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Archive for June, 2012

It's our heritage!

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

It’s a common misconception to see British history in terms of kings, queens and cathedrals. Anything of note must have taken place in London. Or at the very least somewhere picturesque like York.

That’s unfortunate, because Tameside is one of the most historic parts of the country. It may not have been the site of famous battles or criss-crossed by armies. However, it was at the heart of the Industrial Revolution – the event which effectively created the world we know. It experienced every bit of the social and political turmoil.

I believe it’s very important that we retain awareness of Tameside’s heritage. That’s why I’m so pleased we have the local studies and archives centre in Ashton. This top-quality facility is visited by people from all over the world and it’s fair to say that its reputation is continually growing. Last year it played a key role in research for the BBC’s “Who Do You Think You Are?” genealogy programme about Seb Coe, chair of the London Olympics organising committee.

Only a few minutes’ walk from the centre is Portland Basin Museum. It stands at the junction of three canals and gives a fascinating glimpse of the borough’s past. There is a 1920s street to show how people lived almost 100 years ago, a transport section, and an industrial gallery. Later this year the site will be home to a new exhibition called Tales of Tameside.

Over at Park Bridge, on the Oldham border, there are still relics of what was once Lees’ Ironworks. This was a huge complex which closed in 1963. Its goods were sold around the world and its rivets were used in the construction of the Eiffel Tower and the Titanic.

Tameside’s history may be grimy rather than glamorous, but there is much to be proud of and much of great interest. You can find out more on the Council’s website at  www.tameside.gov.uk/localstudies

Yesterday, I witnessed a piece of history in the making.

Monday, June 25th, 2012

I and 30,000 people watched on in amazement as the London 2012 Olympic Flame was carried through Tameside.

It was everything I wanted it to be and more. People came from all over Tameside to line the streets and cheer on our torchbearers. It was a truly amazing sight and I was in awe at the amount of people who turned out to celebrate this once-in-a-lifetime event.

The torch convoy arrived in Ashton just after 10am and made its way through the thousands of people lining the streets to welcome the Olympic flame. Cannons fired golden confetti as the torch reached Ashton market ground, which was crowded with people trying to catch a glimpse of the precious flame and the inspirational torchbearers who were carrying it.

I met two torchbearers, who both live in Tameside, but carried the torch on other legs of the relay. John Dunne, an 84-year-old volunteer at East Cheshire Harriers, and Peter Wood who works for Willow Wood Hospice. John ran in Rochdale and brought his prized torch with him to share with the people of Tameside.

Our event, The Sky’s the Limit, was a huge success and made sure that the party atmosphere remained well after the torch had departed.

A highlight included the performance plinth where we showcased some of the amazing talents we have in Tameside. Singer Iona Fisher took to the stage with her own Olympic and torch relay inspired composition “Olympian”, and 12-year-old Lorna Richardson gave her own rendition of “Annie” songs which recently won her a Manchester Theatre award.

It was all this that made the day a fantastic spectacle for Tameside. The London 2012 mission statement is to “inspire a nation” and yesterday’s events just proved how many inspiring people we have in Tameside. We proved community spirit is alive and gave everyone a moment to shine and a chance to feel part of the Olympic Games.

The torch was in the borough for less than 50 minutes but the memories it left will stay with us forever.

It’s nearly here – Tameside’s moment to shine

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

Hopefully you’ll remember my blog a few months back when I announced that the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay was coming to Tameside this Sunday 24 June.

Well we’re now only days away from this fantastic event which I want the whole of Tameside to celebrate and feel part of.

If you’ve been watching the coverage of the Torch Relay on TV then you won’t have failed to miss the thousands of people who have been celebrating as the flame passes through their local community – it really has captured community spirit at its best.

You can use the map below to help you decide where you’d like to watch the relay as it travels through Ashton. We want as many people as possible to come and line the streets and cheer on the torchbearers as they carry the flame.

We will be hosting a huge outdoor event on Ashton Market Ground ‘The Sky’s the Limit!’ where we will be showing a live stream of the relay as it enters the borough. There will be an amazing party atmosphere as we await the arrival of the torchbearer into the market square.

Prepare yourselves to be entertained by a host of talented artists from Olympic Ring stilt walkers, ribbon dancers, brass bands and also, Iona Fisher, a local singer who has been inspired by the Olympics to compose a song to perform on our very own performance plinth – a first for Tameside.

So let’s make it an amazing spectacle in Tameside – something which we can all be proud of.

Salute armed forces day!

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

Over the last month or so you might have heard some of the radio commercials that have been broadcast to promote Armed Forces Day. They feature young people and old people, with accents from all walks of life, all saying what the day means to them.

