Executive Leader Cllr Brenda Warrington

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Councillor Brenda Warrington, Executive Leader of Tameside Council

Archive for September 2018

Take a Seat in Greater Manchester

Thursday, 27 September 2018


 
Most of you already know that as well as the Executive Leader of Tameside Council, I am also the lead for Age Friendly Greater Manchester and Equalities in the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA). I am proud of the work that has been undertaken together by the ten Greater Manchester councils to improve the lives of all our residents, especially those who may feel excluded, undervalued or unsafe.

As part of this, I joined forces with the Mayor Andy Burnham and representatives from Transport for Greater Manchester last week to unveil the new “Please Offer Me a Seat” campaign. We know that it’s only good manners to give up your seat on public transport to somebody who needs it more than you, but in reality it’s often not that simple. Not all disabilities, injuries or conditions are immediately visible, and many people may feel uncomfortable asking for a seat or offering their own seat.

If someone cannot use our trams, or trains, or buses because they can’t stand for long periods or are worried about not getting a seat, it severely restricts their access to jobs, shops and other services across our city. That has a serious knock-on effect on our economy and, even more importantly, the quality of life of our residents. Public transport that isn’t accessible to all is not public transport at all.

Based on a similar system that has been running successfully in London for a few years, the “Please Offer Me A Seat” campaign offers a simple solution. Those who sign up to the system are provided with a badge that indicates to other users of public transport that you need to sit down. If no one offers you a seat, you can use the badge to politely ask somebody to give up theirs. The system operates on goodwill and trust that people will use it responsibly. No medical details or supporting evidence are required, you cannot insist that somebody moves for you, and remember that people who are not wearing a badge may still require a seat. All people who want a “Please Offer Me A Seat” badge have to do is complete a quick and straightforward application process via the Transport for Greater Manchester website here.

We can all do our bit to make journeys in Greater Manchester better for everybody, and I hope as many people as possible get behind the “Please Offer Me A Seat” scheme. But this scheme, as important as I think it is, is just one part of my role as Age Friendly Greater Manchester and Equalities. Working with the GMCA’s Ageing Hub and the Greater Manchester Older People’s Network, we’re looking at ways to turn our city into the best place in the UK to grow older by sharing expertise and best practice between local authorities, community groups, businesses and charities. In July we helped organise the GM Festival of Ageing, which included a jam-packed afternoon of activities and festivities at Ashton Market. I’m also committed to working with the GM LGBT Advisory Panel, led by the former Lord Mayor of Manchester Carl Austin-Behan, to protect and expand the rights of LGBT individuals in our city. The UK’s LGBT civil rights movement was born in our city, and today over 215,000 LGBT people call Manchester home. It’s only right to make sure that the inequalities and issues they continue to face are addressed to the best of our ability.

Almost four years after the first agreement with the Greater Manchester councils was signed, we’re well on our way to realising how devolution can unlock the social and economic potential of our city. With your help and support, I intend to keep working in Tameside and Greater Manchester to take that progress further still.

 

Posted by: Executive Leader


Raising Our Game On Recycling

Friday, 21 September 2018

We’re proud of our commitment to recycling in Tameside. Thanks to the hard work of waste officers and residents, along with innovative schemes such as the Bin Swap, we have successfully increased our recycling rate to well above the UK average for local authorities. We’ve put that work in for a very good reason. Recycling is one of the best ways for us to make a positive impact on the environment that we all share. It’s also something that absolutely everybody can (and should) do.

That why next week, 24th-30th September, we’re teaming up with the other nine Greater Manchester councils to throw our combined weight behind Recycle Week 2018, a campaign to raise awareness of recycling up and down the country. This year I want to draw attention to plastics, an issue that has become an increasingly urgent concern in recent years as we’ve started to understand just how much of an effect plastic pollution is having on our land and seas.

