Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Greater Manchester has set out plans to develop a world class approach to fire safety, as work continues to reassure thousands of local residents following the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

A feasibility study into the retrofitting of sprinklers in residential high rises, a consistent Greater Manchester approach to fire safety, and a call for the fire and rescue service to be consulted at all stages of a building’s life cycle, are part of the proposals put forward by Greater Manchester’s High Rise Task Force to the Greater Manchester Combined Authority.

The Task Force was set up by Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham following the Grenfell Tower tragedy to provide fire safety reassurance to thousands of local residents living in high rises across the city-region.

The proposals come as Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) completes the inspection of more than 500 residential high rises in Greater Manchester, to ensure they comply with fire safety regulations. Fire officers have been working with housing providers, local authorities and the private sector to ensure all buildings receive the right fire safety advice and residents feel safe in their homes.

Salford City Mayor Paul Dennett, who is leading the Greater Manchester High Rise Task Force, said: “Since the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower, Greater Manchester has taken swift action to reassure all our residents their homes are safe as quickly as possible. This is thanks to the commitment of the fire and rescue service and support from housing providers and local authorities who all share a common goal in prioritising the safety and care of local people.

“As we continue to ensure the safety of our residents, we are also working to make sure our voice is heard nationally and that steps are made so that a tragedy like Grenfell never happens again. In Greater Manchester, that means developing a world-class approach to fire safety which places the expertise of our fire and rescue service at its heart.”

Councillor David Acton, Chair of the Fire Committee said: “The Grenfell Tower tragedy marks a defining moment in relation to fire safety in high rise buildings across the country, and it is clear that there have been conflicts and confusion around fire safety legislation and building regulations. That is why we are proposing a Greater Manchester standard of fire safety, putting the safety of buildings and those living and working in them at the centre.

“In particular, we believe that the case to fit sprinkler systems in high rise flats, as part of a package of fire safety measures, has been overwhelmingly made. There is clear evidence that sprinklers can be effective in stopping fires spreading and putting them out, ultimately saving lives. As part of the work of the Task Force we will be exploring the retrofitting of sprinklers in existing blocks by undertaking a feasibility study.”

Evidence from the National Fire Chief’s Council shows that sprinklers are the most effective way to ensure that fires are suppressed or even extinguished before the fire service can arrive, with research also showing that in both converted and purpose built flats sprinklers are 100% effective in controlling fires.

Paul Dennett added: “Greater Manchester has not shied away from addressing the fire safety challenges highlighted following the Grenfell Tower tragedy but we also need Government to step up and provide the funding and resources we need to swiftly and effectively carry out this work, particularly around the replacement of cladding systems and retrofitting of sprinkler systems. Public bodies and emergency services are already struggling as a result of budget cuts and austerity; Government needs to act now to remove any barriers to keeping people safe.”

The Task Force includes landlords of tower blocks across the city region in both private and public ownership, as well as representatives from every local authority in Greater Manchester and other specialist officers who can offer support to ensure every high rise is safe.

Residents are also being offered a Safe and Well visit from GMFRS to talk about health and wellbeing, crime prevention as well as fire safety advice.

The work of the Task Force will inform a Greater Manchester response to the national public inquiry into the fire at Grenfell Tower.  This will look at a wide range of issues, including consideration of sprinkler systems and the level of resource that the Fire and Rescue Service has following the cuts of recent years.

Greater Manchester will also be submitting evidence to the Government’s independent review of building regulations and fire safety, which will highlight concerns and conflicts in existing legislation.


To arrange a free Safe and Well visit for you and your family, simply call 0800 555 815 to book a visit or fill in the online form at   

Law firm Bromleys has recruited property solicitor Martin Blaylock to help meet increasing demand from clients.

He has joined the Tameside practice from Bell Park Kerridge Solicitors, which has offices in Carlisle and Cockermouth in Cumbria.

Martin joins Bromleys’ corporate and commercial services team. He specialises in advising clients on commercial property, conveyancing and landlord and tenant matters.

He is the latest addition to the growing team, following the arrival in the spring of solicitor Rubina Begum.

Martin studied law at the University of Central Lancashire and completed the legal practice course at Northumbria University before qualifying as a solicitor in 2013.

Paul Westwell, the Bromleys’ partner who heads the corporate and commercial team, said: “We have seen a significant increase in new instructions and further recruitment has been necessary to service the needs of our clients.

“Martin has relocated from Carlisle to join us and will be a valued addition to the team. He has a varied background and will fit in well with our client-focused culture.”

Martin said: “Bromleys has an excellent reputation with clients and the local business community, and I’m delighted to have been given the opportunity to join the firm.”

In addition to the property department, Bromleys has in recent months bolstered its Private Client, Care Proceedings and Court of Protection teams.

Get in touch with Martin Blaylock by emailing or alternatively you can call 0161 330 6821

Housing association New Charter Homes has secured two five-year contracts to help reduce homelessness in Tameside.

The social landlord, which owns around 16,500 homes across Greater Manchester, has been successful in retaining its contracts with Tameside Council to deliver its statutory homelessness duties and supported temporary accommodation.

