Sunday, January 20, 2019

New Charter Homes and Aksa Homes; part of Jigsaw Homes Group have been awarded a gold rating for its environmental performance, after being assessed by a national environmental benchmarking group, SHIFT (Sustainable Homes Index for Tomorrow).

The accreditation measures the environmental work of organisations in the housing sector and assesses key areas that they need to deliver in.

According to the report, the organisations were recognised for their sustainability projects such as carbon literacy training for all staff and installing electric vehicle charging points at offices.

Different categories have looked at the environmental impact of all of the housing associations’ work, including new build and day to day office practices, existing property works and future plans for remaining environmentally friendly.

Danny Vose, Head of Asset Management for Jigsaw Group said: “We’re absolutely thrilled to gain the gold rating from SHIFT and are really pleased to be recognised so highly for our awareness of the environment that we work in.

“We understand that, now more than ever, all companies need to recognise the impact that they have on the environment but particularly so in the case of building work. We work hard to have only a positive impact on the communities that we work and develop in, so we’re delighted to be recognised so highly by a national body.”

For more information, visit or Twitter @JigsawHG.



Greater Manchester’s Leaders are calling on employers, employees and others to give their views and help shape the country’s first ground breaking city-region Good Employment Charter. 

The first draft of the Greater Manchester Good Employment Charter, which aims to help employers reach excellent employment standards and become more successful as a result, has just been published for consultation. The Charter, which is the first of its kind in the country to be developed by a city-region, follows a consultation earlier in the year on what should be in a Charter, and a co-design process involving employers, employees and others. The proposal will be a key part of the Local Industrial Strategy being developed for the city-region to raise productivity.

The consultation is now open and will close on Sunday, November 18. Share your views on the draft Good Employment Charter here:

Good jobs have been at the heart of the city region’s resurgence. Many employers are not only innovating, investing, growing but also helping to make Greater Manchester a great place to live.

However, while employment growth in the city-region has been strong, too many residents are in low-paid and insecure roles with little opportunity to progress.  Greater Manchester’s ambition is to extend the excellent employment practice in some sectors and employers, more widely.

While creating the draft Charter, many employers have been clear that engaging employees brings significant benefits like lower turnover of staff, a more motivated and dedicated workforce, and new insights, ideas and perspectives help an organisation succeed. This improvement in working practices in turn helps to raise the productivity of employees, a major challenge for the city-region.  The evidence is that businesses that support and invest in their employees are more profitable, add more value, and are better respected.

The Greater Manchester Good Employment Charter aims to build a movement of employers behind these ambitions to create good work across the city-region – engaging widely at the same time as setting challenging standards. The Charter will also look to harness the power of public procurement to drive up standards across Greater Manchester.

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham said: “I want Greater Manchester to be the best place to live, work and invest.  The Greater Manchester Good Employment Charter is right at the heart of those plans.

“In this draft Charter we’re setting out a vision of good employment – jobs which are secure, fairly paid and fulfilling, with opportunities to progress and develop.  This has been created alongside employers, business groups, trades unions, professional bodies, campaign groups, and academics.

“But we want to hear from all of our city-region’s businesses, trade unions and employees to make sure this Employment Charter is truly by Greater Manchester and works for Greater Manchester.

“Good employment is a win-win for Greater Manchester’s employers – whether they are in the private, public or voluntary and community sectors – because employers who are the best at engaging and supporting their employees are the most successful.

“As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Trades Union Congress, founded here in Manchester as a voice for working people, I’m determined that we continue to lead the way in improving their lives.  This Charter can be a critical tool as we work with business, trade unions and others to make our city-region a beacon of good and productive work.”

Greater Manchester’s Deputy Mayor for the Economy, Sir Richard Leese added: “Employers have been central to Greater Manchester’s growth and success.  Many of Greater Manchester’s leading employers ensure they get the best from their workforce through fairly-paid roles, using skills and strengths to the full and providing opportunities to progress.  This helps to drive growth and boost our economy.

“We now want to pioneer an approach that brings together employers behind these values.

