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North West ambulance service response times soar

North West ambulance service response times for the all types of incidents are getting longer, new Ambulance Service Statistics have revealed. 

The statistics, released from NHS England, show that average wait times for serious incidents have worsened in every region in England over the past month, failing to meet both the Category 1 and Category 2 callout times.

Locally, the statistics show that when comparing November to last month, ambulance wait times for the very worse incidents got fell by 3% with patients across the area being left to wait even longer when they called an ambulance.  

Very worryingly, urgent Category 2 callouts have worsened further with the average wait time in December of over an hour, this is 36% worse in December than it was in November. A category 2 call out is: “A serious condition, such as stroke or chest pain, which may require rapid assessment and/or urgent transport

The NHS target for “Category 2” is 18 minutes, meaning almost all of the most urgent calls for ambulance services are being missed. 

Liberal Democrats are calling for the Government to commission an investigation by the Care Quality Commission without further delay.

Responding to the new figures, Liberal Democrat Group Leader Councillor Michael Powell said:  

“It is disastrous that our local NHS services are under such severe pressure. We need real investment in our area with a plan from the Government. 

“The Government needs to step up and stop taking our area for granted. Health service wait times across the board are struggling, our local health staff are under immense pressure, and it looks like things are getting even worse.” 

NHS England’s Ambulance Quality Indicators, published on 13 January 2022, are available here.

These figures refer to Category 1 incidents: An immediate response to a life threatening condition, such as cardiac or respiratory arrest.

The NHS target is an average response time to these incidents of 7 minutes, and for 90% of them to be responded to within 15 minutes.

The NHS target for Category 2 is 18 minutes.

Cost of Living Increase – Let us know your concerns

Liberal Democrats across Bury are calling for more support for people in across the Borough to meet the growing cost of living crisis. We’re asking for your experience to see how price rises are affecting them and what support they need.

Take the survey here.

The cost of living rose by 5.1% between November 2020 and November 2021. It is now at its highest rate for 10 years. 

With energy, fuel and food prices all rising – everyone in Bury has been affected in one way or another

• Household heating prices have soared since the Energy Price Cap was lifted in October. 15 million homes pay £139 more for their heating and this could increase further in the Spring. 

• Supermarket food prices have risen by 1.1% – the biggest increase since the 2008 crash – while stock on the shelves is at its lowest point since 1983. 

• Filling a tank of petrol is on average £12 more expensive than it was a year ago. Fuel is set to hit a record high in 2022. 

This is a time when the Government should be giving people a helping hand -they are making life harder. They have increased National Insurance, cut Universal Credit and capped Pension rises so they don’t keep pace with wage increases. 

To make matters worse the Labour Council bosses increased council tax by 4% last year, and will most likely do the same this year. 

The Lib Dems would tackle the growing cost of living by taxing super-rich international companies, investing in green homes and green energy to cut fuel bills, and improving trade with Europe to cut food bills and tackle food shortages. 

You can complete the Cost of Living survey here.

Briefing: Integrated Rail Plan

A lot was reported in the media last week about the Government’s major announcement on rail services, particularly around High Speed 2, and ‘Northern Powerhouse Rail’.

Here is a really useful summary briefing, from Transport for Greater Manchester on how the proposals affect the Greater Manchester area:

1. OVERVIEW 

The Government published the Integrated Rail Plan for the North and Midlands which sets out a blueprint for the development of the strategic rail network over the next 30 years.

Please find key headlines below and a map of the network proposed by the IRP appended. 

2. HEADLINES 

  • The IRP confirms the delivery of HS2 Phase 2b Crewe to Manchester, with high speed rail stations at Manchester Airport and Piccadilly. As per the 2021 Queen’s Speech, a hybrid Bill is expected to be deposited in early 2022.
  • However, the IRP contains uncertainty over timescales and indicates that HS2 to Manchester may not be delivered until the early-to-mid 2040s, significantly behind the previously-expected timeframe.
  • The IRP also provides for a new line between Warrington and Manchester, which would connect with the HS2 line into Manchester.
  • Between Manchester and Leeds a new line will be delivered connecting the high speed station at Piccadilly to the existing Transpennine Route near to Marsden. However, the full Northern Powerhouse Rail connection between Manchester and Leeds via a new city centre station in Bradford is omitted.
  • The Western Leg of HS2 between Crewe and Manchester will be delivered in full, with new high speed stations at Manchester Piccadilly and (subject to final agreement of a local funding contribution) Manchester Airport.
  • Government is ‘minded to consider’ that a surface station at Manchester Piccadilly, integrating HS2 and NPR, should be retained in the Phase 2b Western Leg hybrid Bill design.
  • The Golborne link, which would enable HS2 services to serve Wigan via the West Coast Mainline, remains in scope, but the forthcoming Union Connectivity Review will consider alternatives.
    Northern Powerhouse Rail: Liverpool to Manchester

