Executive Leader Cllr Kieran Quinn

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Councillor Kieran Quinn

Archive for December 2015

Merry Christmas from Tameside Council

Thursday, 24 December 2015

On behalf of Tameside Council I would like to wish you, your family and your friends a Happy and Peaceful Christmas.

If you are fortunate enough to have your family around you and a roof over your head at Christmas, I urge you to not just think about, but do something for those less fortunate. Something like donating time or money to a charity or paying a visit to an elderly neighbour could make all the difference for those who are alone, homeless or vulnerable at this time of year.

I also want to pay tribute to those for whom Christmas is another working day. There will still be people who need help and people who need protecting – that’s why the NHS, police, fire, ambulance services and council staff who care for the elderly and vulnerable should all be in our thoughts. They give up their Christmas so we can have ours in peace and comfort. For that we should be grateful.

Along with many in Tameside, I will be using this opportunity to take stock of everything that has happened this year, and rest with friends and loved ones to prepare for the work that lies ahead in the New Year

Our community is not something that happens by accident; it is built by the efforts and actions of everybody in it. Next year, despite the financial challenges we face, we will invest to make sure that this community of ours endures.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. See you in 2016.

Posted by: Kieran Quinn

Tameside Nominated for Council of the Year

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Last week I spoke of the importance of continuing to invest in Tameside despite the onslaught of more cuts to our funding. Only a focus on growth and reform will provide a sustainable future for Tameside, and since the government have been proven to have little to no interest in it we’ve had to roll up our sleeves and do it ourselves.

I’m happy to tell you that our work has been recognised by the Local Government Chronicle, who have shortlisted us for Council of the Year in their annual awards. The awards, which are held in March of every year, shine the spotlight on councils that have achieved more with less in areas such as health and social care, the environment, housing and driving growth. The councils recognised by these awards are success stories, organisations that have bucked the dead hand of austerity to not just retain the quality of their services, but improve them for the sake of residents and businesses.

It’s both an immense vindication of our approach, and an appropriate recognition of the work the council and its partners have carried out in what has been very difficult financial circumstances. Looking back on the year, we can definitely be proud of some of the nationally-recognised achievements that have led to our nomination.

To name but a few: Ashton Market was voted by The National Association of British Market Authorities (NABMA) as Britain’s Favourite Market, and we now building on that by launching a £4.5 million redevelopment. Matrix Homes, a joint venture between local government and the (Tameside Council administered) Greater Manchester Pension Fund was described as “pioneering” by Housing Minister Brandon Lewis in a speech to a national housing conference. We were also the recipients of a Customer Service Excellence Awards after an assessment discovered that not only were we 100% complaint with customer service standards, we actually went above and beyond what was required.

I don’t think we have a divine right to win the award. Every council in the land is suffering under austerity and I am sure that the others nominated have come up with their own excellent and innovative solutions. Receiving a nomination in the face of such competition is an achievement in itself. Regardless of what happens in March when the awards are handed out, you can rest assured that Tameside Council will not rest on its laurels in fighting the good fight against austerity and making the borough a better place to live, work and do business in.

Posted by: Kieran Quinn

Keeping our Promises to Veterans

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

One of the things that I am most proud about in Tameside is our commitment to our armed forces veterans. We observe events such as Armed Forces Day and Remembrance Day with pride and thanks, but my belief has always been that the true measure on how we treat veterans should be judged not by what we do for them a couple of a days in the year, but by what we do for them day in and day out.

One of our pledges for Tameside in 2015 was to support our ex-forces personnel into paid employment and training for a period of at least 6 months. The armed forces are a unique employer, and place a unique set of demands upon the men and women that join it. It might be a cliché, but it is definitely not a 9 to 5 job. Leaving the military often involves having to relocate, find new employment and undergo a significant shift in lifestyle away from the familiar trappings of the forces. While most ex-forces personnel manage the change with little or no real issues the sad reality is that the change can often be a struggle for some.

