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.

Organ Donation Week 2-8 September 2019

For one week, the UK celebrates those who donate organs, and therefore those who save lives. It draws attention to the subject of organ donation, and encourages more and more people to get involve, and help save someoneís mother, child or friend.

As the NHS website says: “Donation Week is a week of activity to shine a light on the generosity of donors and the incredible impact they have on transplant recipients, and an opportunity to educate, inform and inspire people, to help save and improve more live.”

The laws around organ donation are changing
From spring 2020, organ donation in England will move to an ‘opt out’ system. You may also hear it referred to as ‘Max and Keira’s Law’.

This means that all adults in England will be considered to have agreed to be an organ donor when they die unless they have recorded a decision not to donate or are in one of the excluded groups.

You still have a choice if you want to be an organ donor or not when you die.

The law is being changed to help save and improve more lives. Every day across the UK, someone dies waiting for a transplant

This factsheet explains how the law around organ donation in England is changing, what you need to do, and the choices you can make.

You can find out more 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.

A Primary School’s worth of children becoming homeless this summer

More than 300 children face becoming homeless during the school holidays this summer as a result of the housing crisis, the equivalent to a primary school’s worth of children, councils have warned.

The Local Government Association estimates 320 homeless children in England could be placed into temporary accommodation over the next six weeks, based on trends for the last two years.

The number would exceed the size of an average primary school, which has 282 pupils.

The LGA, which represents councils, is calling on the new Prime Minister to make tackling homelessness an urgent priority.

According to latest government figures, there are more than 124,490 children living in temporary accommodation.

The severe shortage of social rented homes available to house families in mean councils have no choice but to place households into temporary accommodation, including bed and breakfasts.

Not only is this financially unsustainable for councils, it is also extremely disruptive to the families and children involved.

Placements in temporary accommodation can present serious challenges for families – from parents’ employment and health to children’s ability to focus on school studies and form friendships.

As part of its Councils Can campaign, the LGA wants the new Prime Minister and his government to introduce a range of measures to help councils tackle homelessness and to give them the tools and powers to resume their historic role as major housebuilders of good, quality affordable homes for social rent.

It says councils should be allowed to keep 100 per cent of receipts of council homes sold under Right to Buy – to reinvest in new replacement homes – and to also be able to set Right to Buy discounts locally.

With councils facing a £421 million funding gap by 2025 to tackle homelessness, the LGA is urging the Government to use the Spending Review to give councils long-term sustainable funding to prevent homelessness from happening in the first place.

It is also calling on the Government to adapt welfare reforms so local housing allowance rates go back to covering at least the lower 30 per cent of market rents.

LGA Liberal Democrat Group Leader Howard Sykes said:

“While for many children the summer holidays will be a break from school to be enjoyed with family and friends, for others they face the tragedy of becoming homeless.

“It is not right that hundreds of children risk enduring the disruption of being placed into temporary accommodation.

“Councils desperately want to find every family a good, quality home, but the lack of available housing is making this an almost insurmountable challenge.

“This is why we are urging the Prime Minister to make tackling homelessness a priority.

“While it was good the Government lifted the housing borrowing cap to give councils more freedom to build new homes, the new Prime Minister should take this even further and in the Spending Review give councils the tools they need to resume their historic role of building the homes the country needs.”

NOTES TO EDITORS

1. Methodology: The calculation of 320 children potentially being placed in temporary accommodation is based on a two-year trend, from December 2016 to December 2018, the most recent period for which data is available, which shows an extra 231 children are being placed in temporary accommodation every month.

In December 2016 there were 118,930 children living in temporary accommodation, which increased to 124,490 in December 2018. A difference of 5,560 amounts to 231 each month over a two year period. Calculated across six weeks – the length of the school holiday – this would make 320 children.

Full data available.

2. Councils in England face an overall funding gap of £8 billion by 2025. The LGA’s #CouncilsCan campaign calls on the new Prime Minister to ensure the forthcoming Spending Review secures the future of vital local services and the long-term financial sustainability of councils. Visit our campaign page for more information – https://www.local.gov.uk/spending-review-2019

Answers to Questions: Rubbish and Recycling

At the most recent full Council meeting of Bury Council, your Liberal Democrat team of councillors asked a number of questions regarding rubbish and recycling. 

Questions and Answers below:


Councillor Cristina Tegolo asked about the number of households that have had their bins removed by the Council: “Could the Leader inform members how many households have had recycling bins removed in the current financial year and previous two years?”

(Answer) 
The following numbers of bins (of all colours) have been asked tobe picked up or removed by residents via the Contact Centre: 

2017/18 706 bins 
2018/19 584 bins 
2019/20 176 bins  (so far)

The majority of these bins are ‘abandoned’ in back street environments and are often contaminated recycling bins, which cannot be emptied on a recycling round. 

Generally speaking an Officer would not remove recycling bins from a household for persistent misuse and contamination other than in the case of capacity, where someone might genuinely have difficulty determining what waste should go in each bin and who inadvertently are incapable of recycling properly. 

