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Archive for July, 2012

Why we’re excellent!

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

For any private business, how they deal with their customers is of vital importance if they are to succeed. Happy customers not only enjoy coming back, they are also the most effective ambassadors you could ever wish for.

Despite many of our customers not having a choice about using our services we understand that dealing effectively, fairly and efficiently with the public is just as important for us as it is for Marks and Spencer. We have long prided ourselves on our customer service ethos, believing it to be one of our great strengths and so I was not surprised, but nonetheless delighted when we were recently awarded “top marks” for how we deal with customers in an independent assessment.

When we became one of the first councils in the country to achieve Customer Service Excellence three years ago – which was an achievement in itself – we were also told that we had exceeded the standard in two categories where we demonstrated best practice.

In our latest assessment we have been told that subject to final ratification by the Assessment Panel we are once again fully compliant with the standard and this time we have excelled in six areas of best practice.

The results go to show that despite the difficulties we have faced over the last few years we have remained focused on our customers’ needs and along with our partners continue to deliver the high quality services our residents want and need.

I am very proud of our employees and our partners and this result is a testament to the strength and passion across the organisation and our partnership working, and reflects our commitment and motivation in making a difference in the job we do for the people of Tameside.

A helping hand

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

I was pleased to hear that an impressive number of people took up the council’s offer of a free stall as part of the recent “Love Your Local Market” campaign.

Around 24 people manned 20 stalls for the first time as part of the campaign – people that, under normal circumstances, wouldn’t have dreamed of taking the plunge. The initiative provides people with a brilliant introduction to running a retail business which we hope will lead to new business ventures being launched.

And that was the intention of the project; to give people, who wouldn’t necessarily think of starting up a business, a quick and simple way to have a go and build their confidence to give it a try.

One of the people who took up the free pitch offer said it gave her a real taste for business. She said that the Love Your Local Market offer had been a huge help in letting her and her business partner try out their business ideas on the paying public. If they’d have had to pay the full costs of having a stall on the market, they probably wouldn’t have even tried.

She was delighted with the positive response from customers and has plans to continue with the venture. And that’s the whole point of what we are trying to do – encourage new entrepreneurs to follow their dreams. We all know that times are hard at the minute. But that shouldn’t mean we should all just sit back doing nothing. We are always looking at new and innovative ways of helping our public achieve their goals; this is just another example of that in action.

We know how important our markets are to Tameside and the town centre economies and that is why we are continuing to invest in Hyde and Ashton to improve the facilities and shopping experience for the tens of thousands who visit and shop at our markets every week.

For example did you know that you can now sit and enjoy a refreshing snack and drink in a new seated area in Ashton indoor market and at the same time use the free Wi-Fi service to “check in” and let your friends know where you are!

As an aside Tameside Markets will be holding more special events throughout the summer so make sure you keep in touch with what they’re doing by clicking on their webpage at www.tameside.gov.uk/markets

Join the petition

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

When it comes to the Army, Tameside will always be primarily associated with the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment (formerly the Manchesters) and the Mercian Regiment (formerly the Cheshires).

Ashton Town Hall is home to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment, the Duke of Lancaster’s have the freedom of the borough, and less than two years ago the Mercian Regiment marched through Hyde.

So you might well ask why we spent time at our last full council meeting debating a motion about the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.

Our borough has strong links with the RRF and especially with the second battalion which the Government wants to axe. Cpl Joseph Etchells, a Mossley lad, was serving in the battalion when he was killed in Afghanistan almost exactly two years ago. Links don’t come any stronger than that.

During the two world wars, many men from Tameside served in the Lancashire Fusiliers – one of the regiments which came together to form the RRF in 1968. In Stalybridge alone 28 men lost their lives beneath the regiment’s colours during the 1914-18 conflict. In my own town, Droylsden, there is an active branch of the Fusiliers’ Association.

Tameside and the Fusiliers have a common bond, forged in blood, which is why I was delighted my fellow members voted in favour of the motion tabled by Cllr Claire Francis. As she pointed out, the 2nd Battalion RRF is one of the most popular in the Army. What sense can there be in posting troops from this fully-manned battalion to less successful formations which struggle to recruit?

If you believe the Government is wrong to get rid of such a famous and committed formation, I would urge you to sign the e-petition at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/35724

The penultimate line of the Fusiliers’ Creed states that a fusilier will never let down his mates or his regiment. Tameside Council appreciates their sacrifices. Our vote shows that we won’t let them down.

For a job well done

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

Tameside Council has won its fair share of awards over the years. It’s always good to receive recognition for a job well done but there’s something extra special about getting an award from the public.

That’s why I’m so pleased Portland Basin Museum has been given Trip Advisor’s certificate of excellence. It only goes to places which receive reviews that are consistently outstanding. Trip Advisor is the world’s biggest internet travel site so it really is an achievement to merit a place in its top 10 per cent of British listings.

I’m glad to say that virtually everyone who has commented about Portland Basin has been highly complimentary. It’s been referred to as Ashton’s ace card. In fact, people have been so positive with their reviews that it has a higher place in the Greater Manchester rankings than more high-profile sites like the Palace Theatre and MEN Arena.