Since we have made our pledge the council’s Employment and Skills team have worked closely with several ex-forces personnel who are currently unemployed and looking for an opportunity to work or train with a local business. One success that I would point to is their work with 34-year old Peter Curran, who has secured a job with Truck Craft Bodies in Stalybridge. Peter, an Advanced Specialist Driver in the Army for 7 years, has been working for almost a month assisting in the design and building of a range of truck bodies for brands such as DAF, Ford and Mercedes-Benz. It’s a situation where everybody wins. Peter is in paid employment and getting a chance to build on the skills he learnt in the army, while Truck Craft Bodies have gained a disciplined and motivated employee to train up to support their own growth ambitions.

If you are an ex –service person interested in this scheme or a local business wanting to offer a work opportunity to an ex-service person please visit our website to get in contact. We have absolutely no intention of resting on our laurels, and we will be continuing our work in the New Year to sign up as many businesses and ex-forces personnel as possible. It is the least we can do for those who have put their lives on the line for their country.

Posted by: Kieran Quinn

Our Young People Must Be Heard

Friday, 18 December 2015

There is now less than a week to go to take part in Tameside Council’s budget consultation. Since I last blogged about it at the end of September we have received over 980 replies, putting us well on course to break the all-important 1,000+ response milestone.

It was in that spirit that I welcomed a group of students from Tameside College and Ashton Sixth Form College to Dukinfield Town Hall to listen to their opinions on both balancing the budget and how the challenges we face are affecting them. But this meeting served a far broader purpose than consulting about next year’s finances. I said in November that the lack of young people taking part in the political process is reaching a crisis point, a crisis that their elders and so-called betters have kicked off by refusing to give young people any say in the decisions that matter. From denying them a vote in the EU referendum to excluding them from Osborne’s new minimum wage, our young people have been treated with dismissive contempt at best and bureaucratic cruelty at worst. In Tameside at least, this ends now.

The meeting confirmed once again in my mind that our young people have strong, well-informed opinions that deserve to be heard. Their input, covering everything from anti-social behaviour to safeguarding to local democracy, will be incredibly valuable in ensuring the changes we have to make to services will be mindful of their concerns and needs. I have absolutely no intention in leaving this event as a one-off either; at the meeting of Full Council later that day we formally approved the creation of the Tameside Youth Council, bringing young people from all walks of life into the decision-making processes of the council on an ongoing basis. I am absolutely positive that I will see many of the young people I talked to doing important work in the Youth Council in the future.

If you live or work in Tameside and you haven’t completed the budget consultation yet then I urge you to go to our website and do it now. We will be looking at every response and the opinions you give us will be used and considered when making important decisions about the Council’s budget next year. We’re also looking for young people with an interest in politics and getting involved in their community to join the Youth Council. If you think you’re that kind of young person, or you know someone that might be, please get in touch with the council via e-mail, telephone or social media and we will let you know what the next steps are.

Posted by: Kieran Quinn

Bringing Christmas Cheer to Tameside

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Tameside Christmas Market got off to a flying start at the weekend and the fun will continue until Sunday 20 December.

Last Friday I was delighted to be able to help our Civic Mayor, Councillor Vincent Ricci, open the Tameside Christmas Market. The event, featuring food and festive gift cabins, live entertainment and a synthetic ice skating rink, was a celebration for all of Tameside and the culmination of a month-long programme of fairs and entertainment that took the Christmas spirit in every town in the borough.

All this was done in the face of yet more cuts to our funding by the government; cuts which forced us to do things a little differently this year. Our town teams and communities have come together to help us organise all of the events that you’ve seen over the past month. Thanks to their hard work we’ve had Minions in Stalybridge, fireworks in Denton, brass bands in Audenshaw and much more. Our partners – Carillion plc, WysePower and Forshaws – also came through to supply Christmas trees and lights for every town in Tameside. They also generously arranged a Christmas donation to CVAT, helping to bring Christmas cheer to children in Tameside who may have otherwise had to go without. It’s been truly inspiring to see the hard work they have put in since the summer rewarded even in the face of such adversity.

I’d also like to take the opportunity to thank every resident who has come out to any of the Christmas events, along with every person who has manned a stall, or supervised a ride, or worked to keep people safe during these events. Often they’ve done so in the less than ideal conditions we’ve come to expect in this part of the world at this time of the year. We can plan and organise as many Christmas celebrations as we want, but it is people that come to the celebrations and the people that run the celebrations that truly bring them to life.