Councillor Steve Wright asked about how much of the blue and green bin waste streams were rejected because of ‘contamination’ (the wrong things being put in the bins.The answer – 18.45% of blue bin waste seems extra–ordinarily high – 1 in 6 lorries of rubbish rejected because they are contiminated….. “Could the Leader inform members how many tonnes and what percentage of Bury’s ‘blue bin’ and ‘green bin’ waste streams were rejected due to contamination the current financial year and previous two years?” 

(Answer) All co-mingled recycling (glass, can sand plastic bottles) collected across GM (with the exception of Wigan Council) is delivered to a single sorting facility or MRF (Materials Recycling Facility) at Longley Lane, Sharston in South Manchester. Co-mingled recycling in Bury is collected in the blue bin. 

The average MRF reject rate (for the whole of GM) for the above time period is 18.45%. Rejects consist ofitems incorrectly placed in the co-mingled recycling by residents that cannot be recycled and they are incinerated with associated energy recovery. 

In the previous two years thefollowing tonnages of rejects from Bury have been incinerated: 

2018/19 1733 tonnes 
2017/18 1560 tonnes 

Reject rates for the paper and card recycling stream i.e. the green bin in Bury are minimal by comparison and as such no contamination figures are provided by the GMCA.

Councillor Tim Pickstone asked a related question about the amount of plastic waste which ends up in the ‘grey bins’ stream – the answer seems like quite a lot!:“Could the Council’s spokesperson on the GMWDA inform members what the estimated volume and percentage of plastics are that are disposed of through the residual waste stream?” 

(Answer) Using data from the recent waste composition study, it is estimated that c. 58,841 tonnes of plastic – this is 16.05% for all dense plastics and plastic films in the residual kerbside collected waste stream in Greater Manchester. 

Councillor Steve Wright asked how much money the 9 local councils in Greater Manchester spent on buying Greater Manchester Waste Disposal out of the PFI (private finance initiative) deal with Viridor Laing.The amount (£1/2 billion) is a staggeringly large amount of public money….. “Could the Council’s spokesperson on the GMWDA inform members how much public money was spent releasing the Authority from the previous waste disposal contract with Viridor Laing?”

(Answer) Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority’s £500m buy-out was funded by around £300m in borrowing from the region’s combined authority – via Oldham council, Manchester council and the region’s pension fund – along with £120m government borrowing. The remainder comes from up-front cash already held by GMWDA. 

Finally, in response to a request from a resident, Councillor Tim Pickstone asked about what the council’s approach was when a dead cat was picked up by the refuse collection teams: “Could the Leader inform members what the Council’s approach is to waste collection of dead pets, particularly dead cats (ie cats found dead in the street). What measures are in place to attempt to contact owners through cat’s microchips?

(Answer) When a dead pet (usually a cat) is picked up from the highway by the Street Cleansing service it is brought back to Bradley Fold Depot to be scanned. The exception is those animals that are so mutilated as being incapable of being scanned. 

If the scan detects a microchip it will identify its number. An Officer then contacts an organisation called ‘Petlog’ who will confirm the contact details of the animal’s owner. The same Officer will then contact the owner explaining the situation to them and giving them two options. 

They can leave the animal with Street Cleansing to dispose of, explaining to the owner precisely what this means, i.e. it is delivered to SUEZ at Fernhill Transfer Loading Station for placement in a freezer from which it is collected by another company who remove the animal for cremation. Alternatively, the service will deliver the animal back to its owner if requested. 

If no chip is detected in the animal then it is kept for a maximum of 24 hours on the vehicle before being delivered to SUEZ and placed in the freezer. 

Once an animal is placed in the freezer it cannot be retrieved by the owner because it is then classed as hazardous waste, only to be removed for disposal via incineration. 

Hope these answers are useful – get in touch if you have any questions or comments!

Liberal Democrat Councillors secure more ambitious Climate Change target

Bury’s team of Liberal Democrat councillors have been successful in getting Bury Council to sign up to a ambitious target of 2030 to be a carbon neutral Council and borough, as our part in tackling the climate emergency.

The agreement came as a Liberal Democrat Group amendment to a Labour Group motion on climate change, which had proposed a more modest target of 2038. The Liberal Democrat proposal was accepted and is now the policy of Bury Council.

Liberal Democrat Council Group Leader Tim Pickstone said:

“2038 is not ambitious enough. This is an emergency because we have not done anything about it.

In 1979 this might have been a worry. In 2019 it is an emergency. In 2030 it is game over because this is when scientists tell us that climate change is irreversible damage. It is ridiculous to think that people not even born yet have to wait to be adults before we can achieve this.

What do you do in an emergency? Greta Thunberg tells us that we need to act like our house is on fire. What you don’t do in an emergency is set up a Working Gropu! We are making decisions every day that affect our climate and we need to change policies immediately.

