Weekly Column: Mayor Mohammed Zaman

Date published: 07 December 2018

Week commencing Monday 26 November – Sunday 2 December

Monday, I had a meeting with Richard Tang, founder and chairman of Zen Internet at Sandbrook Park, and his brother and father. Many years ago, I used to work with Richard’s father in Bury and Richard would come and play on the computers, so this was a nice reunion.

I invited Richard to the Mayor’s Parlour to present him with a Certificate of Appreciation on behalf of the borough of Rochdale. As a Rochdale businessman who started from scratch, Richard has a great success story to tell. He explained how he started and how he followed his dreams from being a child, with full support from his family being an important milestone. Zen Internet now employs around 500 local people and the company is involved with many community initiatives like Rochdale in Bloom.

I have learnt from Richard that to be successful you must plan properly, have passion and have patience.

We later joined the Rochdale 30 event held in the town hall. Rochdale 30 is part of the Rochdale Loves Small Business initiative, an annual celebration of independent businesses within the borough.

These small businesses have made tremendous contributions to the local economy with local investments. One thing I noticed at the event was that everyone really appreciated the chance to network and continue to link with other small businesses. Thank you to Ruth Pringle who began the campaign.

This year's Rochdale 30

Tuesday was Lancashire Day and many flags were raised across the borough to honour the occasion. The first Lancashire flag raised on the day was at Rochdale Town Hall.

This was a new event for me and I enjoyed learning about and celebrating Lancashire’s traditions and history. It really took me back to the olden days. It is tradition at a Lancashire flag raising for the first citizen of the borough to read a speech in a Lancashire accent; I tried but I wasn’t very good. I applaud John Kay who was much better than me.

After Rochdale, I raised the Lancashire flag at Littleborough Cenotaph, joined by Pennine councillors and local residents. After Littleborough, we raised the flag at Dale Street Gardens, Milnrow. Thank you to the business across from the gardens who invited me for a cup of tea.

Mayor Mohammed Zaman at Lancashire flag at Littleborough Cenotaph

Hare Hill House in Littleborough hosted the Lancashire Day celebrations afterwards, which was busy with children from local schools who held flags in their hands and helped me raise another flag. Thank you to councillors Janet Emsley, Ann Stott and Irene Davidson, all residents who attended and the Friends of Hare Hill House for their hospitality and open discussion.

Tuesday afternoon, I was invited to celebrate the 80th anniversary of Rochdale Blind Welfare Society. Sylvia Corfield, a member of the society, also celebrated her 106th birthday at the event.

I was happy this event took place in my ward and I hope the society can continue to help and support people for many more years to come.

Sylvia Corfield turned 106 on Tuesday

Wednesday, I was invited to Rochdale Rugby Club for a NSPCC coffee morning. We have so many charities in Rochdale that particularly doing well at this time of year and continue to make changes to people’s lives. There was a raffle and stalls selling cards, jewellery and other fancy goods with all money raised donated to the NSPCC.

Thank you to everyone who organised this and to those who attended, it was nice to see this family environment working together to help other children. May God bless all those who do work their community and others.

Mayor Mohammed Zaman at the Rochdale Rugby Club for their NSPCC coffee morning

Wednesday night, I attended a North West in Bloom ceremony at the town hall. This was organised to say thank you to all those who volunteered from all four townships to keep our borough in bloom.

I felt the awards received at the North West in Bloom and other In Bloom awards really represented the hard work put in to maintain the blooms in our hot summer, when it was especially hard to maintain the flowers. A clean and green environment needs to be promoted all year round so that people from outside of Rochdale can see how beautiful the town is.

Congratulations to all involved with the In Bloom committee, the borough is extremely proud.

Thursday, I opened the new B&M store in Kingsway.

There are a number of B&M stores around the town and this one opened at a particularly good time. It is always positive to see further investment in Rochdale and I hope the shop will do well at the retail park. The shop also gave gift vouchers to Springhill Hospice in their mission to support local charities – I wish them all the best in this mission.

Mayor Mohammed Zaman opened the new B&M store in Kingsway

On Thursday evening the ACE Awards evening was held at Rochdale town hall. This was very busy with local businesses who support the awards. A lot of council employees go out of their way to accomplish more than what is in their job description and these awards are about showing appreciation and acknowledging those who do.

It is always good to see businesses thriving in Rochdale. Congratulations to all who received awards and also to those who were nominated, your efforts are not unnoticed, and you are all winners in my eyes. Thank you to Steve Rumbelow for organising, the town hall staff for their excellent service and the businesses who took part. I hope these businesses can continue to progress with their ambitions in Rochdale.

Friday, I visited HMP Buckley Hall, an all-male prison, with Tony Lloyd MP. This was the first time I have visited a prison, so it was a real eye opener for myself and Tony and the local residents who also attended the tour.

Mayor Mohammed Zaman at HMP Buckley Hall

Organised by Phil Massey, the prison governor Rob Knight gave us a historical background on the prison in Smallbridge and told us about the residents there. We visited different wings and saw the different projects being carried out in workshops. These projects are provided by local businesses that the prison is linked with. I spoke to some of the prisoners and they told me their stories and their hopes for when they go back into society. I was glad to see changes in attitudes and positive improvements to people’s mindsets from attending these workshops; one man said, ‘I will make the best out of the rest of my life’.

We were also taken to the multi-faith centre which I found very interesting. The residents were preparing for Friday prayer in a chapel, a place that the residents can regularly visit. The facility also provides priests and imams who offer one to one meeting to residents who need help and advice.

Thank you to the prison governor and his assistant, plus all the others who manage the wings and try to make a good change in these people through interaction and interesting projects.

Friday evening, I attended another awards ceremony but this time at Rochdale Training on Fishwick Street. This is an annual event with two different sessions, one session honours engineering apprentices and learners and the other honours business administration apprentices and learners. I gave out the second batch of awards.

So many local people attend Rochdale Training’s centre for the services they provide ranging from vocational training and apprenticeships. The first ICT training I ever did was at Rochdale Training and this allowed me to get a job with the local authorities and I’m sure will have opened up many opportunities for other people.

Congratulations to all who completed their qualifications and received their awards and a big thank you to Rochdale Training for inviting me and for the services they provide.

Rochdale Training 49th Apprenticeship Awards with MP for Rochdale Tony Lloyd far right,, Mayor Mohammed Zaman, Rochdale Training Chief Executive, Jill Nagy (centre) Paul Simkiss Managing Director of Simkiss Control Systems Ltd (far left),

Saturday was Littleborough’s Christmas light switch on in Littleborough Square and despite the bad weather, there was a great turn out from families. I turned the lights on with the winner of the Littleborough Lions Peace Poster Competition who was really pleased, and we all enjoyed a number of stalls and rides for children as we were entertained by a choir and a band throughout the day.

Mayor Mohammed Zaman at Littleborough’s Christmas light switch

Sunday, I was invited to Gracie Field’s Theatre for Rochdale Music Service’s annual Christmas Cracker event. I attended with my daughter Mayoress Naaira Zaman and Chief Executive of the council, Steve Rumbelow. Children from a variety of local schools came along too even though it was a Sunday - I was very impressed.

All of the solo and group performances were incredible. I spoke to families who were all proud of the entertainment provided and were so happy to see their children succeed and develop musical talents.

Thank you to Rochdale Music Service and all those who performed. The borough appreciates your hard work and I hope you can continue to go far with your musical abilities.

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