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Posts Tagged ‘Greater Manchester’

Why I welcome the Bus Services Bill

Thursday, January 19th, 2017
First Greater Manchester operate a high proportion of services locally

First Greater Manchester operate a high proportion of services locally

If ever a list were to be drawn up of the worst pieces of legislation ever passed, the 1985 Transport Act would be on it. The deregulation of bus services outside of Greater London that it implemented (why was London exempt if it was such a good idea?) led to fragmentation, higher fares and falling passenger numbers. Greater Manchester is a prime example of this.

Locally there are two major players in the bus market, Stagecoach and First. It was claimed that deregulation would drive down fares by allowing competition between operators, however there are very few places in Greater Manchester where the two companies actually compete. Instead the conurbation has been carved up with First operating the majority of services in the North and Stagecoach in the South. Essentially we’ve swapped a public monopoly for two private ones.

This has allowed the two firms to charge whatever fares they believe they can get away with and flood the profitable corridors with buses to keep any sniff of competition of the road – despite many of the vehicles running barely half full for much of the day. For example, if I want to travel from Ashton to Oldham on the bus, what choice do I have? It’s First’s 409 or a fair old walk! Equally, from Hyde to Manchester it’s just Stagecoach’s 201. And if you ever do need to make a journey that uses services operated by more than one operator, from Mossley to Denton for example, you’ll have fork out for a more expensive ‘System One’ ticket.

Even more frustrating is when you consider the public money given to the firms in the form of subsidies. Bus operators receive a fuel subsidy called the ‘Bus Service Operator Grant’ for all services they run, even those on the profitable corridors. The operators then ask for an additional grant to run services that are not profitable but are deemed socially necessary such as those serving the more rural parts of Tameside which would otherwise be cut off. That’s a lot of tax payer’s money being paid to essentially enable large multinational companies to make a profit. There has to be a better way surely?

Now make no mistake, I’m not calling for more on road competition. The bus wars on Oxford Road in South Manchester are the clearest local example that such a thing recreated on Hyde Road, Ashton New Road or Oldham road would be a disaster for air pollution and congestion. However, if we are to have competition, we must have a system that ensures that it is genuine and that gets the biggest bang for the public buck. That’s why I welcome the 2016 Bus Services Bill.

The Bus Services Bill will hand power over the regulation of bus services to the new Greater Manchester Mayor. Just like in London, locally accountable politicians will be able to control the routes, frequency and fares and design a network that is responsive to local need, affordable, and complements, rather than competes with, the heavy rail and Metrolink services. The competition will be taken off the road and in to the process of letting the contracts to run services. This regulated system in the capital has led to a flat £1.50 single fare and a strong upward trend in the number of passenger journeys on London’s buses since 2000. This is in stark contrast to the rest of the country where bus use is in steady decline.

And so the improvement on offer for transport is one of the many reasons I am such a fierce supporter of the Greater Manchester Devolution deal. Devolution is a journey and as the combined authority grows and shows that it can make a success of the powers it is entrusted with in my view we should look to expand our reach. Whilst it may be bus services today, in transport terms the next logical step in my mind is railway stations and local commuter railway services. Then where, who knows? But whichever path we take I am firmly of the view that there are many powers, currently exercised in the corridors of parliament that would be far better exercised in the corridors of Greater Manchester’s Town Halls.

A Successful Year at GMPF

Friday, December 23rd, 2016

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Some of you might know that as well as serving as the Executive Leader of Tameside Council I am also the Chair of the Greater Manchester Pension Fund. I’ve written a little bit about pensions in this blog in the past, but as we come to the end of the year I want to take the chance to put a little more focus on what has been a truly momentous year in the world of local government pensions.

With 352,292 members and over £20 billion in assets the Greater Manchester Pension Fund is by far the largest local government pension fund in the country. Though as a fund with even higher ambitions, at the start of the year we reached an agreement to team up with fellow pension funds in Merseyside, Lancashire and West Yorkshire to create a £40 billion combined pension pool.

All well and good, you might say, but what does that actually mean? I’ve written a lot this year about some of the problems Tameside and Britain faces, the most relevant ones here being our productivity crisis and the fact that a small minority of businesses are still getting away with not meeting their obligations to their employees and society. Getting pension funds, in Greater Manchester and elsewhere, to combine their resources is the way we are starting to create our own solutions to these big national issues.

