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Executive Leader Cllr Brenda Warrington

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Councillor Brenda Warrington, Executive Leader of Tameside Council

Archive for January 2022

Building a Better North

Friday, 21 January 2022

In my blog last week I laid out what we need to achieve in 2022 to build back better, fairer and greener in Tameside. While I intend for us to do everything in our power to make this a reality, we cannot be blind to the wider challenges that we face.
 

England remains a fundamentally unequal country, not just in terms of wealth but in terms of geography as well. A report in 2019 by the former head of the civil service, Sir Bob Kerslake, concluded that the economic divide between the North and South of England is now starker than the one that existed between West and East Germany at the end of the Cold War.

Now another report written by the Manchester-based think-tank IPPR North has found that, despite almost two years of “levelling up” promises from the government, this chasm of prosperity, opportunity and investment is only getting wider. While only one-third of those who live in our country call London and South-East home, it nevertheless accounts for 45% of our economy and 42% of our wealth. 

As to what that means in practice, in the five years to 2019/20 London has received investment equivalent to £12,147 per person compared to just £8,125 per person of investment in the North. According to the Treasury’s own data, that amounts to the North missing out on £61 billion of funding that could have been used to protect vital public services, modernise our transport infrastructure and invest in our young people. Since we know that public investment also encourages the creation and growth of new private businesses, it should come as no surprise either that for every 1 new job created in the North, 3 are created in London and the South East.

While this inequality between North and South has persisted, to a greater or lesser extent, for almost a century it has been exacerbated since 2010 by the catastrophic consequences of austerity. The main vehicle for investment in the North announced by the government, the “Levelling Up Fund” has so far allocated £0.5 billion of new spending. That might sound like a lot, but it represents an investment of only £32 per person in North, and utterly pales in comparison to the £413 per person cut in annual council service spending from 2009/10 to 2019/20. What’s more, many of the other funding streams available such as the “Towns Fund” are centrally controlled in a way that gives the North next to no say in where the money actually goes. And then there are the cases where, like we saw last year in the scrapping of the new high speed Manchester-Leeds railway line, the government has promised investment only to betray us later on.

 

So what needs to be done to start bridging the North/South divide? First and foremost, we need to see much more ambition in the levels of funding and investment directed to the North. To briefly go back to the Germany example I mentioned at the start, since 1990 their government has spent almost €70 billion a year bringing the formerly Communist parts of the country back up to speed. But while money is essential, the IPPR report is clear that it is by no means the only part of the solution. To truly address England’s regional inequalities, it must be accompanied by a commitment from the government to devolve real decision making power for spending and investment down to Combined Authorities, local councils and communities across the North. This will put leadership into the hands of those with the knowledge and motivation to make every penny count in their area, working together to focus on delivering prosperity for all, investing in the transition to a net-zero economy, and developing education and training provision so that every young person in the North has the chance to realise their potential.  

It might sound like ambitious, but we can see with devolution Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland along with other examples such as Germany that it can be done if the political will exists. It might sound expensive, but the price of allowing our current inequalities to continue will be much, much higher. A prosperous and dynamic North is not just good for us, it’s good for the rest of the country as well. The time has come to make it happen.

 

Posted by: Executive Leader


Our Priorities for 2022

Friday, 14 January 2022

Welcome to my first blog of 2022, the beginning of a year that I hope will be an era of transformation for Tameside and its communities as we look to build back better, fairer and greener from the coronavirus pandemic.

While the government has made the decision to hold back from introducing major new measures, the fight against the Omicron variant of coronavirus remains far from over. As we enter a new year, please keep doing everything possible to protect yourself and those around you. If you have not already done so I would also urge you to get your vaccination or booster from one of the many hubs and drop-in centres that have been set up across Tameside & Glossop. You can find the nearest one to you using our website here.

Build Back Better

 















 


Last year we committed the Council to a policy of Inclusive Growth, with a focus on creating opportunities for all and distributing the benefits of prosperity fairly across the borough. Even in its early stages 2021 saw the completion of a number of projects to turn this into a reality, including Droylsden Library, Hyde Pool and the expansion of our markets offer. Over the next twelve months we want to build, quite literally, on that success. The Godley Green Garden Village, which will deliver over 2,000 much-needed high quality homes, is currently going through the statutory approval process. This will be complemented by the release of our new Housing Strategy, which will lay out the big picture of how we will deliver a balanced and sustainable housing market that will ensure everybody in Tameside can keep a roof over their heads. We also intend to begin the transformation of St. Petersfield into a state-of- the-art employment hub, as well as a series of improvements in Ashton town centre including the long-awaited renovation and reopening of the historic town hall.
 
Build Back Fairer
 

Our vision to build back fairer has the dual objective of improving the lives of those at the margins of our society, and taking steps to guarantee that everybody in Tameside is protected from the spectre of crime and abuse. Our work with the Tameside Poverty Truth Commission will continue as we listen to the voices of those for whom poverty is not an abstract concept, but an everyday reality. It is my hope that early this year we will be in a position to identify the most serious issues to address in the fight against poverty and begin to craft solutions to face them head-on. We will also work closely with the Greater Manchester Police, local organisations and communities to raise awareness of, and take firm action against, hate crime and anti-social behaviour. This will include supporting the GM Gender Based Violence Strategy and the #IsThisOkay campaign to make our city region safer for women and girls by confronting both gender based violence and the attitudes that enable it.

Build Back Greener



The climate crisis is the gravest existential threat we face as a planet, and in 2022 we will be treating it with the seriousness it deserves. At the end of last year we underlined our commitment with the release of our radical Carbon and Environment Strategy, which maps out what we will do over the next five years to meet our objective of making Tameside carbon neutral by 2038. But we know that taking the fight to the climate crisis will only be possible through a collective effort. That’s why 2022 will also be the year when the green transport revolution in Greater Manchester truly begins to spread its wings with the introduction of the GM-wide Clean Air Zone, the continued rolling out of the Bee Network cycling and walking infrastructure improvements, and beginning the process of bringing our city region’s buses back into public control.

After two years defined and dominated by coronavirus, I hope that 2022 will be the year in which we will begin to chart a course into the long-awaited but uncertain post-pandemic world. Through a relentless focus on investing for inclusive growth, fostering safe and welcoming communities, and protecting our shared environment we will show that a fairer, better and greener future is within our grasp. I intend to waste no time in getting started.

 

Posted by: Executive Leader


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