“Our Employment Charter can help to make our city-region the best place to work but only if we hear the voices of employers and employees from across Greater Manchester during this consultation.”

Greater Manchester portfolio lead for Education, Skills and Apprenticeships, Councillor Sean Fielding said: “Greater Manchester is establishing itself as the best place in the UK for businesses to grow and succeed. The Good Employment Charter will further carve out our unique identity, helping employers create great jobs and demonstrate their commitment to driving shared prosperity.

“The partnership at the core of the Good Employment Charter is what Greater Manchester is all about – bringing together businesses, trade unions and communities across the region. Combined with great schools and outstanding further and higher education, the Charter is part of making an economy that works for everyone.”

Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive, Clive Memmott said: “I think it’s really important that we have the courage in Greater Manchester to set out the principles of what good employment practice and effective employee engagement looks like. This shouldn’t be prescriptive, complex or aiming to be the perfect model for all employers. Its purpose is set out a clear vision of what good and fair employment looks like. This won’t be fixed in tablets of stone but will be dynamic and continue to evolve as more organisations become involved and different approaches are recognised and new ideas generated.

“Effective employee engagement strategy is plain common sense. The idea that creativity, imagination and innovation just comes from those at the top of an organisation is nonsense. If we really want our organisations in Greater Manchester to be more productive we need to be fully engage and involve all our people and provide flexible and fair employment. This isn’t always easy but the results can be transformational for both employer and employee.

“This consultation will only be effective if people get involved and send in their views. This is your chance to shape the thinking about what good employment should look like in Greater Manchester and how we should promote, encourage and recognise this. If we really are serious about improving our productivity in Greater Manchester this is an important starting point.”


Ashton-under-Lyne specialist Tax and Accountancy practice, ‘Your Tax Shop’ has been shortlisted in a number of industry awards, including the prestigious IRIS Customer Awards 2018 and locally in the Pride of Tameside Awards 2018.


This year IRIS launched a new customer awards ceremony to recognise excellence, along with recognising thriving individuals and practices that are succeeding and forging ahead in the digital economy, especially those who demonstrate staff satisfaction, clever use of technology and astute business strategy and run distinctively and innovatively compared to similar sized practices.

A delighted ‘Your Tax Shop’ Practice Manager, Yvonne Cookson said “This is the first year for these awards and we are delighted to have been shortlisted in so many categories which include:

  • IRIS Firm of the Year- small practice
  • Client Excellence Firm of the Year
  • Practice Manager of the Year- Yvonne Cookson
  • Accountant of the Year- Fiona Heyes

The awards ceremony will take place tomorrow evening in London. ( 9th October 2018 )

The company have also been selected as Finalists in the ‘Pride of Tameside Awards 2018’, which takes place at Dukinfield Town Hall on Thursday 25th October, where the thriving practice have been selected as finalists in the following 5 categories:

  • Small Business of the Year
  • Professional Services Business of the Year
  • Corporate Social Responsibility Award
  • Entrepreneur of the Year- Yvonne Cookson
  • Apprentice of the Year- Danny Harris, Joshua Thomas and Kieran Ward

Yvonne concluded, “We are so proud and feel very privileged to be selected as finalists in both the above awards ceremonies! It shows that all the teams’ hard work is definitely paying off!

On behalf of all at Local Community Matters we’d like to say “Well done Yvonne, Fiona and all the Tax Shop team. Good luck to everyone up for awards, go smash it!


As part of Hyde Community College’s inspirational guidance to encourage more students to excel in the world of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, five students took to the track yesterday in their ‘Green-powered’ electric car.

The green powered car racing team sponsored by EMR metal recycling are on their second outing at the Aintree circuit after upgrading their motor and batteries after their first race last year. First practice sessions went well against an international field with teams competing from as far away as Argentina. After a few adjustments to the set up the team finished 14th out of 29 competitors in the 90min endurance race which included some fantastic driving and overtaking manoeuvres on track paired with extremely slick pit changeovers.

