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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org if you require further information on the SRF.
On the 18th February 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:
Prior to the Committee meeting, a site visit took place in respect of planning application 64875.
At the Planning Control Committee meeting none of the submitted applications were refused but I raised concerns and voted against two out of three applications:
Land off Ainsworth Hall Road, Ainsworth, Bolton BL2 5RY, Application Ref: 64875/Full We discussed an application for a two-storey detached 4-bed house including an integral 1-bed ‘granny annex’ and detached garage in a site within Ainsworth Village and in the conservation area, washed over by the Green Belt. The plot is undeveloped and with a mix of protected trees and shrubs. The plot is within a residential area and is situated between detached two storey red brick houses to the north and south. There is an existing access from Ainsworth Hall Road serving the two residential properties at The Old Vicarage situated to the rear of the site.
Prior to the meeting the Planning Control Committee visited the site and I thought that the proposal was far too big for the site and intrusive to the adjoining property.
I suggested an alternative motion for a redesign to make the proposal more compact. Unfortunately, my motion was not successful and the application was passed with no amendments.
Margaret Haes Riding Centre, Moor Road, Ramsbottom, Bury, BL8 4NX, 64955/Full The riding school specialises in offering lessons and activities for those with special needs as well as the able-bodied, and of all ages. The application originally sited, without planning Permission, a green metal container on a concrete apron within the riding centre which is located on the edge of Holcombe Village and is within the Green Belt, Special Landscape Area and West Pennine Moors and the Holcombe Conservation Area.
Following enforcement processes, an application was submitted retrospectively. Following negotiations with the LPA, the scheme was amended to re-locate the build and made changes to the external appearance. It is now proposed to re-site the container and it is also proposed to re-clad the entire exterior of the building with timber boarding and form a mono pitch grey felt shingle.
We analysed the merits. I considered that the proposed amendment would be appropriate and didn’t have any objections.
Land at Junction of Arthur Lane/Bury Old Road, Ainsworth, Bury, 64967/Full The application site comprises a plot of land on the east side of Arthur Lane, close to the junction with Bury Old Road. The site, to the west is within open land in the Green Belt. The site is also within West Pennine Moors and a Special Landscape Area but lies outside the conservation area.
The proposed development involves the conversion and extensions either side of the central prefabricated building and demolition of the other buildings to the side and rear. The proposed extensions on either side of the converted ‘prefab’ would comprise single storey mono-pitched, timber clad structures. Each would extend out to the side by 3.4m and run back 12.2m to form a U-shaped building with an enclosed garden on the north side. Access would be taken from the existing access on Arthur Lane and visibility splays would require a short section of hedging to be cut back either side of the access point. There would be parking for two cars provided on hardstanding immediately to the south of the building.
As the site is within the Green Belt, I analysed the proposals against the NPPF and I referred to Paragraph 79, which states that planning policies and decisions should avoid the development of isolated homes in the countryside unless one or more of the following circumstances apply:
a) for an essential agricultural worker
b) secures a heritage asset
c) the re-use of redundant or disused buildings and enhance its setting.
d) sub-division of existing dwellings
e) a design of exceptional quality
I analysed the merits and I raised at the meeting the following points:
The proposed development is not for an agricultural worker
The proposed development doesn’t secure a heritage asset
This is not a “re-use” as with this term we describe that a building is capable of conversion without the need for extension, significant alteration or full reconstruction of redundant or disused buildings
The proposed development is not a sub-division of existing dwellings
The proposed development is not a design of exceptional quality
I voted against but the application was passed with no amendments.
More information and the full papers for the meeting are here.
Can the Leader inform members about any work the authority has done to ascertain how many free-to-use cash machines have been lost from Bury in recent years? What proportion of residents do not live within walking distance of a free-to-use cash machine?
Answer: An analysis of the Link website has shown that within the Borough of Bury, according to latest records, there are 88 free-to-use cash machines with a further 29 that incur a charge for usage. The proportion of free-to- use versus paid varies throughout the Borough, for instance within the Ramsbottom/Tottington area 2/17 charge, Prestwich area this is 3/8 whilst in Radcliffe the 7/12 charge.
In terms of spread of machines generally and specifically free-to-use machines there are a few of areas of which there is approximately 1km of coverage without a free-access machine, which include around Fishpool, the area north east to Bury town centre/south of Clarence Park, Summerseat and Ringley Road (west Whitefield).
