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Reporting Back: Planning Committee

Earlier in the month was the monthly meeting of Bury’s Planning Control Committee. This is the meeting made up of the 11 Councillors who represent the various wards of the borough of Bury. The committee determines planning applications for certain major developments and others where objections have been received. Councillor Cristina Tegolo reports:

Bury Planning Control Committee met remotely and the meeting was live streamed. A social-distanced site visit took place in respect of planning application 65569/Full.

At the Planning Control Committee meeting none of the submitted applications were refused but I commented on the following application:

Land at George Street, Prestwich, Manchester, M25 9WS. Application Ref: 65327/Full

We discussed an application for the redevelopment of the site for a mixed use comprising the erection of a synagogue and offices with associated parking, access and landscaping. 

The site had a previous consent for a mixed-use development of a synagogue and independent offices, access, car parking and landscaping which was granted in February 2017 (planning reference 60182) but this consent had lapsed.

In terms of siting, the proposed development would have a similar layout, set back into the site with a car park for 18 cars located in front from a newly created access which would be formed off George Street.

I expressed my concern about the siting of the proposed car park, for 18 cars, and asked for some assurances that there would be enough space in front to the main entrance doors to enter and exit the building safely. I also commented on the back elevation and I asked that a landscaping scheme should be put forward to soften the blank walls, at the street level of the rear elevation. 

My comments were taken on board. The planning department will seek for reassurances about the sighting of the carpark and the landscaping proposal will also address the rear elevation.

More information and the full papers for the meeting are here.

Ed Davey is the new Leader of the Liberal Democrats

Sir Ed Davey MP has been chosen by Liberal Democrat Party members in an election where more than 67,000 people voted.

On his election, Ed said:
“Our country is going through one of the most extraordinary and difficult periods for generations. The challenge of Covid will affect our country and the world for decades to come. Millions of people are suffering.

As Leader of the Liberal Democrats, I want to reach out to help you and your community get through this. Whether your concerns are your families’ health, your children’s education or your livelihood.”

He has made clear the Party must listen hard to voters and show them we’re on their side. He’s launching a National Listening Programme to do that. Here are some of the key things he said in his acceptance speech.

  • I am launching a National Listening Program from today so that voters can tell us what matters most to them. I will be travelling around to meet people. I want to spend time with all sorts of people and figure out where they are in their lives.
  • I want to understand how we can deliver more of what small business owners, nurses, teachers, parents, carers and communities really need. I want to get beyond Westminster.
  • I want to rebuild our connection to people so that we can help get through this terrible time together. That’s what the Listening Program is about.
  • Our job as a party is to represent people. My job as our leader is to move us forward. That means being able to speak for more people in this country and being able to make their concerns our own.
  • Our party has a great history of being a powerful, modern, principled and distinctive voice in British politics. We have to find a way to get back to that again.

Reporting Back: Bury Council Cabinet meeting

Bury Council’s Cabinet met at the end of July. Councillor Michael Powell reports back:


Covid-19 Recovery Planning
Planning work is now under way to support the recovery from Covid-19 in Bury, aimed at supporting Bury’s residents, the economy and businesses during this rapidly changing situation. It will also enable reforms to be made to the delivery of public services across the Borough, including with key health and care partners, and for the Council to make sustained changes to how it operates internally. The recovery work will also include the financial recovery required for the Council and Bury One Commissioning Organisation given the very significant impacts that the pandemic has had on the financial position of the Council, as with all other Local Authorities and NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups. The Cabinet approved the proposals for a 10 point plan for immediate recovery over the next six months as laid out here:

Bury Council’s Financial Position

The council’s budget overspent by £5.003m representing 3.60% of the annual budget. Included in the overspend is a higher than planned contribution to the pooled fund that was agreed in March 2020 and the application of £3.650m in reserves. The Council is forecasting an overspend of £7.524m. This was noted as not unexpected given the pressures faced by COVID-19 and reflects the monitoring that has been reported to MHCLG and Greater Manchester on the in-year position. A medium term strategy has been developed to steer the Council through the next five financial years.



Greater Manchester’s Clean Air Plan
A report has been produced to show the development of the GM Clean Air Plan, which sets out a proposal for public consultation in light of COVID-19 implications, and highlights that the implementation of a GM Clean Air Zone is delayed until 2022 by two years. The plan would mean that several types of vehicles such as buses, coaches, HGVs, taxis and private hire vehicles would need to adapt to ensure they meet with emission standards. The Council have called for vehicle replacement funds to be granted by the Government to enable vehicles to adapt to meet these standards, which including a bus retrofitting programme.