Teacher, Matt Brogan who oversaw the design, build and finally encouraged the Hyde team to race their electric car, said, “If you see Dominic Mayhew, Jordan Hill, Dominic Hill, Drew Hill and Joe Slamon this morning, please pass on your congratulations to them after they put in a brilliant performance in their green powered car race yesterday. They finished 14th out of 29 international cars including in their 90min endurance race beating Tameside College,  Denton Community College and West Hill in both races to be the best racing team in Tameside.”


THE MAYOR of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, is showcasing the city-region to a mass global market this week as he conducts a trade mission to the world’s most populous country, China.

The visit (September 17-20) is tasked with establishing links between our city-region and cities across the rapidly-developing country, with China’s expanding economy the second-largest in the world.

On the first day of his visit the Mayor experienced the fastest passenger train in the world. His trip from Beijing to Tianjin took in a new 73 mile high-speed line that has reduced travel time between the two largest cities in Northern China from 70 to 30 minutes, showing how rail infrastructure can connect major cities’ economies.

That is a quicker journey time than it takes a Greater Manchester passenger to travel from Wigan Wallgate to Manchester city centre (17 miles), or Bolton to Rochdale (11 miles).

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “Experiencing train travel in China emphasised what is possible when ambitious technology, infrastructure investment and innovation is married with sensible regulation.

“Imagine travelling more than 70 miles on a super-fast service in exactly the same time it takes to catch a rattling Northern train just eight miles from Altrincham to Manchester. It re-enforced to me the scale of the challenge we face in Greater Manchester to improve the railways so that they work for everyone.

“Railway passengers in the North of England deserve a service every bit as clean, comfortable and reliable as those travelling in Northern China.”

The Mayor’s visits to a number of Chinese cities in what is the world’s most populous country is also targeted to aid the development Greater Manchester’s ambitious plans for delivering clean air, decarbonisation, and an end to single-use plastics.

The visit will lead to new partnerships and connections with key centres of the Chinese economy, enabling the city-region to benefit from collaborative working across industry, academia and public policy, as part of the Mayor’s openness to welcoming talent, investment and ideas to Greater Manchester from across the globe.

Andy added: “The future of a global world is one of cities working together across borders and seas and making the difference – centralised power is rapidly becoming a thing of the past.

“Greater Manchester has long recognised the strategic importance of forging closer ties with China, given its general growth trajectory, rising appetite for investment in the West and synergies with key sectors we are trying to develop in our city-region.

“Stronger international city-to-city ties will not only allow us to share our experiences and best practices, but more importantly to work collaboratively across industry, academia and policy in shaping the solutions for tomorrow’s world.”

Since the establishment of Manchester-China Forum in 2013, the city-region has positioned itself as a leader in advancing its relationship with China. In recent years it has attracted £5bn of Chinese investment, established two new air routes to the country and is developing a broad range of long-term partnerships in areas as diverse as the manufacture of graphene to the economic and social importance of football.

A team from Hyde Community College, made up of students aged between 11 and 16-years-old, have developed an electric car, which was raced against other students in the GreenPower Formula 24 recently.

The car, which is powered by two 12 volt batteries, reached a top speed of 35 miles per hour and was raced for the first time in a qualifying round at the Anglesey Circuit on 3 July.

The team of four students Dominic Mayhew, Jordan Hill, Dominic Hill and Joe Slamon managed to win two trophies in their first competitive race, claiming the best newcomer and the spirit of green-power award given for their sheer determination and resilience, all done with a smile on their faces.

The GreenPower challenge helps address the engineering skill gap and uses the excitement of motorsports to inspire young people to excel in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. The event consists of more than 700 teams throughout the UK with 35 regional events and an international final.

The team approached local metal recycling company EMR for sponsorship to compete in the event. Adam Sellers, Site Manager at EMR’s Hyde depot said: “GreenPower Formula 24 gives secondary school aged children the opportunity to design, build and race an electric, single seater car on some the UK’s top motor circuits.

“When we were approached by the students from Hyde Community College, we had to support the project that will give these students incredible experience and skills.

“We recycle anything from a toaster to an aircraft carrier and we wouldn’t be able to do that without investing heavily in developing our own technology. We recognise the importance of giving young people the opportunity to learn and develop skills that are stepping stones into an engineering career.”

