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Reddish: The Five Year Plan. Part One: Communication

30 Jul communication

communicate

Today at Reddish News we’ve decided to start what we hope will become a series of five articles about what we hope Reddish will become, or overcome in the coming years.

Today we’re going to be starting with arguably the biggest element of them all: Communication.

Reddish, as a small community, has many things going for it. The fact that there are so many independent, local tradesmen and women, and stores in the area attest to that. But the way in which the ideas and ambitions that these businesses and individuals is expressed is at best crude and disparate to say the least.

Communication can play a very important role in this. Yes, we know that we have a Reddish Business Forum that provides a focal point for local businesses to come together to try and make Reddish a better place to trade for them. But are we as residents welcome to contribute to this process?

We think it’s in everybody’s interest to have a thriving hub of independent businesses where people can live, work, play and enjoy their time in. We’re not there yet.

So, as well as serving businesses in the local area and supporting them all that we can as individuals, what else can be done to attract new businesses to the area? What can be done to open Reddish up to the world, and encourage people to come to Reddish for shopping and living – that place where they can get the best coffee in the Stockport Area, where they can come and get their clothes altered, keys cut and shoes re-heeled with enough time to do a bit of shopping and grab a bite to eat?

The only time businesses and the community have come together in recent months to communicate with the world at large has been to oppose a mosque being built on the site of the old Bull’s Head pub. And, if we’re all honest with ourselves, was it really a positive campaign? As a community, do we want to be known as one that welcomes new groups and individuals (potentially new shoppers, generating income for local businesses), or do we want to be known as an insular, self-serving community, that doesn’t welcome fresh perspectives and new ideas. Which one would you rather be seen as?

Like it or not, some of our communication with the neighboring boroughs, towns and cities will be coloured by some of the language that we’ve seen firsthand via social media channels regarding the mosque’s planning application. And it’s not a case of ‘like it or lump it’ when it comes to setting up business in an area such as ours.

If we want to bring a more rounded selection of new and exciting businesses and people to Reddish, we have to learn to communicate what’s GREAT about our area. What makes it better to trade in than Levenshulme, Heaton Moor or Gorton? Or, for instance, what makes it a more attractive place to unwind than one of the four Heatons (hint – we’ve got a massive, beautiful country park)?

We’ve spent so much time as a community shouting about what we don’t want – how about we all get together and talk about what we do want for a change? Our hopes for the community, for industry, for business?

We already have a community centre. Maybe we should use it to do just that? Young and old, in an environment that is open to everybody, regardless of their age and their choice of watering hole.

What would you, as a Reddishian, like to communicate to the world around us? What do you think would attract people to the area? How would you like to be seen by the rest of Manchester and Stockport? How would you like to see the area grow?

These are all big questions – ones that can only be answered by communicating with everybody in a clearer, more concise way, without making sweeping generalisations about what our community is, and what it should be.

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An Interview: Youth Space

13 Jul

There are so many great people living in Reddish, working to make it a better place for everyone. One of the main objectives of Reddish News  is to bring these brilliant people and their projects to light. This week Jez spoke to Christopher Hill, who is working on the Youth Space project. Don’t know what it is? That’s what we are here for! Read on to find out more in this great interview with Christopher!

Who are you and what is your connection to Reddish?

I’m Christopher Hill, a 20 year old student at the University of Manchester. I am a Reddish lad, lived here all my life and went to School at St. Elisabeth’s and Reddish Vale. I am also now deeply rooted at Reddish Vale as a Governor/Director.

I keep seeing you at events across Reddish and Stockport promoting Youthspace. What is it?

Youth Space is a concept we hope to develop into a social enterprise/co-operative/youth organisation. We aim to provide a platform for young people to achieve their ambitions whilst helping others. We hope to do this through a virtual space (www.youthspace.info) and a physical space (the youth space hub/shop in the centre of Reddish). Youth Space this year has funded work with Human Utopia(our partner organisation) and together we have worked with over 1000 young people. We are currently continuing our Future Leaders Programme that has 3 stages; Thinking, Doing,Changing.  This is done by a combination of workshop and social action.

You pride yourself on having the co-op values. What are these and why do you feel they are such an integral part of what you do?

The values are: solidarity, democracy, equity, equality, self help and self responsibility. There are also a series of ethical values and a set of key principles that are available to see at www.youthspace.info.

