Newsletter, October 2020
A brief summary of what’s in our October 2020 newsletter..
Welcome to our October newsletter – we hope that you and your loved ones are staying well and managing to avoid the Covid virus. Life is far from normal, but nevertheless life does go on and in this issue we talk about how SPC is helping to promote the very important issue of peace and support the work of local peace groups. We are also looking for volunteers to join our new steering group to help encourage local businesses to stock or use Fairtrade products. Could you be one of our new volunteers?
We are still here, working on your behalf
It’s a bit of an understatement to say that life’s been somewhat difficult over the past months. The Coronavirus has led to huge upheavals in lives up and down the country, and, locally, here in Saddleworth – and the coming winter looks like presenting yet more challenges with Christmas, as we’ve known it for our entire lives, takes a back seat to Covid in respect of annual regular events like our Christmas Lights Competition.
But despite the doom and gloom, we, at SPC, want you to know that we are still here, working on your behalf. Ideally we would have liked to be here ‘in the flesh’, but that’s not been possible. It took a while to get our monthly meetings up and running via the internet and, as the summer progressed, we were rather hoping to be able to meet in person in a ‘socially distanced’ way in the council chamber, but due to recent increases in Coronavirus cases, we made the decision to continue online.
Many activities are ‘on hold’, but hopefully not for too long
As well as our Christmas Lights competition, Covid has led to a range of activities and events being put on hold across the community. Normally, at this time of year, we’d be suggesting that you hire our fantastic meetings, conferences and celebrations facilities at the Civic Hall, but for the first time in our living memory, the Civic Hall remains pretty much silent. Let’s hope that, come next year, we can begin to get back to something resembling normal.
Getting essential jobs done
We have, however, taken the opportunity to get things done – essential maintenance work and so on like getting the overhanging trees in the Civic Hall carpark trimmed back, adding an extra litter bin and also sorting out a planter to put on the verge outside the Civic Hall. This not only brightens things up but also stops people from parking their cars on the verge. Our thanks in advance to the wonderful She Sheds for organising this.
We are always here if you need us
In the meantime, please be aware that your councillors are still available should you need our assistance. You can contact us in the usual way via this website. We are thankful to say that everyone at Saddleworth Parish Council has remained well and we hope that you, your friends, family and neighbours have managed to avoid and continue to avoid the virus.
* * *
Ensuring SPC is up to date with Data Protection regulations
Another thing we’ve been doing during the lockdown months is to look at data protection and the way SPC communicates with council members and the wider community. We believe it’s essential for us to be up to speed with the latest data protection regulations to safeguard our own privacy as well as yours.
The General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, is considered to be the world’s strongest set of data protection rules on how people can access information about themselves and what organisations are permitted to do with personal data.
GDPR is complex (the actual text contains no less than 99 individual articles). Nevertheless it’s important that we, as a Parish Council, ensure continued compliance. Should councillors, for example, be using SPC email addresses rather than personal email addresses? Should we be using our own personal computers for parish council matters?
Thankfully, after looking in depth into how GDPR applies to SPC, we concluded that we are compliant in all probability – but just to be 100% sure, we’ve passed the issue on to our Communications Committee to look into more detail.
You can find out more about GDPR on this website: https://www.wired.co.uk/article/what-is-gdpr-uk-eu-legislation-compliance-summary-fines-2018
* * *
We’re making a Pledge to Peace
With Covid on all of our minds, other issues can tend to be put onto a back burner. However, in an increasingly uncertain world, the issue of peace is as important as ever.
The Pledge to Peace is an international commitment for any individuals or organisations “to encourage projects and actions promoting peace in its most universal meaning”, and has been signed by individuals and groups all over the world.
In addition to the practical services we deliver in the local community, SPC believes that it is important to reflect the wider values of people in Saddleworth. Saddleworth already has a thriving peace movement in its villages and there are regular events to mark international peace such as on International Holocaust Day and the Hiroshima and Nagasaki Memorial Days. SPC Councillor Al-Hamdani was also the first councillor in the UK to sign the ICAN parliamentary pledge.
