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Executive Leader Cllr Brenda Warrington

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Councillor Brenda Warrington, Executive Leader of Tameside Council

Archive for March 2019

Pre-Election Period

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

As we are now in the pre-election period – for the local elections on 2 May 2019 – I have decided to suspend my weekly blog until after the election.

​See you in a few weeks

Posted by: Executive Leader


Taking the Next Steps for A Green Greater Manchester

Monday, 25 March 2019


At the end of last year Tameside held its first ever Green Summit, bringing together residents, businesses and climate experts to discuss what we could do in the borough to help protect our shared environment and make Greater Manchester the greenest city region in Europe. At the end of that Summit, I said that we were laying the foundations for further action to be taken in the future.

I’m delighted to now be able to tell you what some of the next steps are going to be. As an organisation Tameside Council has thrown its weight behind the Big Clean Switch, a campaign which is encouraging residents, businesses and councils to switch to energy suppliers who only use renewable sources; sun, wind, water or  biofuels. Not only are we encouraging people in Tameside to join up, but we’ve put our own money where our mouth is and switched suppliers ourselves. The new green tariff to supply energy to the council will begin on April 1, helping us cut pollution, fight climate change and save money at the same time. I truly believe that the best way to protect our shared environment is to harness the power of collective action; making small but achievable changes to our lifestyles and the way we use energy. The Big Clean Switch is a great example of that in action, and I’m happy to be able to support it as a council and encourage others to support it as well. You can take a look at what they’re about and how you can switch yourself through their website here.

Anybody who’s walked past Dukinfield Town Hall in the last few evenings may have noticed as well that the historic building has been floodlit in green. This is to mark up the run-up to the second Greater Manchester Green Summit, which takes place in The Lowry in Salford today. Unlike the Tameside Green Summit, this Green Summit will focus on our city region as a whole, as all ten councils that make up Greater Manchester come together to decide our environmental plans for the next five years and beyond. I’ll be joining a panel with councillors and senior officers from Oldham, Manchester and Trafford to talk about how local authorities can provide leadership and direction to protect our shared environment, and highlighting the great work that has been done in Tameside so far.

Let’s make no mistake; Tameside is at the front line of the struggle against climate change and environmental destruction. This time last year, we were rocked by the discovery that the River Tame is suffering from the highest levels of micro-plastic pollution found in any waterway to date. As I write this the University of Manchester, with the support of the council and the Environment Agency, is investigating what or who may be responsible for this contamination. It’s not just micro-plastics though. Anybody who thinks that climate change isn’t having an impact on Tameside needs to look back to last summer when Saddleworth Moor was engulfed by the worst fires in living memory. We also share the problems that many other towns and cities in Britain face around air pollution, which is estimated to have caused the early deaths of 1,200 people in Greater Manchester alone last year.

Despite the challenges we face, the way I’ve seen us come together to Tameside to meet them means that I’m still optimistic. One of the big challenges in protecting our environment and fighting climate change is showing people that their individual actions can make a difference; we have to fight at every turn the temptation to think this problem is too big for us. There’s no magic bullet or miracle cure, but we have the potential to harness something even better; the efforts and support of millions of Greater Manchester residents. Today we’ll be working out how to make that happen for the good of us all.  

 

Posted by: Executive Leader


Get Help To Stub It Out This No Smoking Day

Wednesday, 13 March 2019



What’s one of the best things you can do for your health? Something that will start having a guaranteed and positive impact beginning 20 minutes after you start and which will continue to benefit you for years afterwards if you keep at it? The answer is giving up smoking.

The medical evidence is clear. No matter how long you’ve smoked for or how many cigarettes you smoke a day, it’s never too late. Your pulse rate and blood oxygen levels return to normal less than a day after smoking that last cigarette. A few days after that, your taste, sense of smell and energy levels will all have improved. Keep at it for years more, and your risk of a heart attack will have halved compared to a smoker. I haven’t even begun to mention things like the amount of money you can save or the potential dangers of second-hand smoke either.

Unfortunately, all that has to be balanced out by the fact that quitting smoking for good is an incredibly difficult thing to do. It becomes even harder if we leave people to try and do it alone. It’s estimated that up to 90% of people who try to quit smoking go “cold turkey”; that’s no help, no patches, no nothing. Only about 5-7% of them are successful.

That’s why we’ve joined forces with the NHS, British Heart Foundation and a number of other charities and health organisations to throw our weight behind National No Smoking Day 2019. We want to do something very simple but very powerful; bring people who want to give up smoking together to let them know that they are not alone, and allow them to support and motivate each other to kick the habit for good. It’s especially important here in Tameside. Although the percentage of smokers in our borough has dropped to 17.6% over the years, that’s still one of the highest in Greater Manchester and significantly above the national average.

