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Archive for May, 2013

Makeover for Ashton Market Square

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

There’s no doubt that Ashton Market Square holds a special place in the heart of the public and traders alike.

This much loved Square, rich in history, is set to have a £4.5million make-over, and we want to hear from residents, local businesses and visitors about how they’d like the Square to look in the future.

There isn’t a fixed plan about what the makeover will look like, so we want to encourage as many people as possible to take part in our consultation.

Our aim is to retain the area’s charm and appeal whilst improving its future. In the current economic climate this is a huge challenge but ultimately we want to see more spending, investment and new jobs in Ashton town centre.

Global architecture, planning, engineering and technology firm, IBI Group, are working with the Council and Ashton’s Town Team to develop proposals for the Market Square, with the aim of improving the area’s appeal to bring in more visitors to the markets and other town centre shopping areas.

We will have a detailed plan by the end of the year, with the work starting in early 2014.

Ashton Town Team is leading the drive to ensure that Ashton remains an attractive destination for shoppers and visitors and I fully support their ambitions. I hope that we can encourage our residents, traders, local businesses and visitors to Ashton to use this once in a generation opportunity to shape the future of Ashton.

To give your views visit http://www.tameside.gov.uk/ashton/marketsquare

Tameside salutes the army

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

If you were one of the thousands of people gathered around Ashton Town Hall on May 22, I’m sure you’ll agree with me that the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment’s homecoming parade was a superb spectacle.

It’s often said that no one can put on a display of pageantry like the British armed forces and that was certainly true of the Lancasters. Their appearance on the market ground was sheer precision with everyone smartly turned-out and in step. The Band of the King’s Division, resplendent in their scarlet tunics, provided a stirring backdrop. Also, who could forget the farrier carrying his ceremonial axe which gleamed in the sun?

I have to confess that I was feeling very proud as I stood alongside my Tameside Council colleagues, including Cllr Joe Kitchen who was carrying out his first duty as the newly-installed Civic Mayor.

As I have said many times, Tameside is proud of its links with the armed forces. We were delighted to welcome back the Lancasters from a tour of Afghanistan and to allow them to carry out their rights as Freemen of the Borough. True to tradition, they arrived with colours flying and drums beating.

However, it wasn’t only the Council that welcomed the regiment. It was the people of Tameside too, and it was very pleasing to see you turn out in such large numbers, waving your Union Flags.

What we didn’t know as we applauded the Lancasters – indeed, what we could never have conceived – was that 200 miles away a serviceman was being murdered. This dreadful crime amply demonstrates the risks our soldiers face at home, as well as on active service. I would like to assure them that they can always count on the support of all parts of the community in Tameside.

If you want to salute the army again, or if you were unable to get into Ashton, you’ll be glad to know that the army will be back very soon. On June 10, Tameside Council will be conferring the Freedom of the Borough on the Mercian Regiment, which has taken over from the old Cheshire Regiment. Troops will be marching through Stalybridge from 11am and then in Dukinfield from noon.

Please join us and show the soldiers that they can count on Tameside.

Love Your Local Market !

Monday, May 20th, 2013

Sometimes people don’t appreciate what’s on their doorstep and I think this can be the case with local markets.

Shopping at markets is a great way to support the local economy, have a good chat with the traders and be reassured that you’re buying local products – particularly in light of the recent horse meat scandal.

Love Your Local Market fortnight is underway and as ever our markets will be buzzing with special events, entertainment and activities for shoppers including cooking demonstrations, magic and puppet shows, and of course our specialist Ashton and Stalybridge Farmer’s Markets.

To encourage new small businesses starting up the Council is offering free market pitches to new traders. The pitches will be free throughout the event and then discounted on Ashton and Hyde market for 9 months. After the initial helping hand, the traders will still get one-to-one support from the National Market Traders Federation to help them be successful in the long-term.

So I’d really like to encourage anyone thinking of starting up trading – or similarly anyone who hasn’t visited one of our markets for a while – to take this chance to find out more about what they have to offer.
You can also catch up with local organisations such as Tameside College and Tameside Sports Trust as well as the Council’s recycling team. They’ll also be running stands on a number of market days to provide information and advice about their services to shoppers.

To find out more about local events and activities during Love Your Local Market fortnight.

