NHS Bury announce cuts of £5.2 million

Bury’s NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has announced cuts of £5.2 million for the financial year just started, towards meeting an expected £7.3 million deficit for the year.

The cuts agreed are:
Primary Care (GPs etc) £1.1 million – the largest items being:
– Terminating the Vulnerable Patient Scheme, saving c£0.1m.
– Terminating the Clinical Pharmacist scheme, saving c £0.3m-£0.6m.
– Reducing the prescribing target by £0.5 million – though a decision about whether this will include stopping prescribing nicotine replacement options has been postponed.

Secondary Care (Hospitals) £1.8 million – the largest items being:
– Reducing the amount of treatments that are deemed no proven clinical benefit; or of potential clinical value but only in a clearly defined set of clinical presentations/criteria by £1 million a year.
– Reducing diagnostic tests by £0.8 million in a full year (out of £7 million a year so more than 10% reduction).

Community Services £0.5 million:
– Do not renew the Minor Eye Conditions Service, saving c£0.2m in year.
– Other service reviews, including some IVF, targeting saving c£0.3m in year. (Though the decision on IVF has been postponed).

Other: £1.8 million
Savings made centrally, including relocation the HQ building from Silver Street.

Liberal Democrats nationally have called for an extra £6 billion for the NHS, to be paid for by an extra 1p on Income Tax, because the NHS is having to make cuts like these in Bury.

Don’t Persecute Honest Passengers!

Don’t persecute honest passengers, prosecute fare-dodgers is the message from the Opposition Spokesperson on Transport for Greater Manchester Committee.

Investigations from the Lib Dem team of councillors here in Bury revealed that an estimated one in eight Metrolink passengers are fare-dodgers with T4GM confirming that they estimate that 12% of journeys are not paid for.

Last year the nine Labour and one Conservative council Leaders who make up the Greater Manchester Comined Authority voted to to put up fares for honest Metrolink passengers by an inflation-busting 19% by 2020 when one in eight passengers travel free.


Liberal Democrat Spokesperson on Transport for Greater Manchester Councillor Howard Sykes said: “There are 40 million tram journeys a year so fare-dodging is estimated to cost Metrolink about £9 million in lost revenue a year. Rather than hammering the honest passenger, transport bosses need to focus on tackling fare evasion. 12% non-payment is a disgrace. Everyone should pay their ‘fare share’, so we say tackle the fare-dodgers. We need more enforcement officers on the line at more times and we need to ruthlessly prosecute non-payers.”

Liberal Democrats in Bury have previously called for an automatic ticket “barrier” system, perhaps at all but the city centre stops, which is used on most urban public transport systems to reduce fare evasion.


Greater Manchester Housing Update

Two important announcements in the last month about future housing construction in Greater Manchester.

The first is the publication, by the 10 Greater Manchester Councils (the Greater Manchester Strategic Authority, GMSA) of a detailed map of land identified for future housing and employment developments. The Councils estimate that this is potentially enough land for an extra 175,000 homes across greater Manchester over the next 20 years.

The Mayor said: “We’ve published this data so everyone can see the land we’ve identified for potential development. We’re now asking local people, community groups and others to take a look at these sites and let us know if there are any we have missed, or if there are other sites they think we should consider”.

The full map is available here. Most of these sites are what you might call ‘brownfield’ sites. For Bury, the heaviest concentration of them is in Radcliffe. Some of the sites (the East Lancashire Paper Mill site in Radcliffe, or the Cussons site in Rainsough) already have plans for housing. Some (land behind Tesco in Prestwich) are/have already being built on.

The second announcement is a deal that is being discussed  between the Government and Greater Manchester. Under the terms of the deal

  • Greater Manchester has to deliver on a Strategic Plan to provide land for 227,200 new homes over the next 19 years (to 2035). (To put that into context Bolton, Bury and Salford added together currently contain 283,000 homes.)
  • Greater Manchester would have ‘accelerated delivery’ getting up to 12,375 new houses a year (to put that into context that is a new Whitefield every year).

