Executive Leader Cllr Brenda Warrington

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Councillor Brenda Warrington, Executive Leader of Tameside Council

Archive for December 2018

Merry Christmas from Tameside Council

Friday, 21 December 2018


The end of the year has come again. On behalf of Tameside Council I would like to wish you all a Happy and Peaceful Christmas and New Year.

At this time of year there are a number of people that I would ask you to keep in your thoughts. While many of us will be fortunate enough to enjoy our presents and food in a warm home surrounded by family this Christmas, this is sadly not the case for an increasing amount of people. A community that does not give thought and comfort to its poorest and most vulnerable is no community at all. We’ve been overwhelmed by your response to the Tameside 4 Good and Foodbank appeals, and I would ask that we all keep that spirit of generosity and fellowship going strong into the New Year.

As we celebrate together there will be many who will be working hard to keep the services we rely on for our safety and comfort running. Our NHS, police and fire services, health and social care workers, armed forces members and many more; hundreds of thousands of people across the country will be sacrificing their Christmas Day for our sakes. We’ve seen so many examples of the incredible work they do this year, from looking after our elderly to literally putting out fires on Saddleworth Moor.  Let’s make sure that they know that their efforts are recognised and appreciated.

And after the festivities end, we need to start looking forward to the work that needs to be done in 2019. Our conversation to find out what you think our spending priorities should be will continue through the festive period on the council website here all the way up to 29th January. If you have some time to spare over the holiday, I would absolutely encourage you to log on and make your voice heard. Every single response will be looked at and accounted for; we want to make sure that anything we do next year happens with the people of Tameside, and not to them.

I honestly believe that Tameside at the end of 2018 is better place to live, work and do business in than it was at the start. Many challenges remain, and I’m sure the future will present us with many more, but as always we will rise to them all together.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. See you in 2019.

 

Posted by: Executive Leader


Stepping Back from the Brink

Monday, 17 December 2018


The start of December is usually the time when consultations begin on the Local Government Finance Settlement. While it’s definitely not as well-known as something like the Budget, within the world of local government it is one of the most important periods of the year. The reason is simple; the Local Government Finance Settlement, as the name suggests, determines how much funding local authorities will receive from the government in the next year. Plans for council budgets, decisions about spending priorities, allocation of necessary resources, all of this vital work depends on its contents.

It’s for this reason why I, along with every other council leader in England, was appalled that the announcement of this year’s Finance Settlement was delayed until the end of last week because of the ongoing Parliamentary debates on Brexit. Whatever your views on Brexit might be, surely we can agree that the day-to-day business of running and maintaining the local services that residents depend on must continue?

If I was in charge of the Finance Settlement, I would have used it to take a long, hard look at the damage that eight years of austerity has inflicted upon every local authority. Since 2010, councils all over the country have been forced to examine every budget line, squeeze the value out of every penny available to them and, when even this is no longer enough, make the hard decisions about what needs to be cut or scaled back.

For every £1 we had to spend in 2010, we now have to make do with 40p in 2018. The total “funding gap”, the difference between what we need to keep services running and the money we’ll actually receive, is estimated to reach £7.8 billion by 2025. These figures, as eye-watering as they are, don’t take into account the fact that the cuts have not fallen equally. The poorest councils have faced cuts of £228 per person compared to only £44 per person in the richest councils. Let’s forget as well that it’s not just local government; every single part of our public sector is paying the cost of austerity. Spending on police has dropped by 17% since 2010, leading to 14% less officers patrolling our streets. Our courts are running on two-thirds of staff than they used to, and violent assaults on prison guards have more than doubled. Even the United Nations has condemned the results of austerity in language you’d expect to be used to describe a country in the developing world, not the fifth-richest country on Earth.

This can’t go on. As councillors we need to do the best with whatever resources we have available for our residents, but we are also duty-bound to say when we think that enough is enough. At the very least the delayed Local Government Finance Settlement should have started the process of rolling the tide back of austerity, reversing the cuts made to local government and addressing the multi-billion funding gap we’ll soon face. I’ll be able to go into more detail once I’ve looked at the Settlement more closely, but unfortunately at first glance it seems that we’ve gotten more of the same instead.