The values to me represent universal aims for all human beings and so offer people the chance to grow and develop together, as one, as co-operators. The principles act as guide and temper my actions as co-operator and ensure live harmoniously with others. They are important because they have made a difference to my life through Phil Arnold (Director of College Improvement RVTC). He’s an inspirational man who was instrumental in bringing co-operation to RVTC. Since 2008 I have worked co-operatively to help develop a coffee co-op, creative co-op, and speak at high profile events, all things I wouldn’t have done otherwise. Above all else the values have made me want to be a ‘Phil Arnold’, someone that works tirelessly without courting recognition. That’s why I want to ask for help to develop Youth Space so more young people can be switched on by these values and make Reddish an even better place.

Do you feel that young people get much of a say in the local community? If not, how do you feel this could be addressed?

I think youth councils and organisations like the ROC Cafe have helped in this area to some degree. I still feel that the 16-17 year olds feel disenfranchised with no vote and no mechanism to express their good ideas, opinions and thoughts on the political questions of the day (local, national, global). Civil society can only remain ‘civil’ if young people have a point in which they can invest in hope for the future and harness the idealism that youth holds.

Specifically Youth Space proposes the Youth Space hub that would be funded through membership and wider stakeholders. This would continue our workshop work and provide a space in which young people can organise to set up social action projects to combat injustice. I believe young people have the passion and talent to be independent. Together they can take ownership of local politics without the aid of a politician/official who doesn’t know the price of milk or the plight of young people in the 21st century. Youth Space is happy to share knowledge of the political process in a neutral fashion but prefers young people to use co-operative action to bypass the red tape.

Reddish Business Forum are asking the question “What’s your vision for Reddish over the next five years?”. What’s yours?

– For Reddish to have a Councillor under the age of 24 to represent young peoples issues with real understanding. Cllrs to hold regular youth surgeries in local Schools.

– For Reddish’s youth organisations to join up their services to offer a safety net and variety of experiences for young people. No young person should miss out on the chance to develop skills outside of school hours. As “by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone”.

– To open the Youth Space Hub.

– To continue our work with Human Utopia accessing every school in Reddish/serves Reddish. With all young people in Reddish having the opportunity to be a hero.

– To see young people in Reddish celebrated as the area’s greatest asset.

We hear you’re planning an event on the 14th July. Tell us about it.

Yes, the Youth Space BBQ and Activities Day at Reddish Vale Technology College. Earlier in the year I put in a bid for £800 from the Community First pot (supported by Cllr Verdeille, Sophia and James) and was successful. The event is a reward for the contribution young people have made to the Reddish community over the past year as ‘Heroes’. On the day we will have prizes for the young people, a high ropes assalt course, live music and DJ Sets. This event will also give current learners at Reddish Vale the chance to celebrate the Schools Diamond Jubillee. We also hope to encourage more young people to get involved and adults to support us in our second year of activity.

Find more information on Youth Space:

http://www.youthspace.info/

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by Jez Myers

Reddish Rubbish

14 Jun

I have a lot of love for Reddish, but one thing that really gets my goat is how littered our streets are. I’ve never lived anywhere where I’ve noticed the crazy amount of litter in the streets quite as much as in our fair town (and I’ve lived in some pretty hardcore areas of London!) It’s such as shame.

I know my particular road is subject to more litter than most because school children use it as a cut-through on their way home. Every day I leave my house and scoop up tens of chocolate bar wrappers/coke cans and the like, put them in my own bin and die a little bit inside. I have become the crazy woman who calls the council on a weekly basis. They literally know me on first name terms now and I get the feeling they have stopped caring because they basically think I’m insane. At first they sent street cleaners and litter pickers (who, by the way, are terrible. I’ve watched them from my window just walking up and down the road not bothering to pick anything up), but I’ve got a feeling my one woman battle is failing.

But it’s not just my road that’s rubbish. Reddish Lane/Gorton Road is, frankly, disgusting. Plastic bags, crisp packets, chip wrappers fly around our streets every single day and it seems to have become accepted that that’s just how it is. Is this really how we want Reddish to look? Am I the only one who feels really crappy when I step out on to dirty streets? It can’t be good for anyone’s state of mind.

It took these pictures between the Post Office and Williamson Street (where the side entrance to Morrisons is). It can’t have been more than a 20 metre walk. 

I’ve been wracking my brains as to why we have such a high volume of litter in our community and I’ve narrowed it down to the following questions:

1) Do we have enough bins in Reddish?

2) Do we have enough support from the council when it comes to regular street cleansing?

3) Do we, as residents, just not care enough? If there is litter on the streets are people more likely just to drop their own litter?