It’s a very effective campaign. I believe that in the past we have taken our service personnel for granted. However, thanks to our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last 10 years, the British people are now more aware of what the services do – and the risks they take – than at any point since the Korean War of 1950-53.

Consequently, there’s a general desire to thank them. Although Armed Forces Day is a relatively recent addition to the calendar it has become a key event.

This year, Armed Forces Day is on Saturday, June 30, and as usual our event will be in Victoria Park, Denton. It promises to be the best one yet and I’d like to thank the Ministry of Defence for the sponsorship they’ve supplied.

It will be an extra special day because my colleague, Cllr Gerald Cooney, will be signing the Armed Forces Covenant on behalf of the people of Tameside. This is a public acknowledgement of our borough’s obligation to service people and their families and I’m proud the borough is making the commitment.

In the morning, people will have the chance to pay their respects to those who laid down their lives in conflicts going back to the start of the 20th century. At 11 o’clock, Father Alec Mitchell will lead a short service of remembrance at Denton War Memorial. Father Alec is Borough Dean and Chaplain to our new Civic Mayor, Cllr Brenda Warrington. Then from 1pm there will be lots of family activities around the bandstand in Victoria Park.

A new feature this year is the digital project where pupils from New Charter Academy will be interviewing ex-servicemen, Land Girls and people who did their bit by working in vital industries like munitions. The results, which I’m sure will be fascinating, will be shown on a big screen.

It’ll be a great day and everyone is welcome, so make sure you get involved and that you’re there to salute our Armed Forces.

Flying the flag

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

THE jubilee celebrations quite literally allowed us to fly the flag for Tameside. They were a showcase for so much that is good about our borough: the people, the creativity and the community spirit.

However, what it did best – at least for me – was to bring attention to the quality of our parks. No fewer than nine of them hosted jubilee parties.

So I’m going to put down my Union Flag and pick up Tameside’s Green Flag. Actually, if I wanted to, I could pick up 12, because that’s how many the borough has been awarded by the Civic Trust.

The Green Flag is the national standard for parks and green spaces in England and Wales. It assesses sites according to various criteria including how welcoming and safe they are and whether they are clean and well managed.

All to often we take parks for granted but the ones we have in Tameside are top-notch. Some were once the grounds of big houses. For example Cheetham’s Park, Stalybridge, belonged to Eastwood Lodge. Others, like Dukinfield Park, were created by proud, newly-formed councils. Stamford Park, which opened in 1873, was one of the first publicly funded civic parks.

I’m proud to say that Tameside Council has continued to look after its parks. It has kept up investment so that they remain fit for use in the 21st century. There are so many stories I could tell.

Stamford Park is nearing the completion of a £5 million refurbishment project which has seen the installation of a host of eco-features. A community orchard is about to open in Hyde Park. In Dukinfield, a new community centre has been built and the central steps have been replaced. The list goes on.

Dare I say that Tameside’s parks are so good they could make some other authorities green with envy? They are a wonderful asset and cater to all tastes. There is everything from the ruggedness of Cheetham’s Park, and the history of Park Bridge, to the more formal bandstand lay-out of Victoria Park, Denton.

They are there for you and I hope you find time to enjoy them.

Get snapping.

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

Good mental health is a blessing that unfortunately we cannot all take for granted. Research shows that one in four of us will suffer from mental health issues at some point in our lives.

One of the ways to improve our mental health is to have a hobby that we enjoy. I certainly feel that, at times, my hobbies keep me in good spirits!

Many people are keen photographers and I think it’s a fun way to relax so that’s why I’m encouraging our amateur photographers to enter a new photography competition, called the ‘Life through a Lens’ photo challenge.

It is part of the Council and Primary Care Trust’s ongoing 5 Ways to Wellbeing campaign and the aim is to draw attention to a set of five simple actions that people can take to lead a happier, healthier life.

Incorporating the themes – connect, be active, take notice, keep learning and give – into your everyday life can help protect you against mental health issues. Some people see it as the mental equivalent of eating five pieces of fruit or vegetables a day. It’s said to bring immediate benefits but can also add up to 7 ½ years to your life expectancy. Who wouldn’t want that?!

So if you have photographs that you’re proud of, which fit one or more of the themes, share up to three of them with us.

The competition is open now and closes on 31 August 2012. Prizes include gym membership, digital cameras and photography equipment. Entries will go on display at Central Gallery, Old Street, Ashton.

To find out more about the competition visit www.tameside.gov.uk/5waysphotocomp

Happy snapping!

Get involved in community clean-ups

Friday, June 8th, 2012

It’s easy to talk about the need for a neighbourhood to be clean and tidy, but it’s fact that the better a place looks the better you feel.

