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Archive for July, 2013

Something to be proud of

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

How many of us have walked the borough’s streets and noticed flytipped rubbish, illegal building work or shops selling alcohol to underaged teenagers while wondering what is being done about it? Well rest assured we are doing something about it.

The Council’s Enforcement Panel meets quarterly to outline the various activity staff are undertaking to tackle these issues, issues we know mean a great deal to our residents. A quick flick through one of the meeting’s agendas highlights the work they undertake to enforce planning, environmental, engineering, community safety and District Assembly breaches.

Those interested can follow the Council on Twitter @TamesideCouncil for up-to-date tweets from the Enforcement Panel meeting or keep an eye on our Facebook page for articles again generated by the meeting’s activity round up.

Tweets such as the fact that there has been a near 70% decrease in on-street drinking incidents compared to the same period last year or the fact that traders have had to be removed from the Council’s highly successful Buy With Confidence scheme for failing to deliver up-to-scratch work.
Or one that could potentially affect us all – the Panel has discussed whether or not the Council will hit residents with littering fines if they are caught feeding pigeons.

These are just a few examples of the excellent work carried out by the Panel on behalf of the borough’s residents, so make sure you follow the Council’s Twitter and facebook feeds following on from yesterday’s meeting to catch up on just how busy they are in their determination to make the borough a place we can all be proud of.

Get up and go

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

The school summer holidays are almost upon us and I’m sure many of us are looking forward to taking some time out with our families. However, while it’s tempting after a long year to just want to sit back and relax – it’s important to ensure everyone also keeps active and healthy.

Children aged five to 16 need to do at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day to burn off calories and prevent them storing up excess fat in the body. Of course exercise is not just important for kids – it’s also recommended that adults should make sure they’re active for at least 150 minutes a week.
Tameside Council has teamed up with Change 4 Life’s ‘Get going this summer’ campaign to help ensure everyone has the chance to keep moving and have fun over the summer. There’s lots going on in the borough – from free activities in our countryside, parks and museums to discounted sports sessions – to help keep people of all ages active and entertained.

To find out more see www.tameside.gov.uk/whatson and www.tamesidesportstrust.com for sport sessions. Change4Life online is also full of great ideas, tools, tips and free online activity plans to help families get up and about this summer. You can also visit the ‘Get going this summer’ stand at our Picnic in the Park event at Stamford Park from 12-2pm on Saturday 27 July – there will be lots of freebies such as water bottles and bags, as well as information on keeping active locally.

May I take this opportunity to wish everyone a happy – and healthy – summer!

Sell off just doesn’t make sense

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

The Royal Mail is the lifeblood of the country and is vital for keeping Tameside’s economy flowing, providing an essential service that we all rely upon on a daily basis. It certainly keeps families in touch with each other which is why it is one of our most treasured services.

I am proud to have not only worked for the Postal Service for over 20 years, but, during that time, as a Communications Workers Union (CWU) official who cared passionately about the service it provides to its customers and the staff it supports.

With this in mind the recent announcement that the company is to be sold off later in the year is worrying to say the least. I explained at last week’s Full Council meeting, the Council agrees with the CWU that the sale will undoubtedly bring higher prices alongside vastly reduced services.

One point which is particularly hard to understand is the fact that the move to sell off Royal Mail comes at a time when the organisation is successfully transforming and returning to make impressive profits, it just doesn’t seem to make sense.

From the hills of Mossley to the high street of Stalybridge we should all expect and get a postal service at an affordable price which offers parity for all the borough’s residents and businesses alike no matter how large or small.

For a copy of the motion click here and scroll down to item 9.

Tribute to fallen firefighter

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

In many ways firefighters comprise the forgotten service. They do an extremely dangerous job, but because they do it so well we take it for granted. We only pause to think about the risks they face when there has been a fatality such as the one which occurred in Manchester city centre at the weekend.

The blaze at Paul’s Hair World was typical of the many hazards firefighters face as they go about their work. Not only did they have to contend with a ferocious blaze, the building had a complex lay-out – since likened to a rabbit warren – and the amount of materials inside created a series of deadly obstacles.

It’s difficult to imagine how anyone could motivate themselves to go enter such a scene but Firefighter Stephen Hunt did. He was trained to maintain the high standards of the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service and to put the public’s safety ahead of his own. Tragically, he got into difficulties. Although his colleagues managed to evacuate him, he died in hospital.

I can only echo the words of County Fire Officer Steve McGuirk, who said: “We are devastated by the loss of one of our colleagues who died in the line of duty. While we never expect to lose a colleague in this way, it brings home the dangers that our firefighters put themselves in every day to keep the community safe.

“It is a very sad day for Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service and all our thoughts are with Stephen’s family and friends.”

