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Archive for March, 2015

Easter’s nearly upon us

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

AFTER the success of last year’s inaugural Droylsden Easter Market there was never any doubt we would want to hold a second one. Too many people were demanding it.

Good weather and great attractions combined to attract thousands of people to Villemomble Square and the Droylsden Centre. As I said at the time, it often seemed as though half the town was there.

This year’s market – again organised with the help of Droylsden Town Team – opens on Wednesday, April 1, and continues until Saturday, April 4. Like last time there will be lots of food, fun, entertainment and activities.

We’ll have stalls in the town centre, a licensed bar, and an ice rink. Youngsters can look forward to funfair rides and a big wheel, and there will be live entertainment from the stage.

Easter, of course, is first and foremost a Christian festival and a service organised by Droylsden Churches Together will be at the heart of the four-day market. It starts at 12.30pm on the Saturday. Later that afternoon we’ll have a bonnet competition.

This is only a brief account of what will be on offer. Other attractions are being organised but I’m sure I’ve provided enough to let you know there will be plenty to do for people of all ages.

What’s more, Droylsden is very easy to get to. Just catch the tram in Ashton and in a couple of stops you’ll be at the heart of the action.

It promises to be a great few days and I look forward to seeing you there. Just keep your fingers crossed for the weather

Determined to make business boom

Friday, March 20th, 2015

TAMESIDE is home to more than 5,000 businesses.

I make that point because our obituary as a manufacturing base has been written many times and it simply isn’t true. Our communities were forged in the Industrial Revolution and our borough remains a significant industrial centre 200 years later.

With such a large number of businesses it’s impossible for me to visit them all individually. That’s why I welcome events such as the recent spring summit at Hyde Town Hall which allow me to meet their representatives, learn about what their companies do, and discuss how Tameside Council can help them.

Make no mistake about it, businesses are vital to this borough. They drive growth and provide work and wages for residents. We are on their side – I make no apologies for saying that. This authority has a can-do approach and wants to use it to make sure our business sector prospers.

Growth allows firms to make more money, while the council enjoys the twin benefits of fewer unemployed people and higher tax revenues – both for us and the Treasury at Westminster.

One area in which we are especially keen to help is skills development. We need a workforce that is equipped for the 21st century economy and one of the main ways we can achieve that is through apprenticeships, which allow people to train and learn while they earn.

We have many incentives on offer for companies who take on apprentices. As part of my 15 for 15 pledges Tameside Council will supply firms with £1,500 towards the cost of taking on each apprentice, and a £1,000 contribution for important equipment.

At the same time, however, we strongly encourage firms to join Tameside Council in committing to the Living Wage. We are fervent believers in the ethos of a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.

For those who have been unemployed for more than six months, the council can provide help towards transport costs.

I look forward to more business summits in the future. Almost all the people I spoke to said they wanted them and I certainly found the Hyde Town Hall event to be very useful and informative.

So let me conclude by repeating that business is very important to Tameside Council and we will do all we can to support it. If they win, so do we, and, most importantly, so do our residents.

Visions of the past and future

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

THE Vision Tameside project is now well under way. The council complex in Ashton is virtually empty and awaiting demolition, and I and my colleagues have now moved into Dukinfield Town Hall with a sizeable number of staff.

It’s strange in some ways that I’ve left a building barely 35 years old for one that opened at the turn of the 20th century. However, I have to say that I’ve worked in few finer places than Dukinfield Town Hall which, as it happens, is at the geographical centre of the borough.

Although it has been much modernised in recent years, to make it fit for 21st century use, the building retains its majesty. There may no longer be a council chamber or a mayor’s parlour but the sense of community pride imbued by the town’s founding fathers is still palpable.

The clock tower continues to chime the hours as it has since 1901 and some of the corridors give a good idea of what the town hall must have been like when it was occupied by Dukinfield Corporation. A few of the windows still have frosted glass showing their former use as, say, the treasurer’s office. The building’s frontage is highly impressive.

Dukinfield was clearly a confident and forward-looking community when it became a borough and I hope it still is. I believe it has retained the faith in the future so evident in this building.

