Reporting Back: Planning Committee

Last week 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. 

Liberal Democrat Councillor Cristina Tegoloreports back:

Prior to the Committee meeting, a site visit took place in respect of planning application 63324, at the Moutheath Industrial Estate off George Street in Prestwich. 

At the meting this application received approval but we raised some concerns:

We discussed a proposed development to the south of George Street, in Prestwich, for the erection of 124 no. dwellings. 

An outline planning permission on the site had already received outline planning consent in February 2017 (for the demolition of the existing buildings and the redevelopment of the site for up to 160 dwellings and 2,959 square metres of employment floorspace). Therefore, the Planning Committee could only consider matters in relation to the layout, scale, appearance and landscaping of the proposed development. 

The applicant will be taking advantage of a national policy, Vacant Building Credit (VBC), which is intended to incentivise brownfield development, including the reuse or redevelopment of empty and redundant buildings. In short term, under the VBC policy, the floorspace of any existing vacant unit is used to offset the number of affordable housing that that the landowner has to provide when redeveloping a brownfield site.

The vacant units in the proposed development have a total floorspace of 5,365.5 square feet, which would reduce the on-site affordable housing to 18 units. 

We analysed the merits and I raised at the meeting the following points:

  • Highlighting that this “generic” development was not catering for the specific needs of the local community which contains a significant Orthodox Jewish population, the second largest in the UK.
  • Identifying those units that did not have an accessible WC at ground floor level and that didn’t allow for manoeuvring space for a wheelchair by the main entrance door.
  • Putting an investigative so that electric vehicle charging points would be included.
  • Clarifying that the proposed 2.1metre high close boarded timber acoustic fence, and any perimetral fence within the boundary, should be installed based on the final FFL of the proposed development, which will be finalised only when the level of Singleton Brook is confirmed.

More information and the full papers for the meeting are here.

Liberal Democrat Announce Candidate for Mayor of Greater Manchester

Liberal Democrats in Greater Manchester have announced their candidate for the election for Greater Manchester Mayor in May 2020.

Councillor Andy Kelly, who is the Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Rochdale Council will take on Labour’s candidate, Andy Burnham.

Andy said: “The Tories are playing parlour games with people’s lives and Labour are betraying those they profess to represent I felt the need to step up to the plate.

Greater Manchester voters deserve better representation, we need someone who is not afraid to be frank about our future. That person is me.

This year the Liberal Democrats made huge gains in the local elections, with 700+ gains nationally – the party’s best local election results. Many of these gains were in the Greater Manchester region. Three weeks later we gained two members of European parliament in the North West as voters turned away from both Labour and the Conservatives.

I am keen to take Burnham on his three years of delivering nothing.”

Andy Kelly’s first pledge has been to scrap the GMSF: “We need to find REAL solutions to the housing crisis. To provide the right homes, in the right places; reversing Labour’s local obsession with socially cleansing our community.”

Answers to Questions: Police Issues

At the last full Council meeting of Bury Council, Liberal Democrat councillor Steve Wright asked a number of questions to the Greater Manchester Police representative: 

Community Policing Expenditure:
Could the Council’s member of the Greater Manchester Police and Crime Panel inform members what proportion of the Greater Manchester Police budget is spent on local community police teams?

We were quite shocked about how low the future is: 
The proportion of Greater Manchester Police budget that is spent on Neighbourhood Policing and Community Liaison is 11%.

Members will also be aware that in March the local approach to community policing changed with the introduction of a new Neighbourhood model. The model reverts back to a previous incarnation with 3 dedicated Inspectors taking responsibility for North, Central and South regions of the borough. This change combined with new shift patterns resulted in more Officers on the beat at any one time.

The new Policing precept announced for 2019/20 also resulted in 3 additional Police Officers for Bury who have now started and will further bolster the Officer numbers available.

Metrolink Incidents: 
Could the Council’s member of the Greater Manchester Police and Crime Panel inform members how many incidents have occurred which have required police attendance on the Metrolink in the current financial year and previous two financial years?

The answer is that there are a lot, and the level is increasing: Unfortunately, limitations of how the data is recorded means that we can’t provide a figure for 2017/18. The following data is a combination of Police data, Metrolink data and Transport for Greater Manchester Data.

In 2018/19 – There were 3481 incidents

Between April 2019 and 30th Jun 2019 there were 946 incidents, which is approximately 8% higher than the same point last year.

Members may be aware that security on the Metrolink is overseen by the Travelsafe Partnership which is jointly led by TfGM and Greater Manchester Police (GMP) with support from:

o Metrolink;
o Stagecoach;
o First Manchester;
o GoAhead NW; and
o British Transport Police.

