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Executive Leader Cllr Brenda Warrington

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Councillor Brenda Warrington, Executive Leader of Tameside Council

Archive for October 2019

A Bright Future for Hyde

Friday, 18 October 2019

In Tameside we’re always looking for opportunities to access new sources of funding and investment for our borough.

At the beginning of September, we beat 24 other local authorities to win £100,000 from the British Property Federation’s Futures Challenge, part of the national One Public Estate programme, to create a master plan for reviving Hyde town centre and provide a base from which to move forward in securing further investment. We got the ball rolling as a group of future leaders and bright young minds, including representatives from Tameside, travelled to London to craft proposals to answer the challenge. These were assessed by a judging panel comprised of our own council’s Chief Executive and a number of experts in property and investment. I also had the privilege of attending the event as a “Place Expert” to provide local knowledge about Hyde and the aspirations of its councillors and residents.  

As would be expected, all of the proposals built on the many strengths of Hyde as a place. These include its substantial road links to the outside world, such as direct entrances and exits to the M60 ring road and the national motorway network via the M67. Public transport connections are strong as well; with Hyde Central Railway station’s regular connections to Manchester Piccadilly and the second busiest bus interchange in Tameside. Since 2016 there has also been a significant increase in housing construction in and around the town centre.

The proposals also addressed a number of areas where we can improve what Hyde currently offers to residents, taking into account the fact that the way people live, work and buy has changed significantly due to factors like the explosion in online shopping. The vehicles for this transformation will be the historic market ground, and our local government and NHS buildings. These will be the anchors for the development of a broad range of leisure, service, employment and retail offers to attract and retain residents and visitors alike. This will be reinforced by renovating Hyde’s current layout of streets, creating gateways into the town and encouraging the growth of new businesses.

Our vision for Hyde is clear. We want a sustainable, accessible and service-rich centre that stands up to anything else you’d find in a similar-sized town in the UK. Not just a high street, but a heart of the community in the truest sense, serving our existing residents and the 6,000 new people we expect to move to the town in the future. The quality of the proposals we saw to turn this vision into a reality, and the expertise and effort that went into creating them, has been nothing short of astonishing. I know for a fact that the judges had a hard time picking between the three shortlisted entries. It might sound like a cliché, but as far as I’m concerned they were all winners.

That being said, I believe that the winning bid, presented by the “Reynold Street” team, provides the strongest foundations to transform Hyde into a town fit for the 21st century. I was particularly impressed by their ideas for combining services to save money and improve delivery, and their innovative use of technology such as online apps to help people find what they need in the town centre. The next step will be to talk to residents and community groups, including the Neighbourhood Forum, Hyde Town team and the Bangladeshi Welfare Association to find out what they think of the plan and what parts of it matters the most to them. When it comes down to it, Hyde does not belong to any of us, it belongs to its residents.  The most comprehensive and ambitious transformations are achieved when the views of those who live in and understand the area are sought and taken into consideration. Consultation is not only the best thing to do; it’s the right thing to do as well.

My thanks go out to everybody whose experience, creativity and hard work has driven this process so far. I believe in the incredible potential of Hyde, so let’s take the next step in securing a bright future for the town.

 

Posted by: Executive Leader


Building a Tameside Fit for the Future

Friday, 11 October 2019


On Tuesday we held the latest Full Council session of 2019 in the familiar surroundings of Guardsman Tony Downes House in Droylsden.

As the 31st October deadline for Britain’s exit from the European Union draws closer, it is becoming clear that we are standing on the precipice of a fundamental and transformational shift as a country. No matter what our individual views on Brexit, it is likely that the Britain that emerges after the next few months is going to look very different to what came before.  This week’s meeting gave us an opportunity to begin preparations to ensure that, when the winds of change come, places like Tameside will be able to make sure that change is for the better, for all of us.

An essential part of this is guaranteeing that, come what may, we can continue to deliver and improve the vital day-to-day services that our residents depend upon. I talked in my blog last week about Tameside Council receiving formal recognition as a Co-Operative Council. Not only does this commit us to the values and principles of the wider co-operative movement, it compels us to build on the projects we have that already showcase those values and principles. This includes the Tameside Digital Infrastructure Cooperative, which brings together the public and private sector to create and share new digital infrastructure, and mutual understanding and support between local residents and our armed services community through the Tameside Armed Services Covenant. I also reiterated our support for the Local Government Association’s “Councils Can” campaign, and how I believe it can be the beginning of a wider conversation about the relationship between Whitehall and town halls. This means putting an end to austerity once and for all, and then unleashing the potential in local authorities up and down the country by making the case for devolution in England that, at the very least, matches the powers given to the Scottish government.

