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Posts Tagged ‘ProudTameside’

Creating the Next Generation of Coders

Friday, January 27th, 2017

Coded on a BBC Micro and released in 1984, space trading simulator “Elite” went on to sell over a million copies and influences the genre to this day.

If you went to school in the 1980s you’ll almost certainly have run into the BBC Micro at some point. Launched in 1982 and designed with an emphasis on education, this unassuming grey box became the gateway for an entire generation of young people to learn about coding, computing and software development. British technology luminaries such as David Braben (who used the BBC Micro to develop “Elite”, one of the most influential and best-selling video games of all time) and David Darling (founder of Warwickshire-based games development company Codemasters) owe their careers to a decision 30 years ago to not just teach young people how to use new technologies, but to provide the resources for them to apply their own creativity as well.

Fast forward to 2017, and we have access to technology whose power and scope is beyond anything that could have been imagined by those 1980s schoolchildren. Now more than ever, it is important to make sure our children have a solid understanding in how these technologies work. We don’t expect them to all become technology and computer entrepreneurs, but we don’t expect everyone who learns English to become a writer or everyone who learns Maths to become a mathematician either. We teach reading, writing and maths because they are essential to understanding the world in which we live. If it isn’t already, knowing how technology works will soon be as important to get on in life as those other basic skills.

With that in mind, the BBC has updated the venerable old Micro for the 21st century. The BBC Micro Bit, inspired by similar devices such as Raspberry Pi, is a far smaller (about half the size of a credit card) but also far more powerful device than its predecessor. Simple programming tasks, like setting its LEDs to light up in a certain pattern, can be done using just the Micro Bit itself. However, it can also be connected up via Bluetooth or USB to other Micro Bits or electronic devices to create and use more complicated programs. The dedicated www.microbit.org website also contains enough software and tools so that the Micro Bit’s possibilities are limited only by the imagination of its user.

The Micro Bit has already made its way to our country’s schools, but here in Tameside we want to go above and beyond in the name of teaching our children about technology. Our commitment was enshrined at the start of last year in our “Every Child a Coder” 16 for 2016 Pledge, and after the success of our Tameside Hack in the summer we’re in the process of finalising our plans to hold a second Hackathon over the February half-term. We’re also putting on free starter sessions for young people in Years 6, 7 and 8 at Hyde Library to help them find their way around the BBC Micro Bit and program some great projects. The first session took place this Monday, but spaces are still available at the time of writing for the second session on the 30th January. The event is completely free and you can book your place on the dedicated webpage here.

I’ve always had the view that education is not just a means to get a job and build a future, although those are undoubtedly important. It is a valuable thing in and of itself. Maybe one of the children at our Hackathon or Micro Bit sessions will go on to create the next great video game or computer program in 20 or so years, but I won’t consider our work a failure if that doesn’t happen. If we can open our young people’s minds to the possibilities and opportunities that technology can offer them to understand not just the world, but themselves, then that is an excellent return on investment in my book.

Support Local Businesses This Independent Retailer Month

Friday, July 8th, 2016

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Since 2011 the month of July has been marked down on the calendar as Independent Retailer Month. The month highlights the vital role that smaller, local, independent retailers play in our communities, our economies and in the retail sector as a whole.

It’s true that for some people the convenience of supermarkets, having everything you need under the one roof, is a convenience that can’t be beat. However, I would like to take this opportunity to urge anybody who hasn’t tried shopping locally to give it a go, and I’ll give you several good reasons to do so.

The first, and most obvious, is that more of the money that is spent in an independent retailer goes not into a multi-national company’s bank account or the pockets of distant shareholders, but directly back into the local economy. It’s estimated that for every £1 spent with a small or local business, 63p stays in the local economy compared to 40p with larger businesses. That might not sound like a lot at first, but it adds up very quickly.