We believe that taking the time to recognises that values like peace are important to the people of Saddleworth and is a valuable thing for the Parish Council to do. It demonstrates that we are a part of the community and we support the work of local peace groups to make this an even better place to live.
* * *
Could you be a Fairtrade volunteer?
Fairtrade products are rapidly growing in popularity as retailers and customers choose to support better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world.
There are over 6,000 Fairtrade products from coffee, sugar, tea, cocoa, chocolate, wine, fruit juices and bananas to clothing, craft items, even gold.
Traditionally product buyers tout around to get the lowest price but Fairtrade has shown that everyone benefits by opting for Fairtrade products: the producers benefit by getting a better deal that allows them to make their own decisions, control their future and lead the dignified lives that everyone deserves. We, the consumer, benefit by knowing we are doing our bit by making simple shopping choices to buy products that really do change lives. And we benefit from getting improving, high-quality products.
We want to encourage local outlets to stock Fairtrade products – and here’s how you can help
At SPC, we want to see as many local retailers, hospitality outlets and workplaces as possible stocking Fairtrade products. Many already do, of course, but there is room for improvement!
This is why we’re setting up a local steering group to encourage more local restaurants, pubs, bars, hotels, B&Bs, sandwich shops, cafes, coffee shops, work places, convenience stores and newsagents to stock Fairtrade products – and we are seeking volunteers to help make this happen.
Becoming one of our Fairtrade volunteers is literally life-changing
If you’d like to find out more about being a Fairtrade volunteer in our community and help to change farmers’ and workers’ lives, please contact Councillor Richard Darlington by email email@example.com. Or email SPC at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meanwhile you can find out more about Fairtrade here: https://www.fairtrade.org.uk/
* * *
Civic Hall planters & more bad car parking
It seems that some elements of society can’t resist spoiling things for everyone else. Take the planters in front of the Civic Hall for example, filled with colourful flowers to brighten up the neighbourhood. On several occasions youths have been seen climbing onto the flat canopy over the front door of the Civic Hall using the planters to climb up, so it looks as if the planters will need to be moved.
However SPC have come up with a solution. People are parking cars on the grass verge in the cemetery car park, so it was agreed that we move the planters onto this verge solving both issues at once.
* * *
We are always sorry to see fellow councillors go
We were very sorry to receive two resignations at our September SPC meeting. Cllrs Allsopp and Belmore are two of our longer serving councilors but both have taken the decision to stand down as they move on to pastures new.
Neil Allsopp was elected to the Parish Council in 2011 as a Conservative Councillor for the Greenfield ward. He became Chairman for the year 2015 – 2016. However, following a house move out of the area, he has decided to stand down. Neil could have stayed on if he so wished until the next Parish elections in 2023 but decided to stand down with immediate effect.
Alan Belmore was elected to the Parish Council in 2015 as a Liberal Democrat Councillor for the Greenfield Ward. He is in accountancy working for Deloitte and is taking up a post in Buenos Aires – a little further away than Neil’s new home in another part of West Yorkshire!
However both Neil and Alan believe that “Saddleworth matters should only be decided by Saddleworth people” and so feel that it’s right that they should stand down with immediate effect to make way for local people to join SPC.
Our new Chairman, Councillor Barbara Beeley, regrettably accepted the resignations and gave thanks to Cllrs Allsopp and Belmore for all that they had done for the people of Saddleworth. We wish them well in their new ventures and look forward to appointing replacements in the near future.
Alan said: “This is a big life change for me, but one I am very much looking forward to. Serving the residents of Greenfield for the past five and a half years has been a great honour.”
Neil said: “I would like to thank all of the staff for their support, advice and good humour throughout. Also, their endless patience. I wish my fellow Councillors, Saddleworth Parish Council and the people of Saddleworth continued health, wealth and prosperity in the finest County of all. Yorkshire!!!”