Travelsafe has been in place since 2015 and commenced as a 3 year pilot. At the end of the pilot the Partnership went through a period of review and a complete change in leadership and moved away from the traditional ‘boots on the ground’ approach to more intelligence-driven tactics and prevention.

There is a TravelSafe Partnership Strategy in place for 2019-21 the following aims:

o Improve the perception of safety & security across public transport, offering reassurance to passengers;

o Manage instances of Crime and Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) occurring on the transport network; and

o Discourage fare evasion.

Also, Members will be glad to hear that the Travelsafe Partnership have funded 50 PCSOs to help manage security on the network and a further 8 Officer employed by the Network. There is also a proposal to move to 50 Police Officers with a broader Transport remit sometime in the future.

The additional investment combined with the intelligence-led planning will start to see more targeted work, bringing the number of recorded incidents down.

Reporting Back: Health Scrutiny Committee

Last month was the Bury’s Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee. Councillor Cristina Tegolo reports:

The Committee’s role involves reviewing and scrutinising any matters relating to the provision and operation of health services in the area of the Council, scrutinising organisations external to the Council and holding the Leader / Cabinet Members to account. Bury’s Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee meets in public and includes a public question time at the start of the meeting. Scrutiny committees actively welcome involvement with the public and seek the views of members of the public on services that are being considered. Scrutiny committees also welcome suggestions for subjects to be considered for inclusion in the scrutiny work programme.

Geoff Little, Chief Executive Bury Council provided an update on the Health and Social Care Reforms. Chris O’Gorman, Local Care Organisation Independent Chair, and Julie Gonda, Director of Adult Social Care, provided an update on Bury Local Care Organisation. John Hobday, Consultant in Public Health, provided an overview of key health and well-being data for Bury and Highlited areas for future interventions. Mr Little explained how, despite amount of money being spent, outcomes and health expectancies for Bury people are still not acceptable. In Holyrood life expectancy for 2013 – 2017 for a male was 77.6 years to 79.5 years (inSt. Mary’s it is 79.5 years to 81.4 years)and for females was 82.4 years to 84.1 years (in St. Mary’s is 84.1 years to 85.7 years). Bury “One Commissioning Organisation” wants to have a program of reforms based on the needs of Bury residents, clients and patients. Ultimately and over time the Bury “One Commissioning Organisation” will encompass all strategic commissioning from the Council and CCG and other public services where possible. The main goals are to:

  • Empower Bury people to remain well and make healthy decisions
  • Close the financial gap and improve outcomes 
  • Create a different model based on understanding of families and carers
  • Take control of the system as whole 
  • Improve services in the community for the most vulnerable
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I commented on the importance of education and especially promoting health and wellbeing of children under 5. I also welcomed Bury Council’s plan to empower Bury people to remain well for longer and supporting and caring for people in their homes. However, I pointed out that the Planning department is probably not aware of the objectives of the “One Commissioning Organisations”. I gave as an example the planning meeting that I attended on the previous day, in which a Community Centre at the heart of a residential area, which could be used for exercising classes and health promoting activities, was changed into offices and a block of apartments (in Green Belt and in Conservation Area) had received planning permission even if the 16 apartments were missing the most basic accessibility and inclusive design standards.

More information and the full papers for the meeting are here.

Reporting Back: Overview and Scrutiny Committee

Last week was the first Overview & Scrutiny meeting of the new Council year which saw a series of presentations by representatives from the different Council departments. These outlined each department’s work programme and priorities for the coming year. 

Councillor Michael Powell reports on some of the key priorities for each area are below:

Strategy and transformation:
– Developing a ‘corporate core’- bringing support services and staff together to build up capacity and improve efficiency- Quarterly budget monitoring report updates to be sent to Councillors as well as end of year reports- Lead officers to be put in charge of each work stream (e.g. Finance, Governance, ICT and Digital, HR)Children and young people:
– Increasing number of foster carers inside the borough and reducing reliance on external carers- Enhanced support for care leavers- Working to further reduce permanent exclusion numbers- Enhanced early support strategy to support new LAC (Looked After Children)- Implement early intervention schemes in schools needing support

Operations:
– Continuing to work towards a more productive and reliable waste service operation- Implementing a ‘preventative maintenance’ approach to highways (i.e. developing a programme for all roads to be addressed after a set period to prevent deterioration of highways)- Introducing a plastic strategy to minimise use of single-use plastics across the borough- Improving the customer interface to make reporting problems involving highways even easier and more efficient for residents

Business growth and infrastructure:
– Beginning work on regeneration scheme in Radcliffe- Implementing £10 million investment in Prestwich village centre (following consultation process with residents in the Summer)- Continuing to develop land and property portfolio- Moving forwards with GM spatial framework and focusing on scope for development on brownfield sites- Working towards potential regeneration of Bury Interchange (supported by T4GM)

The papers for the meeting are here. Any questions please just ask! 

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.