• A new line will be delivered between Warrington and HS2 near to Manchester Airport

Northern Powerhouse Rail: Manchester to Leeds 

  • Between Manchester and Leeds a new line will be delivered connecting the high speed station at Piccadilly to the existing Transpennine Route near to Marsden.
  • The IRP describes this as ‘delivering NPR between Manchester and Leeds’, but this falls short of the aspiration of new high speed line all the way to Leeds with a new station in the centre of Bradford.
    Northern Powerhouse Rail: Manchester to Sheffield

• Work to improve the Hope Valley line is already underway, including line speed and capacity improvements. These works could help to facilitate a possible future third fast Sheffield to Manchester service each hour. 

Transpennine Route Upgrade 

TRU will be delivered in full including electrification of the whole route, digital signalling throughout, significantly longer sections of three and four-tracking, and gauge upgrades to allow intermodal container freight services. This Government has stated that this will now constitute the “first phase” of NPR. 

HS2 Phase 2b Eastern Leg 

  • The Eastern Leg of HS2 between East Midlands and Leeds will not be delivered in full (i.e. fully segregated new high speed rail line between Birmingham and Leeds via East Midlands Hub (Toton)).
  • Instead, a new high speed line will be delivered from the West Midlands to East Midlands Parkway, along with electrification of the Midland Main Line to Leicester, Nottingham and Sheffield via Derby, and further investment on the East Coast Main Line from London to Leeds and the North East. 

Cash boost for Bury and Radcliffe

Bury Council has been awarded Government money for two major projects in Radcliffe and Bury town centre. These were the two project’s that Bury asked the Government for money for.

Bury Market
£20 million is to be spent on Bury Market. The money is for a new flexi-hall and regenerate the surrounding area.

The flexi hall will comprise a large, state-of-the-art, carbon neutral, multifunctional events space that can support market stalls, ‘pop-up’ trading, live performance, and community events. The development will also include a café bar, an area dedicated to office functions, and space dedicated to the provision of workshops, co-worker space or small business start-ups.

Improvement works will incorporate refurbished market kiosks, improved access and servicing, and a new oversailing canopy which will cover the existing market and be highly visible from Angouleme Way, giving visitors a positive view of the space.

There will also be works to address repair and maintenance issues, as well as measures to improve the environmental performance of the market through enhanced recycling infrastructure, energy efficiency improvements and the decarbonisation of existing structures. Furthermore, all new-build elements of the design will be carbon neutral.

Radcliffe Hub
A further £20 million has been awarded to build a new Radcliffe Hub and create new facilities for local businesses and public services. Estimated to cost a total of £42m, with £20m from the Levelling Up Fund and the remainder from Bury Council and external sources.

  • The main Hub building will feature a leisure centre with swimming pool, gym and fitness studios, a new library and skills centre, and a community space for meetings and events.
  • Market Chambers – refurbishing all floors to ensure that this heritage building is preserved as a key feature of the town centre, to energy efficient standards and remodelled to support local businesses moving into it. 
  • The basement of the Market will also be refurbished as a large events space for community and private functions and activities, served by a new accessible lift and including WCs, a Changing Places facility and an accessible balcony over the River Irwell. 
  • New car parking facilities will also be created and improvements made to the wider public realm connecting this campus of buildings and the wider town centre. 
  • The Carnegie Library will remain open to the public and operate as an Adult Education, Skills and Enterprise Centre – supporting local people into work and nurturing local start-ups and small businesses.
  • Subject to design work and planning permission, work could start on site next September and be complete in summer 2024.

Vaccination Update

A huge thank you to the NHS and other staff who have now delivered 200,000 doses of Covid vaccine since the start of the pandemic. Thank you for all your hand work.

Bury is now involved in two vaccination programmes:

Covid Booster Vaccinations
You will be invited to receive your booster vaccine six months after you had your second Covid-19 vaccination. You will also be offered the seasonal flu vaccination at the same appointment.