The way we’re going to do that is quite simple. £40 billion is a lot of money, and we can use that money to invest in projects that are good for the pension fund and good for our society and economy as well. Pension funds are uniquely placed to make this happen. We’re embedded in our local communities, we have the sheer financial muscle needed and we’re an investor for the long term. Governments and private companies will often not touch an investment that will only start providing a return years or decades from now, but that project is perfect for a pension fund which needs to find ways to pay out to members years and decades from now. We’re already doing this to a certain extent, but the plans that we have started to put in place this year will allow us to do this quicker, better and on a larger scale.

Investing in infrastructure is not the only thing we can do, we can also invest in businesses as well. That gives us the opportunity to influence their board of directors and management by exercising our rights as shareholders. If we think a company executive is being paid too much for the job they are doing, we can do something about it. If we’re unhappy with a business using zero-hour contracts and tax havens, we can do something about it. This is something that is already happening. To give just one example, companies that had to backtrack over pay increases for executives due to shareholder opposition in the last year alone include betting company Paddy Power, online gambling firm PlayTech and the Foxtons estate agency. Next year we’ll be working together on ways to make sure that the voices of pension funds are heard further in all the places in which we hold assets.

There’s no doubt in my mind that 2016 will go down as a milestone year in pensions. If you’re a member of the Greater Manchester Pension Fund, rest assured that your retirement is safe in our hands. If you’re a resident of Tameside, rest assured that we all supporting investment that will make the borough is better place to live, work and do business in. If you’re concerned with how some businesses run things, rest assured that those concerns are shared by us as well. Roll on 2017, and the next step.

A Wake-Up Call on Decent Housing

Friday, October 21st, 2016

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Britain has a housing crisis. That isn’t the first time I’ve said that or something similar on this blog, and unfortunately it almost certainly won’t be the last time either. Much of the debate about this housing crisis is often tied up in homelessness or the lack of houses being built, and while they are incredibly important issues, focusing on them exclusively risks losing sight of a wider, deeper problem. Much in the same way that many of those in poverty are also in work, many of those who suffer the consequences of Britain’s housing crisis have a roof over their head.

It’s a problem that has been laid bare by Shelter. Just in time for their 50th birthday, the national housing charity has released a report on what they term the “Living Home Standard”. Working with market research company Ipsos Mori, Shelter have used discussion groups, surveys and workshop to ask the British public, the men and women on the street, what matters to them when it comes to owning and renting a home. The result is a fair but comprehensive set of 39 criteria that must be met in order to provide an acceptable home that secure the occupant’s well-being, broken down into five categories; affordability, decent conditions, space, stability and a good neighbourhood.

Now the bad news. By Shelter’s estimates, 43% of people in Britain do not live in a home that meets those standards. Of those 43%, just over a quarter failed on affordability, almost a fifth failed to meet the standard for decent conditions (including pests, dampness and safety hazards) and one out of every ten renters were struggling on insecure, short-term tenancies that allowed them no room to plan for the future. Think about that for a moment. If 43% of people in Britain couldn’t get enough food, or if the unemployment or poverty rate was 43%, there would be an uproar and rightly so. Yet we still continue to allow so many people in Britain to be failed when it comes to one of the most basic of needs, the need for decent housing.

It’s not just the numbers as well. The report brings together harrowing stories about just what it means to those 43% living in substandard accommodation. From the single mother with two children living in a one-bedroom flat, to the woman whose house was so riddled with mould that the furniture literally fell apart around her, and the man who couldn’t afford to buy a birthday present for his son after the month’s rent had gone out. They have all paid the price for our country’s negligence in making sure that housing is available for those who need it. There may be someone close to you in a similar situation, or perhaps you yourself are in that situation. Don’t you think there has to be a better way?

In Tameside, we think there is. That’s why we’re working with private landlords on the issues that matter to them and to tenants. That’s why we’re doing our bit to help build the 250,000 homes a year we know need to be built just to keep up with demand nationwide. That’s why we’ll continue to bang the drum for rental contracts that give security and flexibility to both landlords and tenants. Although the statistics and the stories paint a dark picture indeed, I believe that real and positive change is possible if we work together and leave no stone unturned in pursuit of our goals. The alternative is more of the same, and that is not something that any of us should live with or accept.

Does Domestic Abuse Sit Right With You?