The environment has a big effect on people and businesses. Living in a tidy area has its own feel-good factor and this can have a positive effect on so many aspects of life. 

With this in mind I was more than happy to join the Droylsden-based 250th Manchester scout group when they decided to do their bit to improve the area around their hut in Ellen Street.

An impressive 41 beavers, cubs and scouts gave up their time over a weekend to carry out a litter-pick on the surrounding estates and, with the support of the acting town manager, plant flowers to brighten the place up. 

For me that sends a clear message to the whole community: this group are taking a real pride in the area they live. 

And that’s a very important message we should all take notice of. Everyone should take equal pride in their neighbourhood by getting involved in similar activities. 

In the coming months and years local authorities up and down the country will be asking their residents to set up groups with the intention of carrying out community activities such as this. I would urge people in Tameside to do the same. 

We all benefit from a clean environment so it seems obvious to me that we should all use the scouts’ clean-up as an example and play our part by joining in with any similar neighbourhood events.

A Right Royal 'Do'

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

Highfield PavilionNationally and locally, the Diamond Jubilee was everything I hoped it would be. We were encouraged to celebrate and that’s exactly what we did in Tameside, where the council hosted nine open-air parties.

The Grand Day Out in Stamford Park allowed us to combine the royal celebration with events to mark the near-completion of the £5 million refurbishment project. I was honoured to join the Deputy Mayor, Cllr Vincent Ricci, and our head of heritage and tourism, Cllr Jackie Lane, in opening the new Highfield Centre.

Sustainability is at the heart of everything that has been done at Stamford Park, which is now green in every sense of the word. The Highfield Centre has a state-of-the-art ground source pump which allows us to heat it without using gas. That means we save money as well as the environment.

However, the many thousands who were out and about in our parks on Diamond Jubilee Day – around 6,000 in Stamford Park alone – were looking for fun, pure and simple, and I’m happy to say they were able to find it.

It really pleased me to see so many families out and about enjoying the many free activities, listening to music, watching theatre or simply soaking up the party atmosphere.

Each of our nine events had a theme of its own. At Hyde Park, it was the environment, and they put together a big green queen made of recyclable materials. In Dukinfield youngsters, and the not-so-young, took part in a teddy bears’ picnic attended by one of the biggest teddies you’ve ever seen.

In Tameside, I think we can look back with pride on our jubilee celebrations. We put on a right royal “do” but it’s not over yet. Our book of celebration remains open, so, if you would like it to include your message of goodwill, just pop into Ashton Town Hall. We’ll be sending it to the Queen in the autumn.

Pride of Tameside Business Awards

Saturday, June 2nd, 2012

I attended the second annual Pride of Tameside Business awards last Friday and what a fabulous evening it turned out to be.

It was not only memorable as an evening that celebrated the borough’s businesses who continue to succeed during these difficult economic times, it also raised money for charity.

Fund-raising was an integral part of the evening and I am delighted to say that an initial £1,445 was raised for the Convoy of Happiness charity which was rounded up to £2,000 by Phil Jones of Brother UK. This was matched by Paul Naylon, Mono Pumps of Audenshaw, taking the total to £2,500 for the charity which is based in Tameside, provides day excursions and dream holidays for terminally ill and disabled children.

Held in the impressive Jubilee Hall at Dukinfield Town Hall, judging by the buzz generated by the event, and looking round the room at the heartfelt support being afforded the winners from the eight categories, I know everyone there felt the same.

Like me, they all felt that celebrating success through events like the Pride awards is an excellent tonic for alleviating, albeit briefly, the doom and gloom we are bombarded with on a daily basis.

All you need to do is look at the list of winners to get a real feel for the wide variety of awards and people they attract and who are recognised.

I was so impressed with those taking part I wanted to publically acknowledge the winners here.  So well done to: 

John Southworth Builders, Dukinfield – Apprentice Provider of the Year

Pants UK, Ashton – Business of the Year

Carole Melia of Kidszone, Mossley – Business Person of the Year

Autumn UK Bathrooms, Ashton – Buy With Confidence Trader of the Year

Pest Guard North West, Denton – Green Business of the Year

Slide and Seek, Hyde – Innovative Business

Bradleys Bakery, Hurst – Retail Business of the Year

Tameside Diamond Window Cleaners, Dukinfield – Start-up Business of the Year

As a council we are determined to continue growing the Pride theme because we know just how much the recognition means to everyone taking part. 

Our next Pride event will be the Pride of Tameside John Nugent Achievement Awards which take place over two days on 20th and 22nd June and recognise achievements in primary and secondary schools.

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