Highways Investment Strategy
The investment of £10 million for highway maintenance for the period 2020/21 to 2022/23 was approved by the Cabinet. The following roads in Prestwich were included in the maintenance scheme:
– Heywood Road (Hampden Road to Park View Road)
– Sandgate Road (Mount Road to M60 Bridge)
– Glebelands Road (Heywood Road to Langley Road)
– Hillcrest Road (Full Length)
– Harlech Avenue (Full Length)
– Park Road (Sheepfoot Lane to Castle Hill Road)

Reporting Back: Full Council

Three separate motions were put forward at the Summer meeting of Bury’s full Council. Councillor Michael Powell reports:

Liberal Democrat group motion- Supporting Private Renters and Selective Licencing
Our motion concerned securing a fair deal for private renters to ensure that they are protected from poor housing management and low standards from a minority of those operating in the sector. The motion suggested trialling the use of ‘selective licencing’ schemes, which require landlords in finite geographical areas to register with the Council enabling certain standards to be enforced. These schemes are already being used successfully in other Greater Manchester authorities, such as Manchester and Oldham. The motion was passed unanimously with support from all parties on the Council and the Liberal Democrat group will check in with the Council over the coming weeks to see what progress has been made on this motion.


Conservative motion- Creating a Bury Council Covid-19 Recovery Plan
The Conservative Council group put forward a motion calling for the creation of a detailed recovery plan as the borough begins to recover from the crisis. The plan included a focus on economic impact and ensuring financial resilience, health and social care recovery, ensuring Council services are delivered efficiently and supporting local businesses and residents. The Liberal Democrat group supported the motion as we recognised the importance of establishing a wide-reaching recovery plan to get the borough through the next stage as it rebuilds from the pandemic, although we also highlighted that such a plan needs to touch on other areas such as education and providing further support for vulnerable people. The motion was not passed as it did not achieve the support of Labour Councillors, who argued that there was not enough detail.

Labour motion- Calling for an independent enquiry into the handling of coronavirus
The motion from the Labour group called for the Council to support an independent enquiry into the Government’s handling of the pandemic. The Liberal Democrat group supported this motion on the basis that there are a number of important questions related to the Government’s response which remain unanswered and need clarification. The motion was passed with the support of Labour, Liberal Democrat and Radcliffe First Councillors.

Mental health and education gap of homeschooling must be addressed

Responding to Office of National Statistics published last week on the impact of homeschooling during the coronavirus pandemic, Liberal Democrats are calling for urgent action to tackle the health and education impact of lockdown on children.

Education Spokesperson Layla Moran MP said: “Coronavirus has clearly impacted every aspect of life, including the wellbeing of parents and children, and the quality of education the majority of children receive. We must ensure no one is left behind.

“If it wasn’t for years of cuts to our schools and government failing to consult adequately with teachers and school leaders, it wouldn’t be this way. Ministers must now increase the necessary provision of laptops and introduce a Summer Learning Fund that supports the most disadvantaged children.

“Moreover, the Government must address the mental health impact of the pandemic by signposting the appropriate support services to every household, and properly funding the charities that provide those services.”

Coronavirus and homeschooling in Great Britain: April to June 2020 can be found here.
 
Between 7 May and 7 June 2020, 87% of parents said a child in their household had been homeschooled because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, with the percentage decreasing as the age of the only or eldest child increased.
 
Over half (52%) of parents with school-aged children said a child in their household was struggling to continue their education while at home, with just over three in four of these parents (77%) giving lack of motivation as one of the reasons.
 
While under 1 in 10 (9%) parents with a child who was struggling gave a lack of devices as a reason for struggling, this was significantly higher for households with one adult (21%) than households with two or more adults (7%).
 
Between 3 April and 10 May 2020, of parents who were homeschooling, one in three women (34%) agreed that it was negatively affecting their well-being compared with one in five men (20%), while 43% of homeschooling parents agreed that it was negatively affecting the well-being of their children.
 
See below for full details of the Liberal Democrats’ five-point plan for reopening schools to more pupils in England.  

