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Archive for October, 2012

Greener travel

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

As fuel prices soar and roads get more congested, it makes sense for us all to consider leaving our cars at home and using alternative transport more often. But, if we are realistically going to encourage more people to choose greener modes of travel – be it walking, cycling or taking public transport – we know we have to help make them an easy, safe and convenient option.

With this in mind, the Council, in partnership with Transport for Greater Manchester, has successfully bid for £1m funding from the Department for Transport’s Local Sustainable Transport Fund and Sustrans – a leading sustainable transport charity.

The first scheme to come from this will be a new and improved two-mile canal tow path link for cyclists and pedestrians between Ashton and Hyde town centres. The user-friendly route, developed in partnership with the Canals and Rivers Trust and Sustrans, will provide access points to major employment locations.

The second initiative will see the upgrading of the off-road link between Ashton town centre and Ashton Moss employment opportunities. The route will provide easy and safe access for pedestrians and cyclists between Katherine Street and a point on Lord Sheldon Way adjacent to the Village Hotel.

Finally, there will be major improvements in lighting and pedestrian access at Hattersley Railway Station, which is a major gateway for residents commuting to and from work.

These local initiatives are part of a wider package of sustainable transport improvements to be implemented across the Greater Manchester area over the next three years. Hopefully they will help start making those first steps to relying less on our cars that bit easier.

Return of the Reporter

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

The Tameside Reporter front page

At a time when many newspapers are full of stories about the faltering economy, job losses and business failure, it’s great to see a newspaper making its own headlines for all the right reasons.

I’m delighted the Tameside Reporter returned to the streets today after a six-week gap.  Since its origins as the Ashton Weekly Reporter in 1855 it has served our borough well, covering many thousands of events. 

Never mind the formation of Tameside Council, in 1974, the Reporter can tell you about Stalybridge receiving its charter of incorporation as a borough in 1857.  Did you enjoy the Diamond Jubilee in June?  The Reporter covered the way the various towns and villages of Tameside celebrated Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee in 1887.  Its war coverage stretches back to the Crimea.

The back copies really are a treasure chest of Tameside history.  We have them all available for view at the local studies and archives centre in Ashton and it’s no surprise that they are one of our most popular resources.  If you want to find out more, call 0161 342 4242 or visit www.tameside.gov.uk/localstudies.

I understand the new Tameside Reporter will be delivered free to 15,000 homes across the borough and some copies will be available for free pick-up in places like shopping centres and markets. However, it will also be on sale in newsagent’s shops.

The Reporter has become part of Tameside’s fabric over the last 157 years. I wish it well in its latest guise in the same way that I would welcome any new business start-up in the borough. I hope it won’t be long before the Reporter is employing many more Tameside people.

Have your say in the fight against crime

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

I’m sure you’re aware of the police and crime commissioner elections which will be taking place on Thursday, 15 November. They offer us the chance to have our say in one of the most significant changes in policing that we are ever likely to see.

Police authorities are being replaced. For the first time, there will be a directly elected official at the head of each force in England and Wales.  Commissioners won’t replace chief constables, who will continue to be responsible for day-to-day administration, but they will have a major influence on the fight against crime and make sure that senior police officers are fully aware of public opinion and priorities.

They will do this by regularly consulting the community on police and crime plans, and by ensuring the force budget is spent in the most effective way.  They will also be able to appoint chief constables and even to dismiss them.

I think you’ll agree that these are not insignificant powers.  For that reason the person doing the job needs a genuine mandate, and that can only happen if enough people exercise their right to vote.  So I would strongly urge you to do so.

The list of nominees is available on the Tameside Council website at www.tameside.gov.uk/elections Full details of the elections and the role of police and crime commissioners can be found at http://www.choosemypcc.org.uk.

Of course, you can only vote if your name is on the electoral register.  If it isn’t, you can sign up at www.tameside.gov.uk/electoralregister/faqs#er5  However, you’ll have to move quickly.  To take part in the 15 November elections you must sign up by 31 October.

Recycling made easy

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

After striving to achieve a 40 per cent recycling rate for some time, I’m delighted to hear the borough is now regularly surpassing this target. This achievement couldn’t come at a more crucial time – everyone knows about the unprecedented budget cuts we are facing, but by diverting waste from expensive landfill we can save millions of pounds to protect our vital frontline services.