But the Christmas spirit in Tameside – the spirit of community and togetherness – can be found in many other places and people as well. Over the past few weeks we’ve been highlighting some of the great work done by our residents. This includes people like 78 year old Brian Bradford, who for the past 11 years has visited and befriended lonely patients in Tameside Hospital’s elderly care unit. There’s also a couple of days left to donate to the Tameside 4 Good Toy Appeal, which is helping to give children and young people in need a Christmas they’ll remember. You can find out more about the appeal and how to donate on their website.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Posted by: Kieran Quinn

A new interchange for Tameside

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Metrolink trams prior to the opening of the Ashton-under-Lyne Metrolink service

Today I want to use my blog to put to bed an issue that has been the subject of a number of inaccurate rumours. That is, the naming of the new Tameside interchange in Ashton-Under-Lyne.

Normally, when the truth is revealed, all the falsehoods and scare stories surrounding a particular issue die away and everybody simply moves on. Sadly, that has not been the case on this matter.

In the Summer of 2014, Tameside Council were successful in being awarded £33m for the redevelopment of the transport hub in Ashton-Under-Lyne to provide better connections between buses, trains, trams and taxis.

First of all, I need to say how delighted I and other members of this Council were at this significant cash injection. £33m of external funding to support our existing Vision Tameside redevelopment plans is not to be sniffed at!

I also need to say what a fantastic development the new Tameside Interchange will be. The artist impressions point to a much more pleasant place to sit and wait than the current station, which is more a series of dark corridors that a transport facility. The covered walkway between the bus terminal and Metrolink stop, which was extended in response to resident feedback, will ensure that public transport users can stay dry whilst moving between different modes of transport. The project will also free up a good sized plot of land in our town centre for re-development.

And now we come to the name.

When the work is completed, Ashton-Under-Lyne will be the only place in Tameside where the three modes of transport, Tram, Train and Bus, converge. For thousands who arrive in our Borough via public transport, it will be their first port of call before changing to another mode of transport to continue their journey.

Given that the new facility will be something that provides connectivity and economic benefits to the whole of Tameside and Greater Manchester, Council believed that this should be reflected in the naming.

Ashton-Under-Lyne bus station, will still exist.

Ashton-Under-Lyne Metrolink stop, will still exist.

And Ashton-Under-Lyne Railway Station, will still exist.

I’ve heard some strange stories over the last few weeks, such as the suggestion that Ashton will be deleted from online travel planning tools and users that want to plan a journey to the town will have to state ‘Tameside’ in the search bar instead. Or my favourite, that Hyde and Stalybridge bus stations will be renamed ‘Interchange 2’ and ‘Interchange 3’ respectively.

I can categorically say here and now, that neither of these stories are true.

I hope that this blog can finally set the record straight and we can all celebrate the fantastic achievement of securing £33m of funding for our Borough’s transport infrastructure.

Posted by: Kieran Quinn

Investment, not Austerity. Looking forward to 2016

Friday, 11 December 2015

Last week I delivered my annual keynote speech to the last Full Council meeting of the year, my sixth since I became Leader of Tameside Council. I wish I could that they’ve gotten easier, but for every year that passes keeping our vital services running in the face of relentless cuts by the government becomes harder and harder.

I have always said that we need to be honest with the people of Tameside about the reality of the task in front of us, no matter how difficult or uncomfortable it may be for people to hear. In that spirit, it gives me no pleasure to say that we are very rapidly approaching the point where we will begin to struggle to provide anything but the most basic of statutory services to our residents.

Over the past few months members and officers of the council have been hard at work drawing up plans for how to manage the next rounds of cuts in funding from the government. Whichever way you look at it, it does not make for pretty reading. In five years’ time we expect our budget to have been reduced by over £200m from 2010. Even today, 75% of what’s left of our controllable spend is used to fund adult social care alone.

From over 4,000 full-time employees in 2010 the council now has less than 1,800. Despite what you might read in the media, this will have significant repercussions on our ability to provide services that have been taken for granted up until now. Our customer service teams are so stretched that face-to-face contact with residents may soon be a thing of the past, and it’s also looking very likely that street cleaning teams will have to be reduced by half, doubling the length of the cleaning cycle from four to eight weeks.

