Other Councillors not spending money allocated to them

Investigations by Bury’s Liberal Democrat councillors has revealed that Labour and Conservative councillors have not allocated around half of the money allocated to them for their local communities.

Only two areas – the Liberal Democrat councillors in Holyrood Ward and also the councillors in Tottington – have allocated the total of £4,500 allocated under the Elected Member Discretionary Budgets during that period.

The scheme was set up in December 2017 for councillors to support local projects and initiatives within their ward and wider township at their discretion.

More information was provided in an investigation by the Bury Times, reveal that only £41,801.96 was spent by councillors in their communities out of a possible £76,500.

Liberal Democrat Group Leader Cllr Tim Pickstone said: “We welcomed the decision to provide councillors with small delegated budgets to spend on priorities in their own wards. Liberal Democrat councillors in Holyrood ward have had no difficulty making sure all of that money has gone to the right place supporting a whole variety of community groups and initiatives.”

“There are so many good causes that need our support so I am amazed that only two of the 17 wards in Bury have spent the money that has been allocated to them.”

Councillors in Radcliffe West spent the least money at £312 out of a possible £4,5000 while Besses and St Mary’s wards spent around £700 each.

Here is how Liberal Democrat Councillors spent the budget in Holyrood Ward.

Here is the full spend / underspend for each ward:

Bury East AvailableSpendEMDB allocated per ward
Moorside 2105.002395.004500
Redvales Ward 1300.003200.004500
East Ward 2966.761533.244500
6371.767128.24
Bury West AvailableSpendEMDB allocated per ward
Elton Ward 871.703628.304500
Church Ward 234921514500
3220.705779.30
RTNMavailableSpendEMDB allocated per ward 
Ramsbottom 267218284500 
 North Manor291.204208.804500 
 Tottington045004500 
2963.206036.80 
 
Radcliffe availablespendEMDB allocated per ward 
North1719.482780.524500  
West4188312 4500 
East1226.533273.474500  
 71346365.99 
     
Whitefield & UnsworthavailablespendEMDB allocated per ward 
Pilkington Park28701630 4500 
Besses3772.19727.81 4500 
Unsworth3100 14004500 
 9742.193757.81 
 PrestwichavailablespendEMDB allocated per ward 
St Marys 38116894500 
Sedgley 1454.803045.204500 
Holyrood 0.38 4499.624500 
  5266.188233.82 

Thank you for your Support

A huge thank you from the Liberal Democrat team here in Bury for your support in the local elections.

The Liberal Democrats had our best result in Bury for almost a decade:

– holding Holyrood Ward, with an increased majority (986 votes over Labour) electing our new Councillor Cristina Tegolo

– gaining St Mary’s Ward, by 942 votes over Labour, electing our youngest ever Councillor, Michael Powell.

Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Councillor Tim Pickstone said:
“This is the first time in a decade that the Liberal Democrats have won so many seats in Bury. Not only that but we also got significantly more votes than Labour across the three Prestwich seats.

Local people are sending a clear message that Labour’s policies around building on our green belt land, and their failure to tackle congestion and air pollution need to change”.

Full results here.

Government must be more ambitious than a 2050 Greenhouse Gas target

Responding to the expected announcement that the Climate Change Committee has recommended 2050 as the date the UK becomes a net-zero greenhouse gas emitter:

Liberal Democrat Climate Change Spokesperson Wera Hobhouse MP said:

“This report tells us the very minimum we need to do to cut our greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero, but this Tory Government must be more ambitious. We have a responsibility as a country in the face of a climate emergency facing the entire world.

“We saw only last week that some in the cabinet are refusing to say they accept the scientific consensus on climate change which is incredibly alarming. Liberal Democrats demand better. Climate change is scientific fact, not an opinion to be debate – that time has passed.

“That’s why Liberal Democrats are calling on a net-zero target of 2045. This will focus minds and make the United Kingdom a world leader in cutting emissions, while also taking responsibility for the damage our country has caused over the last century.”

Former Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Davey said:

“Climate change should be at the heart of Government – as Liberal Democrats successfully worked for during the Coalition.