Offering a helping hand

Monday, May 20th, 2013

Looking after someone else’s children is a massive responsibility, and our residents who become foster carers have my utmost admiration.

Fosters carers provide stable and loving homes to children in need. This week sees the start of Foster Carers Fortnight (13 – 27 May) and our focus is on the need to recruit more carers for teenagers.

Looking after teenagers during a crucial stage in their lives is without doubt a daunting responsibility but highly rewarding.

Our fostering staff are always on hand to help foster carers, providing intensive support, training opportunities and a generous allowance.

Nationally there’s a shortage of at least 10,000 foster carers in the UK and there’s a high demand for carers for teenagers. Our service will welcome and is keen to attract applications particularly from black and ethnic minority carers, single male carers and young couples.

So if you’re enthusiastic and think you may have what it takes get in touch with our Fostering Service by visiting   tameside.gov.uk/fostering

Revisit that childhood magic!

Friday, May 10th, 2013

There is something particularly special about revisiting a favourite childhood haunt – especially when you can relive the magic with your own children. So I’m sure I’m not the only person who has enjoyed seeing many of the much-loved historic features at Stamford Park restored to their former splendour.

The latest project to be completed as part of this magnificent £5m transformation is the aviary, which has been rebuilt and updated to modern and safe standards with welfare being a key priority. The state-of-the-art enclosures, which are RSPCA-approved, include chickens, a cockerel, finches, canaries and budgerigars as well as rabbits which have come from a local animal rescue centre.

The aviary, which is open every day from 9am to 4pm, is just one of many highlights of the flagship park. It also boasts the new Highfield Pavilion – with its café and toilets – and spectacular water feature, which I defy anyone not to at least wish they were young enough to race through on a hot, sunny day. Other key historic buildings – including the boathouse, kiosk, and gardener’s lodge – as well as the park’s monuments and memorials have been restored. There have also been upgrades to the crazy golf facility and The Dingle.

All of this work will be showcased this year at a variety of special events and activities as Stamford Park celebrates its 140th anniversary. This is also a great opportunity for people to get more involved in the park through the Stamford Park Friends Group, for further details see www.tameside.gov.uk/stamfordpark

As well as being an attractive and affordable day out, Stamford Park is firmly part of our heritage and we all have an interest in ensuring it can be cherished and enjoyed for generations to come.

Universal Credit launched in Ashton

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

Tameside Council has embarked on a six-month pilot launch of Universal Credit which started on Monday 29 April. If you live within OL6, OL7, M43 and SK16 post codes this latest government scheme may well affect you if you become unemployed, single and aged between 18 and 60 years old.

I want to assure residents that we will work as hard as possible to get the best deal for them. This new system replaces other previous benefits: Housing Benefit, Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit

The Council agreed to be the first pathfinder for the new scheme because I believe that by working with the Department of Work and Pensions we will be able to influence the way the new system operates and discover the most effective way of administering it. In my opinion a local authority is the most appropriate organisation to bring together all the various agencies, such as Citizens Advice Bureau, social landlords and Credit Unions, needed to deliver the scheme and offer the support to those residents who will be affected by Universal Credit’s introduction.

The Government has chosen Ashton to launch Universal Credit because only 1,800 claims are expected across the six months the pathfinder is in place. Ashton, which, as a postal area, also includes Droylsden and Dukinfield, has a manageable number of first-time, single claimants. This will allow small-scale testing before Universal Credit is gradually expanded ahead of a national launch.

Although the scheme will be administered through Jobcentre Plus, Tameside Council will be working closely with the Citizens Advice Bureau to make sure residents get all the help they need to cope with money management problems. As part of that partnership, Citizens Advice Bureau have opened an office in the customer services area on the ground floor of the council offices, so staff are on hand to help and support those who are coming in to make a claim. The Council has also opened a dedicated hub next door to the new Citizens Advice Bureau office, complete with computers and internet access to support residents as they fill in their online applications. Altogether there will be around 130 computers available specifically to help Universal Credit claimants fill in their forms, in a range of Council buildings such as libraries and customer services centres.

Under Universal Credit, people will be receiving one lump sum at the start of each month so the Council and Citizens Advice Bureau are on hand to provide direction for anyone who finds it difficult to manage their finances.

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