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Executive Leader Cllr Brenda Warrington

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Councillor Brenda Warrington, Executive Leader of Tameside Council

Archive for June 2020

Saving Our Coronavirus Memories

Friday, 26 June 2020

Our Local Studies and Archives service is the beating heart of community history and memory in Tameside. If you’ve ever seen our “Looking Back” series on social media, you’ll have an idea of the sheer number of resources and memories stored in our archive centre in Ashton. Every month more than 1,200 people come to explore the exhaustive range of books, maps, documents and church records, covering everything from the experiences of Tameside residents during the World Wars to photos of how our streets and towns looked in decades, and sometimes centuries, past.

Every so often we live through some truly significant events in history, the kind that you know will be taught in schools to your children or grandchildren one day. In my own lifetime I can think of both wonderful achievements like the Moon Landing, and terrible disasters such as the Manchester Arena attack. From a more local perspective, I’m sure the Tour of Britain coming to Tameside, and the way the whole community took part in the event, will be fondly remember for years to come. As we continue to struggle against coronavirus, it is clear that it will be remembered as one of those historic moments. Once the pandemic is over, and let us all hope that it will be soon, we need remember more than just the cold numbers of how long it lasted, how many cases there were or how many sadly died. We need to preserve the individual voices of the men and women who lived through it.  

It is for that reason our Local Studies and Archives centre has teamed up with interference-art, a design company with experience in art projects across the North West, to ask Tameside residents to save and share their memories of the few past months. It could be something about how you helped others, or stood out on Thursday nights to thank our key workers, or celebrated Ramadan or Easter in lockdown. Or perhaps you just want to tell us how you felt. Did you struggle to cope without a trip to a pub, café or restaurant, or did you enjoy working from home and seeing fewer cars on the road? All stories– good or bad - are welcome. The only request is that whatever you submit is true and personal to you. Items will be chosen to be placed in our archives in order to record the living history, in written and visual form, of Tameside and its residents during the coronavirus pandemic.

Since we still need to take precautions to avoid spreading the virus, we are unable to accept any physical copies of memories at this time. However, we can collect digital items like uploaded photographs, blog posts, arts and poem, or even a recorded talk with friends or family members – anything that represents Tameside. Our Local Studies and Archives service have provided helpful information and advice on how to get started with journals, photos and interviews. Any contributions or further enquiries can be sent to us via e-mail at archives@tameside.gov.uk. You could also start collecting paper based material like scrapbooks or diaries to save until the time when you’ll be able to bring them in to the archives in person. Our Archives team will get in touch with you if we need any further information or details.

No matter what you choose to do, please remember to comply with the lockdown guidelines and do not put yourself or anyone else at risk at any time. Please also make sure that anything you submit to us is your own work and that you have permission to use other people’s thoughts and comments.  We can keep items anonymous if requested and will take into account all laws around data protection in the assessment, description and access of any material offered to us.

I think it’s fair to say that nobody back in February could have predicted the challenges we would soon be facing as individuals and as a community. Under the most difficult of circumstances we have pulled together to help and support each other. If that isn’t worthy of remembrance, I can’t think what else is. I would encourage you all to get involved in the creation of what will be a fascinating and unique piece of Tameside’s local history.

 

Posted by: Executive Leader


Working Together for A #SafeTameside Reopening

Friday, 19 June 2020


The struggle against the coronavirus pandemic took a new step at of the beginning of this week, as non-essential shops opened to the public once again after being closed for over two months as part of the national lockdown.

I think I speak for many people when I say that this move towards getting back to something approaching normal life should be welcomed, but the fact remains that the pandemic is far from over and it is likely that shopping will look very different for a long time to come. It’s also true that not every shop has reopened on Monday, with a number of businesses choosing to take more time to make themselves coronavirus secure. Many shops and services, such as pubs, restaurants, cafes, leisure centres and cinemas must also remain closed as the nature of their businesses make social distancing especially difficult.

