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Archive for April, 2014

Proud of our heritage

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

I have always had a keen interest in local history, particularly that of the town I represent and its surrounding area. For me it is an important way of understanding our heritage and what made us who we are today.

Droylsden was a major player in the manufacture of cotton during the Industrial Revolution and in the 1860s several large cotton mills were built in the town providing jobs which saw the population quickly swell from 3,000 to 8,000. Back then the Littlemoss area of Droylsden was a small rural village, close to the growing town centre. Like many places on the east of Manchester during this period landowners built large cotton mills such as Lumb Mill to manufacture the goods that helped the British Empire grow.

I’m sure many Droylsden residents will have fond memories of the mill and working there before it was finally demolished in 1991.

This is why when the building was being demolished, along with residents and my fellow councillors, I organised for the mill’s entrance stone to be saved and, initially, displayed at Littlemoss School, which has since been replaced by the impressive Droylsden Academy, until a more permanent home could be found.

This site has now been found and the monument’s permanent home will see the stone displayed within a planted display, at the corner of Littlemoss Road and Peregrine Crescent, opposite the mill’s old site in Littlemoss in the near future.

I would urge Droylsden residents who may have worked there or any keen historians for that matter to go and have a look at this small remnant of a great mill which contributed to making Droylsden the proud town we see today.

Give Tulip Sunday a go, you won't be disappointed

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

If anyone is motivated to ask the question “what did the Victorians ever do for us?”, a good answer would be public parks for starters.

Tameside is lucky to have all types, ranging from wilder spaces such as Cheetham’s Park in Stalybridge, to the more formal lay-outs of Dukinfield and Hyde. Many hold coveted green flags.

Quite understandably they are cherished by the people who use them. That fact shows itself in the many very hard-working friends groups we have in the borough, and none more so than the Friends of Copperas Field in my own Droylsden East ward.

However, I want to talk to you about Stamford Park on the Stalybridge – Ashton border, which I suppose most people would view as Tameside’s flagship green space. It has recently undergone a multi-million pound refurbishment to give it modern facilities such as the Highfield Pavilion and the spectacular water feature, while preserving its 19th century features and monuments.

I’m delighted to tell you that Stamford Park, which already holds an award from the Royal Institute of British Architects, now has another piece of “silverware”. It has come first in the restoration and regeneration category of the British Association of Landscape Industries Awards.

It’s very satisfying to know that Stamford Park is gaining national recognition. It is a place for the term “much-loved” properly applies. On sunny weekends it’s packed with hundreds of people.

If you haven’t seen it since the work was carried out, a good day to visit would be this weekend, 27 April, when the park will be hosting its annual Tulip Sunday event. You will be able to see it at its best with thousands of flowers providing the most colourful of backdrops.

However, if you think flowers might not be enough to keep your children occupied, let me assure you that there will be plenty of other things to entertain them. As well as the animals, play area and water feature they can look forward to face painting, craft workshops, a climbing wall, music, sports activities and street theatre.

Give Tulip Sunday a go between noon and 4pm. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Put on your Easter bonnet and head for Droylsden

Monday, April 14th, 2014

If the success of last year’s Christmas event in Ashton was anything to go by, Droylsden can expect lots of visitors to its three-day Easter market. It promises to be a very special event, offering something for every aspect of the holiday.

Easter, of course, is first and foremost a Christian festival and there will be no attempt to gloss over that fact. I’m pleased to say there will be a service at 12.30pm on Saturday, the final day.

The market opens on Maundy Thursday (17 April) in Villemomble Square and if you care to pay a visit you’ll find lots of food, entertainment and activities. Around 30 of the cabins we used so successfully last December will be on site and you’ll be able to have your pick of items such as soaps, jams, handmade jewellery, candles and children’s hair accessories.

A wide variety of food will be on sale, ranging from pizza, tapas and crepes to barbecue, ice cream and candy floss. As in Ashton, the community will be at the heart of the entertainment but you can also look forward to seeing children’s entertainers such as Bouncy Ben and the highly-rated teenage duo Lyceum.

Children will find lots to do. There will be a roundabout, a petting zoo, circus workshop and the Wildlife Trust. Also, watch out for the giant tyrannosaurus rex, or try your hand at decorating a gingerbread man.

On Saturday, 19 April, we’ll be closing with an Easter parade, egg hunt and bonnet competition.

I’ve only given you a brief account of what’s on offer but I’m sure that’s enough to show you that there will be plenty to do and to attract people of all ages. What’s more, Droylsden is so easy to get to. Just jump on the tram in Ashton and in a couple of stops you’ll find yourself right at the heart of the action.

It’s going to be great. I look forward to seeing you there. www.droylsdeneastermarket.co.uk

One man’s junk is another man’s treasure

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

For many people, the upcoming bank holiday weekend will present a good opportunity for spring cleaning and home improvements. If you are planning a clear out, don’t forget you can recycle and donate any preloved furniture and other household items to local good causes.

Residents can take old furniture to Bayley Street Recycling Centre, Stalybridge. Any furniture dropped off here will be donated to Emmaus Mossley, which offers a home and work to previously homeless and unemployed people funded by the resale of second-hand goods.

