Work to start as soon as possible after £20 million Stalybridge boost – and it must be done together

STALYBRDGE will start to see the effects of its near £20 million award from the Levelling Up Fund this year after the Government changed its mind.

And leader of Tameside Council, Cllr Ged Cooney, has told The Correspondent everything must be done together, whether you are a Labour or Conservative supporter.

The authority’s bid for £19.9 million was initially turned down by the Department for Levelling Up Housing and Communities (DLUHC).

But as a result of the Budget 2023 announcement, extra money was handed over.

Councillors celebrating the cash injection for Stalybridge

And Stalybridge was one of 16 projects in the country to be told it will now get funds, subject to checks.

In Tameside Council’s bid was £9.2 million worth of remediation and re-provision of existing surface car parking on brownfield land, which it says, ‘unlocks the sites for future residential development and helps to facilitate further private sector investment.’

Also proposed was £8 million of public realm improvements, improved pedestrian and cycle routes and access to public transport.

And Cllr Cooney insisted work would commence sooner rather than later – and everyone must work collectively.

He told The Correspondent: “Of course you’ll see some work done with it this year. We’re not waiting. That we can start, we’ll start.

The Correspondent’s Gary Carter talking to Cllr Ged Cooney

“Now we’ve got £20 million for Stalybridge town centre, we can now tackle the issues.

“People say, ‘Well what have you done for Stalybridge?’ Well, we’re bringing millions into Stalybridge – now we’ve got to turn that into fast action and people seeing the results.

“It as to be used for doing things. It isn’t about employing another load of officers.

“And we’ve got to work together, all parties. For this to work, it’s got to be all political parties working together.

“What I want here is that, collectively, we all work together for Stalybridge.

“Where we can do things straightaway, they will happen. But we’re going to keep people informed, that’s the most important thing.

“Stalybridge is on the up and all of us, Labour and Conservative, will make sure this happens. I get earache, not just from other political parties but my own about, ‘We’re forgotten, we’[re forgotten.’

Stalybridge Civic Hall

“If we start arguing among ourselves and bad mouthing things, it’s come from a Conservative Government because of a campaign run by a Labour council, so collectively it’s in the interests of everyone to get it done.”

Also in the bid is repair works to the Civic Hall – particularly its roof – would cost £1.5 million while Tameside Council also hopes £1.3 million of work can be done at Astley Cheetham Art Gallery to enhance the provision and accessibility of the art gallery and library.

Now it has been given the go ahead with the award, many people are telling Tameside to get spades in the ground rather than commission more paperwork.

Cllr Cooney added: “This is about finally getting the roof sorted.

“I went up recently and when you go up, you can see it’s actually a unique roof. It isn’t like any other, you can’t just order one – even just getting scaffolding there is going to be a hell of a job.

“But it’s going to finish the product.

“Let’s hope the end product is good in that the buildings are open, the roof at long last is fixed and then we can do something more adventurous with the Civic Hall itself.

“We’ll be working as fast as we can but you can’t just say, ‘Now we’re going to get a company and do that roof. It’ll be six months.’

“We have got a plan, the next thing now is procuring everything that comes with it. We’ll move as quickly as we can – you’ve got time constraints and we welcome that.

“Clearly, there was a change of mind in the Government and we’re pleased. It did recognise our bid was strong but it was just short of one or two items and we’ll address some of the issues they raised – they’re really insignificant.

“We’ve got the money now to do what we can and we’ll spend it all and more on Stalybridge to deliver the town to where it should be.

“Let’s not be negative. Let’s be positive and let’s drive it forward.”

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