Our Fight to Raise Carer’s Allowance

Unpaid carers are doing a remarkable and important job in very difficult circumstances. They deserve our support. But many carers are facing extreme financial hardship.

900,000 full-time unpaid carers rely on Carer’s Allowance – but at just £67.25 a week, it’s just not nearly enough.

Carer’s Allowance is just £67 a week. It’s just not nearly enough.

It is the lowest benefit of its kind – another example of how carers are too often an afterthought for many politicians.

Many unpaid carers have been struggling for months, often relying on foodbanks to feed themselves and the people they care for.

We’ve got to do better
Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to immediately raise Carer’s Allowance by £1,000 a year, the same as the uplift in Universal Credit.

Carers face big challenges every single day; challenges that have been made even harder by coronavirus. A recent survey by Carers UK found that most are having to spend more time looking after loved ones during this pandemic.

Most haven’t been able to take a single break since it started. Most are simply exhausted.

And now they are worried.

Liberal Democrats will stand up for carers

Worried about their own mental health, worried about what will happen if they themselves fall ill – because there’s no one to take over – and worried about whether they can cope in a new lockdown.

We must do far more to support our wonderful carers.

The Liberal Democrats will stand up for carers and lead the way to a more caring society as we emerge from this pandemic.

Join our Campaign for an increased Carers Allowance

Reporting Back: Bury Full Council

Last week was the regular ‘Full Council’ meeting for Bury Councillors, this was meant to the important meeting where the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework was to have been agreed, but this was withdrawn from the agenda. Liberal Democrat Group Leader Councillor Michael Powell reports:

Bury Council only meets in full seven times a year, but this November meeting was to have been particularly special, as it was where Bury was to agree, or not agree, the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF). This plan, for another 180,000 houses across Greater Manchester in the next 17 years has to be agreed by all ten Councils before it can go out for consultation.

Bury Council’s Cabinet, which consists of just Labour councillors, agreed the plan unanimously earlier in the month but this had to be approved by full Council. In Stockport, where no party has an overall majority, things didn’t go ‘according to plan’ and their meeting was adjourned.

Bury has decided to delay considering the plans until the position in Stockport is clear. We find out if Stockport has managed to reach an agreement on Thursday, but it could also be adjourned again. At the moment there is no date for the proposals to come back to Bury Council.

Public Question Time
GMSF was the main topic of consideration for public question time. Residents in the Simister and Bowlee area did a particularly good job of getting questions in with a whole host of excellent questions on Heywood Old Road, Simister Lane traffic, air pollution and the ‘Northern Gateway’ industrial site.

The answers to questions have not yet been published, but we’ll share these as soon as we have them.

Business Items
Four important business items came to full Council and were agreed:
– a revised Council Constitution
– agreement that the ward boundaries review (there will be new ward boundaries for the 2022 local elections) will stick with 17 wards / 51 Councillors.
– a revised Corporate Plan
– a revised licensing policy.

Questions to the Leader
The only remaining item of business was questions. The Liberal Democrat Group, as always, asked the maximum number we are entitled to. We’ll report back on some of the detail in the future but the most interesting answers included:

Councillor Steve Wright asked about the A56 cycle lane (abandoned half finished):
Can the cabinet member for transport and infrastructure clarify why the decision was made to not complete the planned ‘pop-up’ cycle lane on the A56 and how much of the Government funding to enable active travel remains unspent? 

Answer:
There was an accumulation of factors that lead to the decision not to install the pop-up cycle lane element of this emergency active travel scheme. The Council considered the impacts on traffic as witnessed on site after some lining went down, had received concerns from bus operators about the stop designs in the cycle lane, had heard reports of similar measures being removed and under-utilised in other districts and recognised that there were challenges with Salford’s delivery/continuation of the pop-up cycle lane in the City centre – essentially leaving the pop-up as a cycle lane to nowhere. The public, however, will still benefit from a new length of unsegregated cycle lane near St Mary’s Park as well as two controlled toucan crossings.

The EATF Tranche 1 was a Greater Manchester allocation and, as such, money spent on measures is claimed back rather than given up-front. However, the Council is also seeking to introduce a Low Traffic Neighbourhood in the Brandlesholme area in line with the governments express expectations for “…local authorities to make significant changes to their road layouts to give more space to cyclists and pedestrians.” to lead to a more pleasant environment that encourages people to walk and cycle.

Councillor Wright went on to ask if the dangerous section of cycle lane at the end of St Ann’s Road could be looked into (cars are being forced into the cycle lane because of right-turning traffic. There was no commitment to look at this.