For the past few months, we’ve been sharing stories about local residents who successfully quit smoking. These include Denton-resident Mary Hanshaw, 58, who had been smoking 30-40 cigarettes a day for nearly 40 years, and Marc Tyson from Hyde, who estimated that his smoking habit had cost him almost £50,000 over 19 years. Both of them received help and advice from Be Well Tameside, the part of our local NHS which helps people live longer and healthier lives. If you’re a smoker and want free support to quit, you can get in touch with Be Well by calling 0161 716 2000 or e-mailing bewelltameside@nhs.net.

Hand-in-hand with helping people quit smoking in Tameside is the support we’re offering to people for whom it may be too late to avoid some of the worst consequences of smoking. Tameside and Glossop has been picked as one of the first areas of the country to roll out a project to improve lung cancer survival rates. Residents aged 55-74 who have smoked at some point in their lives will be invited to a lung screening, which will be able to pick up the earliest signs of lung cancer and other potential health issues. The ONS estimates that 81-85% of patients who have their lung cancer diagnosed at the earliest stage were still alive a year afterwards, compared to just 15-19% for those who had it identified at the latest stage.

Put together, these two schemes provide great examples of what the revolution in health and social care taking place in Greater Manchester means in practice for our residents. Where residents need medical treatment we’re making sure they get it at the earliest opportunity, but we’re also working hand-in-hand with those same residents to help make sure they never need medical treatment in the first place. With your help, we’re going to make sure that everybody in Tameside has the opportunity to benefit not just from better services, but better lives as well.

 

Posted by: Executive Leader


Happy International Women's Day

Friday, 08 March 2019

Today is International Women’s Day, a global event to commemorate and celebrate the achievements of women across the world, and a chance to recommit ourselves to facing the challenges – social, economic and political – that women continue to struggle against.

The world that women face today is very different to the one that existed when the first Women’s Day was held in New York in 1909, and Tameside women have played an indispensable role in that process. The struggle for votes for women was won thanks to the efforts of suffragettes like Hannah Mitchell, who made her home five minutes away from Ashton Market Square for over a decade. A hundred years later, women with links to Tameside like Angela Rayner, Jenny Campbell and Brooke Vincent are still forcing their way into the history books in the fields of politics, businesses and acting respectively. Thanks to them and countless other women throughout the world, we’re in a better position to make our voices heard than perhaps any other time in history.

But that doesn’t mean that the fight is over. Women in Britain in 2019 may no longer face arrest and persecution for demanding the vote or other basic human rights, but no one can deny that systematic and unjustifiable inequalities remain. We’ve seen grassroots campaigns like #MeToo shine a spotlight on how the legal system and workplace protections have failed many victims of sexual harassment and abuse. Most insidious of all however, are the issues that may not look at first glance like they’re on the frontline of the fight for gender equality, but disproportionately affect women nevertheless. Perhaps the example where we’ve seen this at its most pervasive and destructive is the nine years of austerity we have all endured. Every piece of research or investigation that has looked at this agrees. Austerity has been a catastrophe for the vast majority of people in Britain, but for women especially. We need to start treating it as such.

I’m proud to be the first female Leader of Tameside Council. I’m committed to doing my bit to make sure our presence is felt around the corridors of power, within our local communities and everywhere in between. In the words of Madeleine Albright, the first female Secretary of State in American history, “It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent”. I began that campaign at the Greater Manchester Combined Authority this week, when I chaired ever meeting of the GM Women’s Voice Group. Alongside a host of inspirational women from across the city region, we discussed how we can accelerate the drive towards gender equality, looking closely at both areas where we can make small changes quickly, and where bigger solutions can be realised over the long term. Though the focus on change sometimes tends to be “smashing the glass ceiling,” helping women up into positions of responsibility or fame, I am firm in my belief that I want every single woman to benefit from our plans. Not every woman can or wants to be the next chief executive or council leader, but every woman can and deserves to feel like they will never be held back in Greater Manchester because of their gender. 

The message is clear. We’ve come so far, but there is so far left to go. This International Women’s Day let’s remember that the struggle for gender equality is a struggle which never truly ends. It falls to us to build on the work of those women that came before us, to create a better and fairer world for those women who come after us.

 

Posted by: Executive Leader


Welcome to Tameside One

Tuesday, 05 March 2019

It’s official. After more than four years of planning, knocking down and building up again, Tameside One – the new college and public service centre development built on the site of the former Tameside Administration Centre (TAC) in Ashton has opened its doors.

First in are the new Ashton Library and Joint Service Centre, both of which completed their moves on Monday. Taking full advantage of the new building, the library offers a full range of services from print and audio books to business and health information, with free access to Wi-Fi and public computers throughout. Next door, the Joint Service Centre will bring together the council’s customer services, welfare rights, Citizens Advice, Job Centre Plus and the Cash Box Credit Union into a one-stop shop for any issue or question you might have.

The opening of Tameside One marks a major milestone in the Vision Tameside project. It will bring thousands of council officers, students and support staff into Ashton town centre, boosting the local economy as they increase footfall and spend money in the surrounding shops and businesses. The Tameside One building itself is also substantially smaller and more energy-efficient than the old TAC, which means it will be far cheaper and cleaner to run.

