According to the council’s latest press release, they inform us that Tameside was branded the “UK’s heart disease capital” by The British Heart Foundation. And they go on to tell us that it’s not just heart health that has come under scrutiny in the region. Life expectancy is worse than the UK average, because over 18% of children and 26% of adults are considered obese and there are 422 smoking-related deaths a year according to a recent Public Health report!

So, what do they do to put an end to this public health scandal?

Do they put a stop to the council’s plans to introduce more drive-throughs? Close down all the fast food outlets, greasy spoon caravans, take-a-way chip shops, kebab shops and burger bars? 

to this...!

From this...
They have set about trying to dramatically improve our health by changing the branding on the leisure centres, the swimming pools (including the two that they intend to close) give all the staff new uniforms and launch a new website!

And of course it wouldn't be the council if it was not introduced by some spokesperson engaging in ‘council-speak’ like – “Tameside is currently performing significantly below the UK average across a number of key indicators including physical activity and obesity!”

They also tell us that from September, they will be bringing a series of internationally-renowned Les Mills (2) group exercise classes to ‘Active Tameside’ for the first time.

Now for those, like me who've never heard of Les Mills, or his ‘internationally known’ group fitness classes, you'll be interested to learn that it was apparently founded in New Zealand and is allegedly the world’s largest provider of choreographed fitness programmes, combining technology with music. – So, a bit like Jane Fonda’s aerobics programme of the 80’s or another form of Zumba.

Personally, I think they’d have been better off investing in a selection of Mrs Mills video’s for all the use this poorly thought out, incredibly expensive, totally unnecessary re-branding exercise will be in re-invigorating interest in Tameside’s sporting facilities.

Basic knowledge of marketing would have shown the Sports Trusts management that when customers buy your product or service, it’s the experience they receive is what persuades them to buy from you again. Not the style of the logo over the entrance!

If Tameside Sports Trust wanted to increase their sales dramatically and encourage more participants from those who currently are happy living a more sedentary lifestyle, then they needed only to shift their sales focus from attracting new customers to enticing their proven customers to buy and buy again.

Anyone who has a passing knowledge of sales and marketing will confirm that the best sales prospect is a prospect that's already converted - in other words, one of your current customers.

So, more money wasted!



Just under 5 years ago, the alleged cash-strapped Tameside Council spent £1 million refurbishing the Longdendale Recreation Centre, which was transformed into a state-of-the-art gymnastics centre, in order to provide specialist coaching and development for people of all ages and abilities.

At the opening ceremony, the council leaders said: “The Longdendale Gymnastics Centre; which is operated by Tameside Sports Trust, will provide a centre of excellence for the sport in Tameside by helping realise the potential of our young athletes in a modern, safe and welcoming environment”

Fast forward 4 years and we find that Tameside Council have closed the Longdendale Recreation Centre and moved the Gymnastic club down the road into the under-performing Ken Ward Centre, which is also operated by Tameside Sports Trust. This, allegedly is in order to save the council coughing up £140,000 in annual subsidies.

Despite countless letters and emails to the local councillors and protests from residents, Tameside Council pressed ahead and closed the profitable sports centre and sank even more money into the loss making Ken Ward Centre.

Now this was a strange money-saving decision because in order to accommodate the gymnastic absorption from what was the profitable Longdendale Recreation Centre, Tameside Council had to spend £250,000 on the loss making Ken Ward Centre in order to house and allow the continued development of over 800 gymnasts from around the borough.

We are now told that Tameside Sports Trust - the not for profit charity – (who have benefited from a 5-year Grant Agreement with the Council.) who are contracted to operate Tameside Council’s leisure facilities, is to undergo a makeover in which, apparently, it will be re-branded “Active Tameside”. The re-brand will include updated activity programming, more refurbishments, new uniforms, a new website, social media platforms and signage - all repackaged as “Active Tameside”

Of course neither Tameside Council nor Tameside Sports Trust in their press release were forthcoming on how much this unnecessary ‘re-branding’ exercise will cost, but providing new uniforms, a new website, social media platforms and signage for Ashton Pools, The Copley Centre, Hyde Leisure Pool, Medlock Leisure Centre, Denton Pools, Dukinfield Pool, Oxford Park Community Sports Centre, Ken Ward Sports Centre, Etherow Bowling & Activity Centre, Fairfield High School, St. Thomas More and the Tameside Cycle Circuit will not be cheap!

Could this be the same council that continuously bleats on about cuts to their funding and how they cannot maintain the community services that should be sacrosanct?

Is this an example of how Tameside Council saves money?