Mr M Brogan, Assistant subject leader in Design and Technology from Hyde Community College said:

“For the students to be able to design and the build the car, it was vital that they approached local business for sponsorship to fund the challenge. The team were thrilled when EMR were able support. This challenge has been instrumental in teaching the students how to liaise with a local business, along with the necessary engineering skills of effective time management required to take on a project of this magnitude. ”



The team at Specsavers in Hyde are raising awareness this Diabetes Week (11 June – 17 June) as, according to research, over 4,300 people in Tameside are at risk of losing their sight due to diabetes.

Olympic rower Sir Steve Redgrave CBE is joining forces with Specsavers and the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) to warn of the risks of blindness linked to the condition.

The campaign follows Sir Steve admitting that losing his sight is one of his biggest worries – as his diabetes means he is up to 20 times more likely to lose his sight than those without the condition.

Sir Steve says: ‘Going blind is, unfortunately, a very real threat for me. Until I was diagnosed with the condition, I was totally unaware of its implications on sight and having lived with diabetes for more than 20 years now, I can’t stress enough the importance of regular eye tests at your opticians and check-ups at the nearest diabetic screening programme.

‘Since being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, I’ve learnt how important it is to get regular eye checks to detect signs of diabetic retinopathy, which can cause blindness.  The eyes are a window to general health so visiting your optician should be part of your routine for staying fit and healthy.’

Sophie Castell, Director of Relationships at RNIB, said: ‘Sadly, all too often, people with diabetes can lose their sight due to complications. Yet with early detection through regular eye tests and specialist diabetic eye screening followed by timely treatment, sight loss due to diabetic retinopathy can be prevented. We’re so grateful for the support of Specsavers’ staff across the country as they take part in their row-a-thons to mark Diabetes Week and look forward to hearing how they get on.’

Research supported by RNIB reveals that London, Manchester and Liverpool are among the UK cities at greatest risk of blindness due to diabetic retinopathy.

Nina La Rosa, ophthalmic director at Hyde says: ‘Many people are unaware that eye tests are not only critical for your eyes, but your wider health too.

‘At Specsavers, we offer digital retinal photography for free as part of a standard eye test for customers aged over 40. This takes a detailed picture of the back of your eye and the microcirculation of blood – helping to highlight indicators of diabetes that need addressing alongside the diabetic eye screening programme.’

For further information on Diabetes Week, please visit:

WITH warmer weather on the horizon, bringing with it the year’s first high pollen levels, a local Hyde opticians is offering tips to help hay fever sufferers keep itchy and irritated eyes at bay even when their allergies flare-up.

Hay-fever is a growing problem, with more than 16 million people in Britain (one in five) currently suffering from hay fever and this figure is expected to almost double over the next 20 years.

To coincide with the start of hay fever season, Nina La Rosa, Specsavers Hyde optometrist store director, is offering simple tips to help sufferers reduce their symptoms.

Nina says: ‘Although staying inside will help to reduce symptoms, we understand this isn’t a practical or appealing option for most people during the summer.

‘However, a few simple tricks can help to minimise the amount of pollen that comes into contact with your eyes while you are outside. Wearing wraparound glasses or sunglasses will help keep pollen away from your eyes. If you have a fringe, keep it off your face, as it will catch pollen and drop it into your eyes.’

The hay fever season usually begins around mid-March with tree pollen blooming until May. However, this year the pollen season has been delayed by cold weather, meaning that trees are likely to release their pollen at the same time and cause a sudden spike in hay fever symptoms, such as itchy eyes and sneezing.

Nina adds that the number one rule for hay fever sufferers is to never rub or scratch your eyes. ‘This really will only aggravate the effects of the allergic reaction further,’ she says.

‘You also don’t want to be caught out on the day you start to suffer. Stock up now on your usual eye drops if you know that your eyes are sensitive to pollen.

‘If you’ve suffered from hay fever for years and have a good idea of when it is likely to kick in, you can begin to use eye drops a couple of weeks in advance. Inflammation caused by airborne pollens can considerably be reduced by doing this.

