show with no dialogue at all.

A full list of all the events and information on how to get tickets is available on the Royal Exchange Theatre website here. After having seen just how much work has gone into making this happen, I couldn’t be more thrilled to see an ambitious artistic vision turned into a reality. By bringing the Royal Exchange Theatre to Stalybridge we have a wonderful opportunity to create something new and exciting not just for the town, but for the whole of Tameside. Something that will create a legacy that will endure long after the two weeks of events are over. I hope as many people as possible will take the chance to be a part of it.    


Posted by: Executive Leader

Full Steam Ahead for the Tameside Wellness Centre

Thursday, 08 August 2019

This week I had the pleasure of visiting the site of the new Tameside Wellness Centre to see first-hand the progress being made on the jewel in the crown of our £20 million leisure investment. Built on brownfield land on the former Oldham Batteries and located just off Lance Corporal Andrew Breeze Way in the heart of Denton, the Centre combines leisure, community and wellness facilities on a scale and in a way that has never been seen in Tameside to date.

While attention will certainly focus on the 8-lane, 24-metre swimming pool and the 10-pin bowling alley, that’s just the tip of the iceberg of what the Wellness Centre will offer to our residents. Once complete, the finished building will boast a learner pool, a spa area including sauna and steam facilities and a fitness suite. However, our vision for the Wellness Centre is as much about encouraging people to meet up and interact socially as it will be about giving them a space to be healthy and active. To that end there will also be meeting rooms, free Wi-Fi, a children’s soft play area and multi-use studio spaces. The traditional foyer will instead be a “social interaction zone” that can be used to both host events such as history talk or music sessions, or as a relaxation and reading area. Even the roof will be put to work, as we’ve transformed it into a sensory garden and open air community space. Thanks to the work of our contractors, Pozzoni Architects, every facility in the building will be open to all, with disabled access to the swimming pool and dementia-friendly designed used throughout.

This merging of sports and community activities serves a very clear purpose. Healthy life expectancy at birth for men and women in the borough is 58.1 years and 57.6 years respectively, significantly below the England average. Addressing this issue, giving our residents the tools they need to live longer and healthier lives, is one of the key objectives in our plan for Tameside’s future. Research has shown that while our health services are undoubtedly important for when we fall ill, they are responsible for less than 10% of the things that keep us healthy. When it comes to our health and wellbeing the basic facts of our life, including where we live, our communities and our everyday habits are far more important. By turning the Wellness Centre into a welcoming space for everybody, not just those who work out or exercise heavily, we can make it easier for residents who use the facility socially to starting taking the steps towards a healthier lifestyle.

We particularly want to encourage an activity revolution in our older residents. Physical activity can reduce the risk of the devastating falls which can afflict older people by up to 37%, as well as reducing rates of dementia by 30%. Despite that, 4 in 10 older adults in Greater Manchester are inactive. Our own studies in Tameside show that significantly increasing our levels of activity could potentially prevent 1,344 new diabetes cases, 60 new breast cancer cases, 21 new colorectal cancer cases and 73 new incidences of coronary heart disease a year. The impact that this could have, not just in terms of the quality of life of our residents but the money that could be saved in health and social care as well, cannot be underestimated. The Tameside Wellness Centre isn’t just an investment for an economic benefit; it will provide a solid moral benefit as well.

I know I speak for everybody involved in the project when I say that we’re really excited to see how the Tameside Wellness Centre is taking shape, especially as it’s currently on schedule to open its doors in spring next year. A healthier and happier Tameside is within our reach, and I can’t wait to keep working to make it a reality.


Posted by: Executive Leader

Passionate About Learning in Tameside

Friday, 02 August 2019

One of the most important lessons I’ve ever been taught is that you never stop learning. Every day of your life, whether you’re 7 or 70, you can learn something new. At a time when finding a good job is even more dependent on what you know, it’s a lesson that has become more important than ever. That’s why adult and continuing education is an area that I think is absolutely essential. So much time is spent discussing primary, secondary and further education, and while these are undoubtedly vital, education and learning is a service that can and must be available to all.

It’s for this reason that I’m delighted to announce the launch of the new prospectus for Tameside Adult and Community Education, or Tameside ACE for short. Available to all residents aged 19+, the service is based in Ashton-under-Lyne and has been offering adult education in the borough for over 30 years. Courses offered include entry level to Level 2 (the equivalent of GCSE grade) in the three subjects considered to be essential in the modern workplace; Maths, English and IT. We also offer non-accredited courses to build confidence and to get your foot in the door back into learning, as well as vocational courses in retail and Caring for Children, and ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) sessions to help with day-to-day activities and job applications. Over the years we’ve also developed good partnerships with a number of organisations that can also offer support before, during and after your course, including the National Careers Service, housing associations and Job Centre Plus.