The increased recycling rate is completely down to local people embracing our new waste service, which was introduced last month, and I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their concerted efforts. This large-scale service transformation has come with some teething problems which I want to assure people we are working very hard to put right, with more staff being made available both on the ground and in our call centre to address any issues. But, for the most part, I think the figures speak for themselves in proving that the new measures – which include the introduction of food caddies and increased brown and blue bin collections – have made it easier for households to recycle more.

I am hopeful that, as more of us experience the convenience and benefits of our kitchen caddies and get into the habit of separating and recycling more of our waste, Tameside’s recycling rate will continue to climb. A 50 per cent recycling rate – and the millions of pounds of savings that would come with it – once felt like an insurmountable mountain but it’s now at our finger-tips. We will continue to do everything we can to ensure recycling is more of an easy ride rather than uphill struggle!

Tameside never forgets to remember

Monday, October 15th, 2012

REMEMBRANCE is important to us in Tameside. As a borough we always make sure that we pay full and proper respect to the fallen of the two world wars and the many other conflicts since 1945.

For that reason the Council has always taken care of the many war memorials in our towns and communities. In general, that means ensuring they are in good condition for the November ceremonies. However, we have also restored some of them and even erected new ones.

In 2010 and 2011, Tameside Council placed new monuments in Cockbrook, Ashton, and the West End of Denton. This year we have been able to make major improvements to the Tame Valley Memorial in Dukinfield.

The monument, which will be 100 years old in 1920, had suffered severe weather damage. It had also become almost inaccessible in a secluded corner of Dukinfield Cemetery. Thanks to the efforts of my colleague Cllr John Taylor, the Deputy Leader of Tameside Council, it has been fully refurbished and moved 35 yards to a site which is easy to get to for the elderly and disabled. I’m glad to say the entire project was carried out with great delicacy and with full respect for tradition.

In 2010, I was proud to attend the unveiling of the post-1945 memorial in Ashton which records the names of the Tamesiders killed in action since the end of the Second World War.

The list pays tribute to men such as Able Seaman Sam Winterbottom, who died in the Corfu Channel incident of 1946 while serving in HMS Saumarez, and Gunner Wilfred Hewitt who lost his life in Korea in 1951.
However, it also includes Sgt Mark Stansfield, who died in Iraq, and Guardsman Tony Downes, Cpl Joseph Etchells, Kingsman Sean Dawson, Cpl Harvey Holmes and L/Cpl Andrew Breeze, all of whom were killed in Afghanistan. These young men are not what might be termed figures from the past. They lost their lives over the last five years and their memory remains very fresh.

I’m sure it’s because of conflicts like those, especially Afghanistan where UK forces have experienced the most intense fighting conditions in half a century, that attendance has dramatically increased for Remembrance Sunday ceremonies.

Remembrance Sunday will be particularly poignant this year as it falls on November 11 – the 94th anniversary of the guns falling silent on the Western Front in 1918. There will be ceremonies at the many memorials across Tameside.

I hope you will be able to go to one and spend 30 minutes or so reflecting on the sacrifices made for us by the Armed Services and the risks they continue to face on our behalf.

Operation Treacle message is sticking

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

It’s incredible to think that when I was growing up fireworks were on sale in almost every corner shop and newsagent’s.  Their availability was virtually unregulated and it wasn’t unusual to come across youngsters throwing them at each other in the street. As you might expect, there was a terrible cost in injuries, especially burns.

I’m glad to say that the situation is very different today.  The sale of fireworks is heavily regulated and people are much more likely to attend an organised bonfire rather than hold one in the garden or on a patch of spare land.

Much of the success in making Guy Fawkes Night safer is due to initiatives such as Operation Treacle, a Greater Manchester-wide project which recently launched its 2012 campaign.

However, Treacle is about more than safety at Bonfire Night, or indeed behaving responsibly at Hallowe’en.  At this time of year, as the nights draw in, there is traditionally a minor spike in anti-social behaviour. Darkness provides cover for mischief.

Operation Treacle works to reduce all these problems by sending officers from the emergency services, and our own Tameside Patrollers, into schools where they explain the dangers of playing with fireworks, deliberately starting fires and making hoax 999 calls. 

The initiative has been very successful.  Last year, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service received almost a third fewer calls than in 2009 – 437 as opposed to 612.  Reports of anti-social behaviour fell by almost a quarter when compared with the 25 October to 7 November period in 2010 – 204 fewer victims.

