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Archive for February, 2015

Keeping my promises

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

WE’VE all heard the joke about politicians’ promises being of the pie-crust variety – easily broken, so it may surprise one or two of you to learn that I keep mine. I take my duties as an elected councillor very seriously. My job is to serve the public.

That’s why I want to take this opportunity to give you an update on the promises I made in my annual state of the area speech to full council last November. I’m pleased to be able to tell you we’re making encouraging progress.

Take the Tameside Loyalty or TLC card. The intention is to get people into our high-street shops by offering special deals available only to members. The idea is proving popular. 170 businesses have signed up and are providing offers to nearly 1,000 residents. Watch out for the red promotional stickers or visit www.tamesideloyaltycard.co.uk

As I’m sure you’re aware, we’ve cut the cost of parking. Motorists using Tameside’s car parks now enjoy the lowest council charges in Greater Manchester at £1 for up to three hours and £2 for an entire day. As with the TLC card the aim is to get people into our town centres.

We’re cutting costs by installing LED street lighting, which uses a fraction of the power needed by standard systems, and by extending the bin swap scheme which will save us thousands in EU landfill tax.

Just to show that not everything’s about balancing the books, I can tell you that, as promised, we’re bringing in free holiday fun for children including swimming and a variety of activity days.

We’re also planning a programme of Easter children’s activities and more for the summer holidays. I believe it’s important to get youngsters outdoors and active. If they learn the benefits of a healthy lifestyle early on they will be well-served in later life.

So as you can see, Tameside Council is keeping its promises. I’ll supply another update later in the year.

Tameside 15 pledges for 2015
• Youth jobs pledge: Six months paid employment for any young person who is unemployed or not in training.
• Tameside Enterprise Scheme: Supporting small businesses that invest in Tameside and mentor young people.
• Free swimming events for the under-16s.
• Fair credit and fair pay: Tameside’s response to unfair payday lenders and our support for the Living Wage.
• Helping older people feel safe in their homes.
• Family activities: A programme of activity days in the school holidays.
• Free travel for the long-term unemployed: Supporting the long-term unemployed with travel costs once they have got back into work.
• Affordable homes reserved for Tameside people.
• Veterans’ Jobs Pledge: Six months’ work, skills training and transition support.
• Town-centre loyalty scheme: Rewarding shoppers who support local businesses.
• £1 million to tidy up town centres: Using local businesses to smarten-up street furniture including bins, benches and bollards.
• Greening Tameside: Rolling out the bin swap and replacing street lights with more effective and environmentally friendly LED lighting.
• £1 million to repair potholes.
• Cheaper car parking: Providing the cheapest council long-stay parking in Greater Manchester.
• Youth Council: Bringing young people closer to the democratic process to have a voice.

An Enterprising Council

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

A BIT of job security is at the heart of what most of us want from life. If we’re earning regularly we can provide the things that are so important to us: a home, a holiday, a car and some treats for the children.

Getting that job depends on business, and that’s why I have always worked hard to make Tameside a place which is welcoming to firms. When I issued my 15 pledges for 2015 at the end of last year I made sure jobs featured prominently and that we included the Tameside Enterprise Scheme to support small businesses.

I designed those pledges to offer hope and opportunities to the residents of our borough in these difficult times. If you want to view them all, you can find them at www.tameside.gov.uk/keynote/2014 Look out for the hashtag #15for15 on Twitter too.

Most of my political career has been devoted to enterprise. Before I became leader of Tameside Council in 2010 I spent a decade as executive member for economic development. Even now, I hold the business brief within the AGMA (Association of Greater Manchester Authorities) executive.

I’m pleased to say that we’ve met with success in Tameside. Thanks to the hard work of officers from the council’s growth and investment service in sourcing loans, we have been able to attract firms into the borough or help existing ones expand.

Italian adhesive labels firm Ritrama has moved into Dukinfield and injections mouldings leader Patterson and Rothwell has taken over the old Barcrest building in Ashton. Hill Biscuits has been able to create 45 jobs through a new production facility and German textiles company Culimeta Saveguard is regenerating Tower Mill, Dukinfield.

Hawke International, a producer of power connectors for use in the oil, gas and petrochemical industries, now has a base on Oxford Street, Ashton. Kerry Way, Godley, has opened up a new area of Hyde to industrial use.

A lot more remains to be done but, of course, we want to make sure we get the right type of business in our borough. We want companies who are prepared to do right by their employees and the community, and to offer the Living Wage.

Those that are will find Tameside Council to be a good friend and fully prepared to give them all the help it can.

Lincoln

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

AS you might expect, I get a great deal of mail – electronic and otherwise – as executive leader of Tameside Council. The vast majority of it is of an official nature but every so often something special turns up.

A few weeks ago I received an envelope postmarked Springfield, Illinois. It was from Dr Daniel Stowell of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, telling me of a letter of sympathy sent to the US government by Ashton Town Council following Lincoln’s assassination at the end of the American Civil War 150 years ago.

There was an invitation for me to send a new letter, explaining how Lincoln’s legacy has affected Tameside. The two messages would appear together in an online exhibition at www.citizenlincoln.org

Lincoln is generally accepted to be the greatest of the 44 US presidents. It was thanks to his leadership that the Union prevailed and around four million slaves were freed. So, as you might expect, I was both proud and pleased to comply with Dr Stowell’s request.

Although the American Civil War took place 3,000 miles away it had a profound effect on Tameside. The raw cotton needed for the borough’s mills was largely imported from the southern states. When the war cut off the supply it resulted in great hardship and thousands were left jobless. Even so, the people of Tameside never wavered in their support for the anti-slavery cause.

Stalybridge probably suffered the worst of all our communities, with 34 out of 39 factories closed. Yet a meeting in the town in October, 1862, passed a resolution blaming the Confederacy for the Cotton Famine. The following year, a union and emancipation league was founded in Ashton.

Lincoln knew what the people of Tameside, and indeed the North West as a whole, were forced to endure. That’s why these words appear on his statue in Manchester City Centre: “I cannot but regard your decisive utterances on the question as an instance of sublime Christian heroism which has not been surpassed in any age or in any country.”

I find it very apt that now, as we celebrate 150 years of freedom for the slaves, the USA has a black president, Barak Obama. This shows the power of the ballot box and the democratic process.

So let me conclude by once again urging you to make certain you have your voice here, in Tameside, as we await the general election and council elections on May 7. Government changes mean that individuals are now responsible for their own registration. It can no longer be done by the head of the household.

If you’re unsure whether you’re registered please visit www.tameside.gov.uk/elections

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