In return the Government will look at
Taking four Housing Infrastructure Fund Forward Funding bids through to co-development:
– Manchester’s Northern and Eastern Gateways;
– City Centre Salford Housing Growth Programme;
– Bolton and Wigan Key Route Network;
– South East Manchester Bus Rapid Transit Scheme.

–  Provide a Land Fund of up to £50m to provide support for the remediation of brownfield land for housing. The land fund should deliver at least 4200 homes and will be subject to value for money assurance.
– Provide up to £8m capacity funding to build the Greater Manchester Place Team to support the ambitious increase in housing delivery, building on the Manchester City Place team.
– Provide £10.25m to help regenerate the Collyhurst estate to deliver more affordable homes.

It is really important to notice that the current land identified has potential for 175,000 new homes, but the Council are committing to plan for 227,200 new homes. For us this rings massive alarm bells that the next draft of the Greater Manchester Strategic Framework being published (just after the local elections) in June 2018 will again include the destruction of Green Belt land (Draft 1 included massive loss of Green Belt in Prestwich, Whitefield, Unsworth and around Elton Reservoir).

So good news that so much brownfield land has been identified. Concern that the Councils are signing up to a plan that could see the Mayor going back on his pre-election promise of no net loss of Green Belt.



Reporting Back: Life after Walk-In Centres

The last month saw two opportunities for us to raise residents concerns about what will replace our Walk-In Centres in the revised package of ‘Urgent Care’ across the whole of Bury. The was the regular meeting of Bury Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee, and also a meeting of the Liberal Democrat Council Group with the CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group) Chair.

All areas are experiencing very high demand at hospital Accident and Emergency Department . The current estimate is that 30% of patients that visit A and E do not need to be at such an intensive service. The Government has new guidance for Urgent Care Services for the whole of England.

Bury will have just one Urgent Care Centre, which will be built adjacent to the Accident and Emergency Department at Fairfield General Hospital. (Manchester will be providing a similar Urgent Care Centre at North Manchester General Hospital.) The Urgent Care Centre has to have access to diagnostic services (e.g. X-Ray) which means it realistically does have to be on the hospital site which is where this equipment is. Being next to A and E will help reduce the number of people who currently attend A and E for more routine urgent needs, which can be dealt with at the Urgent Care Centre.

The full urgent care service across Bury will be:

Pharmacy – there will normally be a consulting room were the pharmacist can give advice and propose medication etc for minor ailments and wounds etc.
GP Surgery – All of the current services will be provided.
Integrated Health and Social Care Hub – initially three (Prestwich, Bury and Radcliffe, but eventually one in each township area)  – A mixture of Medical professional will be based in the Hub.  This will allow patient to have face to face advice from a GP. This will also allow elderly and vulnerable patients with complex issues to be seen in the local community, and will reduce hospital visits.
Urgent Treatment centre – will be located at the hospital in a separate building along side A & E.
A and E – Will treat all emergencies.

We asked a lot of questions about the Integrated Health and Social Care Hub, which will be replacing the Walk-In Centres at Prestwich and Moorgate in Bury, with a new one in Radcliffe. What was clear to us is that the Hub will be very different from the current Walk-In Centre which has general ‘walk-in’ access to Senior level of Nurse. In the future there will be some element of ‘walk-in access’ to the services at the Hub – e.g. GP appointments, this will not be particularly advertised or promoted and access to services by phone will be the preferred route. It was hoped that some of the clinics and other services that currently take place in Outpatients Departments in hospitals could take place at the Hubs, which means less trips to hospital for some people with longer term health needs.

We raised a concern that the some in the media were being too simplistic saying that Walk-In Centres have been ‘saved’ and will continue as they are now in the future, which is clearly not the case. Bringing local services together under one roof at the ‘Hub’ is a good idea, but it is certainly not the Walk-In Centre we currently have. It is important to note that the Hub will only be for people who are register with a GP in the Borough of Bury, so will not be for people who are registered with GPs outside of Bury.

