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Archive for August, 2012

Record GCSE Results

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

Congratulations to our GCSE students who have helped the borough achieve its best results ever this year.

Provisional results show an improvement of 4% to 85% of Tameside pupils achieving five or more A* to C grades.  This increase is 5% above last year’s national average and is all the more impressive when compared with the national trend, which has seen GCSE results fall for the first time since they were introduced 24 years ago. 

It is rewarding to see that students’ hard work and efforts are paying off. Thanks must go to teachers, support staff, parents and governors who are key to helping young people achieve their goals. I’m sure that learning in the brand new schools we have built plays its part too, creating inspiring environments in which students can excel.

We wish our students the best of luck as they move on to the next stage in their lives whether they are carrying on with further education or training, or moving into the jobs market.

Save money and the planet – use your caddy

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

Recycling is one of the most straightforward ways for the Council to cut costs.  All we have to do is put less in our black bins and the borough can save literally millions of pounds.

It costs us £83 a year to dispose of a household’s black bin contents and £220 for each tonne of rubbish sent to landfill.  At the moment, with a 40 per cent recycling rate, we save £2.9 million in punitive EU landfill taxes.  If we could manage a 50 per cent figure, we would save a further £1.44 million.  As the Americans say, “you do the maths”.

Whichever way you look at the equation – whether it’s to preserve the Earth’s resources or only to spend less money – recycling is vital to Tameside.  By saving on landfill tax we can devote more to preserving vital services, or to the You Choose scheme which funds community projects such as bands, play groups and sports clubs.

That’s why the Council has provided each home in the borough with a free food waste caddy.   I know it’s hard to believe, but almost half of what goes into our black bins is food waste.  The caddies will help us get that into our brown bins which, in turn, will boost our recycling rates and we all win.

It’s been suggested that we should only have provided caddies on a request basis. This sounds good, but it would have proved very expensive. By supplying caddies as we have, we have kept down costs and given everyone the chance to contribute to our recycling drive.

Your caddy is compact enough to be kept in the kitchen and is very simple to use. Just tear off one of the compostable liners that came with it, put it inside, and then fill it with food scraps, tea bags, orange peel or whatever. When the liner’s full, just drop it into your brown bin.  The one thing to avoid is plastic bags as these won’t break down in the recycling process.

I know some of you have concerns about leaving food in your brown bin for any length of time.  The Council has taken account of your comments and has responded by bringing in weekly collections.  You should already have received a leaflet which sets out the new dates which will begin in September.

For more information on recycling visit www.tameside.gov.uk/recycling.


Sunday shopping

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

The way people spend their leisure time is changing. Long gone are the days when Sunday was a day of rest – for many it’s a day to get out and about, visit places and go shopping. Tameside Council is, as ever, responding to this shift and has taken steps to capitalise on what is one of Ashton’s busiest shopping days.

Ashton Market Hall is now open alongside the farmers’ market on the last Sunday of every month, from 8am to 2pm. It makes sense for the indoor market to be open when the town is bustling with shoppers – it’s good for business and enhances choice.

Tameside markets have a rich heritage and loyal following but it’s essential they continue to evolve and move with the times to continue to widen their appeal to shoppers. The market hall recently installed free wi-fi and a smart, new seating area for visitors and it’s already becoming a hub for social and business meetings as well as people taking lunch and coffee breaks. This is all contributing to increasing footfall at the market and keeping it relevant and convenient for shoppers.

The next farmers’ market will be held this Sunday (26 August) – I would certainly recommend a visit – especially now you can also visit your favourite stalls in the indoor market too. For further information see tameside.gov.uk/markets

Britain at its best

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

Seven years ago, when London was named as host city for the 2012 Olympics, I was delighted. Not only was the world’s greatest sporting event coming to our shores, it was a chance to show Britain at its best.

I’m so pleased to say that my confidence was not misplaced. The LOCOG organising committee produced a truly spectacular Games and Team GB gave a truly spectacular performance.

Yet, as someone who grew up in the days when East Germany and the old Soviet Union won just about everything, I still have to pinch myself whenever I read that we won an incredible 29 gold medals. It’s light years away from Atlanta, only 16 years ago, when we managed just one.

Despite what the doomsters were predicting, the Olympics gripped the nation. You simply couldn’t escape the event. There was a genuine feel good factor of a kind that I had never previously experienced.

Also, I’m sure that you, like me, found yourselves watching sports in which you never have expected to be interested. Things like dressage, tae kwon do, canoeing and women’s boxing. It was absolutely riveting. As for Super Saturday, when Mo Farah, Jess Ennis and Greg Rutherford won gold, my throat has yet to recover from the cheering.