Secondly, small businesses help build and strengthen communities. They are embedded in, and respond to, their communities in a way that larger businesses simply cannot. Even something as simple as a local food shop stocking more of a popular choice of food highlights the kind of bonds that can be built between local businesses and their customers. Furthermore, while one supermarket is likely to look the same as every other one, there is far more variety between small businesses, giving every community its own unique look and identity.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the beating heart of entrepreneurship and innovation in the UK isn’t on “Dragon’s Den” or “The Apprentice”. It’s in the markets, the town centres and the high streets of every community in the UK. 60% of all private sector employment in the UK is in small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and the road to providing high-paid, high-quality work in Tameside runs through investing in and supporting our local businesses. There’s simply no other way to achieve our goals for the borough.

We’ve launched a number of schemes to do exactly that, from encouraging apprenticeships, to renovating our award-winning markets, to throwing our weight behind national events like Small Business Saturday. We’re also continuing to run the Tameside Loyalty Card Scheme, which allows residents to get great deals at a variety of local businesses. So far there have been 355 special offers on from 232 businesses across Tameside, covering everything from exercise classes to restaurant meal deals.

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So support Tameside, support Independent Retailer Month and save yourself a bit of money into the bargain. Together we will build a strong and unique community that we can all be proud of.

 

Dementia Awareness Week in Tameside

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

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Over the past few decades we have seen extraordinary developments in medicine and technology, allowing people to live longer and better lives than they could have hoped for at any other time in history. In the space of a century in Britain the average life expectancy at birth has gone from 47 to 79 for men and 50 to 83 for women.

I know of very few people who would argue that this is a bad thing, but as we all start living longer we have to face up to things that those who came before us would never have survived long enough to encounter. Of all of these, arguably none is more prevalent or feared as dementia.

The figures do not lie. In 2013 it was estimated that there were 815,827 living with dementia in the UK, 773,502 (94.8%) of who were aged 65 and over. If the prevalence of dementia rises the way it is expected to rise, this will increase to 1,142,677 by 2025 and 2,092,945 by 2051. That’s 156% more than are afflicted with dementia today. Already it is hard to find somebody who hasn’t experienced family or friends who are suffering or have suffered through dementia, and it looks like that’s the way things are going to stay for the future.

All of which makes it even more important than we all know the basic facts about the disease so we can identify its onset and find out how we can support and connect with those living with the condition. Key to this is making sure that people receive a quick and accurate diagnosis, as this is what unlocks the gateway to further support.

That’s why we’re supporting Dementia Awareness Week in Tameside. From 15th-22nd May there will be a variety of activities and events for those living with dementia, their families and/or carer, and those who simply want to know more about the disease.

As well as putting on a variety of fun and creative activities we will also be encouraging people to sign up to be dementia friends, helping them understand what it is like to live with the disease and learn the little things they can do to help. These dementia friend sessions can either be attended at one of several locations across Tameside. Go to https://www.dementiafriends.org.uk/register-digital-friend to register and find out more. A complete list of other Dementia Awareness Week activities in Tameside can be found at on our website at http://public.tameside.gov.uk/pressreleases/f1030pressreleasestory107.asp?story=1046&keyword=.

We fully intend to practice what we preach. Every elected member in Tameside will be attending a Dementia Friend session before Full Council next week. Together we can all help to make life as comfortable as possible for those living with the disease, and we can all start doing it right now. I’m completely behind Dementia Awareness Week, and I know the people of Tameside will be as well.

Moving Forward for Tameside

Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

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After a break of over a month to comply with election law, I’m delighted to be able to resume my blog with some great news about the council’s achievements and our work going forward from the election.

Back in March we walked away with Council of the Year at the 2016 LGC Awards, beating out local authorities like Leeds, Norwich and Cornwall in the process. Since then we have been shortlisted for three more awards for specific areas of the council’s work.