“Climate action by Liberal Democrat ministers saw a huge expansion in renewable power, the setting up of the Green Investment Bank and Britain leading key international climate negotiations at the EU and UN, winning new more ambitious targets. 

“In contrast, the Tory record by themselves since 2015 has been appalling: scrapping our zero carbon homes law, dramatically slowing down green energy investment, privatising of the Green Investment Bank and refocusing of energy policy away from renewables on to fracking and nuclear.

“Liberal Democrats would declare a climate crisis and introduce a radical new programme to decarbonise capitalism, forcing investments to consider climate risk, shifting them into clean, green technologies.”

(Graph from Carbon Brief)

55% drop in Library usage since closures

Investigations by Bury’s Liberal Democrat Councillors have reveals that uses of Bury’s libraries have dropped a shocking 55% since the review of libraries in 2016.

At the start of 2017 Bury Council’s Labour leadership concluded a ‘consultation’ of Bury library users and decided to close 10 of the 14 libraries. During the consultation, many people, including us, raised significant concerns that people would be excluded from the library service as it was not feasible to travel. Since then the library service has also slashed the opening hours of the libraries – for example Prestwich Library had a 40% reduction in opening hours (47 hours to 29.5 a week).

Not surprisingly this has resulted in a massive drop in library usage.

In 2018, there were 323,100 visits reflecting the first full year with four libraries. This compares with 681,350 visits in 2017 when the closures began to be introduced, 725,520 in 2016, and 795,200 in 2015. That is a 55% drop in library use from before the changes.

This is a real shame. Although most people in Bury do not use Libraries, for many people that do they are an important facility, providing access to facilities that wouldn’t otherwise be available and also helping reduce isolation and loneliness.

At the time of the review we proposed alternative models, for example using volunteers to help keep smaller libraries open and other libraries open for longer. We even proposed money to pay for this (proper volunteer management and training) in a fully-funded budget amendment at the time.

Greater Manchester Fire Consults on Changes

Residents are being asked for our views on significant changes to the way the Fire Service runs. The public consultation on the GMFRS Programme for Change Outline Business will run until May 31.

You can give your views on the plan at www.gmconsult.org.

The public are being consulted with on two specific areas, these are:

  • Proposal to merge six fire stations into three new ones (in Bolton, Manchester and Stockport).
  • Proposal to remove the ‘second fire engine’ from 8 Fire Stations. (None of which are in Bury, or the Broughton Fire station which serves Prestwich.)

Like all fire services, Greater Manchester is continuing to have make savings because of financial pressures. These proposals will ensure that the service is on the right financial footing to be able to continue to serve the people of Greater Manchester.

The recommended option would reduce the fire service as follows

NOW
41 Fire Stations
56 Fire Engines
1246 Firefighter posts

IN THREE YEARS
– 38 Fire Stations
– 47 Fire Engines
– 1052 Firefighter posts

To find out more about the proposals and read the full Outline Business Case, click here. The press release announcing the proposals can be found here

Please do also let us know what you think about these changes so we can represent you best at a Greater Manchester level.

Local Elections 2019 – Our Priorities

Bury Liberal Democrats have announced their key priorities for the local elections on 2 May 2019: Congestion and Air Pollution; Environment and Green Spaces and Safe and Strong Communities.

Congestion and Air Pollution  
Communities all over Bury suffer from congestion causing delays and increasing air pollution. Many secondary roads suffer from use as ‘rat runs’. Metrolink is a brilliant public transport option, but it is overcrowded and fares are going up well above inflation (19% over three years). Based on Transport for Greater Manchester’s own figrues, 1 in 8 passengers don’t buy a ticket. 

We will: 

  • Campaign to immediately tackle the worst congestion hot-spots by reviewing traffic flow, traffic lights sequencing and shifting parking bays off main roads onto off-street parking. 
  • Propose traffic calming schemes where they are most needed – particularly outside schools and where roads suffer from use as ‘rat runs’ 
  • Propose a freeze on Metrolink fares, and instead tackle fare-evasion and passenger concerns over safety through the introduction of conductors on all trams  – paid for by increased ticket sales. 
  • Campaign for increased capacity on the Metrolink by extending the ‘third tram’ (Trafford Centre line in 2021) to at least Whitefield, and eventually to Bury (currently this is proposed to terminate at Crumpsall). 
  • Tackle Air Pollution by introducing compulsory ‘no-idling’ zones around all of our schools and through prioritising newer low/zero emission buses in future bus company negotiations. 