It is proposed that the figures referenced above are kept under review and that correspondence is made with the Voluntary, Community and Faith Alliance with respect to engaging populations in these locations of the Community Access to Cash Delivery Fund.
Councillor Michael Powell asked about the large amount of advertising banners which are on park fences: Could the leader inform members what the Council’s approach is to advertising banners, for example on park railings, and who is able to put these up and who is responsible for taking them down?
Answer: The approach taken for park railings is that permission is requested from Parks and Countryside by groups wanting to put a banner up. The banners need to be from the Council, charity, community group/volunteer, event sponsorship or Parks related, this can mean other parks as well such as Heaton Park, Manchester. The people putting the banners up are requested to look after them, ensure they are kept tidy and remove them when the event/activity is over.
Other banners do appear from time to time such as St Mary’s Park in Prestwich which are commercial in nature, a sweep to remove banners is carried out across the Borough periodically when resources allow.
Councillor Cristina Tegolo asked about the problems of fly-tipping in the Baguley Crescent area: At the end of 2019 BBC Radio Manchester reported on the flying tipping and waste management issues in Baguley Crescent. This has been a problem that both the local councillors and the residents in Baguley Crescent have been raising with the Council on many occasions. Could the Leader inform members how the Council is learning from the outcomes of complaints to improve services in Baguley Crescent and can the Council share the changes to the refuse and recycling service strategy that have been introduced with the public?
Answer: As a result of a high turnover of tenants, this leads to flats being regularly cleared out by landlords of bulky wastes such as mattresses and furniture, which tends to dumped on the adjacent land.
There is very little recycling by residents, leading to overflowing general waste bins and in addition recycling bins are constantly contaminated. Some recycling bins have been removed in recognition of the above problems. Collection crews make every effort to service the bins on the scheduled day but access is sometimes not possible due to parked cars.
The land in question is private and although the Council is not required to maintain it Waste Management undertook a thorough clean-up of the area on 21 December 2019 (the second one in 13 months). Two additional communal general waste bins were also delivered.
A Waste Management Officer visits Baguley Crescent on a weekly basis to monitor the situation and maintains contact with some local residents, including the chair of ABC- Action for Baguley Crescent – who have overseen the installation of 5 CCTV cameras overlooking the bins on the problematic side. Images are shared with GMP. There is also a Council CCTV camera overlooking the site.
Hope this is useful the full text of all questions and answers are here. Let us know if there are things you would like us to raise at future meetings.
Next month (February 2020) both Bury Council and also all the joint authorities that cover Greater Manchester will be setting their budgets for 2020-21.
In Bury, the Council (like all local authorities) will continue to need to save very significant amounts of money. Nobody knows what the Government’s plans are beyond 2020-21, but the current estimate is that Bury Council faces a challenge of c £31 million over the next 5 years. This estimate assumes that Council Tax goes up by 2% a year.
Bury Council has an unusually low level of ‘reserves’, so using reserves to fund year-to-year service is not possible.
The Council will set its budget on 26 February 2020. Councils are ‘capped’ by Government on how much they can rise Council Tax (without a referendum). This is just below 2%, though once again the Government is allowing a further 2% ‘Social Care Precept’ rise, so effectively this is just under 4%. Even if Bury does rise Council Tax by this amount there still needs to be savings of nearly £9 million in 2020-21. We don’t yet know what proposals will be brought forwards by the ruling (Labour) group on how to meet this gap.
Many of our services are provided at a Greater Manchester level:
Police – remarkably the Government hasn’t event told police forces what their level of grant will be from 1 April. There is the Government promise of extra police officers, but it seems like police forces like GMP will be made to put up Council tax locally make the budget balance. The Government sets a maximum rise that is allowed, something like £10 a year for a band D house.
Fire – fire faces significant budgetary pressures. In the current year the budget has balance by using reserves to prop up spending. It could be that this continues in 2020-21 but ultimately this is not sustainable.
Transport and Mayor – the biggest areas of change we are likely to see at a Greater Manchester level in 2020-21 are around the Mayor’s own council tax and particularly around transport.
The Mayor introduced free bus travel for 16-18 year olds last year. If this is going to continue then he will need to put up his own Mayoral Council tax significantly to pay for it.
The other very major piece of spending that won’t have an impact on our bills this year, but very much will in the future is the prospect of bus re-regulation. The cost of this in the first five years in Greater Manchester is early £140 million and about £23 million of that would need to come from putting up Council Tax more that it would have been over the next five years.
