CONSERVATIVE LEADER HIGHLIGHTS LABOUR’S FAILURE TO PROTECT TAMESIDE’S ECONOMY, RESIDENTS, YOUNGSTERS & HEALTH
In response to the Labour Council Leader’s annual State of the Area Address, the Tameside Conservative Leader, Cllr. John Bell this year highlighted the failings of the Labour council beyond their meaningless accolades for hanging baskets and tick-box inspections.
Failings that mean, “…residents feel unsafe to walk the streets at night. Where children get left behind their national peers. Where the health of our residents is the one of the worst in the country.”
SPEECH BY CLLR. JOHN BELL [CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY]
This State of Area Address takes place against a backdrop that sees our nation teetering on the verge of bankruptcy.
It is now the second Area Address in succession to be presented during a recession – a recession that is now the longest and deepest recession since records began.
This Government will leave us a nightmare legacy at the end of this Parliament that spells real trouble for families and businesses in this borough.
Figures out last week saw public borrowing this month at EIGHTY-EIGHT times worse than this time last year.
Meanwhile, according to the Bank of England, lending to business is falling at the fastest rate since records began.
The terrible irony is that the Treasury is borrowing much of this money to prop up the banks – who are then hoarding the money.
What is really terrifying is that the Government seems to be in total denial about how extremely serious our economic plight is.
Its only response in the Queen’s speech was an utterly ridiculous law that demands the reduction of the budget deficit without actually saying how.
Brown would have more chance legislating for sun on a Tuesday.
At yesterday’s CBI conference, Brown, once again, repeated his mantra that only state funding and more central state meddling can see Britain through the recession – as if that hasn’t brought us to this situation in the first place.
Everybody knows what must inevitably happen. Public spending must be dramatically cut, after Labour’s decade of irresponsible spending and squander.
Instead, our delusional Prime Minister wants to carry on regardless, unveiling more unfunded plans for public spending.
Maybe he could have carried on regardless if his public spending hadn’t have been so shambolic, but our public sector projects are £19 billion over budget, and, last week, the Local Government Association identified that £4.5 billion is wasted in the Labour Government’s red tape.
The chances are that somebody else will have to clear up the Brown mess after the next General Election.
For now though, we know Jedward are gone, but we’re still left with Deadwood…
ECONOMIC IMPACT ON TAMESIDE
The impact of Labour’s failed economic plan has had a catastrophic effect in Tameside.
In the last two years:
- There has been an on-going increase in the borough’s unemployed.
- The number of benefit claimants has increased by 122 per cent – from 3,127 in October 2007 to 6,939 in October 2009 – the third highest increase in Greater Manchester.
- The number of benefit claimants between the ages of 18 and 24 has increased by 25 per cent.
- Tameside has the lowest number of full-time available vacancies, and second lowest number of part-time available vacancies, in Greater Manchester. In total there are less than 800 job vacancies in Tameside – amounting to just one vacancy for every nine benefit claimants.
- Tameside workers have the second lowest wages in Greater Manchester. On average, they earn £983-a-year less than the Greater Manchester average wage, £988-a-year less than the North West average wage, and £2,101-a-year less than the national average wage.
Whilst the Conservatives have supported Tameside Council’s Works First initiative, it is clear that the impact of Labour’s recession has hit tens of thousands of homes in the borough.
TAMESIDE LABOUR’S RECORD
Tameside Labour’s record is one based on tick-box inspections and huge propaganda, whilst core service delivery remains questionable.
In total, £362,480 was spent on Government inspections in 2008/09.
However, the inspections are flawed, and the cost of propaganda does not, in any way, provide value for money for council taxpayers.
Labour has an enviable record for scoring well in inspections, but who inspects the inspectors?
It has recently been revealed that Tameside Council’s previous auditors, failed to find mistakes amounting to £5.3 million on the 2008/09 balance sheet.
They were paid £235,000 for this inspection.