I would like to join Steve in paying tribute to their professionalism, courage and dedication of the firefighters who continued working even while mourning a colleague.

If any of you would like to join me in expressing your condolences or indeed your admiration for the work done by the fire service, you can do so through Facebook at www.facebook.com/manchesterfire

Droylsden Pubwatch face up to the Challenge

Friday, July 12th, 2013

The crackdown on organised crime which you’ll have read or heard about over the last few days demonstrates what can be achieved when partners work together effectively.

I would like to congratulate the police, who have made it clear there is nowhere for offenders to hide. However, I must also say that I am extremely proud of the part Tameside Council officers have played in making Operation Challenger such a success.

Their input, alongside that of the police, has been instrumental in turning Droylsden’s pub and club watch from the worst in the borough into the best. I hope the days are gone when gang members could intimidate at will and use pubs as their personal bars. Hope. The licensees, who have done a tremendous amount of work themselves, now know they can count on immediate support from the local authority, police and their own colleagues if there is any hint of a problem.

Alongside this, the Council has worked hard to reassure worried communities and to show people that help is available if they have financial problems. They don’t need to borrow from loan sharks or from high interest money lending organisations.

We have taken action to protect our young people. We need to make sure they are not taken in by drug dealers and others who may seem to have all the material possessions that are so difficult for the rest of us to get in these difficult economic times.

Extra activities have been laid on at Medlock Leisure Centre and we have secured funding from the Serious and Organised Crime Agency to pay for work to show them the choices that are open to them and to challenge some of their perceptions about role models. We have worked with the Prime youth group to engage young people and highlight the risks of organised crime.

What’s more, on 24 July I’ll be helping my friend Alan Bradbury to open the new Droylsden Community and Youth Centre – another fine facility.

Hopefully, we can now start to move on. We have closed an unfortunate chapter and shown by our prompt and effective action that criminals have no place in our borough. That’s the Tameside way.

It pays to recycle

Thursday, July 4th, 2013

Next time you empty your grass cuttings into the brown bin or scrape your dinner leftovers into a food caddy, you can do so knowing your efforts to separate and recycle your waste are not in vain.

Every time you put something in the bin you are making a multi-million pound decision. Tameside’s recycling efforts over the last year meant we paid nearly £7.5 million less in landfill charges.

At a time of unprecedented government cuts and desperately stretched budgets, I cannot stress enough what a difference this makes to the borough. Without recycling, residents would have to pay much more in landfill tax which would mean less money for essential frontline services.

Tameside’s overall recycling rate stands at 42%, which is on a par with the national average and an impressive 5% increase on the same time last year. The rapid surge has followed the launch of our new waste service last autumn, which saw the introduction of food waste caddies, weekly brown bin collections and more frequent blue bin collections.

It is also a testament to the commitment of residents who have largely embraced all the recycling facilities available to them and changed their habits with regard to waste.

However, as encouraging as these figures are, we still have much to do. In fact, we have no option but to do better and at the very least a further 5% improvement in the recycling rate should be within our grasp. Achieving it would help to ease the pressure to increase council tax.

Tameside Council will continue to look at ways of working with residents to make it as easy as possible to recycle. To that end, we are prepared to provide further free rolls of compostable liners to aid food waste recycling. There is a cost involved, but providing everyone uses them properly, we can recoup it.

In the meantime, I urge everyone to keep up their efforts. There’s still plenty of waste – particularly paper and food – which is going to landfill when it could be recycled. Remember the more you recycle the less you pay in landfill tax. The responsibility lies with all of us to ensure we don’t pay the consequences of rubbish going in the wrong bin.

Help with benefits

Monday, July 1st, 2013

Over the last three years, the Government has drastically reduced the welfare budget, introduced stricter criteria and made it more difficult to apply. I can appreciate why you might be put off applying – but please don’t be.

Tameside Council has always been of the opinion that people should claim whatever benefits they are rightly entitled to. We believe that the vulnerable in our society should be protected. What’s more, whatever is paid out is then spent in the borough, on Tameside services and in Tameside shops.

For all these reasons, we have teamed up with partners such as Tameside Age UK, the Citizens Advice Bureau and New Charter Housing Trust, to launch a new website: www.helpwithbenefits.org.uk

It’s easy to find your way around it and it explains the benefits changes in plain English. There are sections on Council Tax Benefit, Housing Benefit (the Bedroom Tax) and Universal Credit. There is also valuable advice on matters such as credit unions, money management and debt.

In addition, the site also tells you where you can find a computer. This is important as an increasing number of claims now have to be made online and we recognise the fact that not everyone owns their own computer or feels confident in using one. All Tameside libraries offer computers that are free to use and the staff will be happy to give you any help you need.

So if you’re feeling dispirited or unable to cope, please bear in mind that Tameside Council is here to help. We will always offer whatever help we can.

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