It’s that time again. On behalf of Tameside Council I would like to take this chance to wish you, your family and your friends a Happy and Peaceful Christmas and New Year.
As I do every year, I would ask you to keep those who are less fortunate than us in your thoughts over the Christmas period. The strength of a community is judged not by how they treat their best off, but on how they treat their worst off. A simple donation of time or money could make all the difference to somebody alone, homeless or vulnerable at this time of year.
Let’s also keep on our thoughts everybody for whom Christmas is another working day, particularly those in the armed forces, the NHS, our health and social care workers and the police and fire services. While we sit down to enjoy our turkey and crackers they will be working hard to make sure that we can do so in safety and comfort.
The Christmas holidays are always a good time to take a step back and take stock of the year that has just passed. It would be fair to say that there is a lot more to reflect on in 2016 than there has been in any year I can remember. From the passing of so many people who have enriched our lives and culture to Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, I wouldn’t blame you if you felt that 365 days is too short a time to cram in everything that has happened.
It’s been a significant year in Tameside as well. On a sombre note, it began and ended with floods. Tameside is not an area that many would associate with such flooding, but we faced one of the wettest Januarys on national record and then a month’s worth of rain falling in a few hours at the end of November. I’d like to thank the efforts of our communities and council employees during both incidents, many of whom went far above and beyond the call of duty to help residents and clean up after the deluge had subsided. Unfortunately, given what we know about the effects of manmade climate change, we will almost certainly have to prepare as a borough, as a country and as a planet for more and worse events in the future.
But let’s focus on the positive as well. Our plans, announced at the start of the year, to invest £20 million in our leisure centres are beginning to bear fruit. New facilities have opened at Total Adrenaline in Mottram, and next year will see both the opening of Dukinfield’s iTrain gym and the work beginning on a new swimming pool for Hyde and the Denton Wellness Centre. We’re continuing to make good progress on our trailblazing work on health and social care integration, working together to help people live longer and healthier lives while saving money at the same time. We have completed many of our pledges for 2016, such as Dementia Friends, Woodland for Wildlife and Do More Together, and work on other pledges such as Honour Our Fallen, Lots More Lighting and Every Child a Coder will continue into the New Year and beyond.
Despite very difficult global and financial circumstances, I feel confident that we’ve made Tameside a better place to live at the end of the year than it was at the start. Next year, we’ll build on that success, working with our residents and partners to move the borough we all love onwards and upwards.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. See you in 2017.