This entire Tameside Sports Trust debacle is a prime example of the consequences of decisions taken by people that have never run a business.

No matter how good the idea looks on paper, the real world just doesn't work that way.



In this month’s announcement from our Kieran,(http://www.tameside.gov.uk/blog/leader/)  the leader spoke better than he knew, when he announced, “The Council will use every tool available…” because it seems to me that that has been the council’s problem for many years!

In launching his ‘Vision-Tameside’ (which in my opinion, ‘visions’ should generally remain in the realm of crazed mystics) which involves remodeling Ashton's market square thus pushing all Tameside residents into the council’s ‘Procrustean Bed’ he announced yet another hastily borrowed slogan, namely ‘Shop Local, Eat Local, Buy Local’ and illustrated his musings with a pile of pork sausages!

Now this could have gone better, because according to Health Experts, the amount and type of food you eat has a major influence on your health. If you eat a well-balanced diet, it can reduce your risk of various diseases as well as help you to maintain a healthy weight.

In fact, even on the council’s own website it tells us that a nutritious balanced diet is central to establishing the foundations for improved standards of health and well being throughout society, and warns that people who eat an unhealthy diet high in saturated fat, salt and sugar have a higher risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes; and in later life, becoming obese.

While sausage does have a good amount of protein in it, it is also a processed meat, so it is absolutely loaded with sodium and various chemicals (nitrites, etc.). On average, each 50g serving of processed meat per day - the equivalent of a sausage - was associated with a 42% higher chance of developing coronary heart disease and a 19% higher risk of diabetes.

So a better illustration might have been a mouth-watering display of fresh locally grown products. (Memories of Ashton Moss spring to mind!)

So, as if flogging sausages was not enough for the misguided marketing man he followed on from the councils last disastrously expensive ‘vision’ (That's where the council were persuaded to set up an office in Second Life, the virtual world that was meant to revolutionise their services, by allowing people to 'walk' in to the building and obtain advice about local services without leaving their home!); with yet another 'image of prophetic significance, which makes one wonder whether those self-same ‘persuaders' have been allowed back into the hallowed hall again?

Continuing in a style reminiscent of the Danish folk tale ‘The Emperor’s new clothes’ Kieran Quinn, our present council Leader went on to tell us, “One of the many distinctive things Tameside has to offer is the broad array of independent shops, cafes, restaurants and wonderful markets!”

Now I don't know to which Tameside's town his fantasy refers, however, I feel that his story should of gone something like this…

...Once upon a time there was a Council Leader who loved outdoor markets! He loved markets more than anything else! So, every year on the occasion of his speech to the people, he would ask for lots of ideas on how to modernise his borough's markets.

The Council Leader loved markets so much that he used to have one in every town! Ashton, (the biggest) Stalybridge, Hyde, Mossley, Droylsden and Denton. And he loved them so much that he would send out various members of his inner circle, wearing litter-pickers outfits, to visit them several times a week, where photographs would be taken to hand to the local press

Several years past and despite his councils many attempts at moderisation, he found his markets declining, so much so that he was left with only a handful of outdoor markets in the entire borough.

Then, one fine summers day, it was rumored that two strangers had been allowed to address the inner circle at the Town Hall.

“We can make your markets into the most beautiful outdoor markets in the country; so much so that everyone will want markets like yours” they said, bowing low to the Leader.

“Ah, this is what I've always wished for” thought the Leader. “To be able to offer the most beautiful outdoor markets in the country.”

“You shall make me these beautiful outdoor markets,” ordered the Leader and ordered the Borough Treasurer to ‘up the council tax’ and give the strangers a couple of £million to get on with drawing up the plans, firstly, as an experiment, for Hyde’s market !

For weeks and weeks and weeks and weeks the strangers worked on plans for the markets and wouldn't let anybody see what they were doing.

But the Leader and his Cabinet grew impatient; they wanted to see an example of the towns’ new markets now! So one day he demanded to see them! When the strangers showed them to him the Leader looked all around the room.
Firstly, to his market adviser, John Taylor… and then at the rest of the crew, who all stood around nodding and smiling!

 “Where are the new markets I have paid you £millions you to make,” demanded the Leader!

“But they are right here, councillor,” said the first stranger, pointing to a few lines on a plain white sheet of parchment. “This is the new Hyde market. What do you think? Aren’t the stalls constructed with the most delightful material, the most sparkling colours, and the most fashionable designs?”

The Leader looked around confused; he couldn't see anything, but thousands of plain paving slabs!

“I can’t see any market at all,” the Leader said.

