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Executive Leader Cllr Brenda Warrington

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Councillor Brenda Warrington, Executive Leader of Tameside Council

Archive for November 2021

Listening to Young People to Build a Better Future

Friday, 26 November 2021

The coronavirus pandemic has had a dramatic effect on all of us, but the impact has perhaps been the most profound on our young people. While they may be the least likely to suffer the worst symptoms of the disease, as they take their first steps into the adult world our young people will bear the brunt of the long-term social and economic consequences of the past two years.

That’s why I was delighted to join the Chief Executive of Tameside Council, Steven Pleasant, along with a number of other senior leaders and decision makers at Hyde Town Hall earlier this month for the first ever Tameside Youth Summit. Designed and run by the members of the Tameside Youth Council, with representatives from a number of schools and colleges in the borough, the event gave young people the opportunity to speak truth to power about their experiences of the coronavirus pandemic and what is important to them as we look to build back better, fairer and greener.

 

At the beginning of the Summit, we asked the young people in attendance to be brutally honest with us about what they thought, and I’m glad to say that they did not disappoint. What became increasingly clear that to me as I sat down and listened throughout the day is that while they had concerns about the impact of coronavirus, the young people at the Tameside Youth Summit also had much to say about other issues they believed would affect their future such as rising inequality, the role of social media, and the climate crisis. On all these subjects and more they spoke eloquently and passionately, not just sharing their problems but presenting ideas on what they wanted to see done to get them resolved.

This included how they felt like we could do more locally to make recycling, especially cutting down on single-use plastics, easier. They told us about how they wanted to see more effort made to help young people with mental health difficulties through specialised teacher training and the creation of “safe spaces” where they go to talk in confidence. They brought up their concerns around public transport, especially about difficulties in getting around the borough because of bus timetables being reduced since the beginning of the pandemic. They argued to have a stronger voice within their own schools and colleges so that teachers could understand the pressures that young people are feeling due to exams and disruption to their education during lockdown. They confided in us how they saw families in their community struggle during the pandemic with employment on zero-hours contracts, or finding information they could understand if English wasn’t their first language. They spoke out about their experiences of homophobic, sexist and racist bullying, both online and offline.

 

This culminated in the drafting of a “Pledge Card” by every adult in attendance stating what we would do, both personally and within our organisations, to improve the lives of all young people in Tameside. The Tameside Youth Council will contact everybody who made a pledge in six months’ time to see if we’ve succeeded in turning them into action.

My thanks go out to everybody at the Tameside Youth Council who worked hard to put on a successful and thought-provoking Summit, and I look forward to delivering on our pledges to them over the next year. A number of attendees expressed an interest in making the Youth Summit into a regular event, and this is definitely something that I would like to see happen going forward. If the young people who spoke to us in Hyde Town Hall are the future of our borough, it is clear to me that we’re in very safe hands indeed.

 

Posted by: Executive Leader


Bringing Communities Together in Tameside

Friday, 19 November 2021

Last weekend communities across the borough came out to hold services and ceremonies to pay our respects to those brave men and women, both from Tameside and further afield, who laid down their lives for their country in the First World War, the Second World War and all the conflicts since.

The celebrations were especially poignant given how last year’s events had to be significantly scaled back due to the coronavirus pandemic. I was delighted to personally attend the Remembrance events in Denton, which began with a parade from the Town Hall and included formal services and wreath laying ceremonies at the Cenotaph in Victoria Park, Christ Church and Thornley Park. While some necessary measures to protect residents from infection were still in effect, including the wearing of masks and social distancing in some churches, it was nonetheless incredibly uplifting to see crowds, including representatives from local sports teams, youth organisations and community groups, return to all of these events.

While the sad reality is that vast majority of the veterans of the two World Wars are no longer with us, there are still many current and former armed forces personnel that call Tameside their home. Our commitment to them must stretch beyond Remembrance Sunday into the other 364 days of the year.

For the first time ever, the national Census held earlier this year asked respondents if they are, or have ever been, a member of the armed forces. This information will give us a far clearer picture of what Tameside’s veteran population looks like, making it easier to give them the support they need.