I’ll go even further – local government has the potential to do much, much more than it is allowed to currently. We understand what our communities need and we know how to make every pound count, and we’ve seen in Greater Manchester and elsewhere how genuine devolution, with genuine funding and powers backing it up, can make a big difference to regions and area that have been overlooked for too long. We need to take action now if local government is to survive, but if the right action is taken we could not just survive, but thrive.

 

Posted by: Executive Leader


Leading the Charge for Change in 2018

Thursday, 06 December 2018


On Tuesday evening members and officers of the Council gathered in Guardsman Tony Downes House in Droylsden for 2018’s final meeting of Full Council. In front of the public and people watching online, it allowed us an opportunity to look back on what I feel has been an extremely challenging but momentous year for the borough.

This meeting was particularly significant in that it marks the final time that Councillor John Bell took his seat on the opposition benches before moving off to a well-deserved retirement next year. His impact on Tameside over the decades cannot be overstated. The borough itself was barely a year old the first time he was elected in 1974, and in total he served the people of Hyde for over 39 years. Nor will he be idle in his retirement, as he has already completed training to become a voluntary Fire Ranger and is looking at a number of other roles to which he can lend his expertise. Being members of different parties, I didn’t always see eye to eye with John on a lot of things, but in all the years I’ve known him I never once had reason to question either his commitment to the people of Tameside or his own integrity and character. I was therefore delighted to move that, in recognition of his exceptional service to Tameside, he be made an Honorary Aldermen of the Borough at the next Annual Meeting of the council in May next year.

Tuesday’s Full Council was also an opportunity to reflect on the progress we have made on our priorities for Tameside in 2018. When I was elected as Leader of the Council last February I identified a number of areas where I promised to make a real difference; giving our children and young people the best start in life, continuing our pioneering work in health and social care, protecting our shared environment, improving our economy and skills base, and making Tameside a better place to live. In the ten months since, despite continuing government cuts and uncertainty around Brexit, we have backed up those promises with concrete actions and achievements.

Some of the highlights this year that were mentioned at Full Council included our work with raising awareness of Child Sexual Exploitation, the ongoing improvement of our children’s services and giving young people in the borough a voice through the Tameside Youth Council. Our pioneering work in health was exemplified by the rolling out of the Digital Health Centre with Tameside Hospital and our Community Response service, and the development of our health neighbourhood model of care. The first ever Tameside Green Summit was looked back on, as the council, businesses and residents came together to pledge to take action to protect our shared environment. We also called attention to how we intend to build upon the success of the reopening of Ashton Old Baths as a technology and business hub.

We fully intend to continue with our plans to transform Tameside. From now until the end of January, we will be consulting with our residents on what they think our priorities for 2019 should be. The findings from this will be combined with the council’s own learning and the results from the next Local Government Finance Settlement to draft our Budget for February, setting up the solid financial framework that will allow us to achieve our goals. In this way, we will carry our residents, communities and businesses forward with us, making sure that anything that happens on our watch is done with them, and not to them.

In a motion moved by Councillor Feeley, and seconded by Councillor Hollinshead, we unanimously called upon the government to make fair arrangements for the women unfairly affected by increases to the State Pension Age. The plight of the WASPIs (or, Women Affected by the State Pension Increase) has been well-documented in other places, and the council agrees that no woman should have to live in hardship because of changes made to their pension that they were not told about until it was too late to do anything. We hope we have added our voice to the many others protesting this manifest injustice.

I’d like to offer my sincere thanks to everybody who helped make our successes this year possible, especially to those residents, officers, members and partners who contributed their skills, their efforts and their support in ways that often go unnoticed. We know that big things are coming, both locally and nationally. To give just one example; we do not yet have a clear idea of how Brexit, in whatever form it takes, will impact the borough. But no matter what we have to face, let us make sure that we continue to be at the cutting edge of change, becoming active shapers and makers of our own shared future.

 

Posted by: Executive Leader


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