Local residents in Prestwich and Simister have been upset to hear about changes to long-established bus routes. As usual the bus operators and Transport for Greater Manchester seem to have made the changes without any consultation with local residents, local bus users or local councillors.
The main changes are:
96 Simister to Manchester – discontinued 93 Manchester to Carr Clough – will not now continue to Prestwich. 94 Bury – Prestwich – North Manchester Hospital– this no longer serves St Anns Road, going directly down Bury New Road. 90 A new ‘Simister to Kersal Road’ circular service, every hour, serving St Anns Road (see map below).
The changes leave Simister and the upper end of Heywood Road without a direct service to Manchester for the first time in decades. People travelling to and from Manchester will need to change and if they miss the connection for the 90 will have to wait an hour. (Also no Sunday service to Simister or up Heywood Road at all.)
People in the western side of Prestwich (Carr Clough and St Anns Road) lose useful journeys to North Manchester and Prestwich Village.
(New 90 service, every hour and no Sunday service)
We’re really interested to hear from bus users who’s travel needs have been disrupted by the changes, so that we can make a strong case to Transport for Greater Manchester to look again at these changes.
As always, the local team of Liberal Democrat councillors asked our full quota of questions at the last full Council meeting of Bury Council. Here are some of the highlights:
Queen’s Jubilee Councillor Michael Powell asked: “We understand the Council are going to make it easier to apply for a street party to celebrate HRH’s Platinum Jubilee in June. Would the Leader consider waiving the application fee to close streets for the Jubilee, to encourage more applications to enable more opportunities for residents to celebrate the Jubilee.”
Answer: “I thank the member for his question, and as he will recall, we made financial provisions available to support Jubilee celebrations in our February budget. Part of that funding will indeed be used to fund the waiver of road closure fees for those community groups who want to host street parties. The Community Hubs are working with resident and community groups to encourage and support planning for street parties, including advice on accessing funding.
There have been 14 road closure enquiries in relation to the Jubilee. At present the enquiries are requesting more information on the process and how to apply for a closure. I suspect most if not all will result in closures if the roads are suitable.
We now have an online application process and I will be requesting those that have made an initial enquiry to complete the formal application providing the relevant information.”
Lights Simister Lane Bridge Councillor Steve Wright asked: “The street lights on the Motorway bridge on Simister Lane have not been working for a number of years now and the council position on this is that they will try to move the lights up the priority list but it may not be practical to do anything until the new financial year. Can the Leader assure us that these lights are a priority and can he give us any assurance that they will be fixed?”
Answer: “The repair of these street lights has been delayed because of the need to liaise with National Highways (formerly known as Highways England) due to the potential impact of the work on the motorway. Officers have now completed the design for the work, and we expect to have replacement lights installed and working by the end of April.”
St Mary’s Park Paths Councillor Steve Wright asked: “
In October of last year, I reported that the footpaths in St Mary’s flower park needed repair and were dangerous. This was agreed by the department, however I was told the area would be cordoned off whilst financial resources were sourced for the repair. Can the Leader update us on the repair to the path and whether the necessary resources have been sourced?”
Answer: “Officers are developing a masterplan for St. Mary’s Flower Park. This masterplan will look at options to improve the park, including the paths, in conjunction with key stakeholders such as the volunteer gardening group and volunteers in Prestwich Clough.
£50,000 fromourGreenspacesManifestofundsfor22/23willbeallocatedtomake improvements to St. Mary’s Flower Park and Prestwich Clough. Other funding sources such as Section 106 are also being explored.”
Councillors Delegated Budgets Councillor Cristina Tegolo asked: “What amount of the £51,000 allocated to Councillors via the discretionary grants scheme went unspent this year and how many Councillors did not spend their full £1,000 allocation?”
Oversight of the Discretionary Grant Scheme was transferred to Democratic Services in September 2020. Members were encouraged to consider ways in which their spend could support the 10pointrecoveryplanfortheBorough. Includinghowspendcouldcovertackling poverty, developing a Bury Opportunity guarantee, promoting community voice and supporting community wellbeing.
The Community Hub network, developed in response to the pandemic, has been central to the emerging place-based neighbourhood model in Bury. The Hubs have taken responsibility for understanding issues and needs in a place. This information has been used to prioritise the use of participatory budgets for neighbourhoods and has been made available to Members to help them determine the use of their discretionary fund and thus better placed to respond to local need.
Of the £51000 allocated to Discretionary Grants in 2021/22, £1215.30 has not been spent with 4 Councillors not spending their full allocation.
Following agreement at Budget Council, the discretionary grant scheme has been extended for a further 12 months.”
Last week was Bury’s ‘Budget Council’ meeting. This is the important meeting of all 51 councillors to set the budget for 2022-23.
Budget Agreed The budget which the Council agreed was as proposed by the Labour group, who form a majority on the Council at the moment.
This means that: Council Tax will rise by just under 3%. This is 1.94% increase proposed by Bury Council and a further 1% ‘Social Care Precept’ to help pay for the money the Council spends on social care.
