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Archive for February, 2012

Protest passed off without major incident

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

I’m pleased to say that Saturday’s protest by the English Defence League passed without major incident which in no small part was due to the council and police’s meticulous planning.

It’s reassuring to note that the protest passed peacefully and I am both delighted and proud of the restraint and patience shown by the local community in the face of this vile and unacceptable provocation.

And provoke they certainly tried to do with their offensive chanting just one of their attempts to create unrest and friction among our population.

I have absolutely no problem with legitimate democratic protest, but I do have a problem with groups who under the guise of the democratic right to free speech seek to intimidate, threaten and frighten communities.

I know I’m not alone when I say that I cannot thank the police enough for what they did on the day, their meticulous planning, effective and professional actions were a major reason the day went so smoothly.

I would also like to single out the community elders and community leaders for particular praise. They did a fantastic job of keeping things calm and in proportion throughout the day.

The EDL tested our resolve and Hyde showed that it is more than equal to the challenge laid down by this right-wing group who were all about raising ethnic tensions in the town.

I am pleased that the protest passed without problem, and I am even more pleased that the EDL and their like have now left our town. Everyone, including the families of those attacked, which triggered this protest, made it crystal clear that they were not welcome here in the first place.

Hyde is a decent, tolerant and united community and I am certain that it will become even stronger as a result of this experience.

You're not welcome in our town!

Friday, February 24th, 2012

On Saturday the English Defence League are planning to march in Hyde Town centre. No doubt, they hope to create disharmony, disunity and to provoke a reaction from local people.

The EDL and other similar extreme right wing groups are not welcome in Hyde, or indeed any other part of Tameside. They are not welcomed by local residents, by faith groups, or indeed the family of the two young men, the attack on whom has sparked this EDL intrusion.

The cowardly attack that took place a few weeks ago has been roundly condemned by all sections of the community. But it’s a sad fact that this kind of incident happens in towns and cities across the country all too often, thankfully they are rare in Tameside.

Over the past couple of weeks we have seen the true strength of feeling within the Hyde community as it pulls together to support the police investigation. Hyde is a peaceful and united place. It’s a town where people respect the values of others, it’s a town where different faiths and different nationalities live together harmoniously, it’s a town that will not be divided through provocation by extremists.

We will do all we can to stop these unwelcome visitors marching. A Council Motion supporting the police to make an application to the Home Secretary to have the march banned received unanimous cross party support at the Council meeting earlier this week.

I attended a meeting with police on Wednesday at which they gave me assurances that any demonstration will be heavily policed and it was reassuring to learn more about the technology they have at their disposal to deal with instances such as this.

A clear message for Hyde and its people is that the town remains open for business and it is and will remain a safe place to go.

I believe that true strength is only tested in the face of adversity, and so we will now see the true strength of feeling and community spirit in Hyde come to the fore.

I have a very simple message for the EDL and other right wing extremists who might be thinking of coming to Hyde this weekend – you will not divide us and you are not welcome here so stay away.

Effective, thorough and fair

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Government funding cuts have forced us to rethink and redesign the way we deliver our services.  We have lost a quarter of our funding over the last two years and there are more cuts to come next year and the year after.

However, while this authority faces tough financial times, we recognise that families and residents across the borough have similar problems.  Soaring prices, rising unemployment and reduced benefits mean that many are struggling to make ends meet.   This is why I felt it would be right, fair and proper to freeze council tax at its current level for another year.

In my budget address to the full council meeting on Tuesday evening, I set out the challenging financial position that we now find ourselves in.  I explained that we are on course to deliver the £35 million reduction in budget expenditure needed to balance the books this year, and are ready to address the further £22.2 million required in 2013-14.

These budget reduction plans, which in some cases are radically changing the way we deliver services, form part of the Big Conversation, which I launched in November last year.  I am delighted that we have already had almost 30,000 hits to the webpages and more than 2,600 members of the public have responded to our proposals to deliver services differently within our significantly reduced funding.  I hope that this level of engagement continues as we bring more and more of our proposals forward.  I can assure everyone that we are listening and taking account of your views.

We had a lively debate in the chamber on the proposed budget and the implications for our services and the people who use and rely on them.  The members of the opposition were defending the Government’s austerity measures while the Labour group was calling for a rethink. 

