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Archive for November, 2012

Keep calm!

Friday, November 30th, 2012

There may only be a month left to Christmas but there really is no need to panic. My advice to you is to keep calm and do your shopping here. Tameside has everything you want.

For a start, there’s no need to head out of town in search of a Christmas market. Ashton will be hosting one from December 11 to 15 offering a range of European gifts.

Our partners at the Ladysmith and Arcades shopping centres are doing their bit, too, and have teamed up with us to organise events. In addition, you’ll regularly find bands playing music to get you in the seasonal spirit as you look for presents and food.

To make things easier for those who are working, there will be late-night shopping on the first three Thursdays in December. Selected car parks across the borough will be offering free parking throughout the month.

If you take a look around Ashton you’ll find it has so much to offer. The market, indoor and outdoor, is full of bargains and is the ideal place to buy a Christmas tree or a holly wreath. Lots of other shops are within easy walking distance including those in the old town around Stamford Street.

Still worried? There’s no need. Keep calm and do your Christmas shopping here.

Carers – get to know your rights !

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

Where would our society be without people who take on an unpaid caring role for a family member or friend?

The contribution of Carers is second to none and that is why we support the national Carers Rights Day, which takes place on Friday 30 November.

This year’s theme is ‘Getting help in tough times’ with the aim of making people aware of the support that’s available to them . In Tameside we have 3,000 registered carers and an estimated 22,000 carers across the borough.

Our dedicated Carers Centre, on Warrington Street, provides vital information and support to people in a caring role. This could be practical or financial support. Benefits are available to carers but it’s estimated that across the country millions of benefits aren’t claimed each year.

Practical support could be replacement help to give the carer a well needed break, help with lifting and bathing and equipment and home adaptations that can be vital in protecting carers health.

These tough times mean that there has never been a more important time for carers to know their rights, and access all the support they are entitled to. Carers Right Day is about getting carers the information and advice they need to claim benefits, get some practical support and find out how technology can help take the pressure off.

Our Carers Centre is part of the Council’s Health and Wellbeing Service. If you or someone you know needs some support give them a ring on 0161 342 3344

Working in harmony

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

The new Greater Manchester Music Hub has given fresh meaning to the term “working in harmony”.

We, in Tameside, have joined with eight of our partner councils across Greater Manchester to form the hub so that all youngsters from five to 18 get the chance to sing, play an instrument and generally receive a high-quality education in music.

Music is an important part of the school curriculum and this new venture represents a significant change in the way it is taught. When you consider that the hub also includes such renowned bodies as the Halle Orchestra, the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, the Royal Northern College of Music and Chetham’s School of Music, our youngsters will clearly be receiving tuition from the very best.

In addition, we will be working with Manchester Camerata. Many of you will be aware of their talents having seen them perform at the annual Hyde Park prom which forms part of Splendid Weekend.

By bringing together so many partners it makes it possible to make better use of resources by sharing specialist teachers and musical instruments. There will also be access to top educational establishments such as Manchester Metropolitan University and Salford University.

The Greater Manchester Music Hub has been created to inspire youngsters and support their progress. I’m sure it will hit all the right notes. Given that it has the potential to be such a force for good, I was delighted that the Civic Mayor, Cllr Brenda Warrington, was able to attend the launch event at Media City last Monday (19 November). I wish the hub every success.

Trust your instinct

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

Pick up the phone and have the confidence to report your suspicions – that’s the message from Tameside’s Safeguarding Children Broad’s (SCB) latest campaign.

Called ‘Trust your instincts’ it has been developed to tackle the problem of those with information not being believed when they contact authorities to alert them.

The recent high-profile media stories where children could have been protected from abuse had people only had the confidence to come forward is a case in point.

The welfare of children is always a priority but these cases serve as a timely reminder that it is an issue everyone should be alert to.

Tameside’s SCB campaign – which is being promoted widely across the borough – is appealing for people to have faith in their gut feeling if they see or hear anything untoward that involves a child and to report it. One of the main messages of the campaign is that if you think something is wrong then it most probably is.

I understand people feeling wary of “interfering” or being mistaken but their call could be vital in getting help to a vulnerable child. There is a lot of support available for families and, in most cases, intervention will mean families getting the help they need to ensure a child’s welfare.

If you are worried about a child – that they may be harmed by situations they are in at home or in the community – there are things you can do:

If the situation is dangerous for the child then ring 999 and ask for the police.

If the situation is not immediately dangerous for the child but you are worried that a child is not safe from harm then call Children’s Services, anonymously if you wish, on
0161 342 4477 (office hours) or 0161 342 2222 (out of office hours).

Alternatively, you can talk to a trusted professional such as a teacher, nurse or youth worker.

For more information on the campaign, reporting concerns and seeking advice see www.tameside.gov.uk/trustyourinstinct

Make your vote count

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

Today’s the day the people of Greater Manchester go to the polls to elect the county’s first police and crime commissioner.

I can’t stress enough how important it is that as many people as possible use their vote in this election which is giving us the chance to have our say in one of the most significant changes to policing that we are likely to see.

The election will see a directly elected official at the head of each police force in England and Wales for the first time, a move which will see them replace the current police authorities. Although this means they won’t be replacing our chief constable, they will have the authority to hold them to account on behalf of the electorate.

Chief Constables will continue to be responsible for day-to-day administration, but the new commissioners will have a major influence on the fight against crime and ensure the police are in tune with public opinion and priorities.

They will make sure police budgets are spent effectively and they will also be able to not only appoint chief constables but also dismiss them.