The new charges will be:
Bury Council’s total ‘revenue’ budget (ie day to day spending) is £177 million for 2022/23. The budget includes changes which have to happen recurrently (e.g. inflation, costs, increases of demand) of around £17 million and savings have had to be made of around £6 million for 2022-23. Importantly the Council is using reserves of £14 million this year to make the books balance, which can obviously only be done once.
The ‘capital’ budget – one off investment spending – includes very major spending on regeneration programmes in Bury town centre, in Radcliffe and also in Prestwich village centre. Worth noting that in 2022-23, the amount to be spent in Prestwich is £1.6 million, while the amount spent in Bury and Radcliffe is a whopping £62 million…..
In addition we have to pay smaller council tax bills to pay for the joint services which are under the control of the Greater Manchester Mayor. This consists of three separate charges – police, fire and ‘mayoral general’. These are rising by higher rates, which are 4.5% for police, 7.55% for fire and a 28% increase in the Mayoral General charge. The letter is to mostly pay for bus re-regulation, a process which starts in the next year.
What did the your Liberal Democrat councillors do? We voted against the budget as a whole. Although there are some good things proposed, on balance we could not support such high rises in Council Tax when people are struggling with the cost of living, and are very worried about the high level of reserves which are being used.
We also proposed an amendment, to make different spending choices. This was: – Money to help local businesses in Prestwich who are being affected by the end of leases in the Longfield and the expected demolition of the area. – Investment in speed reduction initiatives in residential areas – some areas are crying out for measures to stop rat runs or speeding traffic. – Introducing ‘no idling’ zones outside of all schools, to reduce the air pollution that builds up at the start and end of the school day. – More help for people struggling with energy bills, specifically a larger team of energy advice workers who able to advise residents. – Money to invest in cheaper and greener energy in our public buildings and council owned homes – e.g. replacing expensive and polluting oil boilers with green energy alternatives.
The amendment was defeated with all Labour and Conservative councillors voting against.
The latest stats from NHS England, published last month, reveal that 405,518 patients in Greater Manchester are waiting to start treatment.
The Northern Care Alliance, the hospital trust which covers our area (Bury, Salford, Oldham and Rochdale) has the third worst rate in the country, with over 126,000 people waiting for treatment. The Manchester hospitals trust is second worst in the country, with 153,000 waiting.
The statistics show that some 53,700 patients have been left waiting at Northern Care Alliance for over 18 weeks after their referral to treatment, while 5,240 have been waiting over a whole year.
Nationally, the figures show that 6 million people are on NHS waiting lists – a number that has doubled since 2015. This has led to the Liberal Democrats slamming the Conservatives for putting in-fighting ahead of the health crisis the country faces.
Commenting Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Councillor Michael Powell said: said:
Residents have played their part in protecting the NHS and now they deserve better. At the very least the Government should start the process to help the thousands of people left stranded on huge waiting lists in Bury.
At the last meeting of Bury Council, your local Liberal Democrat councillors asked our full quota of questions as always. Here are some of the highlights:
Councillor Cristina Tegolo asked about Electric Vehicle Charging Points How is the rollout of electric charging points going in the Borough and what is the Council doing to ensure good quality and access of these charging points?
Answer: The Council has recently completed the procurement for a supplier to install Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure (EVCI) at Bradley Fold and Bury Cemetery to allow the council to charge the electric vehicles that will be procured as part of the ongoing actions to green our fleet. These new chargepoints will be installed by the summer 2022.
During 2021 we worked with TfGM to use Government Clean Air Early Measures funding to install 2 rapid chargers at The Millgate and The Rock Shopping Centre car parks. These are both now in full operation.
Work is progressing with TFGM to install 3 rapid charging hubs for Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles. The proposed are sites currently undergoing feasibility studies with a view to installation later in 2022.
We are also commencing a procurement process to appoint a contractor to be able to bid for Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) for On- Street Residential Charging Scheme (ORCS) funding. This funding pays towards the installation of public electric vehicle chargepoints aimed at residents without access to off-street parking.
We have developed a long list of possible locations for public chargepoints throughout our borough and this is currently going through our approval process.
Once a list of sites has been agreed this will put the Council in a better position to apply for funding or to explore alternative options to install charging infrastructure.
Councillor Steve Wright asked about No Idling Zones outside Schools: What progress has been made on plans to implement ‘no idling’ zones outside schools in Bury, as agreed upon at a Council meeting three years ago?
Answer We are committed to address the issue of idling vehicles specifically where it can impact on vulnerable members of our community.
In the UK, it is illegal under the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 to leave a vehicle’s engine running unnecessarily whil that vehicle is stationary on a public road. Doing this can incur a £20 fixed penalty fine under the Road Traffic (Vehicle Emissions) Regulations 2002.