Here in Tameside we want as many businesses as possible to feel confident in reopening, and as many residents as possible to feel safe to go out and shop. That’s why we’ve joined up with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and the other local authorities in our city region to part take in the “Safety Reopening GM” campaign. This co-ordinated effort is designed to ensure that both employers and employees are aware of what they need to do to work and travel safely during the coronavirus pandemic. While a variety of guidance of businesses and individuals is available, I want to take the opportunity to repeat some of the most important points here.

 

If you’re a member of the public who wants to go out shopping then please first think about how you’re going to get there. Public transport capacity is still heavily reduced in order to comply with social distancing so if possible use a car or, even better, take advantage of the new infrastructure we’re building in Tameside to make walking and cycling easier. If you do take public transport, remember that wearing a face covering is now a mandatory requirement. The need for social distancing may also mean that people will have to continue to queue up to get into shops if they are busy. I know that Crown Point North in Denton was particularly crowded when essential shops were allowed to reopen on Monday, with large groups of people lining up outside the shops with social distancing not being observed. Please be sensible, remember we are still in a pandemic, and take all necessary precautions to limit transmission of the virus.

If you’re an employer in Tameside then you will be required to put in place social distancing and safety measures to ensure that that you are “coronavirus secure”. Exactly what this means will vary from business to business, but typically involves carrying out a comprehensive risk assessment, one-way systems, having cleaning and hygiene procedures such as handwashing stations or sanitisers in place, and taking all reasonable steps maintain social distancing. Individual owners who do not follow these guidelines may be fined or prosecuted, and businesses can be issued with prohibition notices or, as a last resort, made to close down entirely. If you’re not sure about whether your businesses can reopen there are a number of guides on our website here to help you in getting started. You can also get in touch with us at publicprotection-es@tameside.gov.uk and an officer from our Environmental Services will be happy to advise you on what needs to be done.   

As we gradually emerge from the lockdown the next few weeks are likely to be essential in determining how the situation develops. From the shop that puts down markers that allow customers to maintain social distancing, the office that lets its employees work from home, to the person that wears a face covering when they’re on public transport or outdoors, we all have a role to play in continuing to protect ourselves and those around us. The more we do, the sooner we will be able to put this terrible pandemic behind us.

 

Posted by: Executive Leader


Now Is The Time to End Homelessness

Friday, 12 June 2020


Since the beginning of the age of austerity in 2010 we have been facing a crisis of homelessness in this country. The latest figures we have from the government’s own website say that in autumn 2019 there were an estimated 3,130 people sleeping rough across the country, an increase of 131% since the start of the decade.
 
This doesn’t take into account the facts that the difficulty of counting rough sleepers means that the real number may be far higher than this, or that many people can be homeless without sleeping rough in emergency accommodation, hostels or couch surfing with friends or family. While in many cases individual factors such as domestic violence, family breakdown and alcohol or drug abuse have contributed to this rise it cannot be denied that budget cuts, a lack of affordable or social housing and the disaster that is Universal Credit have eroded our social security net, either putting people who were just about managing into difficulties or making it harder to get help to those who already need it.  
 
My view on homelessness is clear; it is indefensible both economically and morally. A person forced onto the street is a person that we have failed as a country. Making sure that every resident in Tameside has a roof over their heads has been one of my priorities as Leader, and thanks to the great work of our Homelessness Team the number of people sleeping rough in Tameside was reduced by 86%. No other council in England can point to those kinds of results. 

While the airwaves have been dominated by issues like PPE and testing, one of the more unreported stories of coronavirus is the impact it’s had on homelessness. Here in Tameside there was a very real fear that our good work over the past few years would be undone. Not only would the pandemic force more people onto the streets, but much of our hostel and emergency accommodation would be unusable since it gave residents no way to self-isolate.