We’re also proud to work with the Tameside Armed Services Community (TASC), a local group with direct links to military charities and other veteran’s organisations, in organising a variety of trips and events for veterans and fulfilling our obligations under the Armed Forces Covenant. If you want to get involved in activities put on by the TASC, you can become a member or find out more by emailing convenant@tameside.gov.uk.

 

Another fixture on the Tameside social calendar that had to be put aside due to the coronavirus pandemic, but is now back with a bang in 2021, is the Tameside Winter Celebration. Due to take place tomorrow, the highlight of the day will be the iconic Lantern Parade weaving its way through the streets of Hyde town centre from 6:15pm. There will also be a number of smaller events taking place in and around Hyde Outdoor Market from 4:30pm to wow adults and children alike, including installations on Draco the Dragon and famous Tameside-born artist Harry Rutherford.

As always we are indebted to a number of organisations, including the Council’s Cultural Services and carnival arts organisation Handmade Parade, for spending the last few months managing, producing and co-ordinating the preparation required to make such a spectacular celebration possible. A huge number of community groups, schools and families have also been hard at work for some time creating the handmade lanterns that will light up Hyde Civic Square and the parade route itself during the event.

But for those of you who are unable to make it to Hyde on Saturday, or are wondering if there’s going to be other Christmas celebrations closer to home, a number of events organised by local businesses and communities will be taking place in every town in Tameside until the beginning of December. These will include festive music and shopping, light switch-ons, appearances from Father Christmas and much more. A complete list, along with times and locations, can be found on our website here

 

These events, while perhaps quite different in tone and substance, play a vital role in bringing communities back together again as we emerge from the coronavirus pandemic. Whether you attended last weekend’s Remembrance Services or are planning on attending the Christmas celebrations to come, let us all take the opportunity to reflect on the past and look forward to what awaits Tameside in the future.
 

Posted by: Executive Leader


A New Approach to Tackling Poverty in Tameside

Friday, 12 November 2021

On Tuesday I had the pleasure of joining a number of residents, partner organisations and community groups for the launch event of the Tameside Poverty Truth Commission at the 4C Centre in Ashton.
 

The guiding principle of the Poverty Truth Commission is simple but powerful; creating effective and lasting solutions to poverty is only possible when we understand the everyday reality of poverty. In order to achieve this Poverty Truth Commissions, the first of which was launched in Glasgow in 2009, bring together people with lived experience of poverty (known as “grassroots commissioners”) and local community, businesses and political leaders (or “civic commissioners”). By giving a voice to those who would otherwise remain on the margins of society the Poverty Truth Commission allows for the development of new initiatives to tackle poverty at a local level, rooted firmly in the experiences of grassroots commissioners and the expertise of civic commissioners.  

Tuesday’s launch event was the beginning of that work. I think I speak for everybody who was present when I say that the stories we heard from our grassroots commissioners Fran, Ed, Helen, Anthony, Christopher, Karen and Diana, were honest, thought-provoking and difficult to hear in some places.

What came through strongly for me were the challenges they faced around a number of issues such as access to mental health services, difficult and complex routes to getting help, and poor quality housing to name a few. More generally, there was also a sense from our grassroots commissioners that poverty is a trap that is incredibly difficult to escape from. Even if they found themselves in a better place all it took was one event beyond their control, be it a benefits cut, a job loss or a landlord selling a property, and they could be left worse off than when they started. It’s clear to me that breaking this cycle by making sure people get the right help at the right time, before they fall into poverty and crisis, will be a necessary part of any successful plan to tackle poverty in Tameside.

So where do we go from here? Now that the Tameside Poverty Truth Commission is officially been underway the grassroots and civic commissioners will split into work groups, meeting on a monthly basis, to discuss the issues raised at the launch event in further depth. By early 2022, they intend to have identified the three most urgent priorities to address in the fight against poverty in Tameside. The work of the Tameside Poverty Truth Commission will reach its conclusion in early 2023, where their findings and recommendations will be presented for local organisations, charities and businesses to embed into their own practice. 