This is only imposed if the driver fails to turn off their engine when asked to do so. Enforcement of this legislation sits with local authorities and the legal powers are in place for parking enforcement officers to issue the necessary fixed penalty notices. As the enforcing officer has to give the driver the opportunity to switch off the engine first and the penalty for idling is relatively small (£20),
Greater Manchester Local Authorities do not consider the Regulation to be an effective deterrent.
The Government has previously announced proposals to consult on toughening up rules on vehicle idling and increasing fines for drivers who leave their engine running while parked. The GM Authorities have written to the Transport Secretary asking for the launch of the public consultation on this issue to be brought forward. Given limited council resources along with the limited enforcement deterrent, Bury and the other GM Authorities are planning to focus more on awareness raising campaigns in the first instance. The aim will be to inform our populations of the impacts of idling vehicles on air quality and therefore health.
With this in mind, in 2021 the council purchased 3 air quality sensors which are being located outside schools to show the impact of the school run on local air quality emissions. These sensors will be moved around our schools on a rota basis and council officers will work with the schools and parents to help raise awareness of the impacts of poor air quality on health and the benefits of walking and cycling as a means of getting to and from school.
We are also working with TFGM to develop “School Streets” in our borough and have recently been notified that 3 “School Street” schemes have been approved for Guardian Angel RC Primary, Chesham Primary and Hazel Wood High School. These schemes will allow us to restrict access to motorised traffic outside schools at drop off and pick up times. We will gain experience and learning from these first schemes which should allow us to roll out similar schemes at a wider range of our schools.
Councillor Michael Powell asked about Metrolink Price Increases: Could the Authority’s spokesperson on the Greater Manchester Transport Authority inform members on the percentage increase on the average Metrolink fare in each of the previous five years, and proposed fare increases going forwards?
Answer The table below shows the overall price increase of Metrolink fares in recent years. The % increases represent a ‘weighted average’, as there are many types of fares and ticketing products and limitations on cash handling vending machines that require fares to be in multiples of 10p. As a result, individual fares can be above or below that ‘weighted average’ increase.
* Provided for comparison as an indication of how Metrolink’s costs change. Measured in July of each of the years listed. The most recently published RPI figure (at November 2021) was 7.1%. The December RPI figure is due to be published during January.
TfGM is reviewing Metrolink fare levels in the context of the ongoing uncertainty in relation to ongoing government funding/ support beyond March 2022; and the aspiration for an integrated public transport network, with attractively priced, simply structured and integrated fares and ticketing.
Councillor Cristina Tegolo asked about fire safety in High Rise buildings: Could the Authority’s spokesperson on the Greater Manchester Police and Fire Committee inform members on how many homes are affected by the revised Government guidance for higher rise buildings, and what work both the fire service and the local authority can do to inform residents of their increased access to funds?
Answer: GMFRS plays an active role in the Greater Manchester High Rise and Building Safety Task Force and also works closely with housing providers and managing agents responsible for the management of blocks of flats both inspecting buildings, holding information events and providing advice. We also work hard to support residents in individual buildings affected by fire safety issues and work closely with the Manchester Cladiators who represent affected residents.
GMFRS welcomed the recent announcement of the Secretary of State which set out the future approach of Government to tacking the building safety crisis and a further commitment to protecting leaseholders from the costs of work to make their homes safe. It is not possible to estimate how many buildings are affected by the changes as the announcement was focussed on a change in policy approach and no details of how any additional funds will be made available or administered have been announced.
Therefore, at this stage GMFRS cannot determine how many buildings will benefit from the change of direction indicated by the Government. The current Building Safety Fund only covers buildings over 18metres and will only fund work to remove and replace combustible cladding. This means that all buildings under 18m are not eligible for funding and many buildings are unable to access funding to carry out all of the necessary works as the fund will not meet the costs of fixing compartmentation breaches or works like installing missing cavity barriers. There are currently 171 blocks of flats across Greater Manchester which have identified fire safety defects which are so serious they have been necessitated a change to the evacuation strategyawayfromStayPut.Ofthesebuildings 33areunder18mand the fire safety issues are not all related to external fire spread. GMFRS has proactively shared information and advice from Government since 2017 and will continue to do so. We will be writing to housing providers and managing agents in relation to the change in Government advice on fire safety in buildings and the introduction of a new standard for fire risk assessments. A further information event will be held when the Fire Safety Act comes into force which is anticipated to be in February. As information becomes available following the Government announcement we will proactively share this and work with the Manchester Cladiators to provide information to residents.
In addition in January 2021 GMFRS and the GMCA agreed to administer the Waking Watch Relief Fund for Greater Manchester for buildings over 18m and secured and approved £2.4m of funding for the installation of fire alarms of which £1.5m has been paid out with installation of alarms completed in all but 3 developments with work ongoing to install the alarm in those buildings. The Secretary of State announced a further expansion of the scheme to include buildings under 18m and the GMFRS has agreed in principle to oversee the administration of this funding.”
Bury Council will be liaising with the Fire service and including advice in comms once everything is clarified.
Let us know if you have any questions. The full papers are here.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.