Addressing the room, the strangers said. “These outdoor markets are so special and rare that only the cleverest people can see them. They are too fine to be seen by the stupid and the ignorant; that is the magic of these amazing new markets!”

“Oh of course, of course” said the Leader to his nodding crew (not wanting to appear stupid or ignorant). “These new market designs are beautiful; this is just what I've always wanted! I’m sure my new outdoor markets will be greatly admired by all of my people. – Get on and demolish the old ones immediately and build the new ones starting with Ashton!”

“Well,” said the strangers “As you can see the final plans are not quite finished yet. But if you could pay us a few more £millions, we’re sure we could have them ready in time for the big parade.”

The Leader, knowing of the huge surpluses his administration had amassed over the last 35 years, promised to pay the strangers anything they wanted if they would have the new market square in Ashton ready for the big opening parade. He wanted everybody in Tameside to see it!

So, the Borough Treasurer stumped up another £4.5million to get the ball rolling!
The day of the big parade came and the two strangers presented the Leader with his new outdoor market.

“Everyone will admire you, my lord councillor.  The new market looks most wonderful,” said the strangers.

By this time the ‘news’ had been put out in carefully worded press releases and carried continuously by the local papers and social media, that the new market was so special that it could only be seen by clever people and, not wanting to appear stupid or ignorant, all the councillors and the civil servants from the Town Hall said…

“How beautiful!  What colours! What style! Your new market plans are magnificent, Dear Leader!"

“Oh dear,” thought the Leader. “All my Cabinet colleagues, including Taylor, can see the benefits of my new market, but I can’t. Does this mean I’m stupid and ignorant and not fit to be the Council Leader? I will have to pretend I can see it so that nobody thinks I’m stupid. No-one can know the truth!”

When it was time for the big parade the Leader said “Follow me” to his friends on the council, and marched out of Town Hall and onto the streets.

Crowds of people lined the road and watched the Leader and the big parade. There was the ‘Black Knight’ on horseback, huge floats with steel drums and smartly dressed children parading along the street all heading for the star attraction; the Leaders new market!

The crowds, predominately made up of Labour activists and thousands of social housing tenants who had been lobbied mercilessly on their doorsteps by members of Deputy Taylor’s posse, had had it drummed into them in leaflet form that only clever people could see the Leader’s new market, and so, not wanting to appear stupid or ignorant, they all complied by shouting in UNISON:

“What a lovely market!” “Doesn't it look smart?”  “What a lovely market!” “Doesn't it look smart?” 

The Leader was very pleased that everyone was admiring his new outdoor market , even if he couldn't see it himself!

Suddenly, a little lone voice from the crowd shouted out…

“Hang on! What bloody market, …There’s only a few stalls here! …Where are the people? …What’s happened to the fresh food from locally grown sources? …There’s now’t but second-hand books, dubious mobile phone replacement parts, smoking requisites, the ubiquitous  printed tee-shirts,Grey scallyjoggers and fifteen stalls selling bloody anoraks. …It’s crap!”

A hushed silence fell over the crowd and the big parade stopped… Then… Everyone suddenly burst out shouting!

“Eh, the lad’s right,” they said. “The Leaders new market is crap!”

The Leader blushed and went red. They were right… He hadn't created a new market at all!”

“Quick,” he shouted to his Deputy, John Taylor, who was unsuccessfully hiding his latest Che Guevara tee-shirt under his Day-Glo litter picking garb. “I must return to my office and put a stop to the plans I've passed to build a New Town Hall! - I should never have trusted those strangers who only wanted to flatter me and take our taxpayers’ money!”

From that day on, the Leader gave local bloggers an important job in his administration because they were the only people who had told the truth. And, to this day, whenever the council leader needs advice he will always ask the local bloggers first. Because they know the wishes and needs of the townsfolk better than any of his sycophantic crew.

Yeah, right!



Whilst on the surface is seems nice of our council chiefs to announce plans for a significant investment in Hyde Town Hall, however, when one looks beneath the surface, all is not as it may seem; - apparently, they tell us, “it’s to bring the ‘heartbeat of the community’ back to life.” - which I suppose is a significant step forward, as previously, they have refused to admit, that under their administration, the town is dying!

They tell us that much of the work due to be carried out in the Grade-II listed building is being prepared for more council services moving in as work to redevelop Ashton Town Hall and Ashton town centre gets underway.

In fact, essential works, such as repairs to the lift and central heating system, have already been carried out and if they are to make this alleged investment work, it is vital that the roof repairs; that have been left unattended for years (see water damage on second floor landing) for lack of funds, now be carried out
So, where is all the money coming from to pay for this alleged ‘investment’? After all, they tell us, “Sacrifices have to be made if we are to maintain the standards that we the council have become accustomed essential services!”