I think it’s important to highlight that the winds of change are blowing at a Greater Manchester level as well. At the beginning of this week I chaired a special meeting of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority to formally approve the launch of a public consultation on bringing our city region’s buses back under public control. The final goal, as laid out by the Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, is the creation of a London-style bus network across our city region. This will mean more regular bus services, with more affordable fares, at a better cost for local taxpayers. It’s an idea whose time has come, and it’s an idea that could make a real difference to our residents and economy. The consultation is due to go live on 14th October, and I would encourage you all to make your voices heard.

Two motions were also discussed and passed unanimously. The first threw our support behind the abolition of Section 21 notices, which can be used (and abused) by landlords to evict tenants from their homes for no reason and with only two months’ notice. These “no fault evictions” are now the number one cause of homelessness in the country. A number of countries like Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden already have indefinite tenancies, and Scotland banned the use of no-fault evictions in 2017. The second motion called for the removal of the bedroom tax for care leavers, as well as extending their exemption from the shared rate of Local Housing Allowance until the age of 25. While I’d happily see the bedroom tax abolished completely, care leavers need our support right now to help them stand on their own two feet.

I’m sure I’m not the only person that has become increasingly dismayed at the chaos and cruelty that has entered our national politics in recent years.  I believe that it falls to us to show that there is another, better way,  putting our faith in our residents to secure a co-operative Tameside, a prosperous Tameside and a better Tameside for us all.

 

Posted by: Executive Leader


Working Co-Operatively to Deliver Better Services

Friday, 04 October 2019


We stand at the cusp of a truly historic moment for Tameside’s communities. This week, at their annual conference in Rochdale the Co-Operative Councils Innovation Network ratified Tameside Council’s application to become a Co-Operative Council. From this moment onwards, Tameside is part of a growing and influential network of local authorities committed to developing a new relationship with our citizens. A network that embodies the values and principles of the weavers and workers of Rochdale 150 years ago, and which has now grown into a global organisation of 313 co-operative federations in 109 countries.

Tameside Council is now formally committed to the values and principle of the Co-Operative Councils Innovation Network. As I stated in my blog when we began this journey these include, but are not limited to; championing fairness and equality, making decisions in a transparent way, taking responsibility for our actions and encouraging others to do so as well, working together and supporting each other in achieving a common goal, holding ourselves accountable to our stakeholders, recognising and welcoming different views, and believing in and acting within the principles of democracy and public engagement. As councils up and down the country continue to grapple with nearly a decade of shrinking budgets and rising demand for services, we believe that adherence to these co-operative values and principles can transform the way public services are delivered, allowing us to better support our local communities and put our residents in the driving seat.

In recognition of this important milestone on 3rd October we held a Tameside Co-Operative Council Summit in Dukinfield Town Hall. The first of what will hopefully be many events of its kind, the Summit brought together representatives from local public sector, voluntary and community organisations to share their ideas and insights on how to further develop co-operative working with elected members and council officers. Over 100 representatives attended our half-day event which included presentations from myself; the Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Andrew Gwynne MP, and Nicola Huckerby and Cllr Martin Judd, who were in attendance as representatives of the Cooperative Councils Innovation Network itself. The summit involved group work, discussions and a “market-stall” style showcase of existing co-operative projects in Tameside. Attendees, which included representatives from Tameside Youth Council, provided important feedback on how we can continue to work better together across the borough.

 

Some of the co-operative projects which held a stall at the summit included Tameside Armed Services Community, The Grafton Centre, The Together Centre, Tameside Youth Council, Cashbox Credit Union, Home Start, the Partnership Engagement Network, Community Response and the Mental Wellbeing Collaborative. Although the precise model varies by service, it is believed that co-operative approaches can be applied to almost every aspect of local government, including community regeneration, economic development, youth services, housing, leisure, social services and education.

The Summit has been a really fantastic opportunity to showcase how cooperative working is already improving people’s lives in Tameside as well as share and explore ideas for where else we can embrace this model of collaborative working to have a positive impact and ensure residents remain central in our thoughts. There has already been lots of inspiring discussions and feedback from our partners and the local community and we will continue to welcome suggestions and comments. I’m excited to see where – working together - we can take this next. In addition to the Summit, engagement with residents continues to take place, or is scheduled to take place, at community groups, schools and colleges. People can also provide their views on the principles of co-operative councils and suggestions for further ways of co-operative working via the feedback survey: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/ccintmbc

We have taken the first step in a journey that may very well end up defining Tameside for years, or even decades to come. My thanks go out to everybody whose hard work has made this possible. I believe that we still have much to learn, but I also think that there is much we can teach others as well. Let’s take the next steps together.

Posted by: Executive Leader


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