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Executive Leader Cllr Brenda Warrington

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Councillor Brenda Warrington, Executive Leader of Tameside Council

Archive for May 2021

Reflecting on Full Council

Friday, 28 May 2021

The eyes of Tameside were on Dukinfield Town Hall this week, as the first in person meeting of Full Council was held since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a socially-distanced Jubilee Hall, we took the opportunity to pay tribute to one of Tameside’s most famous sons and freeman of the borough, Dr Ron Hill MBE, who tragically passed away last week at the age of 82. As a world-class distance runner, business entrepreneur, tireless advocate for local charitable causes, and founder of the Tour of Tameside his influence and the credit he brought to the borough will be sadly missed and unlikely to ever be repeated. I was also delighted to confirm that Councillors Janet Cooper and Mike Glover would be retaining their roles as Civic Mayor and Civic Deputy Mayor respectively for next year. This will make them the first people to take on the roles twice, but given the unique circumstances we’ve faced it made sense to give them the chance to continue their service to the borough.

The meeting of Full Council also provided us with a chance to discuss the progress of the Godley Green Garden Village, and to make sure that the importance of the project for the borough is fully understood. As I’ve said in the past, local authorities such as Tameside have a responsibility to act and plan not just for the present, but for the generations to come as well. As part of that, we are required by the government to have plans to build around 11,000 new homes over the next 17 years. The alternative presented by some, of building all our required housing on brownfield land, is not a viable solution. All brownfield land suitable for residential development in Tameside has already been identified, and there simply is not enough of it to deliver housing in the numbers which are needed.

Failure to come up with a realistic and deliverable plan to meet our housing targets means that the developers will simply step in to do it for us. We’ve seen enough of that in the past to know that this will lead to piecemeal, high-density and unsuitable building and the loss of even more of our precious greenspace. The choice isn’t between building on Godley Green or not building on Godley Green. It is between building in a sustainable and organised way, or becoming the victim of a disastrous free-for-all of uncontrolled and uncontrollable development.

Our plan for Godley Green puts the people of Tameside, not the profits of developers, first. By emphasising the growing of thriving communities, guaranteeing building standards through the planning process, and backing any housing up with infrastructure such as access to broadband, public transport links and truly open greenspace, the Garden Village model offers a model of inclusive growth that will benefit residents within and beyond the development. We fully intend to look at and tweak the plans where appropriate, and we will also continue to take seriously any ideas, concerns and suggestions that are expressed to us. But as I made clear at Full Council, we are going ahead with this project.

But the Godley Green Garden Village is just one strand of our ambitious plans for inclusive growth in Tameside. By driving investment in jobs and housing, regenerating our town centres and protecting our shared environment, we intend to transform the quality of life of our residents and create, as I’ve said before, a local economy that serves the people and not the other way round.

We must come together with the grit to make sure the Tameside endures, the innovation to make sure that Tameside adapts, and the drive to make sure that Tameside prospers. As we begin to heal from the coronavirus pandemic, I pledge that Tameside Council will leave no stone unturned to make that bright new future a reality.

Posted by: Executive Leader


Moving Forward in the Fight against Covid-19

Friday, 21 May 2021

The beginning of the week saw the latest easing of the coronavirus restrictions across the country. As of Monday, pubs, restaurants and bars and cafes can now serve customers indoors, groups of up to 6 people can meet indoors and as many as 30 can meet outdoors, and travellers will be able to fly internationally as long as they follow the testing and self-isolation guidelines in the new traffic light system.

I am glad to report as well that, thanks to the tireless efforts of our key workers and communities, our local vaccination programme is continuing to make excellent progress. As of 16th May 130,268 Tameside and Glossop residents, or 65.4% of our population, have received their first jab. Every adult over the age of 40 in the borough has been offered a vaccination, and we are continuing to try and persuade those who have not yet chosen to take it up to do so. 35.4% of our residents, or 70,530 in total have also received their second jab, and we are currently focusing on increasing this figure to ensure maximum protection for some of our most vulnerable cohorts.

When put together, the easing of lockdown and the progress made on vaccinations means we can begin to look forward to when this terrible pandemic will be put behind us. However, until that day comes, we must continue to take the appropriate steps to protect ourselves and those around us. While the number of infections in Tameside remains low we’ve seen in the past how easily this can change, and the emergence of new “variants of concern” such as the strain that originated in India means that the situation remains fragile. So please, now more than ever, make sure that you get tested and self-isolate when necessary, continue to wash your hands and wear face masks wherever appropriate, and remember that you can still carry and pass on the virus even if you’ve been vaccinated yourself.  