Wednesday, October 19th, 2016

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Some readers of this blog may think that’s it’s not for organisations like the Council to involve ourselves with family matters – it’s none of our business, right? On some issues that view would be very wide of the mark. One such matter is that of domestic abuse.

Domestic abuse within relationships has such a profound impact on so many areas of life and wider society that tackling it is arguably everybody’s business. That’s why Tameside Council has joined the office of the Police and Crime Commissioner and Greater Manchester Police in launching a ground breaking campaign, ‘Sitting Right with You’.

For readers still sceptical about whether this is truly an issue that warrants the spending of precious Council resources, some figures; one in three women and one in six men experience some form of domestic abuse. This isn’t necessarily physical violence but can include controlling what somebody wears, their money, where they go and who they talk to. The witnessing of domestic abuse by children is also considered a form of child abuse, affecting a child’s social and emotional development.

The ‘Sitting Right with You’ campaign a yellow sofa accompanied by challenging messages. These hope to get people to think differently about what domestic abuse is and encouraging victims to take that first step and ask for help. Messages such as ‘he checks my phone all the time’, ‘she has control over my bank accounts’, and ‘I can go out with friends when he says it’s ok’, encourage people to think differently about what makes a healthy relationship.

To support the campaign the Council have compiled a case study of a local woman who herself was a victim of domestic abuse. Reading the truly harrowing account of the abuse she suffered over a number of years you may be wondering why she didn’t seek help sooner. That would underestimate how difficult it is for victims of domestic abuse to come forward, something that this campaign hopes to make easier.

Finally it’s only fair to acknowledge that Greater Manchester Police have long tackled domestic abuse and worked to raise awareness of the help available to victims. Their Operation Scratch, a month of action aimed at finding people wanted for domestic abuse offences, educating people on coercive and controlling behaviour and encouraging people to come forward, led to the arrest of more than 700 people over four weeks. I am confident that this latest campaign will support their ongoing efforts and make a serious dent in the occurrence of domestic abuse across Greater Manchester.

The yellow sofa will be travelling around Greater Manchester over the next few weeks, encouraging local people to talk about domestic abuse and get help and support if they need it.

If you or someone you care about has been affected by domestic abuse, contact the Greater Manchester domestic abuse helpline on 0161 636 7525.

Life on the Line in Greater Manchester

Friday, October 14th, 2016

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Often on this blog I provide readers with a lot of numbers and statistics about issues affecting Tameside, ranging from local events to national stories and everything in between. While I find data valuable for explaining and justifying the council’s views and decisions, I do appreciate that if it is presented with no context or explanation it can make things hard to digest and follow. That’s why using statistics and numbers presented in a way that everybody can relate to can be such a powerful tool for explaining some of the big issues we face in Tameside.

The University of Manchester have recently provided an excellent example of just this with their research of life expectancy and healthy life expectancy in Greater Manchester. The research combines data from the Office of National Statistics and the Index of Deprivation to map life expectancy (how long you can expect to live) and healthy life expectency (how long you can expect to live without serious health problems) to the city’s Metrolink stops.

It is information we should be paying attention to. In the last two centuries we have seen a massive increase in life expectancy across England and Wales. If you were born in 1851 you could expect to live for only 41 years on average, but 150 or so years later that figure has almost doubled to 79.5 years for men and 82.3 years for women. Access to clean food and water, better medical care and a decline in child mortality have all contributed to this, but that doesn’t mean that we can sit on our laurels. There remain serious inequalities between economically deprived areas and more prosperous areas when it comes to life expectancy. Men and women in Manchester aged 65 today can expect live a further 15.9 years and 18.8 years respectively, but in some of the richer parts of London those numbers go up to 21.6 years for men (Kensington and Chelsea) and 24.6 years for women (Camden).

There are significant differences even within Greater Manchester as well. If you’re female and live near the Sale, Whitefield or Milnrow Metrolink stops your life expectancy can be as high as 82 years. That drops to 73 if you live near to the Clayton Hall stop. Men in Timperley and Whitefield have the longest life expectancies at 78 years, but that plummets to 66 years for men in Rochdale Town Centre barely 26 miles away (To put it into perspective, that’s a year for every 7 minutes of transport time). Even within Tameside there is a 4 year gap in life expectancy between men in Audenshaw (73) and Ashton Moss (69), although that gap shrinks to a year amongst women (79 in Audenshaw and 78 in Ashton-under-Lyne).