Since plastics came out of the laboratory and into popular use in the 1950s, it’s estimated that as a planet we’ve generated over 6 billion tonnes of the stuff. Of all that colossal mass of plastic, just 9% so far has been recycled, 12% has been incinerated, and the remaining 79% has ended up in landfills or as litter. Since the overwhelming majority of plastics are not biodegradable, the negative effects of just a single piece of plastic in the environment can persist for literally hundreds of years. We’ve seen an example of this close to home as recently as March, when the University of Manchester found levels of micro plastic pollution in the River Tame that could pose a serious threat to all kinds of wildlife.

So if plastics don’t biodegrade, then what can be done with them? By far the best approach is to reduce, reuse and recycle. It’s possible to significantly reduce the amount of plastics we use and waste. Instead of buying plastic bags at the supermarket, bring your own or (even better) invest in a “Bag for Life”. When you go shopping, whenever possible try buying items with as little plastic packaging as possible. If your children are growing up and have some plastic toys they’ve grown out of, sell or give them away instead of throwing them in the bin.

Even if you only make small changes, when so many people are doing it at the same time it can add up to a massive impact. It’s that message that we want to get across on Recycling Week; recycling matters, you can make a difference, and you can start doing it now.

For all of next week, we will be providing residents with the information and resources they need to do raise their game on recycling. The Recycle for GM team will be touring around the region putting on informative pop-up events at Co-Op Food Stores, with Tameside’s event coming on Thursday 27th September on Fir Tree Lane in Dukinfield from 11am-3pm. The council’s own waste services will also be in Ashton Market Hall from 10am-3pm on Wednesday 26th September, offering residents advice about recycling and handing out free caddy liners to anyone who wants them. If you’re in the area for either of those events, I’d definitely encourage you to pay them a visit.  

People in Greater Manchester recycled almost 500,000 tonnes of plastic last year, but the simple fact is that we all still need to do more to prevent an environmental disaster. Instead of thinking that recycling items is about taking things out of the “normal” bin, we need recycling to be the first thought on our minds when it comes to sorting out the bins every week. I’m confident we will all be able to take the lessons learnt from Recycle Week and continue to build on our recycling success, for the good of Tameside and the environment that we all share.

 

Posted by: Executive Leader


A New Direction for Britain's Economy

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Britain’s economy isn’t delivering for the majority of people in the country, and a radical overhaul unlike anything we’ve seen in our lifetimes is the only way to fix it.

Perhaps a few years ago that would have been a highly controversial statement, but in 2018 it’s clear to me that it’s what a growing number of people are thinking. Now the Institute for Public Policy Research, one of the largest and most influential think-tanks in the country, is starting to say the same thing. Since 2016, their Commission on Economic Justice has been working on a report that looks at almost every part of the contemporary British economy. To make sure that they got as rounded a picture as possible, they have sought the views of academics, the heads of major trade unions, leaders from some of the biggest businesses in the country, and even the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Their conclusion is stark; the 21st century British economy in its current form “delivers neither prosperity nor justice”. The report acknowledges some areas of strength; employment remains high and many sectors, such as finance, manufacturing and life sciences, can hold their own at a global level. However, the many problems are becoming impossible to ignore. The last time wage growth was as low in Britain as it has been in the 2010s, Napoleon and the Duke of Wellington were fighting at Waterloo. Two-fifths of the proceeds of income growth since the 1980s have gone into the pockets of the richest 10%, while only 10% has found its way to the poorest 50%. The growth of insecure, low-paid employment and the explosion in house prices means that for many, especially young people, finding a stable job that pays the bills and getting a foot on the property ladder have become increasingly distant dreams. As a nation, Britain is by a large margin Europe’s most geographically unbalanced economy, with investment and prosperity clustered around a few select areas while other once-thriving places are left to decline. British performance in investment, research and development, trade and productivity also continues to lag far behind our neighbours.