‘It’s important to point out that you shouldn’t use eye drops while wearing soft contact lenses unless they are specifically formulated for that purpose. If you have any doubt about which drops are suitable then speak to your optician.’

Hay fever sufferers who are outside between 10:30am and 3:30pm will suffer the strongest symptoms. This is when the highest pollen count is. For more information about Allergy UK visit

To book your appointment at Hyde Specsavers visit


GREATER Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) is to showcase its leading “green” credentials at Greater Manchester’s Green Summit, called for by the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham.

Hugely oversubscribed, the Green Summit brings local people, academics, climate change experts and business leaders together to put forward their commitments for delivering a greener, carbon-neutral Greater Manchester.

Already one of the UK’s leading environmentally-friendly emergency services, winning 11 sustainability awards since 2009, GMFRS is perfectly placed to help Greater Manchester deliver on its ambition to become one of the greenest city-regions in Europe.

But this ambition is not just about topping the sustainability leader boards.  Climate change experts at the Tyndall Centre say that if we do not take action faster and sooner than currently planned, the resulting change in global temperatures will have a very real impact in the UK and across the world, affecting our weather, food production, and the demands placed on our emergency services.

These facts are not lost on GMFRS and its firefighters, who have already seen climate change in action and experienced their share of flood, storm and fire damage in the region.

Interim Chief Fire Officer Dawn Docx said: “Climate change has a massive bearing on the work of the fire service. During the 2015 Boxing Day floods, firefighters carried out 1000 rescues within a 24 hour period and, just recently, extreme cold weather and strong winds caused havoc across the region.

“It’s an issue we have to take very seriously because of the impact climate change has on us and other first responders. This is why we’ve taken positive action to reduce our own environmental impacts.

“Our green practices have been in place for some years now and it’s something GMFRS is proud to lead on at a national level. I’m pleased that we will be represented at the Mayor’s Green Summit and that the issue of climate change is being tackled by all sectors, across Greater Manchester.”

By 2016/17, GMFRS reduced its carbon emissions by 40% since 2008/09, and its fire prevention measures have reduced fires across the region by 40% since 2008, saving lives as well as 5,000 tonnes of CO2.

GMFRS has set itself the ambitious target of having a “net positive” carbon footprint by 2050, meaning that the service will work to reduce more carbon emissions than it creates – essentially leaving the environment in a better shape than if GMFRS did not exist.

GMFRS is also aiming for zero waste, zero pollution, zero wasted water and wants to establish itself as a local leader on sustainability – all by 2050.

GMFRS green ambitions are supported through initiatives such as:

  • Solar panels installed at 22 sites, providing enough energy to meet 14% of GMFRS’ electricity demand – enough to power 13 fire stations.
  • New GMFRS premises have been built with sustainability in mind – the new training site at Bury has achieved CEEQUAL ‘good’, Wigan Community Fire and Ambulance Station has achieved BREEAM ‘excellent’, and the new Bury Community Fire Station uses 90% less gas than the previous building.
  • Rainwater harvesting technologies installed in Bury, Rochdale and Wigan to meet demand for vehicle washing and toilet flushing (!)
  • Specialist environmental protection unit based at Bury uses Environment Agency equipment to help GMFRS deal with the most severe potential pollution incidents.
  • GMFRS fire engines are now more efficient thanks to their 100% recyclable polymer bodies which make them 75% lighter and reduce annual fuel costs by 3%.
  • Alongside standard fire appliances, GMFRS has six community response vehicles which have 500 litre water tanks, as opposed to the 1800 litres carried by a standard appliance. Used to attend smaller incidents, these vehicles are lighter and much more fuel efficient than a standard appliance.
  • GMFRS’ Community Safety Advisors use electric vehicles which, compared to diesel equivalents, reduce CO2 emissions by 75%.

GMFRS’ Environmental Champion network is helping to transform the service into one that has embedded green thinking into every area of the service. Many energy efficiency and environmental improvement projects have been driven by green champions exploring new sustainable ways of working when on stations and at incidents.

