Call for a Permanent Memorial for Victoria Wood

Prestwich Lib Dem Councillor Mary D’Albert has asked Bury Council to consider whether a permanent memorial to the late Victoria Wood would be appropriate in the Borough.

The much loved comedian, singer, writer, actor and director sadly died in April this year. She was born in Prestwich, brought up in Bury and was schooled at Fairfield County Primary and Bury Grammar School for Girls.

 

Mary D’Albert said: “Victoria Wood brought joy and laughter to so many people over so many years. I’m not sure if anyone one place can ‘claim’ Victoria’, but here in Prestwich and Bury we were particularly proud of her.”

“We have asked the Council to speak with Ms Wood’s family, to see whether some sort of permanent memorial might be appropriate. This might be name something in the local area, or an actual physical memorial or some sort. I am sure if needed the community would be happy to fundraise.”

“Obviously I’m biased to Prestwich, but we would need to speak with the family”

The Council Leader’s response was that he would  be very happy to take on board the Councillor’s suggestion and ask the Chief Executive to report back to Members. Apparently early discussions have already taken place with the Arts and Culture officer to look at the possibilities for progressing this. This could include sponsorship or crowdfunding opportunities to enable her many fans to make a contribution.

 

 

Saving Prestwich Arts College – 10 years ago this week

Monday, 18 July 2016, will be the 10th anniversary of saving Prestwich Arts College (and Broad Oak High in Bury) from closure.

The proposals came from (the then Labour-run) Bury Council which had reviewed secondary school provision in the Borough and decided to reduce the number of schools.  It was actually to reduce by three schools, as Coney Green and Radcliffe High merged to become Radcliffe Riverside at the same time.

In Prestwich there was a huge amount of opposition to the proposals. Prestwich Arts College (‘Prestwich High’ to many) was a school which was full, and one which was particularly good about getting extra forward progress for pupils across a wide range of ability. Prestwich residents were rightly concerned that there would be insufficient places for Prestwich children to attend a high school in Prestwich.

There was a great campaign to save the school, led by parents, governors, teachers and the whole school. The team of Lib Dem councillors in Prestwich were very proud to support the campaign and help as much as we could on the Council.

It is great that the school has gone on to prosper and achieve in the last 10 years, and continue to be a good school at the heart of Prestwich.

 

Saying NO to Hate Crime

Liberal Democrats in Bury are giving a very clear message that there is no place for hate crime in our local community.

Regrettably, there has been a significant increase in hate crime reported to the police since the European Referendum result. Whatever our views on the referendum, we would hope all local people would join us in condemning violence and intimidation against people – for example people who are not from this country.

We are supporting Amnesty International campaign against hate and have submitted a motion for consideration by Council. We are hoping for all-Party Support and that this will become the policy of the Council:

Hate Crime and Tolerance
– This Council notes with concern the increase in hate crime (57% increase by 27 June 2016) following the outcome of the EU Referendum.
– Council restates that we are proud to live in a diverse and tolerant society. Racism, xenophobia and hate crimes have no place in our country.
– Council condemns racism, xenophobia and hate crimes unequivocally. We will not allow hate to become acceptable.
– Council reassures all people living in Bury that they are valued members of our community.
– Council resolves to work to ensure local bodies and programmes as needed to fight and prevent racism and xenophobia.

Liberal Democrat Party Leader Tim Faron said:
“We must send the message that racist thugs cannot get away with intimidating any of the diverse communities of the UK. One of Britain’s great strengths is its mix of cultures, and despite the referendum result we must ensure that all citizens are made to feel safe.”

Report it!
If you do encounter or experience Hate Crime, it is very important that this is reported to the police (except in an emergency call 111). It is important that we know the true figure of crime so that the police can take action appropriately.

EU Referendum: Opinion

Last week Britain voted, by 52% to 48%, to leave the European Union. We are lucky enough to live in a democracy, and it is important to respect everyone’s votes, whichever way they were cast.

Naturally we respect the result of the referendum, but this does not mean that Liberal Democrats will stop believing in a future for Britain at the heart of Europe.

Leaving the EU will hit livelihoods, homes and jobs.

Sadly, we are already seeing that many of the things that were predicted by experts are coming true: the value of our currency has collapsed, the value of our pensions is decreasing, Scotland wanting to leave the UK, companies  moving jobs from the UK.