Please wait to be contacted by your GP practice. The Covid-19 booster and flu vaccinations are by appointment only.

Your questions answered about the Covid-19 booster vaccine and the flu vaccine.

First and Second Dose Covid Vaccinations
Vaccinations are available for everyone aged 12 or over. Children aged 12 to 15 will be offered a first vaccination at their school (check the Council website to see if there is something different in place over half term). Young people aged 16 and 17 can get first vaccination at the same clinics as people aged 18 and over.

  • Second doses are offered at 8+ weeks after the first dose. Patients may be offered their second vaccine earlier but only to avoid wastage or because of a specific medical condition. Second doses will not be brought forward for the purposes of foreign travel.
  • Children and young people aged 12 to 17 will be offered a single vaccine, in line with current guidance.

Full information and a list of drop-in vaccination clinics

Masks in Secondary Schools
Bury Council wrote last week to parents asking secondary school pupils to wear face coverings when moving around school, and to take regular home Covid tests if they live with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus.

The move comes as case rates have risen in the borough, driven in the main by outbreaks in schools. There have been more than 800 cases related to schools since the start of September.

From last Monday, secondary pupils will be asked to wear face coverings when moving around the school. Face coverings lower the risk of spreading the virus if someone has the virus but does not have symptoms. Pupils will not need to wear face coverings while sitting at their desks, while eating or when outside.

Adults who are double vaccinated, and children, do not need to self-isolate if they live with someone who has Covid-19.

However, all students and staff members who live with someone who has Covid-19 are now being asked to take a daily LFT test before coming into school (unless exempt from testing). Pupils should start this testing from the day their household member either became unwell with Covid-19 or tested positive if they did not have symptoms, and continue this for 10 days.

The measures are to last for four weeks, and be reviewed on 1 November.

Last chance to have your say on Housing Plans

We’ve got two days left to have our say on the controversial ‘Places for Everyone’ plan before it is submitted to Government.

Places for Everyone is the new name for the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework, the plan proposes land for 165,000 more houses across Greater Manchester in the next 15 years. (To put that in context the whole of Bury added together currently has 77,000 houses.) In Bury the plan would mean the loss of 1,700 hectares of precious green belt land (countryside). 

The four big ‘sites’ for Bury are: 
– Prestwich/Simister/Bowlee – space for 1,550 new houses on what is now ‘green belt’ (it is farmland) to the north of Heaton Park (between Simister and Middleton). Plans include a new primary school. It is important to note that these proposals are slightly away from the existing Simister village (a small improvement on previous plans), but right up to existing homes on the Bowlee and Rhodes side. 
– a major area of employment/industrial development to the north of the M62 between Prestwich/Whitefield and Middleton/Heywood. Essentially this is a large area on the north side of the M62 from Simister island to the Heywood/Middleton junction on the M62. Half is in Bury, half in Rochdale. This will provide space for 1.2million square metres of industrial and warehousing build, and 1,000 houses on the Rochdale side. 
– 3,500 new houses near Radcliffe on existing green belt land (large area of countryside around around Elton Reservoir)
– 1,400 new houses near Walshaw on existing green belt land. 

The plan was approved by Bury Council (Liberal Democrat Councillors voted AGAINST), and will now be submitted to Government for its consideration, alongside all the comments we make.

Please take a couple of minutes to have your say before the deadline on Sunday 3 October 2021.

More information and how you can have your say here.

Answers to Questions

Last week was the regular full meeting of Bury Council. As usual your local team of Liberal Democrat councillors asked the maximum number of questions allowed, here are some of the highlights:

Number 96 Bus (to Heywood Road and Simister)
Councillor Steve Wright asked a question following the very poor service seen in recent weeks and months on the above service (regularly running behind time and sometimes not even going to Simister).
Q. Could the Council’s spokesperson on the Greater Manchester Transport Committee comment on the very poor service in recent months on the 96 subsidised bus service to Simister? What can be done to improve on the reliability of this service, and in particular stop any ’turning back’ before Simister by the operator?
A. This has been an ongoing problem over recent months, the reasons behind the problems are as follows:

  • Residents/Pub goers are parking in the turning circle at the terminal point in Simister so services have not been able to turn there and have had to turn around at Parrenthorn School turning area
  • Timing issues have caused delays, especially in the Prestwich area, causing the service to continually run late.
  • Roadworks at present and recently on Heywood Road in Prestwich has further compounded the issues.
  • The route was changed in 2020 to service Prestwich and Simister but this has not worked out due to heavy traffic and one lane traffic (due to cycle lane in Prestwich village). The route was also extended last year and very little time added to help with punctuality.What has/is being put in place:
  • The temporary roadworks were due for completion on 3rd September.
  • Targeted traffic enforcement.
  • Service changes to make this a morereliable/punctual service.

