As I’m sure we can all appreciate, 2011 has been particularly difficult for everyone, the Council, residents and businesses have all suffered. The massive savings the Council has been forced to make have been unbelievable. It doesn’t end there – unfortunately, more is to follow over the next few years.
The unprecedented levels of cuts to government funding that we face mean that this year we have lost £35million of budget with a further reduction of 31million next year. Overall the Council’s budget will be reduced by a further staggering £97 million by 2015. I am sure everyone would agree that these are mind-blowing figures in anyone’s book. That’s why the Council has set up the Big Conversation to enable everyone in the borough to give their views about the services they use and how those services could be delivered in the future.
As New Year approaches a look back at the last 12 months reminds us that it has been a challenging year. But I am proud of what we have achieved this year, despite the many and varied hurdles we have had to face and overcome, we have continued to deliver quality value for money services for our residents.
We have invested in our young people opening five fantastic and inspiring schools in 2011 with a further five on programme to open in January 2012. Our pupils’ GCSE results are at a record high and improving at the second fastest rate across Greater Manchester. At a time of record youth unemployment, we’ve created in partnership with the college and local businesses nearly 2,000 additional apprenticeships across the borough.
We continue to support our most vulnerable residents from young to old. Our fostering and adoption services were praised by external inspectors and Adult Social Care is helping over 20,000 of our older residents to live independently in their own homes. As a result, we have been able to deliver better outcomes for our residents at significantly reduced cost. Our Welfare Rights Team have used their expertise to ensure that 95% who come to us for help with mortgage repossessions remain in their own homes. In partnership with New Charter and Peak Valley Housing, we are building new affordable social housing.
We are helping our local businesses remain successful. We were one of the few councils in the country to successfully secure Regional Growth Fund to support our local economy and we are investing in our town centres to ensure their long term future and create new jobs. The Tameside Investment Partnership has spent £50 million using local firms to build and supply the new schools that have opened. We will see more services delivered in partnership and we will see new and innovative methods of delivery.
We continue to maintain and clean 756km of highway and empty 9 million bins a year. We achieved European “In Bloom” success, winning silver in the Entente Floral competition. Crime has fallen sharply, particularly burglary, and night time crime and disorder has fallen by a massive 73%.
We have seen well over 1,000 members of staff leave the authority and have had the budgets of many services seriously curtailed. But this has all been done without any major disruptions to the frontline services our residents and businesses rely on most.
Yet 2012 promises to be just as challenging! We will need to continue to work hard to address the financial situation we face but I am confident that by working together we can deliver as many if not more successes in 2012. We will have 5 more new schools to marvel at, more Pride winners to applaud, a new road to open and the completion of Stamford Park refurbishment.
This couldn’t have been done without the tireless help and support of our staff and partners and it’s these people who deserve the highest praise and thanks for all that has been achieved.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and see you in 2012