Last year Greater Manchester became the first region in England to be handed control of £6 billion of health and social care spending from central government. Using these new powers to address the health inequalities in our region must rank as one of our highest priorities. We’ve recently received £23.2 million in transformation funding for our Care Together programme, and we’ll be making use good of that money to supercharge our ambitions to bring healthy life expectancy in our area up to at least the English average. If we’re going to achieve this we need to look beyond just the provision of health services and sanitation (important as that is) and into how factors like people’s jobs, the environment which they live in and their social interaction (or lack of) can affect their health for good or ill. Doing this is a challenge that nobody has attempted to meet on this scale before. I firmly believe that we are blazing a path that the rest of the country will soon be following, but I also know that we have only taken the first few steps on what will be a very long journey. Let’s face the tasks and make the changes we need to together.

Solving the Productivity Puzzle

Friday, October 7th, 2016

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If you follow economic or financial news you might have heard the word “productivity” being thrown around quite a bit, usually in a negative sense. Newspapers and publications of every side of the political spectrum have had headlines about the UK’s productivity crisis, from The Guardian’s “Stunted Growth: The Mystery of the UK’s Productivity Crisis” in April this year to The Telegraph’s “Never Mind Benefits, the Problem is UK Productivity” the month before. Well, for once, the headlines are spot on. We do have a productivity crisis, and today I want to explain what that means and why we should be worried about it.

Put simply, productivity is a measure of how well an economy turns inputs such as labour and capital into outputs like revenue, products and services. A high level of productivity means that you can create more stuff with less work/investment, which translates into greater levels of profit for businesses, better wages for employees and higher growth for the economy as a whole. Of course, a low level of productivity causes the opposite.

Historically, UK productivity has typically grown at a steady rate of around 2% a year. Since the 2008 Financial Crisis it has flat lined entirely, to the extent that the latest figures from the Office for Budget Responsibility show an increase in productivity of only 0.1% in eight years. Our productivity now lacks so far behind the likes of France and Germany that workers in those countries can finish on Thursday afternoon what it would take an average British worker until Friday to do.

The picture looks even worse when you break it down to a city-by-city level. Only six of the UK’s 62 cities are more productive than the European average, and five of them are either London or satellites of London (Reading, Milton Keynes, Aldershot and Slough). The odd one out is oil-rich Aberdeen. 38 out of the 62 are not only below average, they’re in the bottom quarter of the table. Productivity in Manchester is 35% lower than in Hamburg, despite the two cities having very similar economies.

We’ve reached this point due to 30 years of economic, social and political decisions from Westminster that have benefitted London and the South East at the expense of the rest of the country, decisions that have been made “to us” instead of “with us”. We lag badly behind when it comes to developing skills and talents; more than ¾ of UK cities are below the European average when it comes to proportions of high-skilled residents. We need massive levels of investment in transport infrastructure outside London to both get goods and services to where they need to be and to increase the size of the pool of employees that businesses can recruit from. We need to encourage, by any means necessary, banks to lend money to the small and medium-sized businesses that could potentially create the next generation of innovative products and services. This is precisely why devolution is so important; it will give us the freedom (and indeed, the responsibility) to meet these challenges head on, delivering Greater Manchester solutions for Greater Manchester issues.

We’re already doing some of this in Tameside and Greater Manchester through skill-boosting projects such as Vision Tameside and infrastructure improvements like electrification of the North West railways, setting up superfast broadband and building the Tameside Interchange. But let’s not kid ourselves; more needs to be done. If we want to continue to be taken seriously as a major economic power outside of the EU, we need to solve Greater Manchester and Britain’s productivity puzzle sooner rather than later.

Linking Up The North

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

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For those concerned about the transport infrastructure of the North there was more good news recently as the government, in partnership with Highways England and Transport for the North, released the results of their Trans-Pennine Tunnel Study. The study, commissioned in late 2015, was set up to examine the case for improving the transport links between Sheffield and Manchester.

What they’ve produced is nothing less than the blueprint for the most ambitious road-building scheme in the North since the construction of the motorways. The report shortlists three corridors in which a Manchester-Sheffield tunnel could be built under the Peak District National Park. The first “corridor” begins between the A627(M) in Oldham and Ashton-under-Lyne and ends at Junction 37 of the M1 near Barnsley. The second corridor would connect the M60 close to the M67 to the M1 north of Sheffield by tunnelling under the A628 Woodhead Pass. The final corridor would start between junctions 24 and 25 of the M60 close to Denton and end near Junction 35 of the M1 by the Meadowhall Shopping Centre. With predicted lengths of between 10 or 18 miles depending on the exact route taken, the final proposal could very well end up being longer than Norway’s Laerdal Tunnel, which at 15.2 miles is the current longest road tunnel in the world.