The IPPR make it clear that these are not problems that will be solved by tinkering around the edges. They argue, and I agree with them, that making their recommendations a reality would be the biggest change of direction for Britain’s economy since the 1980s, and possibly even the 1940s. Much of what they suggest has been brought up elsewhere; raising levels of investment, an Industrial Strategy worthy of the name, greater control over the financial system, higher minimum wages and stronger powers of worker representation and collective bargaining. In other areas they bring some completely new thinking to the table. I was particularly interested by two of their suggestions. On devolution, they propose a new “economic constitution” for the UK, devolving more powers from Whitehall to the regional level, backed up by £10 billion of funding over five years to narrow inequalities between different parts of the country. On the environment they advocate turning sustainability from a “nice to have” into a “must have” by introducing a new Sustainable Economy Act that would, among other things, require the government and businesses to set legally-binding plans to reduce pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions across every sector of the economy.

If you have any interest in what’s gone wrong with Britain’s economy, and what we need to do to fix it, I would absolutely encourage you to read the report (or the shorter Executive Summary) for yourself here. If the government truly cares about building a country that works for everyone, they should start by thinking about how they can turn the IPPR’s recommendations from words into action.

 

Posted by: Executive Leader


A Bright iDEA for Tameside and Glossop

Friday, 07 September 2018


Back in June I wrote about the first anniversary of the re-opening of the Ashton Old Baths. At the time I said that the Baths were the crown jewel in our wider digital strategy. One part of that strategy is to attract and grow businesses in the creative and technology sectors. The other, and arguably even more important part, is to equip our residents with the skills they need to navigate the new digital world.

Let’s not mince words, there’s a serious argument to be made that computer literacy is now as essential a life skill as reading, writing and arithmetic. Think for a moment about your day-to-day activities; is there any part of them that doesn’t involve computers in some way? How about your job; how much of it could you do if you didn’t have any skills with computers or technology? It doesn’t matter what age you are either, as studies have shown that computer literacy can lead to improved health and reduced levels of isolation for elderly people.

Our ambition should therefore be nothing less than making sure that every person in Tameside; child, adult or pensioner, can access opportunities to improve their digital skills and computer literacy. That’s why, at the end of last week, we signed Tameside up to the Inspiring Digital Enterprise Award (iDEA). Supported by the Duke of York and based on the renowned Duke of Edinburgh Award, iDEA is a free programme to help everybody develop their digital, enterprise and employability skills.

If you’ve got access to a mobile phone, tablet or computer, you can take part in a series of online challenges and interactive learning modules in a variety of different digital skills, including staying safe online, animation, basic coding, web design and entrepreneurial skills. Completing a module earns you a badge, and when you’ve completed enough badges you’ll be able to earn an Award – a recognised symbol of your learning and skill. Awards start at Bronze for beginner modules and go on to Silver for intermediate level. An advanced Gold Award will also be released next year. The modules can be completed individually or as a group and once you’ve started there’s no deadline for completion, so you can take as much or as little time as you need to complete them. As a bonus for Tameside and Glossop residents, if you sign up at http://iDEA.org.uk and enter the code “TandGiDEA” you will receive a special local badge which will count towards a Bronze Award.

Don’t forget as well that, as happy as we are to welcome iDEA to Tameside and Glossop, it is far from the only way we are promoting digital skills in the borough. We work with local volunteers and Active Tameside to put on CoderDojos on the first Sunday of every month, giving young people a space to learn to code in a safe, friendly and relaxed environment. Our popular Tameside Hack competitions are also now entering their fourth year, giving those who want to take their coding and programming skills further the chance to team up with others and create digital products with real world applications. Challenges from last year’s Hack ranged from creating apps to raise awareness of social media safety, promoting healthy living and developing solutions for housing and spatial planning.

I’m delighted to support the launch of iDEA in Tameside and Glossop, and there is no doubt in my mind that it will be both further Tameside’s digital agenda and be a valuable learning resource for Tameside’s residents. So whether you want to stand out from the crowd when it comes to getting a new job, or just brush up on your digital skills for its own sake, iDEA has something for you.

 

Posted by: Executive Leader


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