 

Here in Tameside, the easing of lockdown restrictions means we can begin to cautiously reopen some of the cultural venues that we have been forced to go without for so long. This includes the Portland Basin Museum in Ashton, which resumed operation on Wednesday. In order to make sure everybody remains safe and prevent overcrowding, visits will be limited to around an hour and must be pre-booked here, and face mask wearing and social distancing must continue to be observed within the building. There is also a one-way system around the exhibits with hand-sanitising stations and extra cleaning measures. The indoor play area will also remain closed for now, however our staff at the museum will be handing out craft bags packed with activities for children to do at home. The Astley Cheetham Art Gallery in Stalybridge and the Market Gallery in Ashton Market Hall have also reopened, giving residents the chance to new exhibitions from a number of exciting local artists.
 

However, despite the welcome news of these reopenings, there are also some events and buildings in Tameside that will have to remain limited or closed entirely for the time being. Due to the small size of the chapel, the number of mourners allowed at services and ceremonies at Dukinfield Crematorium will remain capped at 20 for the time being, although more people will be allowed at the graveside providing that social distancing is maintained. In addition, while the famous Whit Friday Brass Band Contest has unfortunately been postponed once again, there will be an online event on the 28 May hosted by the reigning champions, Foden’s Band. Over 118 bands from 13 countries are due to take part, and Tameside Council will be doing its bit to keep the tradition alive by offering prizes to the competition’s youth section.

We’ve taken a big step forward this week in our national fight against the coronavirus pandemic, and hopefully it won’t be too long before all restrictions are lifted. But we can all do our part to ensure that happens by protecting ourselves and those around us, and doing everything possible to break the chains of transmission and infection. Let’s make the last big push together.

 

Posted by: Executive Leader


Securing the Post-Coronavirus Future for All

Friday, 14 May 2021

Welcome back to my weekly blog, following a break to comply with restrictions over the pre-elections period. The suspension of elections in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic meant that this year saw a large number of polls take place across the country last Thursday. Tameside was no different, as residents went to cast their votes for both their local councillors and the Mayor of Greater Manchester.

My congratulations go out to all those councillors who have been returned by the voters, and to those who will now begin to represent their communities for the first time. I would especially like to highlight the successes of Sangita Patel and Naila Sharif, who will become the first women councillors from Asian backgrounds for Ashton Waterloo and Dukinfield wards respectively. There were victories for Tameside’s woman in other wards as well, as Jean Drennan was elected to Ashton St Michaels to replace Margaret Sidebottom, who has retired after over two decades of faithful service. Meanwhile in Longdendale, the selection of Jacqueline North means that the ward is now represented entirely by women. I also offer my commiserations to Leigh Drennan, who represented the borough powerfully as our first openly LGBTQ+ Mayor in 2019/20 but who lost out in Ashton Waterloo to Dan Costello.

 

Last but by no means least, I’m delighted that Andy Burnham was returned as Mayor of Greater Manchester with an even more resounding victory than the one he recorded four years ago, winning over two-thirds of the vote as well as every electoral ward in the city region. Despite some mixed results nationally, we’ve shown in Tameside and Greater Manchester that a firm commitment to finding local solutions for local issues, and driving real change that residents can see each and every day, will always be rewarded at the ballot box.

It is in that spirit that I intend to go straight back to delivering for Tameside. The past 15 months has seen the coronavirus pandemic dominate not just the headlines, but the workload and resources of councils across the country. Now that the vaccine rollout is in full swing, I am determined to focus on other areas of work to improve the lives of our residents, especially those who have sometimes been left behind. That task began at the end of March, as the Greater Manchester Independent Inequalities Commission released their first report on what needs to be done to secure good lives for all in our city region.

The past year has seen equality put right back on the agenda nationally. During the pandemic we’ve seen all too clearly how the imbalances and injustices in our society, including unstable jobs, poor housing and limited access to services, have made certain groups of people far more vulnerable to infection and death than others. At the same time, the resurgence of the #BlackLivesMatter movement has shown us that many in Britain feel that our institutions do not serve to lift them up, and sometimes actively work to keep them down.

 

The findings of the Greater Manchester Independent Inequalities Commission challenges us to find solutions to these issues as well as begin to think about how, in the longer term, we can begin to shift wealth, power and opportunity to those too often denied it.  Some of the concrete actions proposed in the report include setting up an independent body to challenge discrimination, ensuring that every employer in the city region pays a living wage and offers living hours to employees by 2030, and creating a People’s Assembly to allow residents to have their say in the setting and delivery of our priorities in Greater Manchester. None of these are a wish list or a pipe dream. Every recommendation given in the report is already happening either in an area or organisation within the city region, or in another city or place where we have looked for inspiration. As the Lead Member for Equalities in the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and the Chair of the GM Tackling Inequalities Board, I will be doing everything in my power to ensure that these recommendations are turned into reality over the next few years.

The complete report of the Greater Manchester Independent Inequalities Commission can be found here. Our challenge has been set, and it is nothing less than building a Greater Manchester where everybody has a voice, and where our economy serves the people and not the other way around. It is now up to all of us to pick up the gauntlet, and build a better, fairer and greener future. Let’s make sure that once again, Manchester does today what the rest of the country will be doing tomorrow.

 

Posted by: Executive Leader


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