Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council
Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council
Briefly describe the initiative/ project/service; please include your aims and objectives
Tameside, and in particular our primary town of Ashton-under-Lyne, faces a number of economic and social challenges. Pay and skill levels are below the Greater Manchester and national average, and Ashton as an economic centre is less productive than other towns of similar size in the region. Healthy life expectancy, childhood obesity and smoking rates in Tameside are also significantly worse than the national average, with an accompanying impact on healthcare costs and service demand.
In order in address these issues we have chosen, despite continuing financial uncertainty, to develop an ambitious strategic vision to underpin our approach to transforming our town centres, public buildings and communal spaces into engines of economic and social improvement. Known as “Vision Tameside”, it brings together a number of strands of investment and development including; rationalising the council estate, enhancing our public service offer, raising the skill levels and health outcomes of our residents, and improving our transport and digital infrastructure. Vision Tameside is also the catalyst for an enriched gateway into Ashton town centre, linking together the historic Market Square and the under-construction transport interchange.
What are the key achievements?
The centrepiece of Vision Tameside is “Tameside One”. Built in partnership with Tameside College; it provides a public service hub and facilities for 1,800 students. Tameside One has also been shortlisted for the GM Chamber of Commerce “Building of the Year” Award. Immediately adjacent, the Ashton Interchange will bring together Metrolink, rail, bus and taxi services. This will speed up transport links within Tameside and to other parts of Greater Manchester.
This work has been unpinned by the Tameside Digital Infrastructure Co-Operative, which provides superfast for public and private sector organisations, and a free Wi-Fi service in our town centres. We have also encouraged the growth of hightechnology, high-productivity businesses. The Ashton Old Baths, a disused Victorian public hygiene facility, now hosts 70 jobs in the digital sector.
The final element of our strategic plan for Tameside is creating the conditions to allow our residents to make better choices about health, lifestyle and wellbeing. We have rolled out a £20m programme of investment in our leisure estate, including the construction of the Tameside Wellness Centre, which will be a centre for both physical and community activity upon completion.
What are the key learning points?
Construction of Tameside One was due to be completed in early 2018; however the project encountered significant disruption due to the collapse of the principal contractor, Carillion, in January of that year. In February 2019, Tameside Council approved a proposal from its infrastructure partner, Inspired Spaces Tameside Limited (LEP), to replace Carillion as principal contractor with Robertson Construction Group. While this action required a further capital investment of £9.4m, this was preferable to allowing Tameside One to become an unfinished “white elephant”.
Our £20m leisure investment was undertaken with a view to encouraging residents who may begin by using the facilities socially to take the steps towards a healthier lifestyle. To this end, as well as health and fitness amenities, the Tameside Wellness Centre includes a 10-pin bowling alley, meeting rooms, children’s play area and multi-use social and event spaces. To maximise accessibility, all areas of the building are both disabled- and dementia-friendly. Significantly, all our new leisure facilities incorporate some kind of commercial offer, creating an independent funding stream for the maintenance of the buildings and services.