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Executive Leader Cllr Brenda Warrington

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Councillor Brenda Warrington, Executive Leader of Tameside Council

Working Together and Moving Forward at Full Council

Friday, 26 July 2019


On Tuesday evening we held our third meeting of Full Council of 2019 at the usual venue of Guardsman Tony Downes House in Droylsden. While the previous two Full Councils focused on very specific areas; the Council’s budget for the financial year in February, and our priorities to secure the future of our residents and the services that they depend upon in May, this meeting gave us the opportunity to discuss what strategic vision will be driving our plans for Tameside over the next few years.

As part of this, I can announce that we will be aiming to transform Tameside into a Co-Operative council by the end of this municipal year, if not sooner. I know that many people will be asking, “What’s a Co-Operative Council, and why should it matter to me?”. In broad terms, being a Co-Operative council commits us to find better ways of working for, and with, the people of Tameside for the benefit of Tameside’s communities. It’s about following the common principles and values of the wider International Co-Operative Alliance, albeit slightly modified for the context of local government, to ensure that everybody works together, and that everybody receives the benefits.

As the democratically-elected leaders and civil society partners in their local area, councils are in a unique position to drive and support this improvement and change. There are a number of areas in Tameside, such as in our community centres and family support services, where this is happening already. The challenge we’ve set ourselves will be to take these examples of good practice and expand them out into a comprehensive and ambitious bid for Co-Operative council status.

The other strand of our vision for Tameside is improving social justice and mobility. We live in a country where up to eight million people are trapped in poverty despite having jobs, at the same time as two of our three most recent Prime Ministers attended the same school, the same university and the same dinner club. Now more than any other time in recent history, people’s lives in Britain are being determined by where they were born and who their parents were.

While action at a national level, such as finally and totally reversing austerity, is definitely required there’s also a lot that we can start doing in Tameside to reverse this slow death in social mobility. We’re working hard in improving our education and transport infrastructure; to attract high paying, high quality jobs to the borough, and to train our residents to fill those jobs. The priorities of “Starting Well” and “Living Well” have also been enshrined in our Corporate Plan, which was agreed at the start of June. This guarantees that social mobility and justice will be considered at every level of the authority and in every project that we undertake.

The Full Council also considered and debated a number of motions on matters of importance to the borough and our residents. By unanimous decision we’ve agreed to sign up to the Unite Construction Charter, supporting local workers by ensuring that working conditions and building standards on construction projects under our council meet the highest standards. We also joined many other Greater Manchester councils by throwing our weight behind the Better Buses Campaign, which calls for the reregulation of bus services in the region to deliver a cheaper and better service for passengers.

Last but not least, the council’s views on the demolition of the Stamford Park conservatory were debated and restated.  We understand the strength of feeling from some of our residents on the issue, but we cannot justify spending a significant sum of money in a time of austerity on a 1980s building with no heritage or historical value, especially since it has been closed to the public for over four years due to its severe deterioration. However, I repeat again that we are willing to listen to any formally-constituted group who wish to explore alternative options, provided they are feasible, fully-resourced and take ongoing maintenance and running costs into account, for the site once the unsafe structure has been demolished.

With the ascension of a new Prime Minister, we need to have a serious discussion about where we want to be as a country. But hand-in-hand with that discussion, there needs to be action to show that there is another, better way. Our commitment to co-operative principles and social mobility will allow us to forge our own path for Tameside’s future and our resident’s future. These are ideas whose time has come, and it now falls to all of us to make them a reality.

 

Posted by: Executive Leader


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