More important than the length is the economic benefits the route will provide to the North. It has long been known that the poor connectivity between the great cities of the North is economically damaging for the individual cities and economically damaging for the North as a whole. The proposed Manchester-Sheffield tunnel is expected to cut travel times by up to 30 minutes for both passenger and freight traffic. An underground route also protects the unique wildlife and habitats of the Peak District National Park, and will not suffer from delays and closures due to poor weather in the way that affects many of the existing roads going over the Pennines. Done properly, this could be the catalyst for increased investment in the North through improved access to jobs, suppliers, accommodation (both private and business) and warehousing.

A final report at the end of the year will assess the cost estimates and the strategic and economic cases for each tunnel corridor, after which a final decision on the route will be made. Many in the North, most notably our very own Johnathan Reynolds, have been arguing for this level of investment for years, and the responsibility now falls to us to hold the government to keeping its promises. That might sound pessimistic, but after the debacle over the electrification of the Trans-Pennine rail last year it is right that we remain alert to any actual or potential signs of backtracking. I’d also like to see a final proposal that makes a serious attempt to incorporate solutions for other long-standing infrastructure issues in Tameside, most notably the traffic blackspot between Mottram, Hollingworth and Tintwistle. Finally, while the Manchester-Sheffield tunnel is part of the solution to transport infrastructure in the North, it is not the whole solution. We must not be so distracted by the lure of grand infrastructure projects that we lose track of the more mundane investments in road, rail and other transport that will also release significant economic benefits. The answer isn’t a, b or c, it’s “All of the above”.

I’ve said many times in the past that we cannot hope to have a Champions League economy while we’re burdened with Sunday League infrastructure. It is my hope, and my expectation, that this report is the first step on the road to unleashing the true potential of the North.

Sign Up and Be a Tameside Energy Hero

Friday, August 12th, 2016

eonenergyI’ve said in the past that climate change is not only one of the biggest national challenges we face, but the biggest global challenge as well. While slowing down or even reversing the course of climate change is not something that a local authority can do by itself, that doesn’t mean we should give up even trying. We’re taking steps in Tameside to reduce our carbon footprint, and now I’m happy to say that as part of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority we’ve now teamed up with utility company E.ON to launch the “Energy Heroes” scheme to improve energy efficiency of Tameside’s homes as well.

Over the next six months, residents of Greater Manchester who meet the qualifying criteria (details of which can be found here) can apply for energy-saving improvements to be made to their homes, including installing new boilers and loft/cavity wall insulation. The application process is free and there is no requirement for you to be an E.ON customer. Engineers from E.ON will arrange a survey of your house, after which they will discuss the options for improving or replacing your boiler and/or insulation. You could end up saving up to £215 a year on your energy bills when it’s all said and done, not to mention making your home more comfortable and easier to heat.

But investing in energy efficient housing has more benefits than cheaper energy bills and greater comfort. As a country, increasing our energy efficiency reduces our carbon footprint and the costs of generating, storing and transmitting electricity. It’s estimated that 40 million tonnes of carbon a year, 30% of Britain’s entire carbon footprint, are emitted from our 25 million homes.  Many of these homes, particularly those built 20 or more years ago, also have few of the insulation and energy-saving measures that we take for granted in more modern housing. This means that the greatest strides in improving energy efficiency can be made in our existing housing stock.

However, we will not get to where we need to be in terms of energy efficiency just by putting new boilers and insulation in older homes. We need to incorporate energy efficiency principles not just into future housebuilding policies, but into all of our national infrastructure priorities. This must feed into a long-term, sustainable focus on our green industries, giving them the certainty and political stability they need to grow and invest. It is my hope that the “Energy Heroes” scheme will be the first step towards achieving this.

If all this sounds ambitious, that’s because it has to be. Half measures and baby steps will do nothing to get us to where we need to be. We must at all costs avoid the fiascos of the previous government, which despite its claims to being the “greenest government ever” ended up scrapping, often even before they managed to get off the ground, policies like zero carbon homes, subsidies for wind and solar energy, the Green Investment Bank and incentives to buy low-carbon cars.