Can we expect Tameside Council to be demanding a refund from our former auditors for their inspection incompetence?
How can the inspection process be trusted when failures of this magnitude occur?
In 2009/10 Labour will spend the following amounts on propaganda:
- Increase in the Marketing & Communications’ budget – £160,000
- Tameside Citizen, The Wire, Tameside TV – £121,000
- Community Notice Boards, street art, cultural developments, bronze statues and maps – £419,000
In total, these items alone will amount to almost £700,000 in 2009/10.
Furthermore, this money will have come directly from the money raised via Council Tax and not capital grant money, as suggested recently by a number of Labour councillors.
What does this mean for our residents?
It means that our residents live in a borough where the council has failed to get a grip of endemic problems in the borough’s neighbourhoods.
Where residents feel unsafe to walk the streets at night.
Where children get left behind their national peers.
Where the health of our residents is the one of the worst in the country.
Labour’s community safety record is truly criminal.
Tameside Council has a multi-million pound community safety budget, but year-on-year little significant impact is made on crime, with youth annoyance and anti-social behaviour still endemic.
The police are let down by Labour policy that fails to give them the necessary support to do their job.
WE KNOW LABOUR PREFERS HIRED SECURITY GUARDS TO EXTRA POLICE OFFICERS
They are paying for private security guards to patrol the streets of Tameside.
They ordered the patrols, in response to uncontrollable youth annoyance and anti-social behaviour in Dukinfield – a panic measure in response to their failure to combat anti-social behaviour.
The security guards have no legislative right to enforce the law, yet according to a company representative they are, “…breaking up groups, moving them on, taking them back to their parents.”
Patrolling with a Rottweiler dog, the security guards are all “ex-military” and their aim is to, “…get things done.”
How do they ‘get things done’, with their Rottweiler dog, when they have no legislative right to do the duties they are undertaking?
Who sanctioned these patrols?
Who has liability for the patrols in the event of a member of the public getting injured?
Why does Tameside Council prefer to employ the services of private security guards when they could be providing extra funding for the police?
For less than £2million-a-year, Tameside Council could support the recruitment of 100 Specials to work a 20-hour week, as well as 20 full-time officers. All in support of our neighbourhood policing teams, to target hotspot areas of high anti-social behaviour and youth annoyance.
Unfortunately Labour chose to condemn such an idea because they prefer Rottweilers to fully –trained police officers.
Labour is failing our young people in Tameside, with cuts to the youth service. As a result, youth annoyance and anti-social behaviour is endemic in the borough.
BINGE DRINKING & DRUGS
Young people across Tameside are putting their lives at risk by binge drinking on a regular basis.
A report by North West Trading Standards put Tameside in the top five worst places in the North West for heavy drinking among 14 to 17-year-olds.
The report found that the borough’s young people were:
- 40 per cent more likely to use illegal drugs and to have mental health problems.
- 60 per cent more likely to have been homeless, and ran almost double the risk of criminal convictions.
- 40 per cent more likely to have had accidents.
- Almost four times as likely to have been excluded from school and 30 per cent more likely to have gained no qualifications.
In March 2007, following a report that children as young as nine were drinking in the streets of Dukinfield, it was reported in the press that Labour councillor David Sweeton said, “We cannot have this on our streets. It’s tantamount to child abuse.”
Yet still Labour seem to be doing little to combat this ‘child abuse’, with incidence of alcohol-related youth annoyance high, causing misery to residents on a daily basis.
YOUTH OFFENDING TEAM ONLY MEETS “MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS”
Is it any wonder that youth offending is out of control when a Government joint inspection of Tameside’s Youth Offending Team found that, “…potential was not being fully realised,” and that, ”…Inconsistent performance, compounded by recording deficits and a lack of organisational resilience, diminished the overall standards achieved…”
The inspection also found, “…insufficient consistency of operational performance or focus on the aim of reducing offending.”