  • Increase capacity for physical learning, by combining local spare space registers, so that local councils and school leaders can find suitable empty buildings in the community to use as learning spaces.
  • Recruit an army of extra teachers to cope with demand. The Government should launch a Teach for Britain recruitment campaign to bring out-of-work supply teachers and recently-retired teachers into schools so more pupils can return. This builds on the success of the Social Work Together campaign, developed with the Local Government Association. Ministers should work with unions to get more teachers into learning spaces in any one school day.
  • End the online learning void for thousands of children. Ministers should develop a bold strategy to leave no child behind by partnering with the private sector to get laptops and internet access to any disadvantaged child currently unable to learn online. The Government’s current target to provide 230,000 laptops has left out too many children. Councils are neither receiving the equipment they have asked for, nor seeing high uptake rates for the kit they’re given. The Government should launch a major advertising campaign to encourage families and children to ask for equipment, backed up by working with schools to get more physical resources including textbooks to children lacking internet or computer access.
  • Design a flexible, phased reopening that follows the science and has the trust of parents and the profession by being developed with them, following the lead of Kirsty Williams in Wales. Schools should aim to begin the next academic year on time in September, but double the autumn half-term break to two weeks. We must recognise that many schools are doing a fantastic job at phased reopening, and ensure local authorities, academy trusts and government are learning from their successes.
  • Halt the widening of the disadvantage gap. The Government should combine the summer provision of free school meals with an emergency uplift in child benefit of £150 per child per month, with £100 for every subsequent child, during this crisis. The catch-up premium should be worth at least £700 for every disadvantaged child eligible for the pupil premium, to enable schools and charities to give them a much-needed boost in the next academic year. Ministers should create a Summer Learning Fund so that councils can run summer learning camps for children, focused on local authorities in the most deprived areas. This will prepare children for September and give many children a positive environment in which to learn and re-acclimatise to an educational environment. The Government should fund places on these courses for children on free school meals.

Reporting Back: Overview and Scrutiny Committee

Three separate reports were presented to the Summer meeting of the Council’s Overview & Scrutiny Committee. Councillor Michael Powell Reports.

Bury Market Covid-19 Recovery Plan:
– The reopening of Bury Market for non-essential retail took place on 15th June, apart from businesses for which restrictions were extended to 4th July such as cafes, hairdressers, nail bars, beauty salons and barbers.
– The Market has remained partially open (approximately 12 stalls) throughout the lockdown to support food Traders providing a service to our vulnerable residents, including home deliveries. Social media support has also been provided.
– A plan has been published to guide the recovery of the market after the Covid-10 crisis. The main challenge in the long term is to attract footfall to ensure the markets viability whilst simultaneously ensuring the safety of visitors to the market.
– Amendments are proposed to the Markets Rules and Regulations, including a review of current opening and closing times.
– A Capital Programme is underway with £1.38 million going to be invested in making further improvements to the Market, phased over the next four years. The work could include the replacement of Market Hall glazing panels, addressing open Market roofing issues, Market Hall toilet refurbishment and an upgrade of Market’s parade area.

Bury and Radcliffe Town Regeneration Schemes:
– The Council have begun work on a new masterplan for Bury town centre to ensure Bury is fully prepared for the economic consequences that will arise from coronavirus and to establish a clear and deliverable plan to support economic recovery.
– The masterplan is very much in the early stages but will seek to address the town’s role as a retail and leisure destination, commercial development, improved town centre living, develop the tourism and cultural sectors and improve linkages between the town centre and surrounding assets and neighbourhoods.
– The Council recently unveiled a Strategic Regeneration Framework for Radcliffe aiming to shape the future of the town over the next 10 to 15 years. The public consultation on the SRF began on 22nd June and will run until 3rd August.
– The key elements recommended in the draft SRF include the creation of a central hub in the town centre, the creation of new leisure facilities, a focused retail strategy, improved public open spaces and a new Secondary school.

Resetting the education service in Bury:
– The report provided a further update on the progress being made by the Local Education Authority during the Covid-19 pandemic to reset the education service.
– Individual risk assessments have been carried out by all education settings across the borough to ensure social social distances and enable social bubbles to be created to avoid mixing different cohorts unnecessarily. 
– The aggregate total of pupils attending Bury schools on Tues 23 June 2020 is 3584; this marks a further growth in the returns.
– A medium term recovery work plan has been established for at least the next academic year, which will include providing support to children in three vulnerable groups- those who are transitioning from one education establishment to another, children with SEND and the newly vulnerable and those children who have fallen further behind in their learning than their peers.
–  A substantial programme of work will be required according to the Council’s education authority if they are to secure the lost learning for many of the borough’s vulnerable children. In this recovery the Council say they have some additional resource and support; from HMI, the RSC, from central government, and within local partnerships.

The papers for the meeting are here.

Reporting Back: Greater Manchester CA Scrutiny

Report back on High Rise building fire risks and financial impact of Covid-19.

Earlier this week was the regular meeting of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority Corporate Issues and Resource Scrutiny Committee. This brings together 15 councillors from across Greater Manchester. Bury is represented by Prestwich councillor Tim Pickstone, who also chairs the committee this year.