Dave Pike, Blue Watch, Irlam said: “As one of a number of active Environmental Champions across GMFRS it has been great to play an active part in reducing the fire station’s overall energy consumption through initiatives such as the Green Hose Awards where we have seen electricity consumption reduce significantly.

“Through our work, the wider community also benefits. For example, through the local fruit tree planting project and having a bike stand installed outside the station to encourage people to cycle more.

“The combination of organisational and community- led initiatives is having a great impact on our overall carbon footprint, ensuring we leave things in a better position than when we started.”

For more information about the Green Summit, visit or follow #GMGreenCity on Twitter.


Thanks to world-leading digital technology, Greater Manchester is one step closer to achieving its ambition of becoming one of the top-five digital city-regions in Europe.

Greater Manchester has been awarded £25m from central Government to significantly upgrade its digital infrastructure – funding that will help deliver “full fibre” broadband technology across the region, trigger subsequent private sector investment of up to £200m, and pave the way for 5G mobile technology.

Described as futureproof, “full fibre to the premises” (FFTP) broadband has no speed or bandwidth limit. In the largest digital upgrade plan of its kind in the UK, the funding will be used to connect over 1500 public sector buildings across Greater Manchester, including premises used by health, education, social care, fire, and local government.

This wholesale implementation by the public sector is expected to trigger significant additional private finance investment of over £200m from a private sector that will be keen to capitalise on the upgrade and deliver similar connections to business and residential customers.

Funding for the public sector digital upgrade is coming from central government’s Department for Digital Culture, Media and Sport, and is the result of a successful bid from Greater Manchester Combined Authority, supported by local council and industry leaders, partner agencies and MPs.

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “This is a major vote of confidence in our plans to make Greater Manchester the UK’s leading digital city-region, and brings us one step closer to being one of the top-five digital city-regions in Europe.

“Greater Manchester’s two digital summits allowed us to crowd source the ideas that have informed our digital strategy, and this innovation shows through. The contributions of local people and experts from the tech industries helped shape this bid and deserve credit for its success.

“I want to close the digital divide, not widen it, and it’s vital that through this upgrade, everyone in Greater Manchester is given the opportunity to participate fully in digital life, services and commerce. Every one of our cities and towns across the ten boroughs will benefit from this investment, making Greater Manchester a truly connected place, a forward-thinking, digital city-region.”

Ofcom has reported that the UK currently has just 2% full fibre coverage, compared to around 60% in Spain and Portugal. With the UK falling behind international competitors, this upgrade will deliver a massive boost to Greater Manchester’s – and the UK’s – economic prospects.

With the anticipated additional support and investment from private sector businesses wanting to capitalise on the infrastructure upgrade started by the public sector, Greater Manchester could see its current full-fibre coverage increase from 2% to 25% by 2020.

Greater Manchester lead for digital, work and skills, Cllr Sean Anstee, said: “I welcome this relationship with the Department for Digital Culture, Media and Sport – their investment opens up a lot of doors for us in Greater Manchester.

“This upgrade by the public sector makes Greater Manchester an attractive proposition for private sector investors who will be looking to expand on this infrastructure to deliver similar cutting-edge connectivity to their business and residential customers.

“It will also open up new career pathways for local people: we have a fantastic digital, tech and creative sector in Greater Manchester and improving our digital capabilities means we can create the optimum conditions for those sectors to grow, providing employment, skills and training opportunities.

“Our ambition is for Greater Manchester to be a place where data bandwidth is never a barrier to commercial, social activities or the delivery of public services. We want digital connections to be available across the region – at the right speed, in the right place, and at an affordable price.”

Around 1,000 local businesses will also receive support to help them get connected, thanks to a ‘Gigabit Voucher Programme’, and a further 17,000 local businesses will find themselves within touching distance of the new fibre networks – an attractive proposition for businesses looking to make the leap to next-generation data technologies in order to boost their capacity and productivity.

Today’s funding makes Greater Manchester a tempting prospect for local industries wanting to upgrade, and for full-fibre service providers looking to get a foothold in a region hungry for digitalisation and tech innovation.