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Executive Leader Cllr Brenda Warrington

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Councillor Brenda Warrington, Executive Leader of Tameside Council

Mayor’s Question Time Comes to Tameside

Friday, 31 January 2020

It’s now been over five years since the formation of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), which is made up of the Mayor of Greater Manchester and the ten council leaders in the region. The GMCA took control of a number of powers through the devolution agreements signed with the government in 2014. Some of these powers, most notably health, transport and policing, were topics of discussion this week as we welcomed the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, to Guardsman Tony Downes House in Droylsden when Tameside hosted the regular Mayor’s Question Time.
 

For an hour and a half, the Mayor gave his views on a number of issues that residents have told us matter to them in Tameside and Greater Manchester. One of the best discussions on the night was on the future of Greater Manchester’s Transport Strategy, most notably the £1.5 billion programme of investment in the Bee Network. Although complete delivery is expected to take around 10 years, once complete it will give our city-region the largest walking and cycling network in the UK by quite some distance. In a report released this month, the GMCA has estimated that the completed Bee Network could increase journeys on foot or by bike by 2.5m a day, cut some journey times by 50% and save the NHS £6.73 billion by improving people’s health. The benefits for our shared environment, especially around improving our air quality, are likely to be even greater still.

As exciting as all this is, residents at the Question Time event quite rightly made it clear that there are some transport improvements they’d like to see here and now. Questions were raised on the possibility of bringing back Droylsden railway station, and a number of people asked about the future of rail and bus services across Greater Manchester. The Mayor pointed out, as I did in my blog last week, that there remains a huge and unjustifiable funding gap in transport infrastructure between the North of England and London. A welcome development that was announced by the government the day after the Question Time event was that Northern Rail are to be stripped of their franchise, bringing the line back into public control, on 1st March 2020. The results from the recent consultation about introducing a London-style system of public control of Greater Manchester’s buses should also be available soon and will feed out into our aspiration for transport in our city region. A network run for passengers and not profit, where you can get a tram from Ashton to Manchester and then get back by bus on a single ticket, is closer now than it has ever been.

Of course the conversation wasn’t limited to just transport and the environment. I was delighted that the Mayor, while answering a question about Greater Manchester’s pioneering health and social integration, highlighted Tameside as the borough that has gone the furthest so far in making it a reality. Another topic that emerged as a topic of discussion on the night was homelessness. Through the “A Bed Every Night” scheme we’ve done our bit to help support 1,165 formerly homeless people in Greater Manchester into long-term accommodation, and the great work of our own Homelessness service has reduced the number of rough sleepers in Tameside from 36 to 2 in the space of a year. In response to a question about policing, the Mayor also laid out the work being done to reduce knife attacks and other serious crimes in the city region.

 

I’ve said before that I see 2020 as a year of delivery in Tameside, but it’s clear from what the Mayor said yesterday that this year will be an exciting time for Greater Manchester as well. My thanks to Andy Burnham for bringing the Mayor’s Question Time back to Tameside. It was a pleasure to host him, and rest assured that we will be working closely together to make a real difference to the borough and the city region.
 

Posted by: Executive Leader


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