You can see Councillor Pickstone making the proposals here.

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: 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. 

Councillor Cristina Tegolo reports: 
Details of all the planning applications mentioned below can be found here

Prior to the Committee meeting, a site visit took place in respect of planning application 63630.

The following applications received approval without major concerns:

Radcliffe – East App No. 63523
We discussed the proposal for a new 3-bedroom detached house in Radcliffe. The building utilises an oddly shaped plot of land, which is bounded by houses and commercial units and is accessible from a back street (App No. 63523). 

Radcliffe – West App No. 64199
We discussed the proposal for the erection of two rows of terraced houses, with 4 dwellings each, on either side of Hutchinson Way, Radcliffe. The site did contain a number of trees, but these were removed prior to the application being validated and processed. The Committee commented on this matter and this issue will be reported to the Forestry Commission. I commented on the development lacking any architectural creativity and that aesthetic should also be considered when granting planning permission to developments that shape our streets and towns.

The following applications received approval but we raised several concerns:

Prestwich – Holyrood App No. 64173
We discussed a proposed change of use for Heaton Park Congregational Church in Bailey Street, Prestwich. The application, which was submitted by Bridge-it Enterprises, proposes to change the ground floor from church/community space (Class D1) to office (Class B1) and converting the multi-purpose space into three offices with a lobby. Bridge-it Enterprises is closely linked to Bridge-it Housing, which works with former offenders and homeless clients, and receive several visitors during the day. 

The residents’ representative expressed concerns about security, traffic and parking issues. The representative of Bridge-it Enterprise stated that the offices would just be used to undertake administrative work by only approximately five staff. Both Cllr Steve Wright and Cllr Tim Pickstone talked about the importance of listening to local residents and of good communication, “if a meeting with the residents had been arranged by Bridge-it Enterprises the matter could have been cleared before escalating to the Planning Committee”. 

I commented on the importance of community centres and that right now our local community has very limited spaces and that we should cherish safe spaces for young people and families to go to that they can engage and congregate. As a result of the concerns raised, the application was amended and a condition was included to reassure the residents that the building will only be used for admin work.

Summerseat – Bury App No. 63630
We discussed the proposal for the erection of a block of 16 apartments, of 4 storeys, by the river Irwell and off Kay Street.

The site, used in a recent past as a car park, is located within Green Belt and in the Brooksbottoms Conservation Area. The residents’ representative and the ward councillor argued that the proposal was detrimental to the local community and raised their concerns regarding the significant impact on the local environment. The representative for the developer focused on the real need for houses in Bury, the constructive relationship that the architects and the Planning Department had to agree the most appropriate mass, location and materials.

I raised some concerns as, in my own opinion, the development is not sympathetic to the “Spinnings” and the “Gatehouse”, two Grade II listed buildings on the opposite side of the river Irwell, and its elevations are not responding to the local context and main views. I was happy that the proposal had included electrical vehicles charging stations but I also noted that the Council should encourage and promote cycling and that the development is missing at ground floor level a secured storage area for bicycles.

However, my real main concern was that the building is not suitable for older people, disabled people and families with young children. The building is 4 storeys high but there isn’t a lift and none of the ground floor apartments provides accessibility features. As a result of my concerns, the application was amended and two conditions were included: (1) The developer should submit an Inclusive Design Statement and (2) a bicycle parking facility should be added.

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

Plan to Tackle Knife Crime

Ahead of his debate on 27 June 2019 in Parliament, Brian Paddick, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson in the Lords, has launched a five-point plan to tackle the knife crime epidemic.

His public health approach which he has called on the Conservative Government to enact is outlined below:

  1. Enabling parents to be there for their children by tackling in-work poverty & providing the support parents and their children need.
  2. Safe and healthy alternatives to gangs: providing a positive safety net for those whose parents can’t provide the support their children need.
  3. Healing the damage caused by Adverse Childhood Experiences by addressing the psychological impact with intervention at ‘teachable moments’ and countering the normalisation of violence through compulsory sex and relationship education.
  4. Inclusive education: fewer excluded pupils, adaptable education that addresses every pupil’s needs, including teaching the realities of criminal gangs.
  5. United against knife crime: restoring community policing so police and communities can work on the same side against the knife carriers.

Following the launch of the plan, Brian Paddick said:

“Knife crime claims a new life almost every day but the Conservatives are not taking the crisis seriously. We have witnessed devastating cuts to our police force as well as a piecemeal approach which fails to make any impact.

Knife crime is a public health emergency and therefore demands a public health response. Government departments should be working together to enact the changes we need to get a grip of this rise in violent crime.

The knife crime epidemic needs a cohesive and joined-up approach which is what the Liberal Democrats have put forward. Not only must we address the decimation of community policing, but we must tackle other factors driving knife crime such as in work poverty and school exclusions.

So tomorrow I will call on the Government to enact our plan. By doing so, we can move towards a society where young people are safe on our streets.”