More information as we get it and any questions please ask. Please let us know your views on Council finances (comment below, or email Councillor Tim Pickstone).
This week was the regular meeting of the Council’s Cabinet. This is made up of the ruling (Labour) group cabinet members. A representative of the two largest opposition parties is invited to attend but not vote. Councillor Steve Wright reports:
Radcliffe Strategic Regeneration Framework The Cabinet received an update on the Radcliffe Strategic Regeneration Framework. This is a continuation of the £500,000 approved in 2018 much has already been spent. The council will now be consulting stakeholders and and develop the Strategic Regeneration Framework, and then take it to public consultation.
Bury, Town of Culture 2020 Bury has been chosen to be Greater Manchester’s ‘Town of Culture’ for 2020. There are various events planned across the Borough in a roughly six months festival linked to the town’s association with Victoria Wood. The project has a starting budget of £150,000 made up of £60,000 from the Victoria Wood Foundation, Greater Manchester Combined Authority £50,000 and Bury £40,000. The council will be looking for to have many and various events in different areas and will be looking for offers from local groups.
Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone The Cabinet received an update on the proposed Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone – the plan to charge lorries, buses, vans and taxis (that do not meet stringent emission standards) a daily fee to drive in Greater Manchester.
Further implementation of this has been delayed until after the local and Greater Manchester mayoral elections in May this year (readers will remember a similar delay to the next proposals of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework………). They are hoping to get funding for Automatic Number Plate Recognition and that this might help with enforcement of ‘ no idling zones, e.g. outside of schools). The cabinet were reminded of the Liberal Democrat motion on no idling outside the boroughs schools and that there has been little or no action on it in past two years. The cabinet agreed that this plan should be pushed forward.
Mayor of Bury 2020-21 The Cabinet agreed that Holyrood Ward Councillor Tim Pickstone be nominated as Mayor for 2020-21. Tim will be the first Lib Dem Mayor of Bury for 17 years. The Mayoral year starts with the annual ‘Mayor Making’ event late in May 2020.
Papers for the meeting are here, any questions please ask.
The fire safety of high rise buildings was the main topic of discussion at last month’s regular meeting of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority ‘Corporate Issues and Reform Scrutiny. This meeting brings together 15 councillors from across Greater Manchester. Councillor Tim Pickstone, one of the Bury reps on the committee reports back:
High Rise Task Force The main item for consideration was an update from the work of the Greater Manchester High Rise Task Force. This was set up in June 2017, following the fire at Grenfell Tower to coordinate the response to the issues that the fire raised for Greater Manchester.
This has been followed by the establishment of a dedicated High Rise Team within Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, to ensure that there is a targeted response on following up on inspections of all high rise buildings.
For the purposes of the high rise strategy, ‘high rise’ means a building over 18m high. There are issues with some types of cladding on buildings and this remains a very serious issue for some buildings, particularly where building owners are facing very large bills to replace cladding.
At the moment there are around 80 high rise buildings in Greater Manchester that Fire Service maintains with interim measures to ensure public safety.
I also asked about buildings under 18m which might be affected by cladding issues which are currently not required to be on a register (an example being the student block in Bolton affected by fire last month, which is mostly under 18m.
School Readiness Update One of the main priorities for Greater Manchester is to increase the number of children who are ‘ready for school’ (school readiness levels). As a county, Greater Manchester is behind the national average for school readiness, and this has been identified as a key issue that needs to be solved.
The Committee received an update on this issue, particularly looking at the performance date for the 2018-19 academic year. Bury is actually second best in Greater Manchester (behind Trafford) with over 70% of children ready for school.
The report noted that significant progress has been made across Greater Manchester to increase school readiness levels, and that additional funding (£1.2 million) had been secured to take this forwards over the coming two years.
Budget Update Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority Following the ‘buying out’ of the PFI contact by GMWDA, the authority seems in good financial health. The forecast budget outturn for 2019-20 is in line with the budget. The projected levy amounts for 2020-21 and 201-22 are £177 and £180 million respectively (this is the total amount charged to Greater Manchester councils for waste disposal).
The full papers for the meeting are here. Any questions please ask.