Residents Parking Schemes
Councillor Michael Powell asked about the refusal of the Council to take forwards Residents Parking Scheme proposals. In two areas of Prestwich (Upper Wilton Street and Warwick Street) these have been triggered by residents, but the policy is not being implemented by the Council.
Q. Residents in the Warwick Street/Albion Mews and Upper Wilton Street areas of Prestwich have now been waiting for over a year for the Council to follow its own policy on the consideration of a residents only parking scheme, in both cases a policy triggered by resident requests. When will this process start in both areas?
A. Due to resourcing pressures in dealing with the ongoing pandemic, the Council will not be accepting any applications for new resident parking schemes until further notice. There are currently 12 resident parking schemes in effect across the borough containing over 6000 properties. We will review the position periodically, but there are no current plans to start on any new residents parking schemes.

Green Belt land lost in the the “Places for Everyone Plan”
Councillor Cristina Tegolo asked about the proportion of green belt land lost (or gained) in the Places for Everyone plan (the new name for GMSF).
Q. Could the Leader inform members of the net proportion of green belt land to be removed/added in each of the six townships of Bury, for the whole of Bury and for the whole of (the nine districts of) Greater Manchester under the Places for Everyone plan?
A. On a township basis, Places for Everyone is proposing net changes to the Green Belt as follows:

  • Ramsbottom, Tottington and North Manor would see a reduction of 0.8%;
  • Bury West would see an increase of 5.8%;
  • Bury East would see an increase of 1.6%;
  • Radcliffe would see a reduction of 10.6%;
  • Whitefield and Unsworth would see a reduction of around 28.6%; and
  • Prestwich would see a reduction of around 13.7%.

Extend Covenant to Afghan civilians who worked for Britain

Liberal Democrat Leader Sir Ed Davey MP has called on the Military Covenant to be extended to cover Afghan citizens, who have put their lives at risk to work for British troops and organisations over the last 20 years.

The Armed Forces Covenant protects UK military veterans and their families. Writing in the ‘I’ newspaper, Ed Davey has called for the Covenant to be extended to include Afghan soldiers and interpreters who have been working with the British forces in Afghanistan.

I newspaper

He says: “The UK owes a huge debt of gratitude to all the Afghan citizens who heroically took a stand and worked alongside our brave men and women on the ground over the past 20 years.

Without their selflessness, we simply couldn’t have achieved what we did and undoubtedly more lives would’ve been lost. It is only right that their huge contribution is recognised and rewarded.

We must start by ensuring all Afghan interpreters, and their families, are able to come to the UK. Now is not the time for arbitrary caps on refugees – unless we offer sanctuary they will be hunted down by the Taliban, and we will see a humanitarian crisis unfold before our eyes.”

Ed Davey will table an amendment to the Armed Forces Bill when it comes before Parliament and it is likely to receive widespread support.

The Liberal Democrats also want to see the Armed Forces Covenant expanded to include Afghans, particularly those who acted as interpreters, to ensure they are not disadvantaged as they look to build a new life here in the UK.

Consultation starts on ‘Places for Everyone’ Plan

Formal consultation on the Greater Manchester ‘Places for Everywhere’ plan is now open for residents to have their say.

Every household in the borough of Bury will shortly receive a letter about the Places for Everyone proposals, with details of what it means for their local neighbourhood and how they can view and comment on the plans. The consultation period lasts until 3 October. 

Places for Everyone is very similar to the GMSF (Greater Manchester Spatial Framework) that received a huge number of objections over recent years. Now Stockport is not part of the plan, it has the new name of Places for Everyone. 

The plan proposes land for 165,000 more houses across Greater Manchester in the next 15 years. In Bury the plan would mean the loss of 1,700 hectares of precious green belt land (countryside). 

In what must win the award for false advertising, Greater Manchester’s councils have used the by-line ‘Protecting our Green Spaces’ on the consultation. They mustn’t be talking about Prestwich, Whitefield or Radcliffe, where some of the largest losses of green belt land are taking place.