 

We’re seen in other areas that have launched Poverty Truth Commissions that this is an approach that brings results. To give just one example, an independent evaluation of the Poverty Truth Commission run by the nearby local authority of West Cheshire and Chester found that 100% of both grassroots and civic commissioners reported “More or much more” respect, motivation, friendship and understanding of others as a result of their participation. Furthermore, as a result of changes made as a result of the Commission’s findings, West Cheshire and Chester saw a 75% decrease in evictions in a local housing association, improved access to food in schools, more varied “pick lists” in food banks, and increased socio-economic inclusion awareness across 7 organisations.

I am confident that this is a success we will be able to replicate and build upon, and that Tuesday’s launch event will mark the beginning of a transformation in how we understand and fight poverty in the borough. My sincere thanks go out to everybody who had the courage to turn up and speak their truth. Together, we will begin to fulfil the promise of a brighter and fairer future for all in Tameside.

 

Posted by: Executive Leader


All On Board Better Buses for Greater Manchester

Thursday, 04 November 2021

Greater Manchester needs better public buses. As our city region has grown – from 2.5 million in 1992 to almost 3 million today – our infrastructure has not kept up at the rate we need to match our ambitions. For too many residents and workers, the public transport experience in Greater Manchester is one of fragmented providers, confusing and overpriced tickets, and unreliable service.

This public transport paralysis means that many residents, especially in less well-off areas, often find themselves cut off from the best jobs and services. But it also has a significant environment impact as well. A transport network unfit for purpose means that people are more likely to turn to their cars to get around instead. Not only does this lead to congestion on our roads – estimated to cost up to £1.3 billion a year – but the increased air pollution from nitrogen dioxide and other exhaust fumes is estimated to lead to up to 1,200 early deaths a year.

At the end of last month, the Leaders of the Greater Manchester local authorities, alongside the Mayor Andy Burnham, took our first steps to end this injustice by publishing our final Bus Services Improvement Plan. Once approved it will be submitted to national government as the blueprint for a modern, affordable and accessible bus network for our city region.

But what will that actually mean for commuters? At a service level, anybody who arrives at a stop on a major route in Greater Manchester should expect to be on a bus 10 minutes later. Congestion “hotspots” will be identified and eliminated, and investment in passenger facilities and mobility hubs such as the Ashton-under-Lyne Interchange will ensure that all commuters can wait for and transfer between buses in safety and comfort. For those who may not be completely sure where they’re going, live and up-to-date information will be provided both before and during the journey through improvements such as the installation of audio-visual announcements on buses themselves. Tickets will be significantly cheaper and simpler to understand, and will allow you to switch between any bus on the network as well as trams and other modes of transport such as Bee Network bikes. The buses themselves will be modernised and expanded with a focus on passenger comfort and zero emissions. All of this will be underpinned by the introduction of a “Customer Charter” setting out in detail the service and quality our public transport must deliver.

 

All that might sound ambitious, but everything I’ve just described already happens in London as well as a variety of other cities across Europe and the world. If we’re truly serious about fulfilling our ambitions of being a world-leading city we cannot, and will not, accept anything less.

We’ve already committed a significant amount of local funding, approximately £134.5 million until 2025-26, to make this vision of better buses in Greater Manchester a reality. This doesn’t include a number of other public transport initiatives we’ve undertaken, including £16 million per year to maintain the “Our Pass” free bus travel scheme for 16-18 year olds, and £30 million annually for existing subsidies for bus services and other local concessions. But we realise that if we want to make this happen, we need more money than we can provide ourselves. That’s why we’re asking the Chancellor to deliver on his Budget promise to provide a “London-style” transport settlement for Greater Manchester by releasing over £950 million of funding. If we’re successful, our intention is for the new and improved bus services to be in place in Tameside by 2025.

Improving our bus services is a single biggest thing we can do to turbo-charge economic growth and environmental sustainability in our city region. We know it can be done, we know how we’re going to do it, and we have the political will to see it through. If the government backs up our commitment with the necessary funding, I truly believe the sky’s the limit for what we can achieve in Greater Manchester.

 

Posted by: Executive Leader


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