Furthermore, whilst, “…Many staff in prevention services showed considerable energy and enthusiasm… A lack of continuity of funding, relatively unfocused targeting of children and young people and insufficient assessments diminished the otherwise positive delivery of services.”
For all criteria – including “management & leadership” – Tameside’s Youth Offending Team was found only to meet “minimum requirements”.
Don’t Tameside’s young people deserve better?
Shouldn’t residents, whose lives are blighted by anti-social behaviour, expect more for the Council Tax they pay?
HEALTH & SOCIAL CARE
THE HEALTH OF TAMESIDE IS “SIGNIFICANTLY WORSE” THAN THE NATIONAL AVERAGE – ACCORDING TO THE LATEST HEALTH PROFILE
Rates for obesity, drug misuse, and alcoholism are some of the worst in the country.
As a consequence, rates for heart disease, strokes, cancer, and deaths from smoking are ‘significantly worse’ than the national average, with people nationally living, on average, more than two years longer than their Tameside counterparts.
The findings come in this year’s Tameside Health Profile, published by the Department of Health and the Association of Public Health Observatories.
Of 31 relevant indicators contained in the report, Tameside is rated ‘significantly worse’ than the national average in 24 areas, despite the borough being a ‘spearhead’ target area to tackle poor health.
Worryingly, the poor health rates are not confined to adults. Poor rates of child poverty, educational achievement, physical activity, tooth decay, smoking during pregnancy and teenage pregnancies are all cause for concern. Mercifully, childhood obesity and infant deaths are not significantly different from the national average.
FOR THE SECOND YEAR RUNNING TAMESIDE IS NAMED AMONGST THE TEN WORST AREAS FOR ALCOHOL-RELATED PROBLEMS AND DISEASE – OUT OF 300 LOCAL AUTHORITY AREAS.
Tameside is above the national average – in some cases significantly – for almost all of the 23 ‘indicators’ including the number of alcohol-related admissions to hospital, which has increased every year since 2002.
The evidence against Labour’s health failing is damning, yet in a report that went to the Executive Cabinet on the 4th November 2009, no mention of these failings was reported. Instead a litany of bureaucratic “identified strengths” was reported.
FUND CUTS FOR SERVICES FOR THE BLIND?
According to a letter from the Tameside Blind Association to the Executive Director for Community Services, dated 8th November 2009, and which was received by all councillors, “…there may be a withdrawal of the funding” for the RNIB’s Talking Blind Book Service.
This service costs Tameside Council just £7,500-a-year.
The letter states, “…The services provided by Tameside Libraries… cannot compare with the range offered by the Talking Book Service. we urge you to think again before making the decision to withdraw this service to this vulnerabel group of residents.”
In the meantime, an official Tameside Council news release reports that the Mayor (Cllr. John Sullivan) and Cllr. Jim Fitzpatrick are providing the Tameside Talking News for the Blind with a £450 cheque for a laptop.
Cllr Sullivan said: “I invited the volunteers to the parlour to say thank you for giving up their own time to provide such a valuable service to the local community. However when I realised they were struggling with such old, time consuming and limited equipment I thought we might be able to do something more practical to acknowledge our appreciation of their efforts.”
Cllr Fitzpatrick said: “This is just the kind of cause I’m keen to support as so many people will benefit – not just the volunteers but also the many local people who make use of their service.”
Whilst Labour are happy to boast of a £450 donation, they are not so eager to boast of the £7,500 funding they could be withdrawing.
It appears that what Labour giveth with one hand, they taketh away more with the other.
According to a flawed inspection regime, Tameside is a four-star rated local authority that is very good at producing hanging baskets.
However, the facts I have outlined speak for themselves.
No amount of inspections and hanging baskets can hide these facts – which have an impact on residents every single day.
Whilst Labour congratulates itself on another irrelevant tick box award, they are in self-denial about the reality many residents now face.
Labour has had 30 years to deal with these issues in Tameside, and the borough is still left looking for answers.