Councillor Powell asked about school closures during Covid:
How many schools and school bubbles have had to close due to Covid-19 cases since schools reopened in September and how does this compare to the other authorities in Greater Manchester? 

Answer:
Just under 50% of all primary and secondary schools have reported one or more confirmed cases within their setting, involving either members of staff or pupils. Many of these schools have gone on to experience a number of confirmed cases, largely as a result of the prevalence of Covid-19 in the wider community.

In the majority of instances, this has required other staff members and/or pupils to self- isolate as a consequence of being a close contact of a confirmed case.

At its highest point in late September/early October there were approximately 2,000 pupils absent representing 7% of the school age population. Through measures to more accurately identify close contacts, this number has reduced, but remains in the order of 1,000 pupils absent from school each week.

Since September, four schools have had to close to all pupils for a period of time, through a combination of confirmed cases and close contacts amongst staff, reducing staffing levels below sustainable levels.

The levels of absence are broadly in line with other GM authorities although the situation remains dynamic and subject to constant change.

You can read the papers for the meeting here.
You can watch the whole meeting here.

Time to End Child Hunger

We’re campaigning to increase access to free school meals and give children from low-income families access to food vouchers when schools are closed too. 

Liberal Democrats are campaigning to increase access to free school meals and give children from low-income families access to food vouchers when schools are closed too.

What are we calling for?
We want the Government to commit to three steps which will make a world of difference to struggling families and help end child hunger:

  1. Extend eligibility for free school meals to every pupil in primary and secondary school, whose parents or guardians are in receipt of Universal Credit
  2. Food vouchers for every one of those pupils in every school holiday
  3. Food vouchers for every one of those pupils during any period of lockdown

Why is this needed?
The coronavirus pandemic has shone a spotlight on the issue of child hunger. But this is not a new problem, and it will not go away when we finally beat this virus. We need the Government to commit to practical and long-term measures, to stop any child going hungry, on any day of the year.

All too often, families with children simply do not have enough to eat

Each year as the school holidays approach, many parents dread the fact they will have to find an extra £30-40 per week to buy meals for their children which are usually provided at school. With further local and national lockdowns rumoured, parents now also have to worry about how their child will access a free school meal if their school has to close.

There have been widespread reports that foodbank usage has soared during the pandemic and that all too often, families with children simply do not have enough to eat. But even before the pandemic, many parents would skip meals so they could afford to feed their children during the school holidays.

Who gets free school meals currently?
In England, every child in reception, year 1 (age 5-6) and year 2 (age 6-7) is entitled to a free school meal. However from year 3 onwards (age 7-8), eligibility is based on whether the child’s parents or guardians are in receipt of certain benefits.

With regard to Universal Credit, a child may only be eligible for a free school meal if their household income is less than £7,400 a year after tax (and excluding any benefits). We believe that threshold has been set too low and means that many children who are living in poverty are missing out on a free school meal altogether.

The Children’s Society estimated that more than a million children living in poverty in England are missing out on a free school meal – and in over half of these cases it is because they are not eligible for them.

What is the Government doing about this?
Following a fantastic campaign by footballer Marcus Rashford, the Government performed a u-turn and agreed to provide a ‘COVID Summer Food Fund’ – food vouchers during the school summer holiday, for children who are usually entitled to benefits related free school meals.

More than a million children living in poverty in England are missing out on a free school meal

While this was a welcome relief for many struggling families, it didn’t go nearly far enough. Many families who needed the vouchers missed out under the scheme, and the Government have made no commitment to extend this in future school holidays or if schools have to be closed during periods of lockdown.

What are the Liberal Democrats doing about this?
We are calling for a plan to tackle child hunger – both during the pandemic and afterwards.

We will be writing to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, calling for him to make funding available in the Spending Review this autumn, to extend Free School Meals to every child whose parents are in receipt of Universal Credit, and to provide vouchers to every child who usually gets a FSM during school holidays and lockdown.

We will be reaching out to charities and campaign groups to work with us on this and calling on MPs from other Party’s to support us too.

You can support our campaign and find out more here.

Answers to Questions: PPE, Walk-In Centre and Prestwich Regeneration

At the most recent full meeting of Bury Council, the Liberal Democrat team asked our maximum entitlement of questions as always. Here are some of the more interesting replies:

Councillor Michael Powell asked about PPE in schools:
Given new guidelines around the wearing of masks in Secondary schools, what is being done by the Council to ensure that schools have sufficient supples of PPE to provide for staff and students?