We need bold and decisive leadership and actions, and if the government cannot or will not provide it, then places like Tameside and Greater Manchester must stand ready to provide it themselves.

Now is the Time to Take Action on Climate Change

Friday, July 22nd, 2016

Triton-II-emergency-planning-with-Chinook-helicopter-326x245Last week over 36 local, regional and national organisations in Greater Manchester, including councils, the armed forces and the emergency services, took part in Operation Triton II. The exercise, the biggest one ever held in the region to date, simulated an emergency response to extreme weather causing a breach in the Dovestones Reservoir on Saddleworth Moor. As military helicopters circled the skies overhead, officers from Tameside Council were on the front lines coordinating simulated rest centres and ensuring the safety of our residents.

Now, before anybody panics, it is highly unlikely that we will be faced with such a terrifying scenario in real life. That being said, while we hope that the lessons we have learnt from Operation Triton II will never have be to put into use it is important that we prepare ourselves as best we can for any major event or disaster that may occur in the future.

Around the same time the new Conservative government, in office for less than a day, officially abolished the Department for Energy and Climate Change. It has been absorbed into the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and rechristened the “Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy”. Unfortunately, I suspect it’s not a coincidence that the words “Climate” or “Climate Change” appear nowhere in this new department’s name.

You couldn’t make up a more extreme contrast if you tried. While local government and its partners are actively preparing for the potential risks and consequences of climate change, central government has killed off the only department in Whitehall that saw planning for and mitigating the effects of climate change as a serious priority.

I’ve written in the past that the scientists believe that we have passed the point of no return when it comes to climate change. It’s no longer a question about whether there will be any consequences. The question now is about how bad the consequences are going to be.

In Tameside we are doing as much as we can to reduce our own carbon footprint, including planting trees, increasing recycling, rolling out LED lighting and designing our buildings to be more energy efficient. The truth however is that taking real and ambitious action on climate change can’t be done at a local level. We need national leadership to promote environmentally friendly policies not just across the country, but within the international community as well. At a time where it is needed more than ever, that leadership is sorely laTriton 1cking.

This June has been the hottest June globally since we began measuring the temperature of the planet. It is the ninth consecutive month that the record for the highest global temperature has been broken. This is the new normal. The sooner we recognise that, the sooner we can start doing something about it.

The Tameside Spaceman Lands in Manchester

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

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Last week Tameside Council came together with other organisations and residents of Greater Manchester to take part in the sixth annual Manchester Day parade. Inspired by the Thanksgiving Parades of New York, Manchester Day celebrates our history, our ingenuity, our communities and everything else that helps to make Manchester one of the world’s most iconic and recognisable cities.

It’s an idea that the city has taken to its heart, and since 2009 the Manchester Parade has only gotten bigger and better each year. All the Manchester Day parades are built around a particular theme. For 2016 the theme was “Eureka!”, a celebration of Manchester as a city at the forefront of discovery. Considering that Manchester is currently celebrating its year as the European City of Science, it was a theme that was especially fitting.

It’s estimated that up to 100,000 people watched a parade put on by charities, community groups, public bodies and companies. I’m sure that as they watched the parade, which was over a mile long and took an hour to pass any one point, they would have noticed Tameside’s contribution; a huge spaceman under the banner “Reach for the Stars”. It was a particularly appropriate piece as Saturday was also the day when Tim Peake returned to Earth from his six-month stay in the International Space Station.

But we didn’t join in the Manchester Day parade for the sake of it. The birth of the Tameside spaceman wouldn’t have been possible without a £17,000 grant from the Ministry of Defence’s covenant fund. The fund aims to support projects which bring together civilian and military communities to increase understanding between them. To this end, we brought together local armed services veterans, Scouts and Guides to work with our Cultural Services team to design, build and carry the Tameside spaceman for the parade. Stamping our presence in the heart of the city while at the same time building bridges between communities at home, I can’t think of a better example to show our ambitions for both Tameside and Greater Manchester.

If you want to find more pictures and information about Manchester Days, past and present, you can go to the official Manchester Day website here. If you missed the day and wanted to see the Tameside spaceman, we’ll be bringing it out again for the Armed Forces Day celebrations in Victoria Park, Denton on Saturday 25th June (1-4pm). And finally, I hope you’ll join me in thanking everybody who helped make Tameside’s contribution to Manchester Day a resounding success. Let’s keep working together to make it the first of many.

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