I have my own views on the answers to these questions but I’d like to know yours.

This is the first post in what  I hope to be the beginning of a campaign to clean up Reddish.

by Ana Hernandez

Life Leisure

14 May

Having been an avid gym goer for many years, and leaving behind a family of gym buddies in Birmingham, finding a decent gym up north was very important to me. I spent a long time researching my options and seeing as it was unlikely that I could stay with my chain of club the search began for a replacement. After a bit of googleing and a quick phone call I went down to Life Leisure, Houldsworth village and after being tempted by a student friendly monthly fee I joined up.

For those that don’t know, Life Leisure is the face of Stockport Sports Trust and the facilities in Reddish seem to be very new and modern. For me there are a number of things I look for in a good gym: cleanliness, decent opening hours, good facilities and staff attitude. The last may seem a little odd but I find it really important to be in a positive, motivating environment. At Life Leisure the staff are friendly but some of the trainers and instructors seem fairly young and at the start of their fitness careers which can limit their knowledge and confidence.

The atmosphere can vary but is normally positive. A wide range of people are members and so working out is not intimidating in the slightest.  During classes there is normally a sense of team morale with members encouraging each other.

All of the facilities are cleaned to a very high standard and most of the equipment is top of the range with iPod docks and if you don’t want to listen to music you can watch one of the wall-mounted televisions. The gym itself is fairly small with limited equipment. They have everything you would expect as well as keeping up to date with the latest freestyle training trend offering ViPR and kettlebell classes; I would like to see more Freestyle equipment such as TRX or core bags but there is simply not the space. Unusually Life Leisure has two X-Dream bikes – exercise bikes that are more like videogames and take your mind off the exercise. Recently one of the indoor football pitches has been transformed into a basketball/badminton court which I am excited to try out.

If you don’t fancy hitting the gym there are a wide variety of classes to try out, although these often become very busy so booking ahead is a must. This can be very frustrating, especially when people do not turn up.

A class only membership is available, and a discounted full membership is also currently on offer at a very reasonable £17.99 per month. Pop into the club for more information and hopefully I’ll see you in there soon.

By Liz Edwards

Dog Messing Me Around

7 May

One of the major problems in Reddish is, in my opinion, the sheer volume of dog mess that seems to be clogging up the streets – in particular on Gorton Road.

Now before I start this, can I please point something out? I am not the sort of person to take my grievances to the local newspaper at the first opportunity. I am not the sort of person that writes a letter that is sub-edited by the paper with a witty title – written under a pseudonym. I, dear reader, am simply one man. One man that’s trod in a lot of dog mess on Gorton Road.

I’ve called Stockport Council twice so far about the mess that’s being left on the road, only to be told that they have ‘signs’ up telling people they could be fined £50 if their dog vents it’s bowels on the street. These signs amount to little more than glorfied window stickers stuck to a lamp post – very similar in style to the one below:

Dog mess sign

Firstly, the lady on the phone was apologetic – Stockport, she said ‘has a problem’ with dog mess in the streets (depressing, no?). She promised to send a clean-up team to the stretch of Gorton Road that was affected. She then passed me through to the local dog warden department, who promptly sent some people out to make sure that the stickers were stuck to the right lamp posts. They were, yet the dog’s mess still remains.

This is incredibly frustrating to me, as I have to walk up Gorton Road to Reddish North train station every morning, and I am constantly having to dodge the mess. I can only image the problem that parents and the less able-bodied members of our community have with dodging this. If it’s a nightmare getting out of my shoes, then I can only imagine how hard it is to get it out of the wheels of a pram or wheelchair.

If you own a dog, then if it takes a massive, Mr. Whippy-style crap on the ground whilst you’re out walking it, PICK IT UP. If you can’t bend down to pick up your dog’s mess, then you shouldn’t own a dog. I don’t care how old you are, there are plenty of tools and utensils on the market to help cope with the stuff coming out of your dog.

And if you are concerned about the amount of dog mess that is in your area of Reddish, then please contact the council. They receive over 700 complaints about fouling in the Stockport area a year, so they’ve  put together an online form to help you organise a street cleansing. Street cleansing sounds like quite a dodgy term, but trust me, it’s a Good Thing.

I would imagine that a good 98% of dog owners in the Reddish area are conscientious, and clean up after their furry friends. But, as always, the 2% of people that cannot be bothered to pick up after themselves are making the streets of Reddish a lot less appealing to residents and visitors.