Answer: There is a reasonable expectation that pupils, being required to wear masks in shops and some other public spaces, will be in possession of masks that can then be used when in communal places in schools. It is however recognised that there will be instances where pupils do not have access to a mask and arrangements have been made through the Council’s Public Health Team, for all secondary schools o be provided with a supply of masks. 

Councillor Steve Wright asked about the Prestwich Walk-in Centre:
What level of use is currently being made of the site of the Prestwich Walk-In Centre and when will the Walk-In Centre reopen?

Answer:
The Prestwich Walk in Centre is currently the base for the Covid Management Service for the borough – an invaluable service during the pandemic in providing primary care services for COVID positive patients and making a contribution to reducing infection risk in other practices in the borough.

The COVID Management Service has been and continues to be a vital element of the Bury wide COVID strategy which includes the need to minimise open access points for patients in favour of a more managed triage and book service. The COVID management service has dealt with 2,504 referrals since the pandemic started. The service provides telephone triage and advice, face to face GP appointments and home visits where required.

Options on the continuation of the covid management service are currently in development and will take place in the context of the epidemiology of the pandemic.

While we are in the pandemic we are seeking to limit face to face contacts for healthcare services in favour of digitalised opportunities through, for example, Ask my GP, and in current circumstances of COVID 19 it is not intended the WIC will reopen soon.

Councillor Michael Powell asked about the regeneration of Prestwich Village:
Can the Leader provide an update on the progress made in recent months on the plans to regenerate Prestwich village centre?
Answer:

Over the last 6 months the Council has made significant progress with regard to bringing forward the pre-development phase of the regeneration of Prestwich Village. Progress includes engagement with the development market. We have developed a set of key values and principles we see as important in delivering the Prestwich scheme.

Over the next 6 months the Council are seeking to source a long-term partner who shares our views on the potential of the site and wants to work with the community to deliver a new centre which is attractive to all residents.

We will also be designing a hub building that meets the requirements of the public sector bodies in Prestwich. The hub building will incorporate the NHS Trust’s functions combining two GP practices, the library, adult learning centre, indoor community room (to replace the Longfield Suite that could house indoor market, leisure uses), new cycling hub and a Job Centre.

It is anticipated at the November Cabinet a Paper will be presented outlining the way forward for the regeneration of Prestwich.

Reporting Back: Full Council

Three separate motions were put forward at the Summer meeting of Bury’s full Council. Councillor Michael Powell reports:

Liberal Democrat group motion- Supporting Private Renters and Selective Licencing
Our motion concerned securing a fair deal for private renters to ensure that they are protected from poor housing management and low standards from a minority of those operating in the sector. The motion suggested trialling the use of ‘selective licencing’ schemes, which require landlords in finite geographical areas to register with the Council enabling certain standards to be enforced. These schemes are already being used successfully in other Greater Manchester authorities, such as Manchester and Oldham. The motion was passed unanimously with support from all parties on the Council and the Liberal Democrat group will check in with the Council over the coming weeks to see what progress has been made on this motion.


Conservative motion- Creating a Bury Council Covid-19 Recovery Plan
The Conservative Council group put forward a motion calling for the creation of a detailed recovery plan as the borough begins to recover from the crisis. The plan included a focus on economic impact and ensuring financial resilience, health and social care recovery, ensuring Council services are delivered efficiently and supporting local businesses and residents. The Liberal Democrat group supported the motion as we recognised the importance of establishing a wide-reaching recovery plan to get the borough through the next stage as it rebuilds from the pandemic, although we also highlighted that such a plan needs to touch on other areas such as education and providing further support for vulnerable people. The motion was not passed as it did not achieve the support of Labour Councillors, who argued that there was not enough detail.

Labour motion- Calling for an independent enquiry into the handling of coronavirus
The motion from the Labour group called for the Council to support an independent enquiry into the Government’s handling of the pandemic. The Liberal Democrat group supported this motion on the basis that there are a number of important questions related to the Government’s response which remain unanswered and need clarification. The motion was passed with the support of Labour, Liberal Democrat and Radcliffe First Councillors.

Reporting Back: Overview and Scrutiny Committee

Three separate reports were presented to the Summer meeting of the Council’s Overview & Scrutiny Committee. Councillor Michael Powell Reports.

