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Archive for June, 2015

Bin Swap – It Makes Sense

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

Imagine if at the end of every year you took nearly half a tonne of waste and dumped it in a hole in your garden or in your local park. You wouldn’t as it would do real damage to your local environment.

And imagine if at the end of every year you took £150 and dumped it in another hole in the ground. You wouldn’t as you could find any number of important things to spend the money on.

It sounds like an insane thing to do, but when we send the rubbish in our bins to landfill instead of reusing or recycling, we might as well be doing that. Every year in Tameside we spend £12 million putting 40,000 tonnes of waste into landfill.

Of course, some of this is beyond our control. As much as we’d like to, we can’t stop everything that goes into our bins going to landfill. What we can do however, is make sure that anything that we can recycle or reuse is recycled or reused. It’s good for the environment, and it allows us to divert money to service areas struggling under £38 million of additional Government imposed cuts by 2017.

This is where the bin swap comes in.

We could have done what Bury did and gone to 3-weekly collections. We could have done what Bolton did and bought new, smaller bins at a cost of nearly £3 million. Instead, we’ve come up with a simple and cost effective solution. Swap the green and black bins.

This means that under bin swap the larger black bin will be used for glass, plastic and cans, and the smaller green bin will be used for waste that can’t be recycled and goes to landfill. It really is that simple. For you, that means no mucking about with new bins, and no need to get used to new collection days or frequencies as they stay the same.

Of course, if you were in one of our pilot areas last year then you’ll already know all this. What you might not know is just how much of a success the bin swap was. 8 out of 10 of the 4,000 households involved understood why we were doing what we did, two-thirds of those same households found it easy to adapt and waste going to landfill fell by up to a quarter. In January this year, a second roll out to a further 25,000 households gave us similar results.

So now we are taking the plunge and rolling out the bin swap across the entire borough. Every household, every resident and every bin.

This is not a decision that we have made lightly, but in the face of relentless budget cuts we no longer have the luxury of overlooking the easy savings that could be made from this. After almost a year of research, consultation and pilot schemes every other option to reduce our landfill waste has been found to be too expensive, too unpalatable, or both.

But we’re not going to be leaving you to fend for yourself. A wide range of support services will be available to those who are finding it difficult to adjust. You can visit our website www.tameside.gov.uk/recycling to order a new bin, check your collection day or get some advice on recycling more.  We will also be putting out information and replying to questions through local District Assembly meetings, social media (@tmbc_waste, @TamesideCouncil and our Facebook page) and the bin swap roadshows that will held throughout the borough.

So, if you’re interested in protecting the environment and the council services people rely on, I ask that you give the bin swap your full support.

We certainly will be.

The Great Public Health Carve-Up

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

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If anybody held out any hopes at all that the Tory axe was going to stop hacking away at local government they were cruelly dashed this week.

We already knew that we were facing up to over £38 million of additional cuts in the next two years, as well as whatever extra horrors are sure to be contained in July’s “stability” budget, but the latest announcement that £200m will be cut from local health spending is possibly the most egregious yet.

That’s a 7.4% cut to local authority public health services, including sexual health, health check-ups, weight management programs and substance/alcohol abuse treatment.

And it reveals that at least two Tories election promises aren’t worth the back of the fag-packet they were written on.

Firstly, before the election they praised NHS England Chief Executive Simon Stevens and his “prevention agenda” to the Moon. Anybody who knows anything about health knows that prevention is always far, far cheaper than cure. To use one example; every penny spent by local government on stopping people smoking is hundreds of pounds not spent by the NHS on lung cancer treatment. Public health services are not a “nice to have” compliment to the NHS. They are utterly essential and save far more money than they cost.

Secondly, they promised that they would protect the NHS. While the cut to public health services has been identified as “non-NHS spending” the distinction between NHS and non-NHS spending is completely artificial, not least because many of the frontline services we use are commissioned from NHS providers. Anybody who thinks that these cuts won’t have damaging knock-on effects for the NHS, either from reduced income from commissioned services or from increased service demand in the absence of preventative care, is delusional.

Of course, now the question becomes, where do we save the money? Shall we tell people we can’t help them quit smoking or lose weight? How about telling people struggling with alcohol or drug addiction that they’re on their own? What about telling our children that the school nurse won’t be there for them anymore?

Because when it all said and done, that is the real and human cost that will have to be paid.

And we know who will be the worst affected. We always do wherever the Tories are concerned. The poor. The vulnerable. The needy. Already there is a gap of 20 years in healthy life expectancy between the most affluent and most disadvantaged areas in the country. How big a gap do the Tories consider acceptable? 25? 30? 35?

Oh, and just in case you think it’s me that’s upset about this, have a look at the British Medical Association, the Health Service Journal, the Nuffield Trust and The Association of Directors of Public Health.

All of whom are saying the same thing. At a time of increased financial pressure and service demand for the entire health sector, cutting public health in the name of the public purse is short-termism and narrow-mindedness at its absolute worst.

Major investment at Manchester Airport

Friday, June 5th, 2015

Following on from last week’s selection of Tony Lloyd to be the interim Mayor for Greater Manchester, I am delighted to tell you about the launch of another program that will help to put Manchester on the map as a truly world city.

The Manchester Airports Group, of which Tameside Council is a constituent member, has announced a £1 billion redevelopment of Manchester Airport. This 10 year program, the single biggest construction project to ever take place in the region, will expand and modernise the airport to transform it into a national asset and the gateway to the world from the North. Already the busiest airport in the UK outside of London with over 25 million passengers a year, the new plans will see capacity double to 50 million passengers a year by 2050.

This will be achieved by the phasing out of the old Terminal 1, to be replaced by extensively upgraded and expanded Terminals 2 and 3. This will include facilities to provide a world-class, high-tech customer service experience, including reduced waiting times at security, automatic check-ins and bag drop-offs, instant information on flights via smartphone and over 50 food, drink and retail outlets. Travellers to America will also benefit from the UKs only pre-clearance facility, allowing them to sail through US customs and immigration before their flight even begins.

But this development will extend far beyond the confines of Manchester Airport. The project will also see the airport fully integrated into the Northern Transport Strategy, including the proposed HS2 rail line from London and improvements to the M62 and east-west rail routes to speed up transport across the Pennines. When it is all put together, the plans that are being put in place now will accelerate economic growth; attract investment; and kick-start job creation not just in Tameside but across the entire region.

I will be working closely with the new interim GM Mayor Tony Lloyd and the other nine Council Leaders to improve transport links within Greater Manchester through franchised bus services, smart ticketing and continuing to develop Metrolink and railway stations. Not only will this bring more jobs to Tameside, it will also allow people in Tameside to easily and affordably access the jobs created by both the airport development and the many other future investments in Greater Manchester.

Last month I said that we needed to be a forward-thinking, outward-looking borough to succeed. I can think of no better way to show how we put those words into practice than by whole-heartedly supporting the work at Manchester Airport. It will be good for the North of England, good for Greater Manchester and good for Tameside.

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