‘You only see them come election time’ – Voters in Tameside have their say on local politics

By George Lythgoe – Local Democracy Reporter

THIS week voters in Tameside will be choosing their next councillors, but locals are claiming this is the only time of the year they can be found.

Although the council has been controlled by Labour for decades, the cynicism in politicians is rife in some parts of the borough. Stalybridge is one of the few areas in Tameside where there is a mix of parties in elected positions, with three Labour councillors in both Stalybridge North and Dukinfield/Stalybridge alongside three Conservatives in Stalybridge South.

Although you would think councillors would be busting a gut to get voters on side, locals believe it is only around the election period they actually see or hear from their ward representatives.

Although Margaret Howard likes the way investment is coming to her town, she wants to see the council build on that and make Stalybridge an even more vibrant town.

Margaret Howard

She said: “I don’t see my councillors until it comes to election time. I want to vote for the independent Steven Barton, he does a lot for the community.

“He is everywhere. He does that 12 months of the year, not just now. I’m not politically aligned, I just want someone that does things for our area, someone who speaks up for us.

“We want better shopping facilities, it is all just charity shops and hairdressers now, the independents are leaving. The events like the Street Fest and artisan markets are great, we need more of that to get people in.”

Anthony Worthington

Anthony Worthington is a regular voter, but he joked that he is never successful, he always votes for the Conservatives but they never win where he lives. Anthony told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that he wants to see more done for the towns outside of Ashton.

“The levels of investment in infrastructure need improvement,” the pensioner said. “The other areas get more than Stalybridge.

“But the council candidates, as soon as it’s election time they want your vote. They don’t seem to be interested other times.”

It was not all doom and gloom when it came to opinions on local politicians, one dog walker, who didn’t want to be named, said that they do a good job with the lack of funding they get.

She explained that her local Conservative councillors in Stalybridge South do a good job for locals.

Peter Ashley

“There does seem to be money wasted by Tameside Council but it is everywhere, including in Whitehall and for everyone else. I’m content with how things are and how the council is run.”

Peter Ashley, sitting waiting for his bus, was a big cynic when it came to local politics though. His lack of trust in politicians was stark, claiming he was a lifelong Labour voter until Jeremy Corbyn was named as leader of the party in 2015.

“I never miss an election. The council is horrendous though, some of them earn more than the Prime Minister. They are in it for the money, not to help people.

“All they are concerned about is themselves. I’ve never bumped into a councillor. I’ve written to Tameside Council a dozen times over the last 15 years but never got a response.”

The pensioner told the LDRS that he wants to see the streets cleared of dog poo and the housing crisis being addressed.

Paul Silver

The picture painted on local councillors is similarly murky four miles down the road in Denton. Although the people in Denton have become sceptical about politicians after what they believe is years of overpromising and under delivering.

Paul Silver has become so disillusioned that he has stopped voting altogether, claiming that his vote will make no difference. Sat on a bench in the centre square, he claimed there is a big problem with lower level crime in his area of Haughton Green, just a few minutes drive from Denton.

Despite several reports being submitted to the police and the council, he claims no one is making any positive changes to what he feels is a nice place to live.

“I don’t really vote. They all promise things that they don’t actually do.

“In Haughton Green, young people go around on motorbikes causing mayhem and authorities don’t do anything. I’ve reported it but it’s not gone anywhere.

“Crime is an issue. I would like to sit down with the police and ask what they’re doing. I can’t take my grandkids to the park because there are idiots flying around on mopeds or motorbikes.

“Haughton Green is a lovely place to live, but it is let down by that behaviour. Some people are scared to go out at night because the young kids are giving you abuse near the shops.

“It impacts on the community and the feeling of the area. Police don’t come out unless it’s something big.

“Local politicians promise the earth but as soon as they get elected nothing seems to change.”

Steve Lambert said he is a non-voter as well. He claims that people in Denton who need help from the government never win no matter who comes into power.

He said: “I don’t trust politicians. Every government since I was a kid in the 60s was rubbish and we never win, no matter who is in charge.

Melbourne Street, Stalybridge

“I was never a Tory voter but all the Partygate stuff made me dislike them more (explaining an example of why he doesn’t trust politicians).

“Even in the locals I don’t trust them. I don’t vote local or national.

“If they start spreading the money and wealth evenly, then I’ll get up and vote.”

The general feeling amongst people in Denton was the requirement for a greater police presence in order to bring down petty crime. The loss of PCSOs in the area has been felt by many – including John Ellery, who was out shopping with his wife in the centre of town.

John added: “It could be better here, the streets could be cleaner. You rarely see the street cleaners out and about. This is just the basics that the council needs to get right.

“We could do with more police, you rarely see police. The politicians always offer things, but if they give them, I’m not so sure.”

Elaine Edwards

Elaine Edwards did provide a more positive perspective on local government though, saying she will be voting to keep the same councillors in power. She believes they do a good job and even helped her with a neighbour dispute a few years ago.

“The councillors do a lot for us and get things done,” Elaine explained. “I think it’s the best job they can do with the little funding they’ve got.

“Any problems they will sort it out. I’ve had neighbour problems in the past and I got in touch with the housing team at the council who ignored me.

“Then I got in touch with the local councillors and the local MP Andrew Gwynne and they sorted it out for me.”

A total of 56 people have been named as standing for the 19 available seats. Voters are set to hit the polls on Thursday, May 2 which means there is a potential for a few new faces to be gracing the council chamber soon.

2 Replies to “‘You only see them come election time’ – Voters in Tameside have their say on local politics”

  1. Interesting comments. I have never voted Conservative in my entire life, but I have no complaints about the Conservative councillors in my ward, Stalybridge South, they do actually listen and make a difference when they can. I attended a council meeting once and couldn’t believe how rude and ignorant the huge Labour majority of councillors were to those of other parties. Most of the councillors are a disgrace to the Labour Party. TMBC is a rotten council, riven with arrogance and unresponsive to the public. Their behaviour over the Riverside walk and the Cheetham Park Conservatory has shown them up for the uncaring Philistines they truly are.

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