High Rise Building Fire Risk Residents Survey
Following the Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017, the Greater Manchester High Rise Task Force was established to ensure that the area was prepared to respond to a major incident and that all high rise building are safe from fire, and that residents feel safe.

As part of assessing how safe residents feel, a survey of residents was undertaken in the latter part of 2019.

65% of residents said they are concerned about having a fire in their home.
77% of residents who lived in a building where cladding was identified as a risks were concerned.
97% of respondents said that they would trust GMFRS to provide advice.

One of the most significant concerns was the financial impact on apartment owners. Some residents had experienced a 400% increase in service charges and others reported that they had been presented with significant bills (e.g. to remove cladding).

I asked about the financial impact on apartment owners, as I understand mortgage lenders are refusing to lend for properties where there are cladding issues, and in particular whether this was also affecting the ‘non high rise’ apartment blocks which are not covered by the current guidelines.

The full report on the residents survey is here.

Financial Impact of Covid-19 on Greater Manchester Local Authorities
The Combined Authority Finance Director gave members an update on the financial impact of Covid-19 on local government in the area.

The first part of the report concerned the impact on the individual Districts (e.g. Bury). All local councils have experienced extra costs, as a result of Covid-19, the bulk of which have been around social care costs, but also significant costs around highways, transport public health and housing.

Local councils have also had significant loss of income. Around 60% of this has been a loss of ‘commercial income’ – anything from rented property to fees and charges. Roughly 40% is lost taxation income – either lost business rates or lost council tax receipts.

There has been Government grant to help with some of this, but largely this hasn’t covered the lost income.

The second area of the report was on the financial impact on the Greater Manchester Combined Authority. By far the most significant issues are with:

  • Retained Business Rate losses – Greater Manchester is part of a pilot scheme for local areas to ‘keep’ (some of the) increases in Business Rates that they generate. For Greater Manchester as a whole this has been successful, as new commercial buildings have opened in recent years. However this is very unlikely to be the case this year and perhaps in future years, so this will have an impact on what the CA can spend.
  • Metrolink – obviously use of Metrolink was severely impacted during Metrolink, and remains significantly lower than ‘normal’. The Government has given GM £25 million to help cover this, which covers the bulk of this loss. At the moment Government grant only goes to 3 August 2020, so there is a major issue about lost Metrolink income going forwards.

I asked about the long term impact of the loss of ticket income. Most of the money for the new lines was from borrowing, and the ticket income is paying for that borrowing. I also asked about potential Government funding for new lines, and whether there were any ‘ready to go’ applications being considered.

The financial impact paper is here.

Reporting Back: Planning Committee June 2020

On the 23rd June was the monthly meeting of Bury Planning Control Committee. This is the meeting made up of the 11 Councillors who represent the various wards of the borough of Bury. The committee determines planning applications for certain major developments and others where objections have been received. Councillor Cristina Tegolo reports:

Bury Planning Control Committee met remotely and the meeting was live streamed. 

In response to the emergency Government instructions on Covid-19. Due to the Government’s social-distancing guidelines no site visit took place.

At the Planning Control Committee meeting none of the submitted applications were refused but I commented on the following applications:

38 Deyne Avenue, Prestwich, Manchester, M25 1EJ.
Application Ref: 65261/Full 

We discussed an application for a two-storey terraced house in Prestwich, near the Metrolink. The application site relates to the side garden and garage of the end-of-terrace house. The plot is located at the most north eastern end of Deyne Avenue with the front of these houses accessed by a pedestrian walkway only, the road itself is stopping 35m away. There is an unmade cobbled access at the rear (Back Deyne Avenue), which is a single car width and is used by residents to access their garages, back yards and bins stores.

I raised concerns about access and facilities for the Fire Service. I was reassured that there is access for a pump appliance to within 45 m of the property as recommended by Building Regulation requirement B5.

I was also concerned about construction vehicles blocking the access road at the rear of the property, the Officer assured me that the Construction Traffic Management Plan (CTMP) will have to be submitted in advance of any work taking place.

45 Bury Old Road, Prestwich, Manchester, M25 0EY. 
Application Ref: 65456/Full 
We discussed an application for a semi-detached residential plot on the corner of Bury Old Road and Kings Road. This semi-detached house had recently received planning permission for an extension. However, the house had been demolished and the new application was seeking permission to construct a new building along the lines of the approved scheme.

I understood that to resolve this matter quickly and to put the next-door neighbours out of their misery this application needed to be granted and the property needed to be rebuilt in line with the previous approval as soon as possible. 

However, I expressed straightforwardly maximum outrage on how the applicant, who had just talked in support of the application, had justified the fact that the property had been unlawfully demolished as a “misunderstanding” and that this was just a “hiccup”.