If you’ve never been to Portland Basin, I can highly recommend it. Although it’s a museum, you don’t need to be a history buff to enjoy it. There are children’s activities, you can go on the simulator to try your hand at steering a narrowboat, there’s a great café, and all in a lovely canalside setting.

What’s more, there’s free admission and most of facilities are under cover. You can have a good day at Portland Basin no matter what the weather.

If you’d like to see the Trip Advisor comments, visit
www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attraction_Review-g187069-d242403-Reviews-Portland_Basin_Museum-Manchester_Greater_Manchester_England.html
For more on the museum itself, go to www.tameside.gov.uk/museumsgalleries/portland

New look library service

Monday, July 9th, 2012

 

The way people access books is changing more rapidly than at any other time since the advent of the printing press. Look on any train – or beach for that matter – and suddenly there seems to be as many people using electronic reading devices as there are paperbacks. It also goes without saying that the internet has revolutionised access to information, including people’s book buying habits.

Tameside Council is redesigning its library service to reflect these technological advances and the way people use libraries to ensure we continue to meet their needs. The review forms part of a wider redesign of services to ensure they remain sustainable following on from the 30 per cent Government cuts to the Council’s budget.

We have already carried out extensive consultation through the Big Conversation to find out what matters most to people about the service. More than 2200 people gave us feedback and, while we may not necessarily achieve everyone’s priorities within budget, we have listened to their views and used them to develop three options for delivering the service in the future.

It is important to remember that we need to recognise that the Government will be cutting more and more from our budgets in future years so we need to find a solution that will not only be financially sustainable, but that will allow us to invest in new technology such as electronic books so that residents of Tameside are not disadvantaged by wealthier areas.

All the options will continue to deliver a high quality and comprehensive library service to the community – it’s also important to remember that libraries are about services and not the buildings. However, all the options involve a compromise mainly between a library service fit for the future or staying with a more traditional approach that we know and love. So we want to hear what local people have to say before we decide which option to go for. The consultation will be online for everyone to see from next Monday, running from 9 July until 20 August, with a final decision on the future shape of the service being taken in September. The easiest way to tell us what you think is via the Big Conversation at www.tameside.gov.uk/tbc/libraries, where all the options will be fully outlined from 9 July 2012.

One of my proudest moments!

Friday, July 6th, 2012

Tameside definitely passed muster on Armed Forces Day. We saluted service people past and present with a fine event in Victoria Park, Denton, and even repulsed a determined attack by heavy rain.

It was one of my proudest moments as Council Executive Leader when I joined the Civic Mayor, Cllr Brenda Warrington, and Lt Col Richard Jordan, CO of the 103rd Regiment Royal Artillery (Volunteers), to watch Cllr Ged Cooney sign the Armed Forces Covenant on behalf of the borough.

I believe it’s only right that Tameside has formally recognised its obligations to the services. After all, our links go back many years. Ashton was a garrison town for more than a century and Tamesiders have done their bit in conflicts going back as far the Crimea in the 1850s. The Ladysmith Shopping Centre takes its name from our involvement in the Second Boer War.

Although the rain caused some problems later on, the weather was good to us during the service of remembrance and at the start of the event. There was some great music and plenty of opportunity for flag-waving as soloists Rob Haslam and Jo Farrow belted out wartime favourites.

In essence, it was a genuine community event. People and groups from all over the borough came together to show their appreciation for the Armed Forces and the vital job they do. It was great to be there just to savour the atmosphere and to meet veterans who have maintained the levels of smartness they learned during their days in uniform.

Best of all, however, were the compliments we received. So I’ll conclude with the comments of Tommy Rowbotham, an ex-member of the Parachute Regiment who was at the event with his wife Vera. He told me: “It was great – very enjoyable and very well organised.”

Today's youth are tomorrow's leaders

Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

Today’s youth will be tomorrow’s captains of industry, those charged with running our country’s economy.

That’s why we invest heavily in the promotion of initiatives such as apprenticeships and why we’re way ahead of Government targets on setting such schemes up for our teenagers.

With this in mind I am pleased that the search is on again this summer to find Tameside’s young business entrepreneurs.

Any youngsters aged between 16 and 18 and who are bursting with business ideas can apply to join the Tameside Enterprise Programme where they will receive specialist advice and support as they start and run a business over the school holidays during July and August.

The Council ran a similar scheme last year which resulted in young entrepreneurs making and selling fashion items, running a gardening business, providing a graphic design service and promoting nail art.

One youngster from last year started a business designing and selling t-shirts last summer; a business which is still running successfully and is in fact being developed further with the help of our Tameside Enterprise Centre.

We know that our young people have amazing potential to succeed in business. It’s a difficult time for the jobs market at the moment so this is a great time to take up the opportunity to be your own boss, with plenty of expert support and help.

This is a real chance to create and grow a business. We need as many budding entrepreneurs as possible to come forward and start creating the jobs of the future.

The programme is run by the Tameside Business Family in partnership with Tameside College and the Innovation Lab and everyone taking part will get an NCFE Award in Demonstrating Enterprising Skills.

The Tameside Enterprise Programme will run from 18 July to 22 August. If you would like more information please contact the Tameside Business Family on 0161 342 2058 or visit www.tameside.gov.uk/beyourownboss. The closing date for applications is Friday 6 July.

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