Our staff members, all of whom are experienced and highly qualified, are more than willing to offer information and guidance. The first step in signing up is an informal chat, during which you can find out more about us and tell us what you want to get out of the service. We can then use that information to assess your current skills, tell you what level we think you should enter at and invite you to enrol. Financial support can also be provided for those on a low income or in receipt of certain benefits.

Last year we helped more than 575 individual learners through our doors to access over 1,039 different courses. For many of these people, the experience, confidence and qualifications they’ve gained have been nothing short of life-changing. To give just a few examples; Ryan was in and out of youth offending centres and missed out on a lot of his early education. Since he started at Tameside ACE in 2017 he has earned an entry level qualification in English as well as Level 1 awards in English and Maths. He’s now secured a full-time job with a welding company and is continuing to study for his Level 2 award in English.

Debbie had to raise three children on her own following a family tragedy at a young age and saw signing up for Tameside ACE as an opportunity to prove to herself that she could do whatever she set out to do. She started in 2015, and not only has she taken courses in Maths, English, IT and sign language, but she volunteers to help in the kitchen and the reception so that other people can learn in the same way that she did. It is people like these, who often come from difficult circumstances but are determined to make the best path for themselves, that Tameside ACE can and will help to the best of our abilities.

If you think that Tameside ACE has something to offer you, please take a look at the new prospectus here or call us on 0161 342 4063 before the new terms begins on 9th September. Your road to learning, whether you want to achieve success, improve your employment prospects or simply to try something new, begins today. 


Posted by: Executive Leader

The Road to a Co-Operative Council Starts Here

Friday, 02 August 2019


In my blog last week I briefly mentioned that, as part of our strategic plans for Tameside over the next few years, we will be seeking to gain recognition as a Co-Operative Council. Since I think it’s going to be such an important part of our future, and since I do appreciate that some people may be unaware of the Co-Operative Councils concept, this week I want to go into what this means and what we intend on doing in more detail.

Co-Operative Councils are so called because of their commitment to the values and principles of the wider Co-Operative Alliance. From a food shop set up by weavers and workers in Rochdale in 1844, the Alliance has grown into a global organisation by 313 co-operative federations in 109 countries. Their values and principle include, but are not limited to; championing fairness and equality, making decisions in a transparent way, taking responsibility for our actions and encouraging others to do so as well, working together and supporting each other in achieving a common goal, holding ourselves accountable to our stakeholders, recognising and welcoming different views, and believing in and acting within the principles of democracy and public engagement.

Put simply, it is about everybody working together, and everybody receiving the benefits. As the democratically-elected leaders in their local area, local authorities are in a unique position to drive and support this improvement and change. At a time where councils up and down the country are struggling with almost a decade of austerity, a co-operative approach has the potential to transform the way public services are delivered, allowing us to better support our local communities and put our residents in the driving seat. This approach is not about turning all our services into co-operatives, nor is it about replacing professionals with volunteers. It’s about building upon the conversations we already have with our residents to make public services things that are done with them, not to them.

A number of local authorities in England are already Co-Operative Councils, or are on their way to receiving accreditation. This includes Lambeth Council in London, the first Co-Operative Council in the country, and Oldham, Rochdale and Salford Councils in Greater Manchester. All these councils will no doubt have experience and learning they can contribute to help us develop a Co-Operative model that works for Tameside.

We can point to a number of areas in Tameside where a commitment to Co-Operative values and principles has already been shown. The Tameside Digital Infrastructure Co-Operative offers its members wholesale access to our publically-owned dark fibre infrastructure. This allows them to build and operate cutting-edge broadband and digital connectivity services while ensuring that members keep ownership of their own assets and have an equal say in its running. Our current partners include the Hospital, College and Jigsaw Homes, and we’re looking very closely at the possibility of extending the model out to organisations from the private sector.

There are also a number of community centres in Tameside, providing volunteer-led, thriving and fully inclusive spaces for our residents and communities. The Grafton Centre in Hyde runs a wide range of health and wellbeing, social and learning activities for 480 local residents of all ages. The Together Centre at Loxley House offers a community space for residents who may otherwise be vulnerable to loneliness and isolation, working in partnership with other local organisations to put on activities such as The Shed, art groups and Sing Together.

Over the next few months we will be seeking the views of our residents and partners on what becoming a Co-Operative Council means for them. This will be done through meetings of our regular community groups such as our Neighbourhood Forums and the Partnership Engagement Network Conference and publicity work across the borough’s public spaces. An online consultation has also been launched, which you can access and reply to here. Our objective is to have a fully developed and fully supported case for accreditation as a Co-Operative Council by the end of the year. Let’s come together and set the course for Tameside’s future.

Posted by: Executive Leader

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