The Coronavirus crisis has, of course, been a very difficult time for all of us, particularly those who have been very ill, lost loved ones, are unable to leave their houses or are struggling financially because their jobs or businesses are under threat. It can be very difficult in these circumstances to see positives, but I do think that our daily exercise has made us appreciate what’s on our doorstep.
I’ve certainly enjoyed spending time walking around the greener parts of Tameside and beyond. In fact, in my constituency, the one thing that unites all communities in both the Tameside and Stockport parts is the Tame Valley.
Once an industrial lifeline, today it’s a beautiful linear countryside park following the river Tame from where it starts in Saddleworth Moor to where it forms the Mersey in Stockport town centre. The historic county boundary between Lancashire and Cheshire, it was a policy – and a lasting legacy – of Greater Manchester Council, to turn the valley’s industrial wastelands back to nature.
I was very glad to see, therefore, that the think tank IPPR North have released a report that puts the environment – and our wonderful green spaces – right at the heart of their vision for the future of the north of England.
As the report points out, it’s not just the environment that benefits from us taking care of our green spaces, it also helps with our health and wellbeing and even our economy.
There has been a lot of talk of “levelling-up” the North and, of course, additional funding for infrastructure and investment in our local and regional economies is important. In my view though, it is essential that environmental resilience, sustainability and protection of our green spaces is put at the very heart of any “levelling-up” activity.
Luckily, in Greater Manchester, I think there is a general understanding of this challenge and a commitment to deal with it. Metro Mayor Andy Burnham has led the way with the 5-year environment plan for Greater Manchester, which sets out an innovative vision for the future of our city region where environmental and economic concerns are dealt with together.
I hope you all continue to enjoy the fantastic green spaces right here in Tameside – not only are they pleasant places to explore, they are key to the future of our communities.
Portland Basin Marina, Dukinfield)
(Peak Forest Canal, Dukinfield)
(Upper fields at Dunkirk Farm)
(Shepley Woods, Audenshaw)
(Jet Amber Fields, Denton)
(Haughton Dale Meadows)
(The Weir, Haughton Dale)
(Hulmes Pit, Hulme’s Wood)
(Ross Lave Lane, Hyde Hall Farm, Denton)
(Reddish Vale Mill Ponds, Reddish Vale Country Park)
(Tiviot Dale River path to Stockport Town Centre)