Environment and Green Spaces
Bury Council is proposing through the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework to build 6,000 homes on our precious green belt land, as well as destroying whole areas of green belt for industrial use. Bury is not doing enough to help our environment by reducing waste and increasing healthy green travel. 

We will: 

  • Reject the current GMSF proposals and campaign for NO loss of green belt land. 
  • Focus on providing the affordable houses that local people need by building on existing brownfield sites, particularly bringing life back to our town centres. 
  • Move Bury to the forefront of developing healthy and green travel through the faster development of safe walking and cycling routes right across the Borough. 
  • Reduce the amount of waste that Bury produces by moving Greater Manchester, and Bury in particular, to being a place with less waste produced, through working with supermarkets and residents to reduce uneccessary waste. 

Safe and Strong Communities
Everyone knows that the police are underfunded and it is not surprising that crime levels in many areas are increasing again. Greater Manchester Police have the worst record in the country for solving hate crimes in England. 

We will: 

  • Spend 100% of the extra police funding delivered through the increase in Police Council Tax on visible front line policing and shift focus back to visible local policing. 
  • Provide extra police focus on solving hate crimes in our local communities. 
  • Immediately end the disgraceful use of 15 minute home care visits by Bury Council. 
  • Provide extra resources to enable our local schools to help increase support around mental health issues. 
  • Prioritise the development of local services to tackle acute lonliness, particularly among older people. 
  • Invest in our community groups and services and significantly increase the number of volunteering opportunities available. 
  • Ensure that the redevelopment of Prestwich Village only goes ahead after the views of local people are heard, and with the current level of community facilities as a minimum. 

GMSF – Liberal Democrat Response

The deadline for consultation in the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework has recently closed. Here is the response from Bury’s Liberal Democrat Group:

Thank you for being given the opportunity to comment on the revised proposals of the Greater Manchester Plan for Jobs and Homes (Greater Manchester Spatial Framework). 

Please find below the formal response of the Liberal Democrat Group of councillors on Bury Metropolitan Borough Council. 

We would like to make two general comments, which relate to the proposals as they affect Bury as a whole. As Councillors who represent Holyrood Ward which includes the villages of Simister and (part of) Bowlee, we would also like to make specific comments as they affect the Northern Gateway housing proposals south of the M60/M62.

Jobs, housing and land in Bury

We agree that there needs to be additional housing in Bury, and indeed across the whole of Greater Manchester. We also agree that there needs to be high quality jobs for people in Greater Manchester. 

We strongly believe that this growth needs to be managed to best meet the needs of our local communities. Specifically: 

  • We need the homes that people need, specifically a strong provision of housing units that suit younger people and also older people who wish to ‘downsize’ but remain close to family and friends. 
  • We need the homes that people can afford. We currently have a crisis that an increasing number of people are being excluded from buying their own home and are trapped living with parents, or trapped in high rental accommodation. We need to provide a good mixture of housing that means people can find the homes they need and can afford. 
  • Growth must not come at the expense of quality of life. Greater Manchester’s green belt has ‘done what it was intended to do’ very successfully over the 50/60 years by ensuring that there are ‘green gaps’ between our towns and communities. We believe these green gaps are worth preserving to provide gaps between our towns, space for leisure and also something to alleviate the high levels of air pollution we suffer from. 

On housing numbers we believe the Government is wrong to force councils to use 2014 figures, when more recent figures given a lower amount. Even the 2018 figures will be available soon and may well provide a more realistic forecast of growth given the current economic uncertainty following the EU referendum in 2016. 

Our approach would be have zero loss of green belt land. The Mayor of Greater Manchester promised zero net loss of Green Belt in the run up to his election and he should stand by that promise. 

We would do this through: 

  • Making maximum use of brown field sites across all ten districts. 
  • Reviewing density on all existing sites to ensure maximum housing provision on sites to be used. 
  • Working with more with our neighbours (particularly in Bury’s case Rossendale)
  • By being more ambitious in our plans to revitalise Town Centres to provide higher density living. 