Bury Market Covid-19 Recovery Plan:
– The reopening of Bury Market for non-essential retail took place on 15th June, apart from businesses for which restrictions were extended to 4th July such as cafes, hairdressers, nail bars, beauty salons and barbers.
– The Market has remained partially open (approximately 12 stalls) throughout the lockdown to support food Traders providing a service to our vulnerable residents, including home deliveries. Social media support has also been provided.
– A plan has been published to guide the recovery of the market after the Covid-10 crisis. The main challenge in the long term is to attract footfall to ensure the markets viability whilst simultaneously ensuring the safety of visitors to the market.
– Amendments are proposed to the Markets Rules and Regulations, including a review of current opening and closing times.
– A Capital Programme is underway with £1.38 million going to be invested in making further improvements to the Market, phased over the next four years. The work could include the replacement of Market Hall glazing panels, addressing open Market roofing issues, Market Hall toilet refurbishment and an upgrade of Market’s parade area.

Bury and Radcliffe Town Regeneration Schemes:
– The Council have begun work on a new masterplan for Bury town centre to ensure Bury is fully prepared for the economic consequences that will arise from coronavirus and to establish a clear and deliverable plan to support economic recovery.
– The masterplan is very much in the early stages but will seek to address the town’s role as a retail and leisure destination, commercial development, improved town centre living, develop the tourism and cultural sectors and improve linkages between the town centre and surrounding assets and neighbourhoods.
– The Council recently unveiled a Strategic Regeneration Framework for Radcliffe aiming to shape the future of the town over the next 10 to 15 years. The public consultation on the SRF began on 22nd June and will run until 3rd August.
– The key elements recommended in the draft SRF include the creation of a central hub in the town centre, the creation of new leisure facilities, a focused retail strategy, improved public open spaces and a new Secondary school.

Resetting the education service in Bury:
– The report provided a further update on the progress being made by the Local Education Authority during the Covid-19 pandemic to reset the education service.
– Individual risk assessments have been carried out by all education settings across the borough to ensure social social distances and enable social bubbles to be created to avoid mixing different cohorts unnecessarily. 
– The aggregate total of pupils attending Bury schools on Tues 23 June 2020 is 3584; this marks a further growth in the returns.
– A medium term recovery work plan has been established for at least the next academic year, which will include providing support to children in three vulnerable groups- those who are transitioning from one education establishment to another, children with SEND and the newly vulnerable and those children who have fallen further behind in their learning than their peers.
–  A substantial programme of work will be required according to the Council’s education authority if they are to secure the lost learning for many of the borough’s vulnerable children. In this recovery the Council say they have some additional resource and support; from HMI, the RSC, from central government, and within local partnerships.

The papers for the meeting are here.

Reporting Back: Greater Manchester CA Scrutiny

Report back on High Rise building fire risks and financial impact of Covid-19.

Earlier this week was the regular meeting of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority Corporate Issues and Resource Scrutiny Committee. This brings together 15 councillors from across Greater Manchester. Bury is represented by Prestwich councillor Tim Pickstone, who also chairs the committee this year.

High Rise Building Fire Risk Residents Survey
Following the Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017, the Greater Manchester High Rise Task Force was established to ensure that the area was prepared to respond to a major incident and that all high rise building are safe from fire, and that residents feel safe.

As part of assessing how safe residents feel, a survey of residents was undertaken in the latter part of 2019.

65% of residents said they are concerned about having a fire in their home.
77% of residents who lived in a building where cladding was identified as a risks were concerned.
97% of respondents said that they would trust GMFRS to provide advice.

One of the most significant concerns was the financial impact on apartment owners. Some residents had experienced a 400% increase in service charges and others reported that they had been presented with significant bills (e.g. to remove cladding).

I asked about the financial impact on apartment owners, as I understand mortgage lenders are refusing to lend for properties where there are cladding issues, and in particular whether this was also affecting the ‘non high rise’ apartment blocks which are not covered by the current guidelines.

The full report on the residents survey is here.

Financial Impact of Covid-19 on Greater Manchester Local Authorities
The Combined Authority Finance Director gave members an update on the financial impact of Covid-19 on local government in the area.

The first part of the report concerned the impact on the individual Districts (e.g. Bury). All local councils have experienced extra costs, as a result of Covid-19, the bulk of which have been around social care costs, but also significant costs around highways, transport public health and housing.

Local councils have also had significant loss of income. Around 60% of this has been a loss of ‘commercial income’ – anything from rented property to fees and charges. Roughly 40% is lost taxation income – either lost business rates or lost council tax receipts.

There has been Government grant to help with some of this, but largely this hasn’t covered the lost income.