I’m told the first Mayor of Dukinfield was Henry Pratt, the manufacturer of a washing powder called Compo which some of you may just remember. Interestingly the town has supplied several mayors of Tameside including my late colleague George Hatton who was also the last mayor of Dukinfield.

Next to the town hall is the very impressive Jubilee Hall, so named for King George V’s silver jubilee in 1935, and the venue for many dances and functions over the years.

Throughout its history Dukinfield Town Hall has been a valued community asset. When Tameside Council was created in 1974 it housed the new borough’s education department. Since the 1980s it has been home to the register office – the place where, among other things, we record our children’s birth.

Much as I’m impressed by my new surroundings, I expect my stay in Dukinfield to be a relatively short one. Within three years or so I, and the other staff who have moved here, should be back in Ashton using the new offices developed jointly with Tameside College.

The students will get cutting-edge educational facilities to train them for the jobs necessary to a successful 21st century economy, and Tameside Council will get an energy-efficient building which will be much cheaper to run than the old offices.
It promises to be an exciting few years.

Celebrating St Patrick's Day

Monday, March 16th, 2015

With a name like Kieran Quinn I can hardly hide my Irish ancestry. My family originates from Donegal, up in the Atlantic north west of the island and, as with so many Irish people, my father came to England in search of work to support his family.

Interestingly, my surname is derived from the Irish word, “conn” meaning counsel, so I suppose there was a certain inevitability I would get the job I have.

You won’t be surprised to know that as a man of Irish heritage I always look forward to St Patrick’s Day which falls on 17 March. Over the last 30 years or so it has become a major celebration of gaelic culture across Britain and, as you might expect, the huge Irish community in Greater Manchester has taken to it with gusto.

I know it’s a much over-used term but there really is something for everyone – the music, the song, the dance, the stout, and of course the commemoration of Ireland’s patron saint who brings the whole island together.

However, the Irish connection is only one part of the patchwork that makes up the Manchester area. As a ward councillor I can now expect to attend a wide variety of cultural events that go beyond the Christian festivals I grew up with.

We’ve just had the Chinese new year and later on there will be Eid at the end of the Muslim month of Ramadan, and Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights. I’m also looking forward to Easter in a few weeks’ time and I’m happy to be able to tell you Droylsden will again be hosting an Easter market, this time from Wednesday, 1 April, to Saturday, 4 April.

It makes me proud that we’re all able to enjoy each other’s cultural events. If you can find a St Patrick’s Day event I would recommend you attend. If there’s one thing the Irish know how to do it’s to party and have a good time.

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig (St Patrick’s Day blessings be upon you).

National Apprenticeships Week

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

CONTRARY to what some people would have you believe, you don’t have to go to university to find a decent job. Apprenticeships offer just as good a chance of a fulfilling career and employers value them as much as a degree.

The death of apprenticeships has been reported many times but they are still alive and kicking, and more and more young people are choosing them as their route into working life. If you’re interested in taking one up – and they’re open to all ages – you’ll be glad to know that there will be lots of information available during National Apprenticeships Week which runs from Monday, March 9, to Friday, March 13.

If you’re still not entirely convinced, let me give you a few facts. For a start, apprenticeships aren’t limited to traditional trades such as bricklaying or plumbing. Last year the most popular one was health and social care.

Apprenticeships are actually available in more than 170 industries including aerospace, fashion, broadcast media and finance. Taking an apprenticeship is no bar to deciding you would like to study later on. Around a fifth of advanced apprentices move on to higher education.

Statistics show that nine out of 10 apprentices are taken on by their employers and there is plenty of chance to move into management. In fact, almost half of graduates say they have some regrets over rejecting the vocational route.

Almost every employer taking on an apprentice has reported benefits to their business and 70 per cent have seen an improvement to their productivity or the quality of their product or service. The National Audit Office estimates that for every pound of investment in apprenticeships, the economy gets £18 back.

So as you’ll see the case in favour of apprenticeships is a very strong one. There’s plenty of variety and if you become an apprentice all the signs are that you’ll do well in later life. Why not make inquiries? What have you got to lose?

If you’d like to get a first-hand feel of what an apprenticeship’s like, you can find some case studies at www.tameside-apprentices.org/apprentices
For more about National Apprenticeship Week go to www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/national-apprenticeship-week-2015

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