We believe that in doing this we can make a strong case to the Planning Inspectorate to have an increase in housing, which may well be below the 2014 figures, but which can be met with no loss of green belt land. 

With regard to employment land. We feel that the current Northern Gateway site is an overdevelopment. It is an area with very poor public transport access and on a motorway which is already at capacity. We would prefer to focus employment in existing town and city centres with good public transport links. We believe Bury’s towns could make a strong case for better employment opportunities, particularly around higher quality provision of offices or for small and start up businesses. 

Transport Capacity in the Bury-Manchester corridor and M60 North 

We are concerned about the lack of capacity, and the lack of proposed increased capacity, on the main transport corridor between Bury and Manchester. 

We are councillors who represent a ward in Prestwich and Whitefield,  both of which currently suffer from significant congestion in transport at the present time. This is both on the roads, with the A56 through Prestwich recently scoring as the most congested road in the North West of England (and eight most congested nationally). 

The Metrolink line is a brilliant asset for Bury, but at present the tram is full to beyond capacity at the southern end of the line, with the existing housing. 

There is no capacity improvements forseen on the A56 in the transport plan published alongside the GMSF. Indeed in the revised Bee Network proposals the A56 is highlighted as a core route for safe cycling all the way to Manchester. We very much welcome safer cycling but this would seriously reduce vehicular capacity on this route. 

The only capacity improvement proposed for the Manchester to Bury Metrolink is the additional 2ndtrams that have already been ordered which may well help with the current capacity issues but will not cope with more houses. 

As a minimum we need to provide additional Metrolink capacity on the Bury Manchester line. At the moment a tram (Airport) terminates at Victoria. Another (Trafford Centre) is proposed to terminate at Crumpsall in 2021. At least one of these needs to be extended to Bury (or at least Whitefield) to deal with the congestion which exists between Crumpsall and Whitefieid. 

The M60 as it passes between Prestwich and Whitefield is a highly congested stretch of motorway. We have recently endured many years of roadworks to create a smart motorway but there remains very significant capacity problems with standing traffic at many times of the day. Not only is this bad for travel times but it also will contribute to poor air pollution and reduce life expectancy. 

The GMSF in its current proposals will add to this congestion with the creation of the Northern Gateway employment site on a massive scale. This will be significant increase in goods and car journeys on the M60 north/M62 which there is just not the capacity to do so. There are vague indicates for an additional motorway junction near to Birch services, but this will make congestion worse as junctions add to congestion not alleviate it. 

The northern gateway site is sited poorly for public transport and this lack of public transport is not addressed in the transport plan (except the vague plan of new bus routes). Most young people cannot drive so employment should be provided alongside good public transport links. 

The only proposal to address capacity is a vague plan to improve the flow of traffic at Simister Island. As the councillors who represent Simister we have grave concerns about the impact on the village of any new construction which will seriously impact on the village, but also on the two schools (St Margaret’s primary and Parrenthorn High) which are both close ot the junction the southern side. 

We strongly believe that these transport, congestion and air pollution issues must be addressed properly in the GMSF. We cannot have a proposal for jobs and houses that is adding to congestion, adding to air pollution and as a result reducing life expectancy. 

Housing Proposals in Simister and Bowlee

As councillors for Holyrood Ward we have the honour of representing residents in the village of Simister and also the western halves of Bowlee and Rhodes which are part of Bury MBC. 

Simister is a unique part of Prestwich and indeed Bury. It is a proud village community, unique in being the closest village to Manchester city centre. The village has strong links with the surrounding countryside, most of which is dairy farms but also sees significant equestrian use with horse riding a daily feature in the village. The village is of a linear nature based along Simister Lane which is an extremely narrow road which already struggles to cope with existing traffic. Simister is the home to Holyrood Ward’s largest employer, the Brookvale centres for people with learning difficulties, which provides residents with a pleasant village environment. Simister has an important nature site, the Simister Wetland, which is of scientific importance and the home to many living creatures some of whom have protected status. 