Our ground-breaking new recycling scheme, which has delivered one of the most dramatic increases in recycling rates in the country, has been nominated for an award by the Municipal Journal magazine. If that wasn’t enough, a collaboration of Tameside teaching staff has been shortlisted for the “English Team of the Year” prize in the national TES Schools Awards and Millbrook Primary School has been also shortlisted in the same awards for ”Primary School of the Year”. The finals for all three of these will be held in June, and I hope to be able to give you yet more good news when the time comes. The work of our Care Together and workforce development teams has also been recognised and commended.

Last week also saw the voters of Tameside get their say on how we are doing, and I’m glad that once more they have chosen to place their faith in Tameside Labour to continue delivering for the borough. Our candidates took 18 out of the 20 seats up for election, with a share of 52% of the vote across the borough.

Over the past twelve months many of our long-term plans for Tameside have started to come to fruition. We’ve taken a big step on the journey that is Vision Tameside by officially opening the new Clarendon Sixth Form college. We transformed the Ashton Old Baths into a digital and creative business incubator fit for the 21st century. We brought cotton spinning back to Tameside for the first time in over a century. We led the way on bringing pension funds across the country together to drive growth and investment. We successfully turned our 15 pledges for 2015 from words into action, and we’re doing the same this year with our 16 pledges for 2016.

But we cannot be complacent. We are judged not only on what we have delivered in the past, but on what we will deliver in the future. I make this promise today to the people of Tameside; we will continue to put in the hard work to improve our economy and society to protect us today and prepare us for tomorrow. This will include making the changes to promote growth and opportunity for all, pioneering new ways of maintaining services in the face of government cuts, and leading innovation and investment locally and nationally.

With the endorsement of our residents and the recognition of our peers, we should have the confidence to move forward together and complete the task we have been given. As always, I promise to keep you informed and involved every step of the way.

£20 Million of Investment in Leisure

Thursday, March 24th, 2016

Just before Christmas last year I announced that the council was launching a wide-ranging consultation on how we make the Tameside leisure estate sustainable and provide the people of Tameside with the facilities they deserve.  In light of the deteriorating state of our existing buildings and our ambitions to shape the health and life expectancy of our residents we felt that radical action was necessary to make sure that our leisure effort remained fit for purpose in the future.

We wanted and expected the people of Tameside to have their opinions on the matter, and the feedback you’ve given us has been invaluable in helping us to improve our plans. That’s why I can announce that we have now developed and agreed a £20 million programme of investment into local sports and leisure facilities. Whether you take part in sport on a serious basis or just want to be active so you can stay healthier for longer; you will soon be able to do so in some of the best facilities that Greater Manchester has to offer.

We know from the consultation that access to swimming facilities formed a large part of your concerns, so let me put any fears you may have to rest on that now. These proposals will create 2480 square metres of available pool space in Tameside – an increase of nearly 200 square metres on the current provision. This space will come from adding a swimming pool to the existing aqua-facilities at Active Hyde, and from our centrepiece facility, a new Wellness Centre for Tameside. Located in Denton, it will contain an eight-lane 25-metre competition standard swimming pool, learner pool, gym, sauna, soft-play area, tin-pin bowling facility, sensory suite and café.

But our plans go far beyond increasing our swimming pool space, and into other areas of health and fitness. Active Dukinfield will be converted into a sports village, including a gym and fitness suite, crèche, soft play facilities, and a café concession. After the Wellness Centre in Denton is completed, we will put together plans to refurbish or replace the pool at Active Ashton, guaranteeing that a swimming facility will remain in the town. We are also committed to the creation of a play centre at the old Active Longdendale site in Mottram.

We’ve been able to sign off on the cost of these programmes for two reasons. Firstly, we’ve taken lessons from the success of the Sky High Adventure Centre on how incorporating a commercial offer into our leisure and health facilities can attract private investment and reduce costs for the council and taxpayers. Secondly, physical inactivity in Tameside costs us at least £21.5 million per year in avoidable health, social care and economic productivity costs. Even a 1% increase in physical activity among our residents would generate annual savings of around £650,000. Getting Tameside active is as good for our finances as it is for our health.