Through Tameside Housing Advice, New Charter will continue to support customers who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

This involves triage and casework, and in the past 12 months the service has prevented 900 people from becoming homeless.

The supported temporary accommodation contract will provide people with short-term housing followed by help to settle back into the community.

The service will work with Tameside Housing Advice and New Charter’s existing domestic abuse and family support projects and will include training and employment opportunities, tenancy support and health awareness.

New Charter is currently working with Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham and the wider Greater Manchester Housing Providers group on a homelessness strategy for the region.

Kerrie Pryde, New Charter’s Assistant Director of Commercial and Partnership Services said: “Helping to reduce homelessness has always been a top priority for us and we’ve been delivering results on behalf of Tameside Council for more than 16 years now.

“We’re proud that our achievements are continuing to be recognised through the renewal of these important contracts and we’re looking forward to discussing a Greater Manchester-wide strategy with our housing colleagues and the new Mayor.”

Cllr Ged Cooney, Tameside Council’s executive director with responsibility for housing and homelessness, added: “I am delighted that New Charter is to continue to work with us over the next five years to continue to reduce homelessness.

“Tameside Council and New Charter have built up a very productive partnership and I’m sure we’ll be able to improve on it. It is a partnership that plays a key role in tackling homelessness and I am sure it will go on to do even better work.” Twitter: @NewCharterGroup


 As we announced yesterday, Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, celebrated the completion of 55 new affordable family homes with tenants and local school children in Tameside yesterday by planting an Apple Tree.

The tree marked the completion of New Charter Homes’ £5.9m Coleridge Close development in Ashton which will provide a mix of one, two and three-bedroom homes for affordable rent and is part of the housing association’s drive to help solve the housing crisis.

Surrounded by residents and pupils from Canon Johnson C of E Primary School, Andy Burnham said, “We are working hard along with housing providers to make sure that truly affordable housing is available to all and these new homes will help to provide this in Ashton.

“Greater Manchester needs housing that is affordable and I would welcome more of these developments.”


The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham will celebrate the completion of 55 new affordable family homes with tenants and local school children in Tameside today.

New Charter Homes’ £5.9m Coleridge Close development in Ashton provides a mix of one, two and three-bedroom homes for affordable rent and is part of the housing association’s drive to help solve the housing crisis.

Mayor Andy Burnham will join pupils from Canon Johnson C of E Primary School to mark the occasion by plant planting apple trees at the site.

The trees for the orchard have been provided by City of Trees as part of its ambition to plant 3 million trees across Greater Manchester; a tree for every man, woman and child in the region.

Beth Kelsall, City of Trees comments, “We were delighted to work on this project and establish a community orchard as part of the new development. We hope this will create a fruitful forest for the future and benefit generations to come”.

Coleridge Close has attracted praise from several politicians including Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn and local MP Angela Rayner who visited the site earlier in the year.

TEN Hattersley and Mottram residents are celebrating after passing their Construction Skills Certification Scheme exam (CSCS) thanks to help from Peak Valley Housing Association.

The free-five-day CSCS course took place last week, which provides the card holder with proof that they have required training and qualifications to work on-site.

The training was hosted at the Hub off Stockport Road, and was made possible thanks to a partnership between Peak Valley, Tameside MBC and Barrett’s, funded by their employment & training fund created through land sales back in 2007.

The course was delivered by NSPP Vocational Training, which saw 10 residents receive their card on the day, opening the door to a range of on-site opportunities in the construction industry.

Craig O’Reilly aged 32, from Hattersley said: “I’m made up. I’ve got a CSCS card and I’m on a plastering course for 13 weeks starting Monday. I’m buzzing. Thanks very much to you guys for doing this.”

Course Organiser and Community Development Officer Sam Cooper, said, “The course has been a great success, we intend to continue our support to help match those who passed the CSCS test with local construction businesses and are looking to not only provide more CSCS opportunities but experiment with other industry standard courses.”

The Hub is now running a range of skills courses including food hygiene and level 1 English, Maths and IT.  If you would like to learn more please email:                                                      or telephone 0161 366 3933.

The skip day was organised by Peak Valley Housing Association, to help tenants dispose of any bulky items.

The tidy-up took place last Wednesday (2nd August) and residents braved the summer showers to have a good clear out.

A large skip was positioned on Phillip Way, and unwanted household items included old mattresses, sofa and a bike.

Peak Valley Neighbourhood Manager, Sharon Dawson, said: ‘The skips are a good opportunity for customers to have a good clear out and we are pleased that so many people braved the rain, got involved, and got rid of unwanted items.

We plan to host more skip days in the near future, so if you would like to bid for a skip in your area, please get in touch with your neighbourhood officer.’

Carla Pollitt of Philip Way, said: ‘The skips are a brilliant idea, really helpful for tenants.’

Hattersley Community Garden volunteers recently came together to celebrate the gardens official unveiling.

The special event took place on 22nd July, and those attending were treated to a host of free family fun activities.

