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! 

Help Choose the next Lib Dem Leader

This summer, Liberal Democrat members will be electing a new Party leader. There are two candidates:

Find out more about Jo Swinson MP

Find out more about Ed Davey MP

Every member gets an equal say in choosing who they want to lead our party. To get your vote, all you need to do is join the Liberal Democrats by midnight on Friday 7th June. Membership starts at as little as £1 per month.

Join the thousands of people who’ve already joined us this year and shape the direction of our party and our country.

North West hustings for the new Leader take place on 14 June 2019, 7pm in Manchester.

European Elections – Thank you!

Well done to the North West’s two new Liberal Democrat members of the European Parliament – Chris Davies and Jane Brophy.

Chris, who lives in Oldham, was MEP for the North West until 2014. Jane, who lives in Timperley, is a local Liberal Democrat councillor on Trafford Council. They join the largest ever team of Liberal Democrats MEPs – 16 across Great Britain.

The North West Region has 8 MEPs, which are allocated proportionately depending the votes for each Party. Results for the North West region were:

Brexit Party 31.2% – 3 MEPs

Labour 21.91 – 2 MEPs

Liberal Democrats 17.2% – 2 MEPs

Green Party 12.4% – 1 MEP

Conservative 7.6%

UKIP – 3.6%

Change UK – 2.7%

Bury’s votes are counted separately before being added towards the North West total. Bury’s votes were:

Brexit Party 31.3%

Labour 21.2%

Liberal Democrats 16.2%

Green Party 11.3%

Conservative 9.6%

UKIP 3.5%

Change UK 3.2%

European Parliament Elections 23 May 2019

Voting takes place on Thursday, 23 May 2019 to elect members of the European Parliament.

Polling stations are open as normal – 7am – 10pm – you don’t need your polling card to vote.

If you have a postal vote, which you have not yet returned. You can fill it in as normal and take the sealed envelope down to your local polling station on Thursday (or in fact any polling station in Bury).

In the North West we will be electing eight members of the European Parliament – these are shared out proportionately between different parties depending on their level of support.

Liberal Democrats believe that the importance of the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union has never been clearer. The national humiliation of Theresa May’s Brexit puts so much at risk – the NHS, our public services, jobs across the country, peace in Northern Ireland, the unity of the UK and our global reputation as a country that is confident and outward-facing. It doesn’t have to be this way. 

Find out more and read our European Manifesto here.

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 

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)

Reminder: Consultation on Changes to Fire Service

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.

Climate Change – We need to take action NOW

Climate change has been in news regularly in recent weeks. Liberal Democrat Environment Spokesperson Ed Davey MP explains what we would do to tackle the climate change emergency:

  • UK-wide action to green ourselves. 
  • Action to decarbonise capitalism – starting with the City of London.
  • And an international green new deal – where richer countries support poorer countries.  

Starting with the UK – Lib Dems have shown we can decarbonise and prosper. The previous (Coalition) Government make good progress on renewable energy and what many Lib Dem-led councils have done in their communities, the benefits of climate change action are proven.

Yet Conservative policies have since slashed investment in Britain’s renewable energy. We must reverse this and accelerate action to reach net zero carbon as fast as possible. Green technologies are there in abundance. But it needs strong political leadership, on everything from tidal lagoons to a hydrogen economy.

The emergency plan’s second part – decarbonising capitalism – is a project I’ve been working on for three years. By forcing global finance to take climate risk seriously we could catalyse trillions of pounds of private capital to flow out of fossil fuels and into clean energy. This could power emergency green investment and embed climate action into global capitalism.

The policies for this are radical – but practical. We should force banks, pension funds and stock exchanges to take climate resilience tests – like the “banking stress tests”.  Overnight, it would require transparency over their fossil fuel assets, let investors know the true risks and allow regulators to consider penalties. And the public should have more say where our pensions are invested – so we know how green our own savings are.And radical is credible here.

This could unlock hundreds of billions for the UK’s climate effort – turning every bank into a Green Investment Bank!

Emergency plan part 3 recognises the UK can’t tackle climate change alone.

Climate diplomacy, know-how and green trade policies can now go further, especially given recent greening in China and India, where one third of humanity live. With vast supplies of ultra-cheap sun and wind power, we should now aim for a global Non-Proliferation Treaty on Fossil Fuels. And end exploration for coal, oil and gas, for ever.

The prize if we help poorer countries isn’t just defeating the climate change that affects us all. We can also tackle global poverty – with cheap solar to bring electricity to the world’s rural poor for the first time – and improve the world’s health by cutting air pollution.

So let’s campaign for an emergency plan for the climate crisis – and win a greener, safer and more prosperous world.

Find out more and support our campaign here.

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.