I won’t apologise for investing in the well-being of our residents and our economy, and the proposals that you’ve helped us to create will allow us to do exactly that. To those who took part in the consultation, thank you once again. I look forward to working with you in the future to turn these proposals into a reality.

Ashton Old Baths: Remembering Our Past, Looking to our Future

Friday, March 18th, 2016

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Our heritage is a massive part of what makes Tameside such a special place. While we always look to the future, we draw strength and inspiration from our past as we do so. That’s why I’m delighted to announce that this Saturday we will bear witness to the rebirth of the Ashton Old Baths. Through digital projections, choreographed dancing and a thematic soundtrack the opening celebration will be themed around “New Beginnings” as we tell the story of the building’s 146 year old history.

And what a history it is. Designed by Henry Paul and George Robinson and opened to the public in 1870, the original baths were one of the first public facilities of its kind anywhere in the UK. The original swimming pool was 100 feet long, 40 feet wide and held over 120,000 gallons of water. When they were originally built, the Baths stood as the statement of a proud borough looking towards a bright future, and they served the people of Tameside for over a century until they fell out of use.

Even then, they still had a special place in the hearts of many. During events like our Heritage Open Days it wasn’t unusual to see people lining up down the street to spend just two minutes in a building that formed such an important part of their childhood. We weren’t willing to stand by and let an iconic piece of Tameside’s history crumble away. In 2013, the Council worked with the previous owners, the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to secure the necessary funding to give the grand old building a second life fit for the 21st century.

After 3 years of hard work, on Saturday the Ashton Old Baths will begin its new life as a cutting-edge business incubator centre. Its new main purpose will be to support the creation and expansion of innovative businesses with high growth potential, mainly in the creative, media and digital sectors. In the coming months a commercial will be appointed, final fit-out works completed and initial tenants recruited. Together with our rollout of high speed broadband connections, free Wi-Fi in our town centres and our investment in skills education and training through Vision Tameside, the Ashton Old Baths will form a key part of our plan to shift Tameside’s economy to focus on high-skill, high-quality manufacturing and technology.

These efforts have already started to bear fruit even at this early stage, as the work has allowed us to employ two apprentices in heritage construction and heritage event management. The event on Saturday is also the culmination of our efforts to keep the community involved and engaged with the project every step of the way, as hundreds of local residents and schoolchildren visited the building while renovations were ongoing to learn about its architecture, history and design.

The opening celebration, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities, will begin outside Ashton Old Baths at 19:30 on Saturday 19th March. It is not ticketed and everybody who wants to celebrate the beginning of a new chapter in Tameside’s history is invited. I hope to see you all there.

Creating Generation Savers in Tameside

Tuesday, March 15th, 2016

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In Tameside we value young people. It’s an easy thing to say, but turning words into action can be another matter entirely, which is why at the end of last year we set up a Tameside Youth Council to help us do exactly that.  Despite the complaints of some who still seem to think that young people should be seen and not heard, it’s taken less than three months for them to deliver valuable input. They’ve correctly pointed out that we still have work to do in making sure that all our young people are taught essential life skills. Foremost among these life skills is financial management.

Our pledge to enrol every child starting high school in Tameside into a credit union account with £10 to start them off was a direct result of what the Youth Council have told us. I’ve heard some absolute nonsense from the usual suspects about what this pledge actually means, so today I want to set the record straight.

This is not giving our children free money. They cannot walk into the credit union, take out the £10 and spend it on what they fancy. The money is a reward that we expect them to earn through learning the basics of financial management and building a relationship with respectable financial institutions. It’s an investment in their education and future that will pay off multiple times over further down the line.