Another big change proposed is access to services by telephone. The first number that people in Bury will be encouraged to phone is their GP practice where staff will be able to take calls to guide the patient to the appropriate medical professional. Outside working hours this number will be redirected to a 24/7 number. We asked questions of the CCG about the capacity of reception staff in GP practices to help people in this way and how staff would be trained to be able deal with a variety of issues. We also asked about confidentiality in GP practices (e.g. where the phone is answered next to the waiting room).

The 111 phone number will be still available if you need advice on such things as urgent dental appointment, the availability of pharmacy out of hours etc

Hope this information is useful please get in touch if you want more information. More details too at these FAQs from the CCG.

School Reform Package Proposed

The Liberal Democrats have launched a package of education reforms that would inject greater parental and teacher trust in the English schools system.

The education reforms proposed include:
-Replacing Ofsted with a reformed independent schools inspectorate system that assesses teacher and pupil well-being, as well as results, and a focus on whether school leaders can deliver future improvement
Replacing league tables with a broader set of indicators, including qualitative data on pupil well-being
– Qualitative information would come from getting pupil and parent feedback on how well a school is doing, as well as looking at indicators such as what happens to a pupil when they’ve left a school, like attaining university places
Scrapping mandatory Sats for years two and six and replacing with moderated teacher assessment and lighter-touch testing
– A ‘curriculum for life’ that includes relationships and sex education, financial literacy and first aid
Establishing a specific individual responsible for mental health in schools to help children
An end to Conservative cuts to education, such as protecting per-pupil spending in real terms, including in further education

Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable said:
“Children must have a well-rounded education and our systems should not just be tick-box exercises. The Gove revolution has produced a Dickensian approach to education. We need to take account of information from teachers, parents and children views as part of improved qualitative and quantitative assessments of our schools.”

Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Layla Moran said:
“The over-emphasis on high stakes testing has meant the system has overlooked so many other elements of the development of the child. Parents want to know there children’s well-being is looked after and that they are taught lessons for life, such as first aid and financial literacy, and have the prospects to succeed.

“We need inspectorate and league table systems that recognise these values, in addition to looking at exam and test marks in maths and English.”

“It’s time to scrap GMSF” says Mayoral Candidate

JANE BROPHY, the Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of Greater Manchester, is calling for the Greater Manchester Spacial Framework (GMSF) to be scrapped.

The GMSF process will only go ahead if all ten councils in Greater Manchester and the newly elected mayor vote in favour of it. If any one of the eleven deciding vote against the plans, then it will fall – and the Liberal Democrat mayoral candidate is now pledging to do just that.

Jane Brophy said: “The Government and Greater Manchester Combined Authority should have worked together with local councils, local people and local communities to ensure no more houses were built on our greenbelt until all other options were exhausted.

“There was no attempt to have any conversation with local people and their voices have been ignored. We now risk blindly destroying our green spaces and depriving our children of the areas to grow and play in.

“Before we open up the greenbelt for development we must bring empty homes back into use, develop every old mill building, empty warehouse, factory, brownfield space and derelict piece of land that we can.

“Only when all those options were exhausted should we have considered moving onto the greenbelt. But our voices have gone ignored for long enough and it’s now time to scrap this GMSF process.

“There was no discussion about where was going to be developed, and clearly no intention to begin any discussion.

“The GMSF has been top down, rather than from the bottom up. We need a plan that fully involves local people and their communities right from the start.

“This should have been about responsibly building affordable homes in areas that are near public transport and existing links, and it should be for local people in each area to decide the future of their community, not for a secret group at Manchester Town Hall to present a completed plan.

“Therefore, I am now withdrawing my support from the GMSF process and if elected I will vote to block the process, and work to ensure each and every local resident and local community is involved properly in the process to build the much-needed homes.”