Because they have such major powers at their disposal it is crucial that the person doing the job has a genuine mandate from you, the electorate. This can, obviously, only happen if enough people exercise their right to vote so I, once again, would urge as many eligible people as possible to do so.

You have until 10pm tonight to cast your vote. The list of nominees is available on the Council’s 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.

Get into the festive spirit

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

There’s nothing like the vibrant atmosphere of a European-style market on a cold, crisp day to get you into the Christmas spirit.

Take Hyde for example, it ran a continental market recently to enhance choice for shoppers and encourage more people to visit the newly redeveloped civic square. The stalls sold an array of gourmet treats and quality gifts – from a chocolate fountain to hand-crafted jewellery.

The continental market will also be visiting Ashton’s town centre between 11 and 15 December, when there will be a variety of other festive attractions including live musical performances, novelty Christmas characters and a Santa’s grotto to entertain visitors.

I know it won’t affect it this time but the proposed £1.5m investment planned for Ashton’s town centre is bound to make shoppers’ experience more enjoyable. The plan to develop the town into defined “quarters” – linked by attractively landscaped public walkways and streets – is bound to look fantastic!

This is an ideal time of year to showcase everything our town centres have to offer and encourage people to shop locally. Times may be tough economically but a lot of work is taking place to breathe new life into our high streets. As well as huge investment in refurbishment, we have allocated £100,000 grant money to six town teams – made up of members of the public, private and community sectors- to work with us in making town centres attractive places that people want to visit.

Hopefully with easy-to-access town centres and a wide choice of individual, speciality and high street retailers – not forgetting the all-important, enticing aroma of mulled wine – your Christmas shopping shouldn’t be too much of a chore!

Embrace adoption

Friday, November 9th, 2012

One of the most remarkable things a person can do is welcome a child into their home and give them a warm, loving family for life.

I’d like to thank the many individuals and couples who’ve adopted children over the years and remind people that we always need new adopters to come forward.

Last week was National Adoption Week and it served as a timely reminder that there are 26 children in the borough at present needing families.

Our advice is to come and find out more if you think you have what it takes to adopt a child. We have a shortage of adopters for sibling groups of two or three children, boys aged between four and six, children with complex needs and those from a mixed heritage background.

If you are interested come and talk to us – we can reassure you that you won’t be automatically turned down if you’re over 40, single, or don’t own your own home.

We need more adopters – people who can offer a child or sibling group a loving and supportive family for life. We are looking for special people who can help a child recover from the reasons why they came in to care and can help them go on to thrive in a new family.

If you interested in finding out more visit www.tameside.gov.uk/adoption

Lest we forget

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

There are thousands of names on Tameside’s many war memorials. Each tells its own story. In many cases, I imagine they were mill-hands and engineering workers who never expected to leave the North West, yet found themselves sent across the globe.

Almost 100 years on, it’s hard to comprehend what the people of Tameside were feeling in August, 1914. There was a sudden upsurge of patriotic fervour and across Britain more than a million men volunteered. It was only in 1916, after the carnage of the Somme, that conscription was imposed.

I can’t imagine what it must be like to volunteer for a war or to be conscripted. However, I am eternally grateful for all those people who did answer their country’s call and who continue to do so.

At this time of year, we focus on the First World War. After all, 11am on November 11 commemorates the time the guns fell silent on the Western Front in 1918. However, we must make sure we don’t forget the other conflicts: the Second World War, Korea and the Falklands right up to the Gulf and of course Afghanistan, where British troops are fighting today. I find it very sobering fact that since 1945, 1968 is the only year that no UK service personnel were killed on active service.

We owe a huge debt to these men and women. It is our duty to remember their selfless sacrifice. So I hope you will buy a poppy and on Remembrance Sunday I hope you will find time to attend a ceremony or at least to pause for reflection at 11am.

Read more about Tameside’s war memorials and even search the database of those named at www.tameside.gov.uk/warmemorial Find details of the many Tameside events at public.tameside.gov.uk/pressreleases

where we lead……

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

If you’ve seen or listened to the news this week, I’m sure you will have heard about Michael Heseltine, Conservative deputy prime minister in the mid-1990s, launching his strategy to promote economic growth in the regions.

Called “No Stone Unturned”, his plan argues that £58 billion of business-support funds should be removed from Whitehall’s control and given to cities and the local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) which replaced the larger regional development agencies (RDAs) earlier this year.

I, for one, am in total agreement with Lord Heseltine. I believe that his plan would indeed stimulate growth across the country. Then again, why wouldn’t I agree? His policy is something we’ve been pushing for many years through the Greater Manchester Pension Fund (GMPF) which I chair.

The fund’s twin aims have always been to generate good returns for its members and to invest in the area’s infrastructure to boost economic potential. One current example is the project to develop around 240 family homes on five sites in Greater Manchester. This unique scheme – the first of its kind – will see £25 million of pension fund money devoted to revitalising the stagnant housing market.

I know I’m not alone in saying that I am proud we are able to use the GMPF to invest in the construction of much-needed homes, while also securing a good return to provide pensions for the workforce.

Millions more has been invested in site acquisition, building design, direct property development and letting and management, all of which attracts businesses, new building projects, companies and jobs.

That’s why I’m in total agreement with Lord Heseltine and his quest to convince the Government that regional investment is badly needed. It’s something we at the Greater Manchester Pension Fund have believed in and supported as a key economic strategy for many years.

I find it extremely pleasing to see our ideas gain backing from such a high-profile personality. They may yet find their way into national government policy.

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