Of course we mustn’t allow ourselves to become complacent.  Bonfire parties are splendid events with lots of colour and noise. As parents, we want our children to enjoy them safely so it’s our duty to make them aware of the Fireworks Code.  Even better, take them to an organised event where the effects will be bigger, louder and more spectacular.  There will be lots advertised in the local press in the days leading up to 5 November.

For more information about Operation Treacle, and the chance to win an iPad, visit www.safe4autumn.com

To see the Fireworks Code, go to www.saferfireworks.com/firework_code/index.htm

A fair deal for shoppers and traders

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

Everybody likes a good deal – but cheap goods only truly represent good value if they are legitimate. All too often that cheap bag, CD or bottle of booze will turn out to a fake, which at best represents inferior quality and at worst could be dangerous. Counterfeits also create an un-level playing field for those wishing to trade legitimately and they very often support illegal activity – from tax avoidance to serious organised crime such as drug trafficking.

The Council has robust procedures in place to tackle counterfeits as part of our on-going work to protect consumers and promote fair trading across the borough. In support of this, I’m pleased to see we have now signed up to a new charter to demonstrate our commitment to maintaining these high standards within Tameside markets.

Market grounds may be perceived as easy targets for unscrupulous traders but the national Real Deal campaign brings together market operators, stallholders, trading standards, the police and industry representatives in a common commitment to tackle illegal and counterfeit goods. This close working relationship can only strengthen our continued to efforts to ensure our markets are safe environments where shoppers can feel secure and confident in their purchases and businesses can thrive and trade successfully. I would say this represents a good deal for everyone.

Keep warm and save money

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

 

If , like me, you’ve had to put your central heating back on in the last couple of weeks to ward off those chilly mornings and nights then you might already be starting to worry about how much your bills are going to mount up this winter.

 The Toasty Tameside scheme aims to help residents keep warm and save money on their energy bills by offering them free loft and cavity wall insulation. Insulation can make a huge difference in keeping heat in the home, saving the average household up to £250 a year.

 Additional funding for the campaign means more people will now qualify for completely free cavity wall insulation and loft insulation.  It’s worth applying even if you’ve previously had a survey carried out and been told you may have to pay a supplement as it’s likely you won’t have to pay anything now. However don’t delay in booking your survey – the offer is due to close on 30 November 2012.

 Not all houses can have cavity wall insulation but residents can have a free, no obligation survey to see if their homes are suitable. All work will be carried out by approved and accredited installers. For more information or to arrange a survey, contact the Greater Manchester Energy Advice Service on 0800 009 3363 or visit www.getmetoasty.com

 I would encourage as many people as possible to take advantage of this scheme while they still can – tell your friends, relatives and neighbours. Hopefully, by this time next year, winter fuel bills won’t be such a chilling prospect!

Stub it out!

Monday, October 1st, 2012

Have you come across the Stoptober commercial which has been appearing on television recently? You may even have seen it being filmed in Ashton during August. If you look closely you can catch a glimpse of the flats in Ashton’s West End.

It has been produced to run alongside a national challenge to stop smoking during October. If you are a smoker who wants to quit I’d encourage you to seriously consider taking part because the facts show that if people can give up smoking for 28 days they are five times more likely to stay off tobacco for good. The entire initiative is backed by the NHS which is offering lots of free support.

I would hope that a lot of people in Tameside will take part because it’s estimated that there are more than 41,000 smokers in the borough, and that’s 30 per cent higher than the national average.

The dangers of smoking are well known but I think it’s worth repeating some of them. The habit causes about 80,000 premature deaths in England every year, which is enough to fill every seat in London’s Olympic stadium. The statistics further show that smokers lose 16 years of life on average.

What’s more, the cost of treating people for the effects of smoking puts a tremendous strain on the health service and indeed the economy – both nationally and locally. That’s why we, at Tameside Council, do all we can to encourage people to quit and to discourage young people from starting in the first place. This is one of the key priorities in our health and wellbeing strategy.

Focusing on reasons like these can be a great way of motivating yourself to quit. If you give up smoking you’ll soon see the benefits in terms of your health and wellbeing.

You can find out more about the Stoptober by visiting http://smokefree.nhs.uk/Stoptober or just call the Health Improvement Service on 0161 366 2000.

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