More information www.janebrophy.com


Lib Dems call for £7m extra for NHS in Bury

The Liberal Democrats have slammed the Government’s failure to provide enough extra cash for the NHS in today’s budget, warning that local services will struggle to cope with growing demand.

Ahead of the budget the Liberal Democrats called for a £4 billion funding boost for NHS and care services this year. That would amount to a cash injection of £7 million for local NHS services in Bury and £6.7 million for social care across Bury. The Budget announced by the Government today will instead see the share of national income spent on the NHS fall in the coming years.

NHS services in Greater Manchester currently face a funding gap of £897 million by 2020-21, analysis of local NHS plans has found. The NHS funding crisis also risks being made even worse by the Government’s hard Brexit plans, which are set to increase borrowing by £100bn in the coming years.

Liberal Democrat spokesperson Councillor Tim Picktone commented:

“The Government is refusing to stump up the extra cash NHS services in AREA so desperately need.

“This is a woefully inadequate response to the impossible pressure our NHS and care services are under.

“Chronic underfunding of our NHS is leading to longer waiting lists, cancelled operations and loved ones being stranded in hospital.

“Only the Liberal Democrats are being upfront with people that to protect our NHS and care services, we may all need to pay a little more in tax.

“We will also stand up against Theresa May’s reckless plans to pull out of the Single Market that will blow a £100 billion hole in the public finances. It’s clear you can’t have strong NHS and care services with a hard Brexit.”

Reporting Back: Bury’s Budget Council 2017

At Bury’s recent ‘Budget Council’ Meeting the proposals from the majority Labour Group were voted through, which is a Council Tax increase from 1 April 2016 of 4.94%. Your local Liberal Democrat councillors voted against this budget.

The increase is made up of a basic increase of 1.94%, plus a further 3% ‘social care levy’. Bury has opted to ‘front load’; the Social Care Levy increases, so although this wasn’t announced last night, we can expect a further increase of 4.94% the year after, and 1.94% in 2019/20. This means Bury’s Council Tax will rise by almost 12.5% over the next three years.

When the Police Authority and Fire Authority charges are taking into account the actual rise for a Band D property will go up about £72 from April. A full list of the new Council Tax band rates is below.

One piece of good news is that an extra £10 million is to be invested in roads and highways over the next three years. The Council will borrow the money, paid back from the savings it makes from not having to make so many road repairs. Just how far £10 million will stretch remains to be seen – Lib Dem-run Stockport borrowed £100,000 million a few years ago which has enabled them to resurface about 1/3 of their roads – so I think we can all see that £10,000 isn’t going to do everywhere in across the whole of Bury.

The three-year budget sees ‘cuts’ of over £30 million pounds in almost every area of Council work following the relentless reduction in money that Councils get from the Government. We are very concerned that not enough detail is being given to members of the public about what these cuts will mean – what services will be cut, what jobs will be lost – and it would be better to be ‘up front’ about what the savings mean.

What did the Liberal Democrat councillors do?
The Liberal Democrat Group voted against the budget. Although we recognise that so much money has to be saved we felt that we couldn’t vote for £30 million of cuts when we didn’t know what they would mean to ordinary people.

We did propose changes to the budget:
– More money to help keep some of the smaller libraries open using volunteers.
– More money to help clear up fly-tipping.
– Money to provide for additional parking enforcement around schools.
These proposals were unfortunately voted against by the majority Labour Group.

Council Tax for 2017/18 is:

Band A – £1,096.26
Band B – £1,278.98
Band C – £1,461.69
Band D – £1,644.41
Band E – £2,009.83
Band F – £2,375.26
Band G – £2,740.67
Band H – £3,288.81

Bury’s Library Review – Formal Consultation

Bury Council is now formally consulting on its proposals to close 10 or 11 of our 14 libraries.

Consultations run until 27 April.

