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Executive Leader Cllr Brenda Warrington

Leader's Blog  

Councillor Brenda Warrington, Executive Leader of Tameside Council

Consulting residents on our service redesign plans in customer services and recycling

Thursday, 05 August 2021

In Tameside we pride ourselves on guaranteeing high quality services at the best possible value for local residents and taxpayers. Despite having to grapple with over a decade of austerity and cuts to our budgets, I truly believe we have done our best to make sure that this remains the case. However, we cannot become complacent. The coronavirus pandemic has had a serious impact on the Council’s bottom line through reducing the income we receive through council tax payments and charges such as car parking, while simultaneously increasing demand for services in areas such as social care. Our most recent Budget commits us to making £8.9 million of savings this year alone, which requires us to find new ways to deliver efficiencies without comprising on quality. In my blog for this week I want to discuss what this means for customer services and bin collections in the borough.

Customer Services Consultation

For many people, frontline customer services are the main way they interact with us to get assistance on everything from council tax, welfare rights, bin collections and school placements. Since the coronavirus pandemic made it impossible for people to come into our buildings to make enquiries face-to-face, we rolled out a web chat function to supplement our existing telephone and e-mail channels. Since March 2020, when lockdown began, we processed more than 32,000 service enquiries online.

Now we want to build on that success by changing our customer services so that most simple questions such as requesting, booking and paying for services can be done online as much as possible. This will involve not reopening the drop-in customer service centre in Tameside One in Ashton in its previous form. Drop-in assistance would still be available in all Tameside libraries, and advice for more complex questions or vulnerable residents will be given via a telephone call back service or by booking a face-to-face appointment in advance. 

The complete list of changes, along with a consultation so you can have your say in the proposals, can be found on our Big Conversation webpage here until 19 September.

Waste & Recycling Services Consultation

As part of our savings plans we need to make £1.8 million of savings from our Operations budget this year. We know how important our bin collections are to our residents, so we have made the decision that green and brown bins, along with free caddy liners, our pull-out-and-return service and access to our Household Waste and Recycling Centres will remain unchanged. This means that we are looking instead at changing the collections of blue and black bins to every 3 weeks instead of every fortnight, and charging for all replacement bins with mitigations available for exceptional circumstances. Many other councils in Greater Manchester, such as Stockport, Trafford, Bury, Oldham and Rochdale, operate collections and charging in a similar way.

But we really want to make sure we get this right, so we’re running a consultation and a 12-week pilot in selected areas – Ridge Hill in Stalybridge, Hyde Central, and Haughton Green in Denton. These areas have been picked because they have a mix of housing types; terraced, semi-detached and low rise, that will help give us the most complete picture possible of what the effects of the new collections will be. The consultation for this can be found here, and you have until 20 October to let us know your views.

I know that there are many of you who are likely to be unhappy with some of these changes, but the financial challenges we face to maintain our vital services for those who need them most cannot be overestimated. The more honest and transparent we are with each other, the easier it will be for us to come up with final plans that continue to provide the best services possible with the money we have available in Tameside.

Posted by: Executive Leader

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