It should be clear to everybody that we cannot go on like this. Not if we want local government to survive in any meaningful form. That’s why I also used my Full Council address to highlight the importance of showing, by our words and actions, that there is another way. Hope instead of despair. Community instead of isolation. Investment instead of austerity.

Our achievements this year have come from sticking to this basic principle. We have built and opened the first wholly new school in Tameside since the borough was created; we have successfully rolled out the Bin Swap scheme, which has already saved over half a million in landfill costs; we have invested in all our towns through cheaper car parking, the Tameside Loyalty Card Scheme and the Big Tidy Up; and cotton spinning has come back to Tameside for the first time in over half a century.

Our tasks for 2016 are therefore clear. We must stand up against austerity and deliver investment that will benefit all our residents; we must continue to work to protect vital services for the vulnerable and for those most in need; and we must preserve Tameside as a place to live, work and do business in.

I will be able to provide more details of how exactly members and officers of the Council will go about achieving these in the New Year, and I know that we will once again have the people of Tameside behind us as we do so.

Posted by: Kieran Quinn

Cotton Comes Home!

Tuesday, 08 December 2015

Cotton spinning will soon return to Tower Mill, Dukinfield

I had one of my proudest moments as Leader last week when the announcement was made that cotton spinning is returning to the UK in Tameside, a historic moment, but an important move for the future set to bring 100 new jobs to the Borough.

The return of cotton spinning to Tameside is a matter of huge historical significance. For more than 100 years cotton was the key industry in the various towns making up the borough and indeed the North West of England. The Park Road area of Dukinfield, where Tower Mill is situated, is a corridor of former cotton mills and testament to the hold spinning once had on the region.

I applaud the work done at national and regional level to bring English Fine Cottons to Tameside. I would also like to praise the efforts of Tameside Council and Culimeta Saveguard, the parent company, both of which have invested a vast amount of time and resources in bringing these plans to life. This success shows how enterprising the people of Tameside are, and how effective a little northern grit and common sense can be in achieving solutions.

In total £3 million has been secured for the project – a £2 million loan from the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, and a £1 million grant from the Government’s Textiles Growth Programme (TGP) – in addition to £2.8 million of the company’s own money. The grant is TGP’s largest single award and the announcement means that the cotton venture’s launch and growth plan for the next three years are fully funded. English Fine Cottons has already placed orders for equipment and begun recruiting staff with a view to starting work early next year.

English Fine Cottons, will be the UK’s only cotton-spinning company. They plan to produce extra-long staple high-quality yarns for global markets. Using the finest raw materials from Barbados, India, the USA and Egypt, some of the finest cotton in the world will be spun in Dukinfield. It will go on to be used in high-end fashion market collections.

At the peak of the industry, Cotton employed thousands of people in Tameside

Tower Mill, which was built in 1885, was last used for cotton in 1955. However, it remains well known as it formed the backdrop for the BBC One comedy drama “Making Out”.At the cotton spinning industry’s peak in 1800, North West firms operated 95 per cent of the world’s spindles, and by the mid-19th century there were hundreds of textile mills in the region.

It was proudly claimed that Britain’s bread hung by Lancashire’s thread. I am now proud to welcome Cotton Spinning back to the UK and to Tameside.

Posted by: Kieran Quinn

Tameside: A Greener Borough

Monday, 07 December 2015

Tameside has some fantastic green spaces

There are currently, 25,000 delegates in attendance at the 2015 Climate Conference in Paris. The conference, also known as COP21, is the latest is a series of conferences (the 21st believe it or not!) to review the implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The UNFCCC was adopted at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 and has 165 signatories. It sets out a framework for action aimed at stabilising atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases to avoid “dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” Put simply it commits nations to reducing emissions to avert dangerous climate change.

You may be wondering why the holding of a global conference on Climate Change would prompt me to write a blog post. Whilst there is a consensus that Climate Change is one of the biggest threats to global security that we must address, surely it’s a matter that only national governments or inter-governmental organisations can address? Well whilst it’s undoubtedly the case that negotiations between governments do have the potential to lead to commitments that will drastically cut global greenhouse gas emissions, there are things that we as a local authority and each of us as individuals could do right away.

