Campaigners win right to reduce number of councillors in Tameside by two-thirds
As 2010 saw the harshest spending cuts for several generations in the borough, there is one cutback some voters may well be in favour of seeing. In the local press and on the internet, some people have floated the idea of reducing the number of councillors.
From today, their wish was granted. At present, Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council has 57 ward councillors, 51 of which Labour, and 6 Conservatives. In the forthcoming local elections, there will be a two-thirds fewer councillors standing. Unbeknown to the campaigners, in spite of getting their wish, is that there will be still be three councillors per ward. How?
Leaked Report Suggests Boundary Changes
Being as it is impossible to reduce the number of councillors per ward in a Metropolitan Borough without a Parliamentary Bill, there will be significant changes to the boundary of Tameside MBC. According to a leaked report, these changes will see a leaner Tameside, comprised only of Audenshaw, Denton and Ashton-under-Lyne. The number of councillors will be reduced to 24, not quite the 19 wished for by its campaigners.
Droylsden will join an expanded Manchester City Council with six ward councillors taking their positions in Albert Square rather than opposite the Outdoor Market in Ashton-under-Lyne.
Hyde, Stalybridge, Dukinfield and Mossley will form part of a new Metropolitan Borough Council with governmental functions ran from Dukinfield Town Hall and Whitehall (Mossley) in the short term. Known as Pennine Moorlands Borough Council, its area will cover the aforementioned Tameside towns and the Saddleworth villages, seceding from Oldham Council.
Longdendale is set to form part of the new Howard Town Borough Council. As part of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s proposed expansion, the new borough would see Glossop, New Mills, Hayfield and Hadfield part of Greater Manchester instead of Derbyshire. It is proposed that The Victoria Hall in Glossop would be the new assembly rooms for Howard Town MBC.
From 2015, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority is set to have twelve Borough Councils, with Pennine Moors and Howard Town its new additions, seceding from Tameside, Oldham and High Peak Borough Councils. Therefore, the future make up of local government in our area could be as follows, based on previous local election results:
- 24 Labour (four wards, Ashton-under-Lyne; one ward, Audenshaw; three wards, Denton);
- 22 Labour (predominantly from Hyde Werneth to Mossley);
- 7 Liberal Democrats (all within Saddleworth wards);
- 7 Conservative (whole Stalybridge South ward, two in Hyde Werneth, two Saddleworth South).
- 18 Labour (predominantly around Glossop, Tintwistle and New Mills wards, including Longdendale);
- 4 Conservative;
- 2 Independent;
- 1 Liberal Democrats.
The forthcoming changes are designed to make local government less remote than at present. If you have any comments and objections in the consultation period, feel free to air them by the 01 April 2014, 12 midday.
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With the number of councils on the Greater Manchester Combined Authority set to increase to twelve, thanks to the adoption of Glossop and New Mills, it is claimed that the changes would better represent the conurbation’s travel to work area. Though the towns within the new Pennine Moorlands MBC and Longdendale already benefit from the GMCA’s services, the new Howard Town MBC will benefit.
The new Greater Manchester Combined Authority boundaries will cover all the Longdendale Reservoirs, Kinder Scout and the Swizzels Matlow sweet factory.
The new smaller Tameside MBC will honour existing plans to demolish and build a Son of TAC along with the new Camp Street campus of Tameside College. However, plans to merge Denton and Dukinfield swimming pools into one, on a new site may be superseded in favour of an upgraded Denton Baths on Haughton Green, complete with a new Public Library.
Pennine Moorlands MBC:
In the long term, PMMBC hopes to move to new Council Offices in Oakwood Mill in Millbrook, which will also double as a Conference Centre. Functions from Stalybridge Civic Hall will be transferred to Oakwood Mill, with Victoria Market returning to its proper use as a Market Hall. New community centres will be built on the boundary of Dukinfield and Stalybridge and Millbrook.
Plans to expand Saddleworth School by moving to Diggle will be quashed in favour of refurbishing the Uppermill site and expanding Copley Academy. Instead of moving the library to its town hall, it is set to stay in its present Union Street site with the Pennine Moorlands Local Studies Library occupying the basement.
The boundary point at the Great Western Hotel will be marked by a life size bronze statue of John ‘Blind Jack of Knaresborough’ Metcalf as a tribute to his construction of the road to Diggle and Marsden.
By 2020, it is hoped that PMMBC will revive the Stalybridge, Hyde, Mossley and Dukinfield Joint Board and the North Western Road Car Company bus operations.
Howard Town MBC:
The people in Howard Town MBC boundaries have felt let down by the local Tories which have ran down public services in the mainly Labour New Mills and Glossop areas. Top of their list of concerns is the extortionate amount their locality’s schoolchildren pay in bus fares. Therefore, changes would see Glossop, Hadfield, Gamesley and Hayfield schoolchildren fall under Transport for Greater Manchester’s concessionary fares system.
Howard Town MBC proposes the restoration of waste disposal facilities and Glossop County Court. The former would reopen under Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority’s jurisdiction. There will also be a long term goal towards the opening of a railway station in Gamesley, the reopening of the Woodhead line as part of a possible HS3 route from Holyhead to Hull, plus the restoration of the 239 and 397 bus services.
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Your Questions Answered
- Why is Tameside MBC cutting back its councillors? In response to popular opinion, its inhabitants have advocated cutting the number of councillors by two-thirds and got what they wanted.
- Did Tameside MBC have a say in this proposal? Not at all; campaigners in favour of its reduction wrote to Eric Pickles M.P., the minister for Local Government and within two days of receiving their petition, emailed them with a message saying ‘split up or **** out’ – which in laypersons terms meant ‘Your council is too big and needs splitting’.
- That sounds odd, they are only supposed to do that to companies. Why? In an episode not too dissimilar to the splitting of GM Buses in December 1993, it was claimed they were too big and remote. They said they were ‘too Labour’ but the new council will be more of a Labour stronghold than before.
- Couldn’t they have had the same population as before and reduce the councillors by two-thirds anyway? They could have done, but this would have meant one person doing the work of three in each ward and a Parliamentary Bill meaning a two year process at great expense. Which would have meant less representation. Instead they chose to reduce the size of their council and allow for some boundary changes.
- Is this why Droylsden and Longdendale have moved to Manchester City Council and the new Howard Town Metropolitan Borough Council respectively? Yes.
- Dukinfield could be run by Whitehall. What does that mean? Don’t panic: this has nothing to do with the centralisation of local government. The Whitehall refers to the one time Mayall family’s humble abode in Mossley a 343 bus ride away, which is also used by Mossley Town Council.
- But surely, these boundary changes would cost more than that present? We know that, but our fellows in the other better known Whitehall don’t know.
- Isn’t this all to do with Greater Manchester getting more greedy? Possibly, but Manchester is a growing city. Its economy is second only to London in prestige and status.
- Does this mean Glossop, Hayfield, New Mills and Tintwistle are no longer in Derbyshire? They still are, in the same way the Royal Mail still accepts letters with ‘Stalybridge, Cheshire’ or ‘Delph, West Riding of Yorkshire’ on their postal addresses. Constitutionally they will be part of the new Howard Town Borough and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority.
- What about the European Elections? As a consequence, all members of Howard Town MBC will fall under the European Union’s North West England constituency. Everywhere else, unchanged.
- When can I comment about the proposals? You can make your comments in writing, or telephone 01 811 8055 during office hours. But be quick, you only have until the 01 April 2014, 12 noon to state your concerns.
S.V., 01 April 2014.