Be very clear that the proposals, as they now stand, would destroy this village. Even though the proposals seem to indicate that there would be a gap of a 100m or so between the existing village and new houses, this will still destroy the character of the village. It is utterly ridiculous to think that a village can survive its character if it is completely surrounded by 2,700 new houses. 

On the Bowlee and Rhodes side the proposals seem to indicate that all the traffic from the 2,700 new houses will enter and exit onto Heywood Old Road. This road already suffers from sever congestion with standing traffic going right up towards Heywood in the mornings. There is just no capacity to have any roads emptying out onto Heywood Old Road and this scheme has been poorly thought out. 

The green belt land which surrounds Simister and Bowlee is an important piece of Green Belt which must be protected. 

It currently provides a green barrier between the urban areas of Prestwich and Middleton and between Whitefield and Middleton/Heywood. If the proposals of the GMSF go ahead there will be continuous development between Prestwich, Whitefield, Middeton and Heywood which would seriously impact on the quality of life for people who live there. A ‘green strip’ needs to be retained between these communities. 

As previously stated, air pollution is a significant concern in the M60 and M62 areas. These motorways are extremely congested, and will be even more congested if the Northern Gateway employment site is developed. Development of 2,600 hosues around Simister and Bowlee will mean building right up to the M60 and M62. We should not be building houses in places which will give people a reduced life expectancy. 

Best wishes

Councillor Mary D’Albert, Holyrood Ward 

Councillor Tim Pickstone, Holyrood Ward (Group Leader)

Councillor Steve Wright, Holyrood Ward (Deputy Group Leader)

Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone proposals

Greater Manchester’s council leaders and the Mayor have agreed an outline business case to put to Government for the introduction of clean air zone charging.

Why is this happening: 
People will be aware of the significant concerns about rising air pollution across the country. The Government has placed legal responsibility for complying with NO2 limits with local authorities.

The proposals are that: 
– All diesel buses and HGV lorries that do not meet emissions standards would pay £100 a day to drive in Greater Manchester (not including motorways).
– All diesel taxis, minibuses and vans that do not meet the emissions standards would pay £7.50 a day to drive in Greater Manchester. (not including motorways).

A two-phase approach would see diesel buses, coaches, HGVs, taxis and private hire vehicles face daily charges from 2021, charges for vans would follow by 2023.

There would be no charges for private cars. 

Part of the business case being put to Government is that there would be Government money made available to help non-compliant buses, lorries, vans, taxis be upgraded or ‘retro-fitted’ to be non or low emission vehicles.

Issues and Comments
The plan has been criticised from different sides:

Friends of the Earth are critical that the plan is not fast enough, and does not cover all polluting vehecles.

Manchester Friends of the Earth say:
“We are dismayed that Greater Manchester will not tackle illegal levels of air pollution before 2024.

Greater Manchester has the highest rates of emergency admissions to hospital for asthma in the whole country. But Greater Manchester will not have a plan in place before the end of 2019 and is not planning to achieve legally compliant air quality levels before 2024.

The government’s own evidence is that the most effective measures are Clean Air Zones covering all polluting vehicles. This must be introduced as soon as possible, along with measures to help people out of their cars and into cleaner methods of transport.” (full comments here).

Bus, taxi and fleet operators have also objected to the increased costs:
Stagecoach Manchester hinted the clean air zone plan could make travelling on buses more expensive, with the charges buses would face being passed on to fares.

Figures show Greater Manchester local authorities licence around 2,100 taxi vehicles and 13,800 private hire vehicles. Of those, 89 per cent of taxis and 67 per cent of private hire vehicles are currently non compliant with required emission levels under the plans.

For buses, there are about 2,200 buses operating in Greater Manchester of which about 2,000 are currently not compliant with the regulations. Even we managed to replace or retrofit half of those buses by 2021, then buses would still be charged £36 million a year.

What do you think?
Our view is that something must be done about air pollution. Replacing polluting diesel vehicles with cleaner engines should be a key part of this. 

BUT we worry that the charging proposals as they are will hurt too many people (anyone who uses a bus, self employed and small businesses etc).

For the Prestwich area, we worry that no attention is being given to motorways, which are one of our biggest sources of air pollution.