Because we’ve seen what happens when we don’t teach our children these basic life skills. We’ve done a lot of work to crack down on loan shark and their legal equivalent, payday lenders, in Tameside, but the best way to put them out of business is to make sure that nobody ever feels the need to use them in the first place. Creating a savings culture is the single best way to achieve that. All the research says that doesn’t happen overnight or by itself, and the younger our children are when they start to learn it, the better.

It’s not like we’re the only ones to have realised this. Locally, Glasgow and Southwark Councils have launched their own schemes. At a national level, expanding credit unions and encouraging saving habits has the support from politicians of almost every party. You won’t find Stella Creasy (Labour), Damian Hinds (Conservative), Mark Williams (Liberal Democrats), Douglas Carswell (UKIP) and the Archbishop of Canterbury agreeing on many things, but on this they speak with one voice.

This isn’t about right and left, this is about the right and wrong things to teach our children. Anybody who comes out against this pledge needs to explain what they’d do instead to make sure the next generation grows up with financial sense, and why we should ignore taking action on something that we’ve been told is a priority to the young people of Tameside. I think this is an innovative and exciting approach to a serious issue, and I look forward to seeing it being put into practice.

 

A Proud History of Arms: Tameside's First Victoria Cross

Friday, September 25th, 2015

The Victoria Cross has been awarded 1,358 times to 1,355 individual recipients.

Throughout most of the history of this island men (and later on, women) from Tameside and its historical predecessors have fought with gallantry and distinction in Britain and lands further afield. It is therefore only fitting to commemorate the fact that this month 160 years ago a Tameside man became one of the first recipients of the Victoria Cross, and the first non-officer to achieve the award.

Although the Victoria Cross was not established until 1857 several awards were backdated to recognise acts of bravery during the Crimean War 1853-56. One of these acts was undertaken by Andrew Moynihan. Originally born in Wakefield in 1831, Moynihan moved to Dukinfield at a very young age and lived near Crescent Road. Up until he joined the army at 17 his life was typical for most young Tameside men of that time. He went to school at the Wesleyan Methodist School on Mill Lane, Ashton and worked for periods in Flash Hall Mill (which stood on the site now occupied by Tameside Central Library on Old Street, Ashton) and James Ogden’s Mill in Hall Green, Dukinfield.

It was at the Battle of Sevastopol that Moynihan etched his name into the annals of British military history while assaulting an armoured citadel known as the Redan. Despite suffering no fewer than 12 wounds Moynihan, by this point a Sergeant in the 90th Regiment of the Perthshire Volunteers, killed five Russians and rescued two officers under heavy fire. For this act he became the first non-officer to receive the Victoria Cross. He went on to earn his officer’s commission and the year after was honoured on his return to Dukinfield at the Astley Arms, where he was presented with a golden watch inscribed “Presented to Ensign Moynihan by the inhabitants of Dukinfield for his gallant conduct in the attack on the Redan on the morning of September 8, 1855 – September 26, 1856”.

Ensign Moynihan’s career did not end with Sevastopol and the Crimea. He served with the forces that suppressed the Indian Mutiny in 1857 and was then stationed in Ireland and Gibraltar. By 1865 he was a Captain and appointed musketry instructor for the island of Malta. Tragically, this would be his last posting, as he died on May 1867 of brucellosis from drinking unsterilized goat’s milk. He was 37 years old. His body was buried in Malta, while his Victoria Cross is currently on display at the regimental museum of the Cameronians in Hamilton, South Lanarkshire.

Despite his premature end, Andrew Moynihan and his family continue to make their mark today. Moynihan’s son Berkeley rose

to be a Major General and one of the foremost surgeons of his day, for which he was raised to the peerage. The present Lord Moynihan, his grandson, is Colin Moynihan, a former Minister for Sport, chairman of the British Olympic Association and the winner of a silver medal for rowing at the 1980 Moscow Olympics. On 14th September 2005 he unveiled a plaque in Dukinfield commemorating the 150th anniversary of his great-grandfather’s achievement.

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