The second area of the report was on the financial impact on the Greater Manchester Combined Authority. By far the most significant issues are with:

  • Retained Business Rate losses – Greater Manchester is part of a pilot scheme for local areas to ‘keep’ (some of the) increases in Business Rates that they generate. For Greater Manchester as a whole this has been successful, as new commercial buildings have opened in recent years. However this is very unlikely to be the case this year and perhaps in future years, so this will have an impact on what the CA can spend.
  • Metrolink – obviously use of Metrolink was severely impacted during Metrolink, and remains significantly lower than ‘normal’. The Government has given GM £25 million to help cover this, which covers the bulk of this loss. At the moment Government grant only goes to 3 August 2020, so there is a major issue about lost Metrolink income going forwards.

I asked about the long term impact of the loss of ticket income. Most of the money for the new lines was from borrowing, and the ticket income is paying for that borrowing. I also asked about potential Government funding for new lines, and whether there were any ‘ready to go’ applications being considered.

The financial impact paper is here.

Reporting Back: Planning Committee June 2020

On the 23rd June 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:

Bury Planning Control Committee met remotely and the meeting was live streamed. 

In response to the emergency Government instructions on Covid-19. Due to the Government’s social-distancing guidelines no site visit took place.

At the Planning Control Committee meeting none of the submitted applications were refused but I commented on the following applications:

38 Deyne Avenue, Prestwich, Manchester, M25 1EJ.
Application Ref: 65261/Full 

We discussed an application for a two-storey terraced house in Prestwich, near the Metrolink. The application site relates to the side garden and garage of the end-of-terrace house. The plot is located at the most north eastern end of Deyne Avenue with the front of these houses accessed by a pedestrian walkway only, the road itself is stopping 35m away. There is an unmade cobbled access at the rear (Back Deyne Avenue), which is a single car width and is used by residents to access their garages, back yards and bins stores.

I raised concerns about access and facilities for the Fire Service. I was reassured that there is access for a pump appliance to within 45 m of the property as recommended by Building Regulation requirement B5.

I was also concerned about construction vehicles blocking the access road at the rear of the property, the Officer assured me that the Construction Traffic Management Plan (CTMP) will have to be submitted in advance of any work taking place.

45 Bury Old Road, Prestwich, Manchester, M25 0EY. 
Application Ref: 65456/Full 
We discussed an application for a semi-detached residential plot on the corner of Bury Old Road and Kings Road. This semi-detached house had recently received planning permission for an extension. However, the house had been demolished and the new application was seeking permission to construct a new building along the lines of the approved scheme.

I understood that to resolve this matter quickly and to put the next-door neighbours out of their misery this application needed to be granted and the property needed to be rebuilt in line with the previous approval as soon as possible. 

However, I expressed straightforwardly maximum outrage on how the applicant, who had just talked in support of the application, had justified the fact that the property had been unlawfully demolished as a “misunderstanding” and that this was just a “hiccup”.

I supported this application but I clearly said that I found shocking that someone could describe this matter as a simple misunderstanding and I added that I was sorry for the family living next door, I also doubted that for them this issue had been a small hiccup.

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

COVID-19 Local Update

Please find below an update on local services, and also the latest set of local statistics on COVID-19.

If you, or a friend or neighbour, is in need of support don’t hesitate to get I touch with the local team. You can contact your local community Hub directly via 0161 253 5353, they have a team of volunteers ready to help with essential tasks such as shopping or collecting prescriptions.

Recommendations to Schools from Bury Council
A number of schools are now open for some children and more are opening soon. The Council’s Cabinet has agreed the following recommendation to schools:

“Subject to COVID secure health and safety provisions being met, that the target dates for Schools to return, are as follows:

  • no later than 22 June for groups of Reception, Y1 & Y6 and
  • w/c 15 June for Year 10
  • Other year groups will return no later than the new academic year, in line with national guidance

Beware Bogus Track and Trace Callers
Trading standards officers are warning residents not to be fooled by scammers claiming to be from the NHS ‘test and trace’ service.

These bogus callers tell the person that they have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and therefore need to self-isolate for seven days. 

The caller then tells them they need to take a test in the next 72 hours, and asks them to send their address and a payment of £500 so they can be sent a test kit and results, and warn that they will be fined if they don’t comply.

Any legitimate call from the NHS test and trace service will not ask for any payment. The correct way to arrange/order a test is via www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119 if you have no internet access.