I’ve already congratulated Ashton gymnast Rebecca Tunney on her splendid performance. However, she wasn’t Tameside’s only link to the London Olympics. Lord Coe, chairman of the organising committee, and Lord Moynihan, chairman of the British Olympic Association, can both trace their family tree to Dukinfield.
If Team GB’s success has inspired you to take up sport, Tameside Sports Trust can offer you a host of facilities at realistic prices. There are swimming pools where you can aspire to be Michael Jamieson or Rebecca Adlington. If you see yourself as a Chris Hoy or a Victoria Pendleton, try out the cycling track at the Roy Oldham Sports Village in Ashton. If you would simply like to get fit, they can cater for that, too.
For full details, visit www.tamesidesportstrust.com

Stay safe this summer

Friday, August 10th, 2012

Stamford Boating Lake

It’s been a terrible summer.  However, I’m sure the sun will come out eventually, if only for a day or two, and we’ll all be in a mad dash to make the most of it.

For some, that will mean going for a swim to cool down.  I can remember doing that when I was in my teens and I know it’s something youngsters still enjoy.

Even in my youth we were constantly warned of the dangers of swimming in big stretches of water such as lakes and reservoirs.  It’s still the case today.  However, when you’re young, you’re oblivious to danger.  Whether you’re running along a high wall, climbing a tree or taking a dip in a reservoir, you’re thinking of play not peril.

On a warm day, reservoirs may look cool and inviting, but their calm appearance masks a host of dangers.  That’s why I would ask you to watch the video which is linked to this blog.  If you do, you’ll see being a strong swimmer offers little protection

Some might consider the video to be hard-hitting but it gets the message across.  It sets out the dangers in a no-nonsense fashion.  If you watch it I guarantee you’ll think twice before venturing into open water.

The film – made by United Utilities which owns local reservoirs, such as Audenshaw and Godley – is backed by the emergency services, including the North West Ambulance Service and can be seen here: www.unitedutilities.com/reservoir-safety.aspx

There is also much more valuable information which I would ask everyone to read at: www.notagame.co.uk

Fortunately, there is an alternative.  You could visit one of the Borough’s swimming pools to cool off.  The benefits are obvious: changing facilities, clean water which won’t take your breath away because it’s so cold, and lifeguards on stand-by just in case something happens.

So if you enjoy swimming and prefer a safe environment, pop along to one of the borough’s pools and do it there.  Stay away from reservoirs.

Click on www.tamesidesportstrust.com to find out more.

Rebecca has the world at her feet

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

Rebecca TunneyLike the rest of the country I have been completely engrossed in the Olympics.  What a spectacle and a brilliant advert for our country.

I wrote recently of how I was overawed by the 30,000 people who came from all over Tameside to line the streets and cheer on our Olympic torchbearers.  What an amazing sight it was to see so many people turn out to celebrate this once-in-a-lifetime event.

The London 2012 mission statement is to “inspire a nation” and I truly feel these Games have done just that.  And if you’re looking for a person who epitomises that spirit, it has to be our very own Rebecca Tunney.

To finish 13th overall in the individual competition after a dramatic rise from the junior ranks to the Olympic squad in a matter of months tells you all you need to know about the Ashton 15-year-old.

Exceptional is the word I would use to describe what she has achieved.  Not only because of the individual event but because she also played a significant role in helping the women’s gymnastics team finish sixth overall.

As the youngest member of the 452-member Team GB squad and one of the smallest at just 4ft 9in, she has the world at her feet and can look forward to many years of future glory and success.

And all this from a Tameside girl who lives in Ashton, goes to school in Droylsden and started her gymnastics career up at Longdendale Recreational Centre.

If that doesn’t make you proud and inspire you I don’t know what will!

Simply inspirational

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

“Inspire a generation” – these three words form the slogan of the London Olympics but they could equally sum up Alex Williams who died on 1 August aged only 18.

I can’t believe there are any of you who won’t have heard of him. Alex, from Ashton, packed more into his 18 years than most people manage in 70 or 80. Consequently, he was regularly featured in the local press and even gained national recognition by winning a BBC Radio 1 teen award and being named News of the World Children’s Champion.

Alex’s list of achievements was highly impressive. He was determined that his disability would never prevent him from living a productive and fulfilling life.

He volunteered for Tameside Sports Development and the Tameside Titans sports club, set up wheelchair basketball and disabled dance classes and attended college. He was also a Young Ambassador, visiting schools across the borough to promote the Olympics and Para-Olympics.

Alex even found time to write letters to the press, lobbying for better sports facilities and better access to them for the disabled. Little more than a month ago, he was taking part in the Olympic torch relay.

Last year, when Cllr Susan Quinn was Civic Mayor, she got to know Alex well. Like me, she was desperately sorry to hear of his death. The two of us would like to extend our condolences to his family. In fact I’m sure the entire borough would wish to join us.

I started this blog by referring to the 2012 Olympic slogan – “inspire a generation”. Alex Williams did much more than that. The effort he put into living a productive life was on a par with anything achieved by the athletes who are winning medals in London. His energy and dedication to make a difference to people’s lives were just as boundless as theirs.

Alex’s loss will be very keenly felt, and not only within Tameside. He was a very special young man and truly an inspiration to us all.

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