Last month Tameside was among 50 local authorities to sign a pledge committing the Council to run entirely on green energy by 2050. We have already taken a number of steps to slash the carbon footprint of our borough, though until now have not had a target identified that we could work towards. The measures we have taken so far have included beginning the installation of efficient LED street lighting, the insulation of thousands of homes and the use of a government grant to invest £70,000 in to efficient new heating systems for vulnerable households.

This commitment to become carbon neutral by 2050 will require much more action in addition to what we have already done. Our plans for the next year include a commitment to continue rolling out our LED lighting programme, drive up recycling rates (saving money and the environment) and planting more trees to offset emissions where they can’t be prevented at source.

A Tameside electric vehicle

Whilst some of these measures require a small amount of investment up front, the cheaper cost of lighting our streets with LED lights and the reduced landfill charges we will incur by sending less to the tip will pay for themselves. Though even if that were not the case, given the threat of climate change is predicted to result in thousands of environmental refugees and have huge consequences for communities across the globe, in my view these are actions that we can hardly afford not to take.

Posted by: Kieran Quinn

Elderly Care in Crisis

Friday, 04 December 2015

Last week I promised that once we had time to take a look at the detail of the Comprehensive Spending Review we would provide you with information about its full implications for council services. This week I want to start making good on that promise by highlighting the impact on of one of the most basic and vital services that a local authority provides: looking after our elderly.

It’s no secret that across the country the adult social care system is facing huge amounts of pressure. The sector is already underfunded and understaffed, and it is almost universally agreed that this pressure is only going to get worse as Britain’s population starts aging due to lower birth rates and longer life expectancies. We’re already seeing this happen in countries like Japan, where 33.0% of the total population are aged 60 or above, 25.9% are aged 65 or above and 12.5% are aged 75 or above. Already in the UK it is estimated that the funding gap facing adult social care is growing on average by just over £700 million a year.  Taking the analysis of the historic and projected funding gaps together shows that between 2010/11 and 2019/20 adult social care will have faced a funding gap of £7.9 billion.

If that number doesn’t worry you, then it should. To give the government credit where it’s due, they finally seem to have acknowledged the issue by allowing councils to introduce a 2% precept in their council tax bills to raise money specifically for the funding of adult social care. Unfortunately, like I said previously, they’re kidding themselves if they think that comes anywhere near to the amount that will be required to plug the funding gap. For example, even if Tameside Council took the full 2% precept in council tax it would raise just £1.4 million; a drop in the ocean compared to the £79.5 million that adult social care services cost us per year. We’re still facing a further cut of 24% by 2020, on top of cuts of more than 40% in the last Parliament. Care providers are also starting to sound the alarm on the cost impact of implementing the new minimum wage (Once again, I’m not calling it a living wage because it isn’t). Everywhere you want to look, the care sector, public and private, is facing a toxic brew of increased demand and increased pressure on resources that are already stretched beyond their limit.

Worse still, this system will create a postcode lottery where wealthier areas will be able to raise their social care budgets by three times as much as the poorest regions. In the North, a 2% council tax rise in Knowsley in Merseyside would only add 4.7% to their social care funding compared to an 11.6% increase in neighbouring Cheshire East. Meanwhile down south, Newham in London will be able to increase its funding by 4.1% compared with 11.3% for Kingston-upon-Thames, 12.4% for Buckinghamshire and 13% for Wokingham. Poorer local authorities are therefore facing a double-blow of increasing demand and a reduction in funding. How bad is it going to be in practice? It’s bad enough for the (Conservative) vice-chair of the Local Government Association to publically state that in poorer areas in the country, “you are not going to get any help at all” unless you are literally totally incapable of looking after yourself.

This isn’t scaremongering; this is the reality of what will happen unless serious action is taken now. A society that cannot find the resources to permit the elderly and vulnerable to live in comfort and dignity is no society at all. We need radical and comprehensive solutions to the adult social care problems that we face. At the moment all we’re getting from the government are numbers that don’t add up and policies that will only end up punishing those who need help the most.

Posted by: Kieran Quinn

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