The event was funded in partnership with the community volunteers and Peak Valley Housing Association (PVHA), in celebration of the completion of the gardens refurbishment project, which aimed to bring the disused space back into use following its closure back in 2010.

Party guests got to take a tour of the new crops, and have a go at seed planting.

Whilst the youngsters were entertained with swing ball, slides, and a bouncy castle.

The event was attended and opened officially by The Worshipful the Civic Mayor of Tameside, Councillor Joyce Bowerman.

Live music was provided courtesy of Hattersley Brass Band.

Sam Cooper, Community Investment Officer at PVHA said: “I am really impressed with the work the volunteers have put in to bring the site back to life. This community garden is a great asset to the people of Hattersley, and I hope even more people get involved to keep it going long into the future.”

Community Garden Volunteer and Peak Valley resident Simon Davison of Bunkershill Road, said, “I didn’t do much gardening before I got involved as a volunteer at the community garden, but now I’m growing all my own fruit and vegetables. We have had courgettes, tomatoes, carrots, potatoes and this year I’ve also got some corn and chillies going for the first time.”


Hattersley Community Garden is open every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday (11 – 2pm) If you’re a Hattersley or Mottram resident and would like to volunteer and the opportunity of your own patch, please contact



A key milestone at the Summers Quay development in Stalybridge, east Manchester was reached yesterday (Friday 28th July 2017) when local MP for Stalybridge and Hyde Jonathan Reynolds was invited to take part in a steel signing ceremony.

Summers Quay is a private “build to rent” regeneration development of 67 new homes in the centre of Stalybridge and is the first, and largest, private rented development to be undertaken by housing provider New Charter Group, through its commercial property arm, Cavendish Property Developments.

The steel signing, held to celebrate the final beam of the steel frame for the structure being put into place, was hosted by Cavendish Property Developments / New Charter Group and Rowlinsons Construction

Speaking at the ceremony Jonathan Reynolds MP said, “It’s an honour to be involved in marking this milestone in the Summers Quay development. The central location of this development makes it crucial to the continued regeneration of our brilliant, vibrant town. Stalybridge dearly needs a mix of new housing. These apartments will be quality, private rented accommodation delivered via a respected and responsible landlord. Cavendish Property Developments and New Charter Group are bringing a touch of luxury to canal side living. These new homes have it all -city centre style living, but with tremendous countryside views – and I know they will be in great demand.”

Tony Powell, Deputy Chief Executive at New Charter Group said,“Our private development arm Cavendish Property Developments has created a fantastic scheme here and we’re grateful to Jonathan Reynolds MP for helping us mark this milestone in what is its first ‘build to rent’ development.”

“This is also an opportunity to thank our contractor Rowlinson and our professional team who have worked hard to bring this scheme to fruition. The design, undertaken by Pozzoni, and the construction are outstanding and we’re grateful to have the opportunity to contribute to the mix of housing types available in Stalybridge. We’re creating a statement building here in Stalybridge and also contributing to what is a relatively new market for luxury private rental accommodation.”

Located at Armentieres Square in the centre of Stalybridge in Tameside, east Manchester, Summers Quay consists of 22 one bedroom and 45 two bedroom apartments as well as 244 sq m of commercial and retail space.

The scheme started on site in August 2016 with completion planned for spring 2018 and is viewed as the next best thing in city centre lifestyle renting, offering canal-side, urban living within a sub-urban setting.

Cavendish Property Developments was set up by New Charter Group in 2013 to carry out private rent, shared ownership and rent to buy and for sale residential development projects. Summer Quay is being delivered in partnership with Rowlinson Construction and Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council.


The social landlord fought off tough competition from private sector companies up and down the country and The University of Cambridge to win Digital Team of the Year at the Digital Technology Leaders Awards in London last night.

The award recognises the work of New Charter’s Business Transformation team in using digital solutions to address significant business challenges while continuing to deliver value for money and excellent customer service.

The team was commended on how it has responded to changing income streams following the Government’s new rent reduction rates.

Projects include a new customer portal for tenants to access services online and pay rent, partnerships with Tameside Council and the NHS to bring faster internet connections to tenants and businesses, new telephony systems and digital upgrades to back office processes to speed up and improve tenant-facing services.

New Charter Group owns around 19,500 homes across Greater Manchester and Nottingham as well as a successful building company, a homelessness charity and links to education through its sponsorship of academy schools.

On the night, judges said: “New Charter’s project showed a real impact in digitally transforming day-to-day business. The team are demonstrating a cultural shift in the whole-hearted adoption of digital.”

Samantha Young, New Charter’s Director of Business Transformation added: “We’re absolutely thrilled with this award and this is a fabulous achievement, showing New Charter’s commitment to transformational change. I feel proud that we’ve been able to show other sectors what housing associations can do.

“We have a great team with many different skills and our focus is always on changing how we work for the benefit of our tenants.”

Earlier this month, New Charter Group announced a merger with Adactus Housing Group to create a new company with more than 33,000 homes across the North West. The merger will happen later in the year.