Alternatively, the following three Tameside furniture re-use organisations will normally collect good condition household items from your home and re-sell at an affordable price. These are:
• Denton Refurb Ltd. (Denton) Call 0161 336 0606
• 2nd Generation Furnishings (Stalybridge) Call 0161 303 0083
• Emmaus Mossley (Mossley) Call 01457 838608

You’ll find that most of your other unwanted items – from carpets and electrical equipment to old clothes that are too worn for the charity shop – can be recycled at your local household recycling centre. They are open from 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week including Bank Holidays to make it as convenient as possible for people to visit. For further information see www.recycleforgreatermanchester.com

The main message to remember while de-cluttering is that very little needs to go into your waste bin and on to expensive landfill. Instead, your preloved goods can be used to benefit local good causes and those in need. We’ve all heard the old adage that one man’s junk is another man’s treasure and, in this case, it is very true.

Inspiring future generations

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Buildings are as vital to education as books, computers or even a good teacher. The right environment can inspire us and make learning a pleasure. That’s why I’m delighted that even more Tameside children will soon be benefiting from new and improved schools.

Both Astley Sports College and Community High School and Cromwell School, Dukinfield, are undergoing major redevelopment work to give them even better facilities and services. The two schemes – due for completion this summer – will culminate Tameside’s £200 million Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme under which 10 schools and academies have been built in the borough in addition to this remodelling.

To all intents and purposes Astley will become a new school. The key feature of the project is a £7 million extension, but as well as that the main building is being completely refurbished. Among the vast amount of work being done, the classrooms and toilets are being remodelled, the windows replaced and the electrical and heating systems improved.

A further £1.4 million is being spent on an extension at Cromwell, a school which caters for young people with severe and multiple learning difficulties.

We have been one of the leading councils nationally in delivering the BSF programme and I’m delighted that so many of our secondary schools are enjoying such modern, state-of-the-art buildings and amenities – which can only help motivate and encourage pupils in their studies and aspirations.

Tameside had also successfully bid for a further £100 million for the remaining seven high schools that did not receive investment in the first BSF investment wave. Unfortunately, this funding was cancelled by the coalition government after they came into power in 2010. However, we will continue to work closely with all our schools to drive improvement and maximise investment opportunities to help ensure we continue to give our young people the very best educational start in life.

Time to get back in the saddle

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

If you have a bike at home sitting forgotten and unused then now is a great time to dust it off and get back in the saddle. Tameside Council, working in partnership with Transport for Greater Manchester (TFGM), is developing a number of schemes to make it easier and safer for people to take up cycling, while also enjoying the health and financial benefits.

To give you the skills, knowledge and confidence to get started, TFGM is running free adult-cycle courses in Tameside – see cycling.tfgm.com for more details. There’s also Bikeability training for all primary school children in the borough. Once you’re up and running, you’ll notice a whole new package of safety features on local roads to help keep you safe. These include clearer road markings and new Trixi mirrors at key junctions to give other road users better visibility of cyclists. Additionally, whilst leading the way with an excellent safety record, the council is continuing to provide training for all our drivers to ensure they look out for cyclists and other vulnerable road users.

The new off-road Hyde to Ashton cycle route is well underway and due to open this spring. This will be followed by another cycle path – to be completed next year – to link Ashton town centre and Guide Bridge to Manchester City Centre along Ashton Canal. The Council has attracted external funding for both schemes from the Government’s Cycle City Ambition grant.

To help with the practicalities of using your bike for commuting and other town centre journeys, new cycle pods are being introduced across Greater Manchester to provide secure and convenient storage. The Ashton pod is next to Ashton Pools in Water Street.

All of these initiatives form part of a wider programme to promote more sustainable travel to ease congestion, improve the local environment and reduce the borough’s carbon footprint. But, as the increasing numbers of people who are taking up regular cycling testify, the biggest gains are being enjoyed by cyclists themselves. So, what are you waiting for? There’s no time like the present to join them!

Happy birthday Tameside

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

It’s incredible to think that Tameside was 40 years old on 1 April. It surely can’t be long until the majority of the borough’s residents will have been born post-1974 and have no memory of the borough and county boundaries that went before.

I can understand why some people feel so attached to the old authorities map, and I certainly wouldn’t want Lancashire County Cricket Club to be replaced by a Greater Manchester side. However, I think it’s worth considering why the Government felt it necessary to reorganise councils.

Before the 1970s, local government was based on a Victorian template which had ceased to conform to the realities of modern Britain. There were historical curiosities such as the Soke of Peterborough while cities like Manchester and Liverpool, which had once been firmly within Lancashire, had grown into metropolises that swamped neighbours and were now hampered by old-fashioned boundaries.

The nine towns of Tameside were at the very fringes of their own counties and felt neglected. Councillors who served on the former authorities have told me how difficult it was to get investment from Chester or Preston. You have to bear in mind here that Lancashire would have taken in seaside holiday resorts and rural communities on the fringes of the Lake District as well as industrial conurbations. It was much the same story in Cheshire.

Places like Ashton and Hyde struggled to get their voice heard among so many communities with which they had little in common. So it’s no surprise they were keen to merge with neighbours and take control of their own affairs. In future decisions would be made on the doorstep and not in some far-off county town.

If you look back through the local newspaper files at the archives centre in Ashton, you’ll see that local government reorganisation was talked about for decades. The concept of a borough taking in Ashton, Hyde, Stalybridge and Dukinfield was nothing new.

Looking back over the last 40 years, I believe Tameside has been a success and has plenty to be proud of. It has weathered some very stormy economic times during which society – and indeed local government – has experienced a staggering amount of change.

The challenges continue. Over the next few months the Council will start the process of leaving its 34-year-old Ashton administrative complex so that construction of the new, smaller and energy-efficient building it will share with Tameside College and other partners can begin.

I don’t know what the next 40 years will bring, but I can assure you that that Tameside Council – and by that I mean all 57 members – will continue to serve you to the best of their abilities.

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