Let’s not forget the twists and turns it took to get to this point as well. Just over a year ago, the future of the entire Vision Tameside project was put into jeopardy following the sudden collapse of Carillion. Thanks to the dedication and expertise of the council’s staff and leadership team, we were able to bring in Robertson Construction Group Limited to finish the construction of Tameside One and secure the contracts of the former Carillion staff. While many similar projects across the country were delayed significantly, or sometimes continue to lie dormant even now, progress in Tameside has continued with a relatively manageable amount of disruption.

This Thursday, which is also World Book Day 2019, we’re going to make sure that Tameside One gets the grand opening it deserves as the library hosts a children’s party as part of our “Tameside Loves Reading” campaign – an ambitious three year-long mission to work with schools, libraries and communities to give Tameside’s children and young people a lifelong love of reading and the vital skills that come with it. With a range of activities including children’s crafts, magicians, characters and storytellers on the agenda, it’s sure to be fun for the whole family, a celebration of World Book Day and a showcase of the all the fabulous services the new library can offer rolled into one. The event is free, so if you’re in Ashton with the children from 10am on Thursday I invite you to come over and see what all the fuss is about. You can also find out more information about the Tameside Loves Reading campaign on our website here.

Nor will the opening of Tameside One signal the end of our investment in Ashton and Tameside’s other towns. Next door, work is continuing to transform the former bus station into a modern transport hub. We’ve also begun construction of the Denton Wellness Centre, the crown jewel of the investment in leisure in Tameside that also gave us iTrain in Dukinfield, the Sky High Adventure Centre in Droylsden and Total Adrenaline in Longdendale. We’re still hard at work to find a new contractor for Hyde Pool as well.

We know that the key to securing Tameside’s long-term future is to improve our town centres and the education opportunities for our residents. I am confident that projects such as Vision Tameside and the Tameside Loves Reading campaign will help us to do just that. I hope you will join me in celebrating both the opening of Tameside One on Thursday, and the many other openings to come in the future.

 

Posted by: Executive Leader


A Unanimous Budget for Uncertain Times

Friday, 01 March 2019


This Tuesday evening we gathered together in the familiar surroundings of Guardsman Tony Downes House in Droylsden to discuss and agree the council’s Budget for 2019-20.

My second Budget as Executive Leader of the Council, it has been drawn up in what I can only describe as the most uncertain times for local government in living memory. We already know the damage that eight years of austerity has wrought across the country; where councils once had £1 to spend on services in 2010, they have 40p in 2019. It has also become increasingly clear that the government either doesn’t know or doesn’t care about the consequences this has had for people and services. I’m sure I can’t be the only one who noted with astonishment the report released at the beginning of February by the influential and cross-party House of Commons Public Accounts Committee, which condemned the government for their unwillingness to “get real, listen fully to the concerns of local government and take a hard look at the real impact funding reductions have on local services”. Their words, not mine.

Our highest priority, as always, remains the protection of our most vulnerable residents and the services that they depend on. While I will always condemn austerity at every turn, it also falls upon us as local authorities to get on with the things we can control while preparing as best we can for the impact of decisions made elsewhere.

The quarter of a million bins we collect every week, the 33,000 visits to our customer services and 179,000 calls we resolve a year, the 1,000 family events we hold across every one of our towns, and the 3,000 elderly or vulnerable residents we help to live with safety and dignity in their own homes. All of this, and much more, must be paid and accounted for. In order to do this in face of cuts and uncertainty our Budget calls for an increase in council tax of 3.99%. This also includes an increase in the precept for adult social care, and amounts to £37.58 a year, or 72p a week, for a Band A property in Tameside. Increases in Greater Manchester levies, which we collect but have no control over, will also add 43p a week to a Band A council tax bill.

We anticipate that this will generate around an additional £3.5 million of extra funding a year. It is not a decision that any of us have taken lightly, but there any certain facts that we cannot hide from. We must set a balanced budget; we must protect our services; and in the absence of a sustainable plan for funding from Whitehall we must do both of those things using our own resources. The Conservative group in the council have seen the same figures as us, which is why to their credit they have also supported this Budget, resulting in it passing unanimously. Even taking this new rise into account, the amount a resident in Tameside can expect to pay in council tax is the fourth lowest out of the ten Greater Manchester local authorities, as well as below the regional and national average. We know, quite rightly, that our residents will expect some kind of return on the additional money they are being asked to pay. That’s why I pledge that every penny will be used to sustain and improve services within Tameside.

Now more than ever, we need to defend and promote the indispensable role that local government plays in our country. This is the message we must send out; to Tameside, to Greater Manchester and to the government. The services local authorities provide help keep people alive, they help to make people’s lives worth living, they are precious beyond measure and they absolutely cannot be taken for granted. Until the government heeds that call, we must use every resource and asset at our disposal to continue delivering what our residents need and expect from us. Despite some hard but necessary decisions, I believe that this new Budget will allow us to do just that.

 

Posted by: Executive Leader


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