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Archive for November, 2011

We need to have a big conversation

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

In light of the unprecedented cuts we face, we must find ways to continue delivering, with ever diminishing financial resources, high quality services for our communities. This means reviewing all areas of the council and quickly implementing changes to how our services operate; looking for new and innovative way of doing things as well as working more closely with partners.
Given the magnitude of the task we face it’s vital that we enter into a frank and open discussion with our residents so that we can fully consider their views on any changes we may make to the services we provide on their behalf.
That is why I launched The Big Conversation with our residents this week. It will be the largest and most comprehensive programme of consultation that we have ever undertaken and through which we will ask residents and service users for their views and opinions about the services they use and how they can be delivered in the future.
The council website will be used as the hub for the consultations so people can see and appreciate the scale of changes that we have to make. Much of the consultation will be online and residents can pop in to use facilities in libraries if they don’t have access to the Internet at home. We will also be providing a dedicated call centre telephone number so people can ring and let us know their views. In some circumstances those taking part will also be able to write in.
People across our communities will have different priorities and views on where savings should be made. While we can’t guarantee that everyone will agree with what we eventually propose, we can at least ensure that everyone has had an opportunity to air their views and that we have listened and taken what they say into account.

To join the Big Conversation go to http://www.tameside.gov.uk/tbc

Remember 11 November

Monday, November 14th, 2011

A number of my colleagues on the council have launched a petition to have the Monday after Remembrance Sunday recognised as a bank holiday. This is an issue I reflected on yesterday while laying a wreath at Droylsden’s cenotaph and later at the Littlemoss Memorial Gardens.

Such a move would put the United Kingdom on a par with many of our major allies and Commonwealth and EU partners. France and Belgium have jour d’armistice on 11 November. In Poland it is Independence Day. Australia and New Zealand have Anzac Day, commemorating the Gallipoli landings in 1915, and the USA has two holidays recognising the sacrifice of its armed forces: Veterans’ Day and Memorial Day.

And if ever there was a time to recognise the fact that so many people have laid down their lives to protect our democratic freedoms now is it. This was brought into sharp focus for me while we were stood on the town halls steps on Thursday for the two minutes’ silence. While I was stood there I noticed a young mum wiping tears from her eyes. This could, of course, have been because she had lost a grandparent in the Great Wars, but more likely it could have been because she had lost a loved one in the more recent conflicts in Afghanistan or Iraq.

We should never forget: that’s why the council unanimously passed a motion to petition the Government for the bank holiday as day of reflection at July’s Full Council meeting.

We will be working closely with our schools, different faith groups and of course the Royal British Legion and Tameside Ex-Services’ Association to raise the profile of the petition which may eventually trigger a debate in Parliament on the subject.

I would urge as many people as possible to join the campaign by adding their support to the campaign on the Government’s Number 10 website at
http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/95

Spotlight on Tameside!

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

For this week’s blog I wanted to talk about the amazing once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that’s coming to Tameside next year: I am of course talking about the Olympic torch relay.

Next year’s London spectacular promises to be an amazing experience and, for me, being able to see the iconic torch is an event in itself and something not to be missed.

Here at the council we’re planning a fun-packed weekend with an Olympic theme so that our communities can come together to share in the spirit of the Games and mark the countdown to this huge national event.

But not only that, the torch relay will also give us the chance to showcase our fantastic home-grown talent here in Tameside, which includes not only our sporting stars but also everyone who is helping to create an Olympic cultural legacy for the borough.

I also just wanted to mention that it was a great pleasure to meet two of our Team GB members for the photo shoot to launch our campaign. Georgia Taylor-Brown has already done her bit for the torch campaign by picking up a nomination to be one of the lucky ones chosen to help carry it through the borough.

This is the whole country’s moment to shine and I want to encourage people across Tameside to start planning how they can be part of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and show their support for the inspirational torchbearers chosen to carry the Olympic flame as we count down to the start of the Games.

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