Last month was the regular meeting of Bury Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee. Councillor Michael Powell reports back:
Performance in schools Headteachers from a high-performing college, secondary school, nursery school and primary school academy trust gave presentations on how they’ve managed to establish and maintain high levels of attainment and process amongst their pupils. Amongst the points discussed were the importance of sharing ‘best practice’ between staff members, departments and also other schools, well as maintaining strong links with ‘feeder schools’ to ensure progress is maintained when children move up to Secondary school. Some of the headteachers also discussed the emphasis they’ve placed on staff wellbeing and development, including regular ‘drop-ins’ to offer support, as well as improving teaching and assessment through CPD (Continuing Professional Development).
Ombudsman Report A report was presented summarising all the complaints dealt with over the past year by the LGO (Local Government Ombudsman) involving the Council’s different service providers, such as highways, adult care services, housing and education services. The total number of complaints and enquiries received in 2018/19 was 67, up from 44 from the previous 12 month period. Only 6 of these complaints were upheld and the Council were found to comply with the recommendations of the Ombudsman in all of these cases.
Finance Monitoring Report A finance report for the last quart period (April-August 2019) was also presented. Four themed Budget Recovery Boards have also been established to oversee the implementation of savings plans, to develop further pipeline schemes, to monitor additional pressures arising in year, and to identify mitigations. The Council is currently projecting to overspend by £0.467m, which represents approximately 0.34% of the total net budget of £138.862m.
Earlier this month was the Nmonthly meeting of Bury’s Planning Control Committee. This is the meeting made up of the 11 Councillors. The committee determines planning applications for certain major developments and others where objections have been received. Councillor Cristina Tegoloreports:
Prior to the Committee meeting, a site visit took place in respect of planning application 63992 and 64437.
The following application was notapproved:
Harrington House Estates Ltd, 79 Bury New Road, Whitefield App No. 64719 The application relates to a large red brick/slate end terraced property on the west side of Bury New Road in Whitefield, to the south of the Higher lane junction. The formerly a single house, it has recently undergone refurbishment and conversion to a 6 person House in Multiple Occupation (HMO).
The proposed development involves: · Change of use of the existing 6 person HMO in to an 8 person HMO. The two additional bedrooms and kitchen/diner would be on the second floor, in the existing rooms within roof space.
The previous planning application for the change of use to an 8 person HMO was refused in July 2017 on the following grounds: “The lack of dedicated off-road parking provision is likely to lead to vehicles parking and carrying out manoeuvres on the highway to the serious detriment of the free flow of traffic and road safety. The proposal is therefore unacceptable and would be contrary to the NPPF and UDP Policies HT2/4 Car Parking and New Development and H2/4 Conversions and supplementary guidance document SPD13 Conversion of Buildings to Houses in Multiple Occupation.”
During the meeting residents raised objections that the traffic generated by the two additional residents would cause parking problems and be detrimental to highway safety. Several Councillors raised issued regarding parking and privacy. I pointed out that in the proposed 8 double bedrooms HMO layout there could be up to 16 people sharing two kitchens (one at ground floor and one on the second floor) with only one dining table (with 6 dining chairs) showing at ground floor level.
The following application received approval but we raised some concerns:
Land between 60 and Unit 6 Millett Street, Bury, App No. 63992 We discussed a proposed development to the west of Millett Street, in Bury, for the erection of 36 no. x 1-bedroom apartments, provided over 3 floors with the main entrance on the side elevation facing the associated car parking.
The site itself comprises hardcore and tarmac surfacing, with areas of overgrown and unmaintained vegetation. To the rear of the site is a line of mature trees, beyond which is a steep embankment which drops down to the River Irwell and which is designated as a Wildlife Link and Corridor under UDP Policy EN6/4.
The scheme will provide 100% Affordable Housing to be delivered by a Registered Social Provider.
We analysed the merits and I raised at the meeting the following points:
I fully appreciated that the scheme provides 100% affordable housing but I pointed out that in this block of apartments there are only one-bedroom flats and there isn’t a lift.
I also said that in a 3-storey apartment block without lift, people with long- and short-term mobility impairments, elderly couples that wish to downsize, parents with toddlers will be excluded or disadvantaged
I was happy to see that some EV charging stations have been included in the scheme. However, the scheme should also allow for infrastructure to be built so that more charging stations can be added in a near future
I also mentioned to the planning officer in charge of this application that this block of apartments is located near the river Irwell, which is designated as Wildlife Link, and its flat roof is, in my opinion, a great missed opportunity to create a green roof to support wildlife and create a thriving eco-friendly habitat.