 
 
A number of local authorities chose to solve this problem by putting rough sleepers up in temporary hotel accommodation in Manchester city centre. However we felt that this option could lead to further isolation problems for rough sleepers, an increased risk of addiction issues and the very real chance that relationships built up with individuals over many months would be lost. Instead we worked hard to place our homeless and rough sleepers in short-term rented properties within Tameside itself, giving them safe accommodation in which they could self-isolate while also allowing their Homelessness Team worker to keep in touch with them. They were also provided with food parcels and essential medication from our voluntary groups, as well as a range of support to help them continue to tackle the issues that led to their homelessness even during the lockdown. We’re now working with service users to ensure that they can maintain their own tenancies or, if this is not possible, to rehouse them in more permanent accommodation. Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, this has prevented almost 100 people in Tameside from becoming homeless.
 
This fantastic work also highlights a wider point that many of us have been saying for years. Homelessness is not inevitable, and the only things stopping us ending it in Britain are a lack of money and political will.
 
When this pandemic ends we cannot and will not throw people back onto the street. I want the government to look at the successes in Tameside and other local authorities and give us the support we need to keep doing it. I want them to reverse the decade of cuts that deprived those at risk of homelessness of vital support. I want them to acknowledge that there is no excuse for people sleeping rough in the fifth-largest economy in the world.
 
As we begin to think about life after coronavirus, let’s have the courage and decency to choose a better way.

 

Posted by: Executive Leader


Have Your Say on Safer Streets for Tameside

Friday, 05 June 2020

Since the lockdown to fight the coronavirus pandemic began almost 11 weeks ago, it has become increasingly clear that things will not go back to the way they were before. Until a vaccine or some other permanent treatment for the virus is found, we will have to continue to take measures to protect ourselves and others by changing the ways we live, work and travel.

As strange as it may sound, one of the silver linings of the lockdown is that it has helped to show us that some of these changes may also have other positive effects. Nowhere is this truer than in how we get around our city region. Over the past few months traffic volumes across Greater Manchester have dropped by 60%. While much of this can be accounted for by people being furloughed or working from home, the data also shows that many have chosen other methods of getting to where they need to be. Walking now accounts for 33% of all journeys taken, and levels of cycling have gone up 22% compared to before the lockdown. The effects of this have been dramatic. Congestion, once the scourge of our roads, has been has almost eliminated, and routine monitoring has shown a drop in air pollution levels that would have otherwise been impossible.

The challenge now will be to keep as many of these benefits as possible once we emerge from lockdown. We know from the work we’ve done to encourage cycling and walking over the past few years that many people would choose these over taking the car if it was easier to do so, and the need for continued social distancing in the foreseeable future means that we need to think about how we can change our urban environment to help people stay safe during essential journeys and exercise.

That’s why; to kill two birds with one stone, Greater Manchester has launched the #SafeStreetsSaveLives campaign. Working alongside the Mayor, TfGM and the nine other local authorities in the city region, we’re looking to create a range of measures to support coronavirus-safe and environmentally sustainable travel. This is particularly important in Tameside as almost a third of our residents do not own a car, and public transport capacity is likely to be significantly reduced to comply with social distancing requirements. Some of our proposals for the borough include “key worker corridors” with areas zoned off for cyclists and pedestrians, as well as opening up more pavement space by removing “pinch points” and non-essential street clutter like guard rails. Other plans we’re considering include “access only” quiet streets where children can play and adults can exercise without having to worry about through traffic, upgrading existing cycling lanes, creating temporary crossings and introducing traffic calming schemes.

 

Due to the fast pace of the current situation and the demands from government, most of these changes will be implemented at first as quickly as possible on a temporary basis. However we want to go much further than this, so we’re asking residents to have their say on whether they’d like some of these temporary solutions to be made permanent, as well as if they’d support more long-term changes to encourage cycling and walking in Tameside. You can fill out the survey and look at more detailed information about the measures we’re proposing on the council’s website here.

The consultation will run until 5pm on 2 July, and all the feedback we receive will be reviewed and considered as part of our plans. By taking part you will not only be helping us keep Tameside safe from coronavirus, but you’ll also be playing a role in deciding what life after the pandemic will look like for us all. Despite everything we’ve been through over the past few months, I still believe that a better future is possible. Let’s work together to make it happen.   

 

Posted by: Executive Leader


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