There are two options are:
1) to retain the following library buildings: Bury (plus Archives), Ramsbottom, and Prestwich;
2) to retain Bury (plus Archives), Ramsbottom, Prestwich and Radcliffe.

You can read the proposals online at http://www.bury.gov.uk/libraryservicereview or read a hard copy at any library or at Bury Town Hall, Whittaker Street in Radcliffe, and 3 Knowsley Place in Bury.

How to have your say:
Online – go to https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/bury-libraries-consultation
By post – to Bury Library, Manchester Road, Bury BL9 0DG
By email – to library.suggestions@bury.gov.uk

Liberal Democrats across Bury are campaigning to save our libraries – you can sign our petition below.


Reporting Back: Full Council and the GMSF Debate

Last Wednesday (1 February 2017) was the regular ‘Full Council’ meeting of Bury Council, the one meeting where all 51 councillors meet to discuss the main issues facing the area.

This was a very busy meeting of the Council, with a full public gallery – mostly people concerned about the proposals in the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework to build 12,500 new houses in Bury, including many on green belt land.

Because of the number of members of the pubic there, we proposed that on this occasion we move straight to the debates on motions, rather than the usual 90 minutes or so of questions to the Leader and joint authorities. This was agreed – most questions were therefore answered in writing which we’ll report on over the coming weeks.

Voter Pilots
We supported a motion (in an amended form) which noted the Government’s current proposed pilot schemes to ask for ID at polling stations. The Government is proposing to pilot this in some areas (not Bury). In general we support proposals to make sure voting is always fair and without fraud – as long as whatever is proposed does not exclude people from voting (ie making sure that many different forms of ID are acceptable, as not everyone has a passport or driving license).

NHS Funding
We were happy to support a motion raising significant concerns about the current crisis in the NHS, particularly around funding and the acute pressures on emergency care and hospital beds.

Greater Manchester Spatial Framework
The Liberal Democrat group proposed a motion asking Bury to withdraw from Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF). This is the plan, currently being developed by the 10 Greater Manchester Councils, to build 227,000 new houses in Greater Manchester over the next 20 years.

We said:
– We recognised the need for more housing – but that this needs to be housing that people need, including young people getting their first homes and housing suitable for older people who might want to ‘downsize’
– We recognised the need for more jobs – but that these need to be high quality jobs.
– We DON’T think that the GMSF is a good deal for Bury. Across Greater Manchester the GMSF proposed to build houses on 8% of Green Belt land – in Bury it is 20% of Green Belt land (and in Prestwich and Whitefield nearly 50%).
– We DON’T think that the GMSF has made the right approach – we think local people should be in the driving seat about deciding the future ‘shape’ of our local communities, but the GMSF has started with asking land owners and developers about where they want to build.
– We are very concerned about issues like traffic congestion, air pollution and loss of green space that should be at the forefront of any new plans.

Our proposal was:
– That Bury should instead develop its own Bury Plan – recognising that we will still need to make difficult decisions, but that they will be decisions closer to Bury.
– The the plan should be a 15 year plan, not a 20 year plan, which means that 1/3 less land for housing needs to be identified at this stage.
– We support higher levels of development in our town centres, which are close to existing public transport and facilties.

Unfortunately our proposal was defeated, by 31 votes to 19 votes. Every single Labour councillor voted to remain in the GMSF.

There were some concessions made, which in some ways are a small victory, which was the Council agreed to remain in GMSF pending:
– The Government’s Housing White Paper
– The Greater Manchester Metro Mayor election result (some of the candidates are opposed to building on the green belt)
– The GMSF stage 1 consultation outcome.
In addition the Council is to proceed in developing its own Bury Plan alongside GMSF, with all-Party involvement.

We’re going to continue to fight these proposals. We do need more housing, but we must protect our green spaces too.

You can read our Group Leader, Cllr Tim Pickstone’s speech to the meeting here. The meeting is available to watch online – the GMSF debate starts at 1 hour 57 minutes….