More information and the full papers for the meeting are here.
Cabinet Meeting The following week was the regular meeting of the Council’s Cabinet. This is made up of seven Cabinet members from the ruling Labour Group. The two largest group opposition leaders are invited to attend and speak but not vote. Councillor Tim Pickstonereports:
Corporate Financial Monitoring Report The Council is currently predicting an overspend of just under £1/2 million for 2019-20, out of a total expenditure budget of £139 million. It is important to note that the budget only balances this year by the use if ‘balances’, and the amount of balances being used has been increased by £2.8 during the year.
I asked about saving targets. There are significant levels of ‘unmet historic savings targets, e.g. waste collection, civic venues, leisure services etc that are not being delivered, and providing additional pressure on the Council. There are also savings that have been agreed to this year, that have already been ‘slipped’ into next year.
Childrens Centres Management Arrangements The Council is proposing to move the management and running of five children’s centres (Woodbank, Broad Oak, Coronation Road, Radcliffe Hall and Butterstile) outside of the Council – e.g. to the voluntary sector or schools. This would save the Council about £136,000 a year. Two Children’s Centres would be maintained by the Council (Redvales and Ribble Drive).
Radcliffe High School Bid The Council has agreed to move forwards on a bid for a ‘Free School’ High School in Radcliffe, partnering up with STAR Academies as the sponsor. The site would be on Spring Lane where the old Radcliffe Riverside school was. The bid will now go forwards to Government and is subject to their funding. Obviously Radcliffe does need a high school, but I did ask about whether or not there was enough demand for secondary schools in the whole Borough for an additional school.
There are three Scrutiny Committees to scrutinise the work of the Greater Manchester Mayor and other Combined Authority functions in Greater Manchester.
Prestwich councillor Tim Pickstone represents Bury on the Corporate Issues and Reform Scrutiny Committee, and is this years chair of the Committee. Tim reports from the last meeting:
Greater Manchester Plan The main focus of our meeting was to review performance against the Greater Manchester Plan. This is the strategy document that sets out the objectives that the Mayor and Combined Authority want to achieve and what measures they will use to determine how successful they have been.
This meeting is one of two meetings a year where the Mayor is in attendance himself to report back this. He used the opportunity to highlight three things he felt he was achieving on in the 2.5 years since he has been elected:
Homelessness In the 2017 election, the Mayor made eliminating street homelessness in Greater Manchester by 2020 his goal. Recently there has been the first fall for some years in the official figures for people sleeping rough in Greater Manchester. 300 people have been helped already in the ‘bed for all scheme’.
Young People The Mayor highlighted take up of the new ‘Our Pass’ scheme, a £10 bus pass which means 16-18 year olds can travel for free on buses in Greater Manchester (not trams or trains). Apparently 32,000 young people have signed up for the pass so far (well over half). There is an estimate that 9-12 million journeys will have been made on the pass in the next year.
Transport The Mayor highlighted the four aspects of a future Greater Manchester transport strategy developing: – trams – with the opening of the Trafford Centre line next year. The Mayor identified Metrolink as the big ‘Greater Manchester transport success story’. – buses – with the current consultation on bus re-regulation which MAY lead to re-regulation of buses in the future (though there is a significant cost to the taxpayer of this, currently estimated at £130 million) – trains – a future aspiration to play more of a role in franchising rail services in Greater Manchester – active travel – the aspiration to develop more walking and cycling travel routes.
Members of the Committee asked a number of questions to the Mayor, particularly focussed on the transport issue. I asked about why – if Metrolink was the success story (and bus ridership is going down), why we future focus was so much on buses, and not on further Metrolink? Councillors from Bury, Manchester and Trafford (including me) all complained about the existing congestion on the the tram lines coming into Manchester in peak times. Apparently there are more trams coming from next year, but much of this will be to cover the new Trafford Centre line.
Greater Manchester Full Fibre Network The Committee received an update on the Greater Manchester Full Fibre proposals. This is an allocation of £23.7 million Greater Manchester has received from the Government to connect 1,300 public sector sites (buildings, traffic lights etc) with full fibre broadband, the aspiration of increasing the full-fibre coverage from 2% to 25% within three years.
The project is currently being tendered to private sector providers to deliver. One aspiration is that further private sector investment will extend the full fibre network to other sites in the Borough.
More information and the paperwork for the meeting is here. Any questions please ask!