Accessibility Statement
Executive Leader Cllr Brenda Warrington

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Councillor Brenda Warrington, Executive Leader of Tameside Council

Securing Tameside's Future at Full Council

Friday, 25 February 2022

On Tuesday in Dukinfield Town Hall we held the annual meeting of Full Council to debate and approve the Budget for the next financial year.
 

We cannot hide from the formidable challenges that we face. Tameside Council, along with every other local authority, is still having to bear the consequences of over twelve years of austerity. This has been exacerbated by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the looming cost of living crisis, which have reduced many of our income sources while also increasing the demand for services. Since by law we are required to set a balanced budget, for 2022/23 we have identified £8 million of new savings. This means we need to find ways to remodel and redesign services to provide better outcomes at a lower cost, particularly in areas such as Adult and Children’s Services which are both vital to many of our most vulnerable residents and also major areas of expenditure.

Even after taking this into account, we are left with a shortfall of £3 million that must be filled with an increase in general council tax of 1.99% and a 1% increase in the ring-fenced Adult Social Care precept.

This is not a decision that we have taken lightly, and I know that a Budget that contains both further cuts and tax rises is not going to be welcomed by many residents. I will continue, alongside the Leaders of local authorities of all political stripes across the country, to make the case to the government that strong-arming us into ever-increasing council tax rises to pay for vital services cut to the bone by austerity is neither fair nor sustainable. The long-delayed Fair Funding Review is due to be published sometime this year, and I sincerely hope that our concerns have been listened to and the necessary action is taken. The alternative is a crisis in local authority funding which will be as catastrophic as it was avoidable.

Despite these difficult circumstances, our ambition for Tameside remains undiminished. We are committed to using the financial and political powers we have at our disposal to drive real investment and growth in many of our town centres. This includes, but is not limited to, the Stalybridge Town of Culture, the establishment of a Mayoral Development Zone in Ashton-under-Lyne, and a number of infrastructure improvements in and around Hyde. In addition, our Community Safety officers are continuing their partnership with the Greater Manchester Police and Fire and Rescue Service to ensure that everyone in Tameside can live free from the spectres of crime, hate and abuse.

 

I also took the opportunity to highlight the plight of our carers. Despite the essential work they have carried out over the course of pandemic, many of them remain overworked, underpaid and disregarded. This can no longer be accepted, and I want Tameside Council to become part of the solution by seeking full Living Wage Foundation accreditation – both in principle and in practice – with all possible haste.

The meeting also discussed a number of other issues that will have major implications for Tameside in 2022 and beyond.

Updates were provided on important developments taking place at a regional and national level. We have received notification that the implementation of the Clean Air Zone has been paused to further assess the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and global supply chain challenges. While the government is still requiring us to act, I am glad that they have accepted the need for more time to develop a comprehensive and effective approach to protecting our shared environment. However, I continue to harbour concerns about their commitment to Levelling Up and tackling the cost of living crisis, particularly in regards to whether schemes such as the council tax rebate and energy bill payments are the best way to get money to those who need support the most during these unprecedented times.

 

Following on from the news last month that HS2 construction works could lead to the suspension of the Metrolink service to Ashton-under-Lyne for several years, official notice was given that an Extraordinary General Meeting of the Council will be held in March to discuss the matter and provide a formal response.

A motion was also forwarded by Councillor Shibley Alam and passed unanimously expressing our concern about the proposal by the DVSA to close the Driving Test Centre in Hyde. This is a short-sighted move that will significantly increase the backlog in neighbouring test centres, and may even shut many residents from poorer backgrounds out of being able to learn to drive altogether. Both the Chief Executive and I will write personally to the DVSA urging them to reconsider their decision.

During the course of the meeting we heard further discussions about the Godley Green Garden Village. My position remains clear. Our plan is the best way to both meet the housing targets imposed upon us by the government while also building a sustainable community with high-quality homes and the infrastructure required to support them. I am angry at the approach that the government has taken in presenting us with a problem and then condemning us at a local level when we offer a solution, and I will provide a more detailed blog on the matter soon.

I pledge to keep seizing every available opportunity to make a real difference to the lives of our residents, just as I promise to never cease speaking out for different, better way to allow local authorities to begin to undo the damage caused by austerity. While this Budget has required a number of difficult decisions to be made, I am confident that it will provide a foundation for us to continue our proud record of delivery for Tameside.

 

Posted by: Executive Leader