I supported this application but I clearly said that I found shocking that someone could describe this matter as a simple misunderstanding and I added that I was sorry for the family living next door, I also doubted that for them this issue had been a small hiccup.

More information and the full papers for the meeting are here.

Consultation on Radcliffe Regeneration

Bury Council is consulting on a draft Strategic Regeneration Framework to support regeneration, investment and growth for Radcliffe over the next 15 years. The draft follows on from a report that the Council commissioned from Deloitte’s which cost £86,000.

The SRF sets out ambitious plans to transform Radcliffe for generations to come from skills and jobs to the environment and civic/leisure facilities. This includes the creation of a central public hub in the town centre, new leisure facilities, improving the River Irwell by opening more of it to the public, a new secondary school, improvements to public spaces, a revised car parking strategy and significant brownfield housing development.

Consultation on the Radcliffe SRF will take place over a six-week period running from Monday 22June and closing at 5.00pm on Monday 3 August 2020.

After consultation closes on 3 August, all comments that we receive will be thoroughly considered and, where necessary, amendments will be made to the SRF. It is intended that a final version of the SRF will then be presented to the Council’s Cabinet seeking formal approval.

Please do not hesitate to contact a member of the Radcliffe SRF team on 0161 253 7800 or email radclifferegeneration@bury.gov.uk if you require further information on the SRF.

COVID-19 Local Update

Please find below an update on local services, and also the latest set of local statistics on COVID-19.

If you, or a friend or neighbour, is in need of support don’t hesitate to get I touch with the local team. You can contact your local community Hub directly via 0161 253 5353, they have a team of volunteers ready to help with essential tasks such as shopping or collecting prescriptions.

Recommendations to Schools from Bury Council
A number of schools are now open for some children and more are opening soon. The Council’s Cabinet has agreed the following recommendation to schools:

“Subject to COVID secure health and safety provisions being met, that the target dates for Schools to return, are as follows:

  • no later than 22 June for groups of Reception, Y1 & Y6 and
  • w/c 15 June for Year 10
  • Other year groups will return no later than the new academic year, in line with national guidance

Beware Bogus Track and Trace Callers
Trading standards officers are warning residents not to be fooled by scammers claiming to be from the NHS ‘test and trace’ service.

These bogus callers tell the person that they have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and therefore need to self-isolate for seven days. 

The caller then tells them they need to take a test in the next 72 hours, and asks them to send their address and a payment of £500 so they can be sent a test kit and results, and warn that they will be fined if they don’t comply.

Any legitimate call from the NHS test and trace service will not ask for any payment. The correct way to arrange/order a test is via www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119 if you have no internet access.

Lesley Jones, Bury’s director of public health, said: “The NHS will contact you if someone else who has tested positive for the virus has been in close contact with you. You’ll be asked to self-isolate for 14 days. You’ll be given advice on how to do this, what symptoms you should look out for and what to do if you develop the illness. You won’t be asked to pass on the details of anyone you’ve been in contact with either. This is because, unless you have tested positive or developed symptoms, there is no need to notify anyone you’ve been in touch with at this stage.”

Angela Lomax, Bury’s head of trading standards, added: “You should never respond to unsolicited phone calls asking for your bank or card details. Such requests should be a red flag – if you’re asked to hand over this information to a caller it’s a scammer trying to rip you off!

“Genuine callers won’t ask for any personal details or payment information – these are phishing scams looking to take advantage of people’s worries.”

Anyone who suspects they have been scammed is urged to report it by calling the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133 or by visiting https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/about-us/contact-us/contact-us/consumer-service/

Online Fitness Classes
Free online video classes are being delivered by Bury’s Live Well and Leisure services to everyone who wants to maintain their physical and mental wellbeing during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The classes are delivered live via Facebook (see https://www.facebook.com/BuryLeisure/) to a timetable posted in advance, but are also available afterwards for people to revisit and share if they can’t make the live session.

Instructors are all fully qualified and come from Bury’s gym, studio classes, Live Well and BEATS teams among others.

The sessions are designed to boost general health through exercise, continue the rehabilitation of those with injuries or long-term conditions, and just to give everyone a chance to share a fun activity with friends they are mussing during lockdown.

Remember to read the information on the timetable about ensuring you have enough space and are medically fit enough to do the exercises.

COVID-19 Local Statistics
Bury Council and the local NHS have published this set of local statistics about COVID-19 in our area. This is new information every week.

This shows trends of people who have sadly died over recent months, with analysis for place of death (e.g. hospital, care home or at home), occupation and ethnicity. There is also a breakdown of COVID dealths as a proportion of all deaths by local area (see below map).

The full set of statistics is here.