However, when it came to the vote on agreeing the budget for next year it received unanimous cross-party support.

Despite the difficult period we face, I remain optimistic that by continuing to manage and lead in an effective, efficient and fair way we can continue to deliver value for money services to our residents within our significantly reduced government funding.

To have your say in the Big Conversation go to www.tameside.gov.uk/tbc

Join our Big Conversation

Friday, February 17th, 2012

As we all know councils across England are facing unprecedented financial cuts.

But despite this, here at Tameside Council we remain as committed as ever to continuing to deliver high quality services for our local residents.

Tameside will suffer a reduction of budget of £35 million this year with a further reduction of £22 million next year – almost £93 million over the next four years, which means we will continually need to review the services we provide and the way in which we provide those services. I am certainly not going to pretend that this will be anything other than extremely difficult. Indeed, I would go as far as to say this is as tough as anything I’ve ever had to face in my political career.

This is why in November last year I launched the Big Conversation, which is your opportunity to have your say on the changes to services we are proposing to make. For me, community involvement in this process is crucial because it is important that we get people’s views on the difficult decisions we are going to have to take. So far we have either launched or are set to launch around 60 separate consultations on every area of the council’s business. They cover everything from what we are proposing to do with our library service and museums and galleries to car parks and public toilets.

Already over two and a half thousand people have given their views on the proposed future service delivery and I would like to thank them for doing so.

Like I said at the outset, we are subject to unprecedented financial cuts, which will involve some extremely difficult decisions over the coming months and years. But knowing that we are making them after involving and listening to the very communities affected by those difficult decisions has to be the right thing to do.

You can join the Big Conversation by following: www.tameside.gov.uk/tbc

Taking Pride in our businesses

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

I don’t need to remind anyone we are living in difficult times, but rather than feel defeated by the economic climate we are facing it is important that we highlight and celebrate the success of the many inspirational people and businesses that are shining despite the challenges.

Last May’s Pride of Tameside Business Awards did just that and showcased many dynamic  local companies and inspirational business people who are demonstrating innovation and flair to achieve their ambitions.

Amongst the winners last year were Bradley’s Bakery of Hurst Cross who are opening up fresh markets by developing new fillings for their pies and Bizzy Bouncers, a children’s indoor play area who won the start-up business of the year award.  Its owners are two local entrepreneurs, Jennifer Massey and Emma Kinsella who had the self-confidence and drive to open a new business like this when money is so tight. 

It’s go-getting people and exciting ventures like this which are helping to create much needed new jobs and keep the local economy thriving.

Preparations are already underway for this year’s business awards which will take place on 18 May.  All Tameside businesses can apply, regardless of size or turn over and nominations for the eight categories are open until the 16 April.

You can either nominate yourself or other businesses or individuals so if you know of a deserving candidate I would encourage you to put them forward.

Full details of the event and all categories are available on the Pride of Tameside website. Just click on the link below to download a form for any of the eight categories.

Last year’s awards were a timely reminder of the innovation, flair and business acumen in Tameside.  This borough has more than enough talent to ride the economic storm and build a bright and prosperous future.

I’m looking forward to seeing the entries for the 2012 awards.  Shortlisting takes place at New Charter Academy, Ashton, on Monday April 16. I’m sure that we will once again be inspired by many more exciting success stories.

Have you got Pride in your town?

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

I’m sure I don’t need to remind anyone that we are all going through some of the most economically depressing times that any of us have ever had to face. That said, we are all still proud of where we live and the community we are a part of.

Our annual Pride of Tameside awards pay tribute to Tameside’s local heroes, those people who make Tameside a better place to live and work.

Along with my fellow Droylsden Councillors, Ged Cooney and Jim Middleton, we decided to develop this initiative further and host our own ‘Pride of Droylsden awards’. I am sure you will agree with us that this will be a fantastic way to recognise and honour our town’s community heroes and role models, and to celebrate all the selfless and tireless work people do on behalf of Droylsden and its residents.

The picture shows the three of us at the recent launch.

