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Executive Leader Cllr Brenda Warrington

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Councillor Brenda Warrington, Executive Leader of Tameside Council

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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