Last month was the regular full meeting of Bury Council. As always your local team of Liberal Democrat councillors asked our full quota of questions on local issues. Here are some of the more interesting issues raised:
Longfield War Memorial
Councillor Steve Wright asked about the Prestwich war memorials, which are currently out of public view because of the closure of the Longfield Suite:
Q – Now that it has been confirmed that there are no plans to reopen the Longfield Suite in Prestwich, can the Leader confirm what the plans are for rehousing the war memorial located in the Suite?
A full and final decision has not yet been made, and residents are still able to contribute to the consultation survey and put forward their views. The consultation will continue to run until 17 March 2021, via the One Community website: – https://www.onecommunitybury.co.uk/burycouncil- civicvenuesfeedback
Following public consultation, all consultation feedback will be thoroughly analysed and considered. A report will be scheduled at Cabinet in early Summer in order for a final decision to be reached.
If a decision is reached at Cabinet to permanently close the Longfield Suite, alternative options will be explored to relocate the war memorial.
Councillor Michael Powell asked about reports of Potholes:
Q: Could the Leader inform members on the number of reports made of potholes, in each of the last five years?
The number of potholes reported in each of the last five financial years is as follows:
2015/16 – 2942
2016/17 – 2798
2017/18 – 4587
2018/19 – 2170
2019/20 – 2400
2020/21 – 1397 to date (09/03/2021).
The number of reported potholes has deceased by over 50% since 2017/18, which clearly demonstrates that our investment in highway maintenance through the Highway Investment Strategy is improving our road network.
Following on from this, Councillor Cristina Tegolo asked about compensation from road users:
Q: Could the Leader inform members on the amount paid out by the authority, and the amount spent on legal costs, for compensation claims as a result of poor road and pavement surfaces, for the last five financial years?
Metrolink Ticketing Options
Councillor Steve Wright asked about different ticketing options to suit people who are being asked to work more flexibly than before:
Q: Could the authority’s spokesperson on the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee inform members what steps TfGM is taking to facilitate more flexible working practices through ticketing options?
TfGM currently control ticketing options for the Metrolink network only, with fares and ticketing on the bus and rail network controlled by their respective operators.
Operators and transport bodies including TfGM have been examining the case for more flexible ticketing options over the last few years, as changes to working patterns have become more evident. The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated changes to working patterns, as employers and employees adapt to home working and alternative working patterns.
TfGM are working with bus and rail operators to support flexible ticketing initiatives where they can and in July last year launched Clipper, a carnet-style ticketing option for Metrolink. Customers benefit from a discount for travelling multiple days but can choose the days of travel across a number of weeks, providing greater flexibility for those who may have previously bought a traditional season ticket, but now travel less often.
Contactless payment on Metrolink also provides customers with the flexibility of only paying for the journeys they have already made, with fares calculated for them up to a daily cap.
Rail operator Northern also introduced a new flexible ticketing option in July 2020, providing ten unlimited travel days for the price of nine, to be used any time during a six-month period. The option was introduced after the first national lockdown, ahead of predicted changed to passenger travel patterns.
Waiting times for 101
Councillor Michael Powell asked about waiting times for people calling the Police non emergency number 101:
Q: Could the authority’s spokesperson on the Police and Crime Panel inform members on what the average wait time is for 101 calls to be answered in Greater Manchester, how does this compare to previous years and what proportion of calls hang up before being answered?
The average waiting time for 101 calls over the last 12 months is 2 minutes and 53 seconds, which has seen a marginal improvement from the previous year.
The abandonment rates are slightly higher than the previous year at 27%. Whilst GMP are always striving for improvement when these results are considered in the context of Covid, it is a more understandable outcome.
Members will no doubt be aware that all public services have suffered from impacts to staffing through the Pandemic and the 101 service has been no different. With a need to prioritise calls to the 999 service there have been capacity issues over the last 12 months. However GMP report that the situation is now improving with recruitment of new staff a priority.
There continues to be a drive towards online facilities such as
Livechat facility, an online tool which is answered in about 16 seconds. This option continues to be used more and more by the public, which is positive.
Greater Manchester Police are also promoting their call-back service at peak times, where call-handlers will return calls for those assessed as low-risk to avoid people queuing – about half of the calls received and resolved at Switchboard relate to requests for updates on previously reported crimes.
The Police & Crime Panel will continue to scrutinise the work of the Call centre and I will provide further updates to Council in the future.
Full answers to all questions can be found here and here. Any questions please ask!