Well, helping to pay for much of this council largess sees our iconic town library building being
put up for sale, with all the library's contents moving from its home in Union Street into the Town Hall!

The sale of Hyde’s iconic library will be a symbolic moment for the people of Hyde - as it will complete Tameside Council’s great sell off of our community facilities.

It was reported that Cllr Peter Robinson said it was ‘just another piece of the jigsaw’ aimed at breathing new life into the centre of Hyde, following major work on the market and the demolition of the multi-storey car park.

He said: “Hyde Town Hall is more or less empty at the moment, apart from the MP’s office and we want to bring life back into it.

Now, taking the councillor at his word, let’s follow his logic which says, that by moving more services from Ashton’s Civic Centre to both Hyde and Dukinfield Town Halls, is in order ‘to bring life back into the town’ presumably then, it must follow that when Ashton have built their ‘vision’ (which will take around three and a half years to complete) Hyde Town Hall will once again, face the prospect of having ‘all the life taken out of it’ when it reverts back to a Town Hall, albeit this time with a library tucked inside it!

Cllr Robinson might well see this proposal as a mere jigsaw, but when there are pieces missing from a jigsaw, you can never successfully the complete picture. Because the ‘piece’ we will have lost, through this fire sale is a  the use of another iconic building and a much cherished community asset. 

We won’t see a penny of the sale either! Contrary to what he Council Leader claims, he doesn’t have a feeling for our history. Once again our town is being decimated and treated purely as a cash cow to help produce a megalomaniacal 'vision' for Ashton!

What these council chiefs always avoid telling us is the whole story.

Any money emanating from the sale of our much loved library will be swallowed up by the hidden costs of moving the councils administrative services; not once, but twice!

Can you imagine moving hundreds of thousands of archived files, computer IT systems for countless departments, the logistics involved to maintain continuity, the internal communication system, all the hardware, the office furniture, the personnel and seamlessly continuing with all the councils mandatory services?

Then there’s the hidden cost of physically moving premises. Things like Insurance, Storage and  amending legal contracts.

I also don’t believe for one moment that they will be taking all the existing office carpets, filing cabinets, desks chairs, pictures and potted plants; oh, no, these will all be new, then of course it will all have to be done again, when their new ‘shared civic building’ is completed
The cost to refurbish an entire council administrative operation will run into millions! - Then after approximately three and a half years, they'll all move back again. (...perhaps the BBC should make a series out of that scenario - Call the Council -The Soap Opera - A documentary series following the country's heroic council officers as they carry the contents of their desks in re-cycled cardboard boxes from one Town Hall to another and then back again!)

Another question that springs to mind is the terms of contract with facilities management company, Carillion. For instance, have ‘the council’ had to enter into a favourable office lease to rent back their own ‘Town Halls’? After all, extra staffing will be needed to supply security to two fully occupied civic buildings plus there will be an obvious drop in hospitality revenue from groups, societies and wedding planners who would have booked a variety of events, but will be denied due to the three plus years of suspended use.

In years gone by, should such a proposal be announced by the council, the local papers would make it their duty to fully investigate the proposed scheme; announce the terms of such a sale and explain how the community would benefit; inform of any restrictive planning restrictions for any change of use and using reader support,if deemed necessary organise and spearhead a massive protest against such a profligate waste.

Alas, today it would seem its only independent bloggers that can now hope to fully inform the people - because no councillor will risk their place at the trough by disagreeing with 'the cabinet'

For your information, there is a petition of protest being compiled in certain shops in Hyde. I respectfully suggest you seek them out and ask those struggling shopkeepers for their views on ' the council's plans to bring the ‘heartbeat of the community’ back to life'!



In today’s technological world, nothing screams, "worthless website!" louder than out-of-date information. Sharing news from two years ago is not a good idea.

According to a web site hosted by no less than 3 Tameside councillors, www.longdendalelabourcouncillors.co.uk  the last thing that happened in Longdendale was a Salsa Evening at the Magdalene Centre on 22nd February 2014, and they haven’t managed to concoct an answer to a resident’s simple question since it was posed in March!

That being the case, one must deduce that if their website looks stale, then its function cannot be considered a priority and consequently their attitude to their counselling roll must follow suit.

Don’t these councillors realise that if ‘The Advertiser’ or ‘Reporter’ was an exact replica of the previous week's edition, and carried the same articles week after week, month after month, it is an absolute certainty that before long people would stop buying it…. Oh hang on!