I’d like the council to lead from the front on this, and not leave it to the residents. I’ve seen some great signage up in Wigan, which is clear, hard to tamper with, and stands out.

Wigan dog mess sign

What do you think? Do you have a problem with dog fouling in your area? Do you have any examples of a community catching persistent foulers in the act? If so, share your story below…

By Ben Stroud

Why We Love Reddish Councillors

5 May

Now, irrespective of your political leanings (and as a blog we try very hard to not favour one party over any other) you can’t help but be touched by this heartwarming twitter based story.

Whilst waiting for the election results to come through a few nights ago, an interesting tweet popped up.

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This immediately pushed various comical images into my head of a person in a big rosette frantically running around, shouting and flailing their arms in the Stockport Town Hall. Who would be responsible for such an act though?

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For this reason alone, Paul Moss, we salute you!

By Jez Myers

Labour hold Reddish

4 May

The country is waking up to a shift in the political landscape and I’m sure that over the coming days we will hear numerous expert opinions and excuses over why some seats were won and why some were lost. Most importantly what has happened in Reddish and what does this mean for us?

In Reddish North, Labour candidate Kate Butler received 2027 votes, took 69% of the vote and was declared the winner. Meanwhile, in Reddish South, some scarily similar results were seen as Labour candidate Andy Verdeille won with 2028 votes, 70% of the vote.

In total Labour took 8 out of the 21 available seats on Stockport council. The Lib Dems did not escape the national backlash and although they managed to win 10 seats they suffered the loss of council leader Dave Goddard, who lost by just 45 votes, whilst two other members scraped through with majorities in double figures. The Tories won just 2 seats.

What happens to the council leadership is unclear at this point, but we understand that Labour will not go into a coalition with the Lib Dems.

Congratulations Kate and Andy, we look forward to seeing what you achieve in Reddish over the next few years!

Jubilee Fun Times!

3 May

Make sure you keep a space in your diary for the Houldsworth Mill – Shopping Village  Indoor (wise – we live in Manchester) Street Party on the Sunday 3rd of June!

An interview with Labour candidate for Reddish North, Kate Butler

30 Apr

Labour candidate for Reddish North, Kate Butler was also kind enough to answer our interview. Read her thoughts on why she believes you should vote for her below:

1) Who are you and what is your connection to Reddish? 

I’m from Oldham originally and settled in the area with my son four years ago. We both love it here and love our neighbours so much it’ll take a charge of dynamite to get rid of us! I’m a freelance public relations advisor by profession working mainly with public sector organisations, small businesses and colleges. I’m also active in the local community as part of the organising team behind ReddFest and Reddish Business Forum. One thing that impressed me straight away about the people of Reddish is their proud, positive and proactive attitude toward their neighbourhood. I’ve lived in many places over the years but none of them compare with Reddish for sheer community activism. If something needs doing, they’ll make sure it gets done. That’s my kind of attitude!

2) You’re standing in the local elections on May 3rd, why should I vote for you? 
People are in touch with me on a daily basis already asking for help with problems they’re having with fly-tipping, dangerous footpaths, worries about tenancies and disputes with neighbours. I’ve done what I can to help so far and if elected I’m really looking forward to getting properly stuck in to fully resolve these issues. In short, I just really like helping people and doing my bit to make the world a slightly better place. I’m passionate about Labour values and desperately want to see an end to the LibDems in Stockport. They’ve failed ordinary people in government and they’ve failed them in Stockport. Labour has a long, proud history of supporting the communities of Reddish and I’d be incredibly honoured to be accepted at the ballot box as part of that team.
3) Reddish currently has a political north and central/south divide but most residents seem to think the divide is more north/central and south. What are your thoughts on this?
Wherever you live, your neighbourhood is simply your neighbourhood. It’s quite irrelevant to most people most of the time where official boundaries are drawn. However, I’ve had countless conversations with residents worried and quite frankly offended by the Tory Party’s proposals to move the constituency boundaries so North Reddish becomes part of Gorton, Manchester. That’s the big issue at the moment. As part of the Labour team in Reddish, I’ll most definitely be doing whatever it takes to make sure the voice of the people is heard and this ridiculous proposal is thrown resolutely in the bin where it belongs.
4) What do you like about Reddish?
The people. Definitely the people. They’re open and friendly and always up for a chat. I love how you always bump into someone you know when you’re out and about. I love Reddish’s rich cultural and industrial history and its many wonderful buildings are a testimony to that. Sadly, much of this architectural heritage is going to waste after years of ruinous council neglect. It’s being left to community groups to do what they can stop the rot and – Reddish people being Reddish people – they’re rising to the challenge.
5) What do you wish to change about Reddish?
Ooh lots! I want to see more stuff for our young people to do. We need a youth club and plenty of activities for the school holidays. Council budget cuts have seen the end of youth services and this just isn’t good enough. Our youngsters deserve better. I want to see the district centre spring back to life. It’s a disgrace that so many shops are empty. Yes, it’s a national problem but sadly Stockport comes out as the absolute worst in the whole country. It’s just a daily reminder of how the LibDems have repeatedly let our neighbourhood down. I want to see our local business sector flourish too. I believe a strong local economy means more jobs and more jobs means a happier, healthier, wealthier community. One change I definitely do not want to see is the loss of the library and it’s just not right that the council refuses to give us any assurances about its future.
6) Reddish has suffered from being the forgotten area within the M60, we’re trying very hard to change that. How would you work to promote Reddish as a locality and a place to visit?
I’m not sure I entirely agree with you about Reddish being a forgotten area. Part of the issue is that it’s a very mixed community with pockets of deprivation nestled alongside better off areas. This means that we don’t always qualify for various pots of funding that other parts of Stockport have access to. But yes, you’re right, we need to do more to promote Reddish. I’m already putting my skills in marketing and public relations to good use with ReddFest and the business forum to get the right kind of attention for Reddish. We have a lot to offer and we need to shout a bit louder. I’m just putting the finishing touches to an online community calendar for Reddish so all our very many interest groups, churches and schools have somewhere to advertise their events. Maybe that’s a project Reddish News can get involved with!
You can contact Kate in the following ways;

