Monthly Archives: June 2014

Ashton-under-Lyne Town Centre – Progress 2

New life for historic arcade

Press Release Date: 23 June 2014

Clarence ArcadeA once resplendent Victorian arcade will again become a hub of activity following plans to develop it into a state-of-the-art business centre.

Tameside Council has supported Jersey Street Properties Limited in a bid to the European Regional Development Fund for £1m to regenerate Clarence Arcade, in Stamford Street, Ashton.

The developers will match fund the grant to transform the beautiful building into high quality offices with high speed broadband, meeting rooms and conference facilities. The scheme will also incorporate a stunning glass atrium as a warm and inviting communal space for users.

Clarence Arcade was built in 1894 and was Tameside’s only covered Victorian shopping arcade. In its heyday it was considered to be one of the most prestigious shopping locations in Ashton but its fortunes waned as shopping habits changed. The new development will breathe new life into this part of the town centre, creating opportunities for businesses and increasing footfall within the surrounding vicinity.

Tameside Council Executive Leader Cllr Kieran Quinn said: “This amount of investment and external funding is fantastic news for the borough, as well as helping to restore an attractive and historic building it will bring opportunities for enterprise and employment.”

Ashton Town Chair Cllr Bill FairfoullAtrium at Clarence Arcade said: “The high quality business centre fits in perfectly with the wider plans, through Vision Tameside and the redevelopment of the market place, to transform Ashton Town Centre into a modern and vibrant place which will attract further investment, businesses and shoppers.”

Jersey Street Properties’ Managing Director Jake Ezair said: “We see huge potential in Ashton and our substantial investment in transforming this beautiful building in to a state-of-the-art business centre is a testament to our confidence.”

Work on the development will start in July, with the new businesses centre due to open in spring 2015.

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Ashton-under-Lyne Town Centre – Progress 1

Ashton-under-Lyne is an exciting place to live!

We are just about to embark on a major refurbishment of the Market Square.

Designs to transform Ashton Market Square

Ashton Market RedesignsPlans to transform Ashton’s historic market square into a modern and vibrant area have been submitted by Tameside Council.

The redevelopment will see the introduction of new stalls and kiosks, high quality landscaping and trees, a performances area, seating areas as well as new street furniture and lighting.

The plans follow extensive consultation with traders, shoppers and residents to ensure the space meets their needs while providing an attractive and inviting shopping and meeting point, which will enhance the markets already award winning offer and reputation.

The new look square will also complement the Grade II* listed Ashton Market Hall and the ambitious Vision Tameside masterplan, where the Council is working in partnership with Tameside College to deliver a new town centre campus and shared work space. This move is set to bring more than 3,000 students and staff into the town centre, increasing footfall and helping the market to remain a busy and thriving hub.

Tameside Council Executive Leader Cllr Kieran Quinn said: “Ashton Market Square is rich in history and holds a special place in the hearts of the public and traders alike. We want to retain the award-winning market’s charm and appeal while also giving it new life for the future – which is vital if it is to remain a strong contender to attract investment, new businesses and shoppers. We have listened to the views of those who matter most – our residents, traders, local businesses and visitors and will continue to work closely with them to ensure the project is a success.”

Cllr Bill Fairfoull, Chair of Ashton Town Team, added: “Members of the Town Team, including local businesses, community and other stakeholders are at the heart of an on-going drive to ensure that Ashton remains an attractive destination for shoppers and visitors. This is a really exciting time for Ashton’s Town Centre and its historic Market Square. We’ve already seen the positive effect the redevelopment of the Market Hall has had on the town, so these new plans can only improve that even more.”

Subject to receiving planning approval, development works will commence on site later in the year with a phased approach being adopted to ensure the market remains open for business throughout.

*image courtesy of IBI Taylor Young.

Matthew 10:24-39 – Mordechai Vanunu

Do you remember the story of Mordechai Vanunu, the Israeli whistle‑blower? In 1986 Vanunu, an Israeli nuclear scientist, publicly exposed Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons. He was arrested, tried in secret and sentenced to eighteen years in prison, eleven of which were spent in solitary confinement. He was released in April 2004, but lived under virtual house arrest in St George’s Cathedral in Jerusalem, having earlier converted to Christianity.

Israel insists Vanunu still poses a security threat and he is banned from leaving Israel – including visiting the West Bank and Gaza Strip – or talking to foreigners without permission. He is also banned from using the internet or mobile phones, and may not approach embassies or borders.

In 2010 he was jailed again for three months for breaching restrictions imposed on him, which included speaking to foreigners and attempting to attend Christmas Mass in Bethlehem.

He was asked to address an Amnesty International Conference in the UK on Tuesday (17th June 2014) and the UK Parliament on Wednesday, (18th June 2014) but Israel decided to uphold the travel ban it imposed on him years ago.

Mordechai Vanunu is regarded throughout Israel as a heinous and dangerous traitor, a criminal who has revealed Israeli secrets to the rest of the world. Yet a woman who befriended him in prison said this about him, “After 18 years that were so difficult, this man has not even a drop of bitterness, he has no desire for revenge. I do not know if I could behave like that after so many years of continuous suffering. He is a wonderful man.”

Whatever the rights or wrongs of the case, Vanunu has already paid a huge price for his conscience. He lost his life, or, at least, many years of it, languishing in prison. Yet it seems from the words of his friend that through being prepared to risk all for that in which he believed, he has found himself. He has discovered the depths of his being and has become “a wonderful man”.

The same is true of others, like Nelson Mandela, in prison for years for fighting against an evil system. Instead of becoming bitter, Mandela and others decided to keep working for truth and justice whatever the cost.  People making tough decisions, costly decisions to ensure that God’s kingdom is being built.

In our Gospel reading, Jesus says what can seem a very strange thing to our ears:  “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth.”

Jesus said to his twelve selected followers, “I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother …”

Harsh words, which at first glance seem to be the very reverse of Christian love. But then Jesus explains what he means. “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.”

Christian love is tough. Christian love holds justice, integrity and truth in high regard. Other considerations pale into insignificance beside it. Christian love places a premium on justice and integrity even when it is very likely to alienate nearest and dearest to us. For some people, like Jesus, truth will alienate the entire nation and send the truthful person to the gallows.

Jesus tells his disciples that Christians are called to integrity, to being truthful, even when it seems that being truthful will result in their own destruction, will harm, not someone else but themselves. But, as Jesus’ own story shows, death leads to resurrection. Those who lose their lives for his sake will find them.

Most of us are not called to be a Mordechai Vanunu. But Jesus does call us to honesty and integrity, even at the cost of upsetting those we love or losing our own status or reputation.

Christian love is at times about bearing the pain of rejection and facing up to the need to stand against what is wrong. For some people – that might mean a long, hard look at their job or the way they do their job. Because a job which requires someone to lie or to exploit others cannot compatible with Christian faith. Such workers might lose their jobs or their reputations for the sake of the gospel, but gain their life.

For some of us, it might be about having the courage to say the difficult thing to those whom we like and respect. It is so much more comfortable to be of one mind with those around us than to stand alone and to be at odds with them. But by being prepared to risk our own comfort for the sake of what is right, we gain our life.

Love which fails to speak out when it is right for fear of hurting or upsetting the other person is not real love, but is self‑indulgence. Love which really has the genuine needs of the other person at its heart is tough and painful for the one who loves, and may lead to crucifixion. But the other side of crucifixion is an unexpected and magnificent resurrection, a new and different kind of life.

Eternal life is life lived with God in glorious freedom, because the truth really does set us free. If we really want to enjoy the rewards of Christianity, then we too must take up our cross and follow Jesus.