We’ve seen many examples of the Council, partners and the wider public helping people in our communities and creating opportunities for everyone with our ambitious plans.
In January, we received funding for our Supported Housing Improvement Programme to bring the best outcomes for tenants, with an initial focus on Mental Health and Learning Disability accommodation. In March, the Adult Social Care Opportunities team REaCH service was rated ‘Good’ by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). Our Team Around the Place (TAP) Networks, allowing partners to collaborate and support our communities to be healthier, happier, and more resilient, continued supporting innovative partnership projects around domestic abuse, access to health checks and physical activity, and volunteer befrienders helping isolated or lonely people. In July, our One Stockport Fair and Inclusive Summit discussed the work we are doing to improve equality.
*Council Leader, Councillor Mark Hunter and Councillor Frankie Singleton, Cabinet Member for Communities, Culture & Sport *
Our Family Drug and Alcohol Court team was visited by Judge Berkley, who was impressed with our work in Stockport. The year also saw help for residents with the ongoing Cost of Living Crisis. Our Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme allowed children from low-income families to attend holiday activities. The Resident Advice and Support (RAS) team continues to run the cost-of-living helpline, and we have relaunched our Warm and Well campaign this winter, which encourages residents to look after themselves, their homes and each other. As part of the initiative, we have opened up our warm spaces funding again.
*Councillor Frankie Singleton, Cabinet Member for Communities, Culture & Sport, launches the Warm Spaces programme for 2023/24 *
We’ve also offered support to young people and families. In January, we heard how our Family Context digital tool and open data portal helped to save social workers 18,000 hours a year and how the Mockingbird foster care programme replicates the extended family model by creating ‘hubs’ – building relationships between carers and looked after children, so both feel supported. In October, Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham and myself, Stockport foster carers and other local leaders signed the Greater Manchester fostering promise to mark Greater Manchester Fostering Fortnight – we’re committed to creating an environment built on honest communication and unwavering support based on trust, loyalty, respect and responsive. In June, the Jumpstart scheme saw us take on care leavers as part of their work experience placements, and we work with Pure College to give young people with an Education Health Care Plan experience of working life by hosting a Supported Internship and industry placements for students doing T Levels at Stockport College. And Care Leavers have been given ‘protected characteristic’ status to help the Council seek to redress inequalities and for their needs to be considered within Equality Impact Assessments for future policy changes. We also launched One Stockport Family Hubs – a one-stop shop of information and support for families, from pregnancy to young people becoming adults.
*Councillor Wendy Meikle, Cabinet Member for Children, Families & Education, at the launch of the Family Hub in Adswood *
We’ve helped the environment by making the borough a cleaner, greener place now and for future generations. In February, Stockport was recognised as a net zero hotspot by a leading Think Tank, an achievement showing the real-life benefits our Climate Action Now programme is having. In March, we asked everyone in Stockport to get involved in the Spring Clean, to help keep the area looking its best. In November, we hosted the 3rd Climate Action Now (CAN) Summit, discussing key themes and how we can all grow our climate action. The Landing on Merseyway car park – a collaborative community growing space designed and built by Where The Light Gets In and Manchester Urban Designers – was also featured in an episode of the BBC’s Gardeners’ World.
Stockport’s amazing cultural life has also been recognised as a hotbed of the Arts. In May, it was announced that Stockport is the new Greater Manchester Town of Culture!, which has brought activities to people and places across the borough, allowing everyone to enjoy something new and different. The ceremony at the Hatworks was attended by myself, the Mayor of Stockport, the Chief Executive of the Council, Andy Burnham and local stars Blossoms and Stockport County’s Macauley Southam-Hales.
Mayor of Stockport, the Chief Executive of the Council, Leader of the Council and Andy Burnham at the Town of Culure launch at Hatworks
Since then, we’ve funded over 100 organisations to deliver projects, including cooking classes, Bhangracise in parks, artwork on shopfronts and writing workshops for young people. Major events packed Stockport Town Centre including Art Battle, the Underbanks Secret Street Party and recently the Stockport Christmas Spectacular. We’ve brought back legend Graham Gouldman to perform in the town for the first time since 10CC split in 1976
Graham Gouldman, Dr Peter Wadsworth, Cllr Mark Hunter at Mr Gouldman’s first visit to Stockport since the break up of 10CC
and Argentinian artists all the way from La Boca to La Stocka, transforming Hopes Carr and Canal Street’s dull walls into a vibrant outdoor gallery.
Councillor Frankie Singleton, Cabinet Member for Communities, Culture & Sport, with Argentian and Stockport artists who created the La Boca to La Stocka mural
It was also ‘Lights, Camera, Action’ for Stockport, with the area ‘ready for its close up’ after gaining a reputation as the Hollywood of the North, with quality TV and film productions using the borough as a backdrop. Our beautiful Town Hall ballroom was the talk of the town in October, making a cameo appearance on Strictly Come Dancing as contestant Adam Thomas and professional dance partner Luba Mushtuk used the stunning venue to film their introductory segment for the popular dance competition.
Strictly Come Dancing contestant Adam Thomas and professional dance partner Luba Mushtuk rehearsing in Stockport Town Hall’s ballroom.
The past year has been an exciting time for our regeneration efforts. In March, we pioneered an innovative plan to bring people to the town centre and inspire a love of learning. Supported by £14.5m from the Future High Streets Fund, we’re turning empty space in Merseyway into Stockroom, an accessible, family-friendly learning and discovery space. We also secured £20m to build a new community hub in Marple to provide a new swimming pool, library, fitness studio, community spaces, and new cycling and walking routes. In April, the Stopford House refurbishment project picked up the Fit-Out project award at the Sustainable Design Council Awards. In June, work on the Interchange site gathered pace, with the first trees placed on the rooftop park, followed by the topping out ceremony for the new residential building in May. The new hub will provide walking, and cycling links to the town centre and beyond, and funding was received to create the spiral ramp to enable a seamless journey from the station to the town centre. Businesses have seen the potential in Stockport, with high profile names IKEA and Marks and Spencer moving into the town centre and the old BHS unit being developed into ultra-modern new shops occupied by JD Sports and Poundland, creating job opportunities and increasing footfall. The new Merseyway Innovation Centre is also a fantastic addition, providing a home for up to 50 small and growing digital and creative businesses.
Due to these fantastic projects, Stockport has been hailed by the regional and national press and organisations as a fantastic place to live and work. We were lauded as a great place to put down roots after consumer group Which? recognised Stockport as one of the 12 best places in the UK to retire, and the borough was also recognised as one of the country’s 12 best places for first-time buyers by the Times newspaper. Manchester Mill sang the praises of the Underbanks as a hub for local creatives, I Love Manchester website celebrated regeneration work, providing a blueprint on how to create a thriving town centre that’s the envy of the region and Andy Burnham presented us with our plaque, to confirm us as members of the Greater Manchester Good Employment Charter. Stockport also topped a recent Manchester Evening News readers poll as the best place to live in Greater Manchester, Bramall Hall won best Historic Wedding Venue in the regional Wedding Industry Awards, and Mike Sweeney praised Stockport Market Hall during a Radio Manchester outside broadcast there. There were also smiles all around as Stockport was named in the top 10 happiest places to live in the North West by the online property platform Rightmove.
This gives us an excellent springboard to ensure even more incredible things happen for Stockport, with many of our regeneration projects coming to fruition next year in 2024.