An interview with Lib Dem candidate for Reddish North, Louise Shaw

30 Apr
We were lucky enough to grab a quick interview with the Lib Dem candidate for Reddish North in the forthcoming elections this week. Below are her thoughts on Reddish. Hopefully we’ll have interviews up with the other candidates later in the week.
1. Who are you and what is your connection to Reddish?
I am Louise Shaw, I work full time in the software industry, I’m in my 30’s and I’ve lived in Reddish since Nov 2011. Tho a recent addition to the area, I’ve been impressed with the local shops and businesses  (like Retreat Beauty – my local salon) and the general impression of the town as being busy and full of life!
2. Why you should I vote for you?
– If elected I’ll play an active part in the Lib Dem team that has been successfully running the ‘excellent’ Stockport Council.
– In local elections, it’s about who you want to run the Town Hall.  Lib Dem councils have frozen Council Tax and closed no libraries.  You only have to look to Manchester City Council where Lab counsellors have slashed services but held £100m in its bank account.  Reddish residents deserve better than having their services used as a political plaything.
– Labour can’t be trusted.  See attached poster which is a bag of lies.  The government has NOT cut free prescriptions, bus passes, or TV licences.
3. Reddish currently has a political north and central/south divide but most residents seem to think the divide is more north/central and south. What are your thoughts on this?

Many council wards on many councils don’t make a lot of sense to those that live there, in fact some constituencies don’t either. This is because there are often restrictions on the the amount of people that can be in wards etc, and due to demographic changes and people moving this is often in flux – so sometimes they don’t chime with people’s perceptions of where the heart of the community is. I don’t see it as the biggest problem, it’s what you and your colleagues do for the community that counts, and cross-ward co-operation can help solve issues across wards – which means the boundary doesn’t really matter.

4. What do you like about Reddish?
Local businesses, being able to go to the salon/hairdresser on my doorstep instead of having to drive to Manchester/Stockport. Local pubs and restaurants (love Pad Thai!). Everything being able to be walked too, I don’t like getting in my car unless I have to.

5. What do you wish to change about Reddish? 

Very little! I think it would be good to have more visibility of what’s going on in Reddish so I think your blog is an excellent idea!

6.  Reddish has suffered from being the forgotten area within the M60, we’re trying very hard to change that. How would you work to promote Reddish as a locality and a place to visit?

Thoough I know what you mean about friends from further away not knowing where Reddish is – I don’t agree that Reddish is a forgotten place by Stockport Council anyway.  But having a hard working councillor promoting the Reddish community as a whole will make sure this is the case!
I think a good idea would be to establish what interesting things are happening in Reddish – local fairs, community events – even book clubs and family days – and promote them further afield. I get an update via RSS from the Stockport Council website of events in Stockport – I’d certainly work to get some more Reddish events on there, and use any PR time I got in the press to make the case for people to visit Reddish!
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