Based on the highly successful borough-wide Pride awards, the Pride of Droylsden awards will have 11 categories, including Volunteer, Youth, Carer and Business of the Year and will culminate in an awards night in mid-March. Entries are being sought and application forms can be downloaded from the Pride website at and I would urge as many people as possible to take part.

If you know of any local heroes who don’t get the recognition they deserve let us know by completing an entry form. The idea is to simply recognise all the hard work that people do behind the scenes to make our town a better place to live and work. It’s just a small way of letting them know that what they do is appreciated by us all.

National Apprenticeship Week

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

THIS week is National Apprenticeship Week and whilst it may not make the news headlines, I think it is important for many reasons.

In Tameside we have long recognised that our young people are our greatest asset. Moreover, the future prosperity of our borough depends on providing them with the right education, the right skills and the right opportunities to achieve their full potential.

The same is true for the UK. But with youth unemployment at record levels – there are more than a million young people out of work, a figure equivalent to the population of Birmingham – the country faces a huge challenge.

Apprenticeships are a great way of getting young people into meaningful careers. Over recent years, the Council has taken on hundreds of apprentices, giving them a job in which they can continue their education and also earn a decent wage but most importantly give their lives purpose and hope for the future.

There are also many local businesses that recognise how valuable apprenticeships are to their success and our 50/50 scheme is helping them by contributing £1000 towards to the costs of employing a Tameside young person as an apprentice.

To underline our commitment, I will be launching a new apprenticeship strategy and supporting website at the next meeting of the full council, on Tuesday, 21 February.
We pledged that a quarter of our 16 to 18-year-olds would be in apprenticeships by 2015 and we already have reached the 20 per cent mark.

We have apprenticeship events taking place all year round and these include an employer engagement event we hosted with Stockport Council in January, our apprenticeship fair which takes place on the 18 April at Dukinfield Town Hall and in June Tameside College are hosting our apprenticeship extravaganza.

Look out for the new website – whether you are a young person looking for an apprenticeship or a business looking to employ an apprentice all the information you need to know will be available. If there is something you are looking for but can’t find, let us know so we can give you the best possible help and support.

NHS Reorganisation

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

I am sure I’m not alone in saying that I am very proud of the National Health Service and the fantastic work that the doctors and nurses do day in day out. The world continues to look on enviously at the service, which has provided health care to the nation since 1948.

The Government is planning the biggest re-organisation of the NHS since its inception. The intention being to reduce bureaucracy, remove unnecessary management overheads and allow more resources to be spent on treating people and improving outcomes. These include better cancer survival rates, improved maternity services, wider access to NHS dentists, and more support to help older people to live independently following illness.

I am sure all of us would agree with these laudable objectives, but I would argue that to completely re-organise the NHS, as is being proposed, could cause irreparable and far reaching damage. Locally this could cost our health service millions.

Dissenters of the proposal have argued that the changes risk creating a two tier NHS and, ironically would be a waste of money and create more bureaucracy. The Royal College of GPs said the plan risked “unravelling and dismantling” the Health Service.
In view of opposition from peers and health professionals I was pleased to see that the Government earlier this week announced a number of concessions including giving more powers to a new health watchdog and doing more to encourage medical research.

The Government have said the reforms were about ensuring the NHS had a “stronger future” but they have added that they are prepared to make changes to the plans if necessary. I hope this continues to be the case.

The NHS may not be perfect in its current form, but there is much for us to be proud of and in one way or another we all owe a debt of gratitude to its dedicated staff.

Ashton Bypass

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

Cllr Kieran Quinn on the Ashton BypassIt’s been a long road – stretching back at least two years – but I was proud and pleased to formally open the final section of the Ashton Northern Bypass on 30 January. The last part of our major highway strategy for Ashton is now in place.

I’m proud because it was staff from Tameside Council who managed the design and construction. And I’m pleased because they completed the project on time and under budget.

What’s even more pleasing is that around a third of the services and materials were supplied by local companies. That’s another success for our Tameside Works First programme which is about to celebrate its third birthday.

Albion Way, as the northern bypass is properly called, cost £15 million. It removes all motorised through traffic – except for buses – from Wellington Road and Penny Meadow. This will reduce congestion and improve the town-centre environment for pedestrians, shoppers and bus-users while leaving full access to the Penny Meadow car parks and shops.

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