We think we must also  focus on reducing the number of cars on the road – for example by increasing Metrolink use by making fares affordable (currently 1 in 8 passengers don’t pay at all!) and providing increased capacity, AND by making walking and cycling safer and more attractive.

Let us know your views – to Councillor Tim Pickstone – tim@burylibdems.net 

Next steps
– The plans need to be submitted to government by the end of March
– Everyone in Greater Manchester – residents, businesses, organisations, interest groups andpoliticians – will have the chance to have their say and help shape how we tackle air pollution. GM will be launching a public conversation in mid-May, running until the end of June, for people to give feedback and help shape the detailed design.
– A Full Business Case would then be developed by the end of 2019.
– Subject to government approval, measures would be introduced by 2021.

 

Reporting Back – Budget Council

Last night was the ‘Budget Council’ meeting at Bury Town Hall, where councillors set the Council’s budget for 2019-20, as well as the Council Tax rate residents will pay.

The proposals from the ruling Labour Group were agreed. These include:

– Council Tax rise of 4.4%. The maximum rise allowed by Government without a referendum is 3%, so this is made up of 2.94% rise by Bury, and then on top of that are higher than inflation rises by Greater Manchester Police £24 a year for a Band D property and a more than doubling Greater Manchester Mayor’s tax from £8 to £17, for a Band D property.

– The Council has used some of it’s previous reserves – £5 million – to make the budget balance this year. This is perfectly legal, but obviously they can only be used once – so they are already creating a problem for 2020-21 when additional cuts of £5 million will need to be found.

– Money remains very tight and significant savings need to be made. Two that stood out for us is a reduction in the amount available for road repairs of £600,000 and a reduction in the amount spent on home care visits for older people who need this support of £1.4 million.

– The Council has increased the amount of Council Tax that must be paid on an empty property to double the normal rate.

– Using this extra income to borrow more there  is some money for some new things by borrowing about £4.5 million . This includes £1 million to refurbish Bury Market and money to take forwards proposals in Prestwich, Radcliffe and Whitefield town centres (the money to do the studies, not the money to build anything).

What did the Liberal Democrats do?
We didn’t support the budget, there are some good things, but in general we couldn’t support a budget that was cutting road repairs and home care visits and only balanced by using reserves.

We made an alternative proposal which included:
– More money for road repairs (£3.6 million)
– More money to tackle congestion and ‘rat runs’, and money to tackle air pollution outside of schools (No-idling zones) (£0.5 million)
– More money to address mental health concerns in schools and to tackle fly-tipping (£0.6 million over three years).
The proposal was affordable by reducing management costs by just two posts.

Regrettably Labour Councillors voted agains these proposals.

Hope this is useful please get in touch if you have any questions. The budget papers for the meeting are here.

New Council Tax Rates (from 1 April)
Band A – £1217.44
Band B – £1420.35
Band C – £1623.26
Band D – £1826.19
Band E – £2232.00
Band F – £2637.80
Band G – £3043.63
Band H – £3652.35

Greater Manchester Spatial Framework – One month to have your say!

The formal public consultation on the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework ends a month from now on 18 March 2019. This is your opportunity to have your say on these important plans which will have a massive impact on our local area for generations to come.

You can take part in the consultation online, or in the post. Details of the online consultation are here.

Responses sent in the post should be to: Planning Team Consultation, GMCA, Churchgate House, 56 Oxford Street, Manchester, M1 6EU

The GMSF proposes 202,000 new homes in Greater Manchester (to put that in context the whole of the city of Manchester is currently 200,000 homes). That includes:
– 9,500 in Bury – 5,000 of which on Green Belt land.
– Greater Manchester will lose 4% of its green belt land, but in Bury the figure is 12% and in Prestwich and Whitefield significantly higher (37% and 33%). 
More details on the big Prestwich/Whitefield/Middleton Development here.
More details on the other big Bury plans (Elton Reservoir and Walshaw) here.

Our view is that we do need some more housing, but this needs to be the homes that people need and can afford. We would do this on existing brownfield sites and be regenerating town centres – with no loss of green belt land.

Sign our petition to say Hands off our Green Belt here. 

The map below is the proposed Northern Gateway site across Prestwich, Middleton and Whitefield where green belt land would be lost.