At the recent Bury Council meeting, Liberal Democrat Councillors voted against these plans, but we were sadly outnumbered by the ruling Labour Group.

Now it is your chance to have your say. The plan is at its ‘publication stage’ and is the version of the plan that the nine participating local authorities intend to submit to the Government. People are being asked whether they think the plan has been prepared in accordance with legal and procedural requirements and meets the four ‘tests of soundness’ (as set out here: paragraph 35 of the National Planning Policy Framework).

The Places for Everyone plan, plus supporting documents and background evidence, is on the Greater Manchester Combined Authority website at www.greatermanchester-ca.gov.uk/placesforeveryone.

The plan is at its ‘publication stage’ and is the version of the plan that the nine participating local authorities intend to submit to the Government. People are being asked whether they think the plan has been prepared in accordance with legal and procedural requirements and meets the four ‘tests of soundness’ (as set out here: paragraph 35 of the National Planning Policy Framework).

Comments can be made via the online response form at www.gmconsult.org. Alternatively, you can download the response form available on the GMCA website and email it to placesforeveryone@greatermanchester-ca.gov.uk

You can also submit your comments by:

Once the period for making representations ends on 3 October, it is intended to submit the Publication version of Places for Everyone to the Government alongside all supporting evidence and comments made. Please note that it will only be comments that are made on this version of the plan that will be submitted to the Government.

The Government will then appoint a Planning Inspector to undertake an Examination of the plan. Their job is to examine whether the submitted plan meets the ‘tests of soundness’ and all the relevant legislative requirements.

Council Approves Places for Everyone Plan

Sadly, Bury’s Councillors agreed by a narrow margin to proceed with the ‘Places for Everywhere’ planning proposals. Liberal Democrat councillors voted against the proposals, but 26 Labour councillors voted in favour which was enough to win this time.

Places for Everyone is very similar to the GMSF (Greater Manchester Spatial Framework) that received a huge number of objections over recent years. Now Stockport is not part of the plan, it has the new name of Places for Everyone.

The plan proposes land for 165,000 more houses across Greater Manchester in the next 15 years. (To put that in context the whole of Bury added together currently has 77,000 houses.)

In Bury the plan would mean the loss of 1,700 hectares of precious green belt land (countryside).

The four big ‘sites’ for Bury are: 
– Prestwich/Simister/Bowlee – space for 1,550 new houses on what is now ‘green belt’ (it is farmland) to the north of Heaton Park (between Simister and Middleton). Plans include a new primary school. It is important to note that these proposals are slightly away from the existing Simister village (a small improvement on previous plans), but right up to existing homes on the Bowlee and Rhodes side.
– a major area of employment/industrial development to the north of the M62 between Prestwich/Whitefield and Middleton/Heywood. Essentially this is a large area on the north side of the M62 from Simister island to the Heywood/Middleton junction on the M62. Half is in Bury, half in Rochdale. This will provide space for 1.2million square metres of industrial and warehousing build, and 1,000 houses on the Rochdale side. 
– 3,500 new houses near Radcliffe on existing green belt land (large area of countryside around around Elton Reservoir)
– 1,400 new houses near Walshaw on existing green belt land. 

(The plan as it affects the Prestwich area – part of the massive employment/industrial area to the north of the M62, and 1550 homes to the north of Heaton Park. All of this is currently Green Belt land (countryside).

Liberal Democrat Councillors voted AGAINST the plan
We DO want more homes and more jobs, but NOT at the expense of destroying our countryside.
New building should be on existing brownfield sites and in town centres only.

Liberal Democrat Group Leader Councillor Michael Powell said:
“Places for Everyone is simply the wrong plan. The proposals will see 1,700 hectares of Bury’s precious green belt taken away and built on. Our green spaces are vitally important in so many ways, as we have particularly seen recently during the lockdown periods. We still don’t need to do this. There is enough brownfield land, or sites that can be developed by bringing life back into our town centres to provide for housing need. We do need more homes – especially the affordable homes that people need. We do need more jobs – but we need these to be the high quality jobs that people deserve. We also need our countryside, and the good health and life the this provides”.

You can watch Michael’s speech opposing the plans here:
https://fb.watch/73NCvbd_mY/

What happens now
Although this vote was very disappointing, the fight to save our green belt can still go on.

A further consultation on these final plans will commence across Greater Manchester (minus Stockport), apparently from early August. We will give you more information on how you can have your say as soon as we have the details.