Lesley Jones, Bury’s director of public health, said: “The NHS will contact you if someone else who has tested positive for the virus has been in close contact with you. You’ll be asked to self-isolate for 14 days. You’ll be given advice on how to do this, what symptoms you should look out for and what to do if you develop the illness. You won’t be asked to pass on the details of anyone you’ve been in contact with either. This is because, unless you have tested positive or developed symptoms, there is no need to notify anyone you’ve been in touch with at this stage.”

Angela Lomax, Bury’s head of trading standards, added: “You should never respond to unsolicited phone calls asking for your bank or card details. Such requests should be a red flag – if you’re asked to hand over this information to a caller it’s a scammer trying to rip you off!

“Genuine callers won’t ask for any personal details or payment information – these are phishing scams looking to take advantage of people’s worries.”

Anyone who suspects they have been scammed is urged to report it by calling the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133 or by visiting https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/about-us/contact-us/contact-us/consumer-service/

Online Fitness Classes
Free online video classes are being delivered by Bury’s Live Well and Leisure services to everyone who wants to maintain their physical and mental wellbeing during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The classes are delivered live via Facebook (see https://www.facebook.com/BuryLeisure/) to a timetable posted in advance, but are also available afterwards for people to revisit and share if they can’t make the live session.

Instructors are all fully qualified and come from Bury’s gym, studio classes, Live Well and BEATS teams among others.

The sessions are designed to boost general health through exercise, continue the rehabilitation of those with injuries or long-term conditions, and just to give everyone a chance to share a fun activity with friends they are mussing during lockdown.

Remember to read the information on the timetable about ensuring you have enough space and are medically fit enough to do the exercises.

COVID-19 Local Statistics
Bury Council and the local NHS have published this set of local statistics about COVID-19 in our area. This is new information every week.

This shows trends of people who have sadly died over recent months, with analysis for place of death (e.g. hospital, care home or at home), occupation and ethnicity. There is also a breakdown of COVID dealths as a proportion of all deaths by local area (see below map).

The full set of statistics is here.

COVID-19 Local Update

Please find below an update on local services, and also the latest set of local statistics on COVID-19.

If you, or a friend or neighbour, is in need of support don’t hesitate to get I touch with the local team. You can contact your local community Hub directly via 0161 253 5353, they have a team of volunteers ready to help with essential tasks such as shopping or collecting prescriptions.

Important information from NHS Bury and Bury Council:
“Health leaders in Bury have urged residents to follow the official Covid-19 safety guidelines, warning that we are nowhere near ‘out of the woods’ yet.

They are extremely concerned about reports suggesting that the infection rate – the R rate – is coming down fast and the battle is being won.

And while the lockdown is being gradually lifted, it is vital that everyone maintains social distancing, washes their hands and obeys the rules about who and how many people they can meet, and co-operates with the Test and Trace service as lockdown is eased to avoid transmission rising again.

Lesley Jones, Bury’s director of public health, said: “Calculating the R rate is very complex, involving data from many sources. National experts at Public Health England and several academic units produce regional estimates for R. For smaller areas the numbers of cases is lower and this means that estimates are likely to be unreliable and possibly misleading.

“Cases of coronavirus infection in Bury, and deaths in all settings, are largely flatlining and, at best, showing a marginal drop. This is consistent with regional estimates that suggest the R rate in the North West is close to 1.

“We are at a critical stage in managing the pandemic. While everyone is keen to unlock, we are also mindful of how likely we are close to an ‘R’ rate of 1, and the danger of a fresh surge in the virus. Reports of large gatherings in public spaces and a sentiment of ‘lockdown is over’ are concerning.”

Even More Items allowed at the Tip!
Wood, rubble and scrap metal are now accepted at local tips (from Saturday 30 May). General waste (including small bulky items) and garden waste can also be taken to the Cemetery Road location as more sites and containers are gradually re-opened across Greater Manchester.

Social distancing measures will remain in place, and visitors must attend on the days set aside depending on whether their car registration plate is an odd or even number.

More information here.

Play Areas
Please note that children’s play areas remain closed (because of the need to maintain social distancing). There have been some reports of people ignoring this advice, the the play areas have all recently been ‘taped closed’ again. Please let us know if there remain issues with this.

COVID-19 Local Statistics
Bury Council and the local NHS have published this set of local statistics about COVID-19 in our area.

This shows trends of people who have died over recent months, with analysis for place of death (e.g. hospital, care home or at home), occupation and ethnicity. There is also a breakdown of COVID dealths as a proportion of all deaths by local area (see below map).

The full set of statistics is here.