Many people are upset that the ‘leave’ campaign is renouncing their promises on things like the NHS and immigration before the slogans have even been peeled off their battle bus. We feel that the British people were told lie after lie.

Lib Dems have always believed our economy and place in the world is stronger in Europe and it is only right that we offer that as a choice to people at the next general election – whenever that might be.

We are the only Party which is committed to Britain at the heart of Europe. Since the Referendum people have been joining the Liberal Democrats at the rate of 1 a minute – if you want to be one of them join us today.

Why we’re voting REMAIN on Thursday

In Thursday’s EU referendum everyone will have their own vote, and make their own decision. We wanted to share with you why the whole Lib Dem team across Prestwich and Bury are voting to Remain on Thursday.

Firstly, we’re voting with our heads.
Everyday realities like jobs, prices and pensions make a massive difference to all of our lives. Across the world economic prosperity can be a fragile thing, as this country has known through recessions, banking crisis and more.

But at the moment we’re lucky enough to be a core part of the word’s most successful trading club. As a result our businesses trade freely with our neighbours. Global companies choose Britain for their European factories, offices and headquarters.

We’re not all economists, but we should listen when the people who do know what they’re talking about (Bank of England, World Bank, International Monetary Fund) when they tell us very clearly that our economy will suffer massively if we leave the EU.

Last week, tens of £billions was wiped off the value of the UK stock market. Most of us don’t have stocks and shares, but most of us do have pensions – all our pensions (private, company, local authority) are invested in that same stock market and lost billions in value last week. That was just the fear of a leave vote, imagine how bad it would be if it actually happened.

Secondly, we’re voting with our hearts
Last year the country remembered the 70th anniversary of the end of the second world war. A war where 60 million people were killed across the world. After that war a devastated Europe came together, working through new institutions like the EU to rebuild our countries and make sure that that never happened again.

It’s not been perfect, but it has worked. Western Europe has seen 70 years of peace and prosperity. After the fall of the Berlin Wall we were able to extend that peace and prosperity to our neighbours in central Europe.

We live in an increasingly dangerous world: terrorism, extremism, global warming and a massively growing global population.

When the history of the 21st century is written we want Britain to be in chapter 1, as a world leader at the heart of working together to solve these challenges, not a country that turns its back and ignores others.

With our heads and our hearts, we’re voting Remain on Thursday.

Reporting Back: Bury Council Cabinet June 2016

Last week was the regular meeting of Bury Council’s ‘Cabinet’. This meeting brings together the ruling Labour Group’s Cabinet Members, and the thetwo opposition group leaders are now back on the Cabinet, after being thrown off two years ago…. Lib Dem Leader Cllr Tim Pickstone reports:

Review of Libraries
The Council is beginning a major review of Library Services across the Borough. The background to this is that continuing need for Council’s to save money over the coming years.

As a starting point the Council’s leadership is saying that it is “fully committed to retaining a high quality Library Service” but anticipates that there will need to be changes, including the possibility of a reduction in the number of libraries.

There is also a lot in the report about ‘new’ digital technologies digital technologies that could be used to develop and improve the Library Service. The Council also recognises the importance of libraries as community spaces and wishes to explore ways of working together with local communities to strengthen the role their local library plays in meeting community needs.

Residents are now being asked to take part in this first consultation on the ‘principles’ around libraries which are proposed as:

Principle 1 – To provide a Library Service across the borough which provide all residents with access to libraries and electronic services sufficient in number, range and quality to support reading for pleasure, lifelong learning, the development of new skills and the effective use of information.

Principle 2 – To ensure that the needs of more vulnerable residents and groups protected by Equalities legislation are taken fully into account in the provision of these services.

Principle 3 – To ensure that the resources committed to the library service are used as efficiently as possible by exploring options to reduce running and maintenance costs and to share premises with Council and other services.

Principle 4 – To explore options for investing in technology to improve access to the library service for example by extending opening hours, increasing our digital services and enhancing provision for those with sensory impairments.

Principle 5 – To welcome the contribution that members of the community can make to the Library Service as volunteers, supporting both traditional and digital services.

Principle 6 – To meet local aspirations for a network of community spaces across the borough in which the council and local communities can work together as partners in meeting local needs.

Local people who use or do not use Libraries are being asked for their views in a consultation that will start later this month. We raised concerns about the style of Bury’s ‘consultations’, in that we are being asked for our views on fairly uncontroversial principles, but then major decisions are being justified on the basis that we agree with the principles. Our view is that it would be better to ask people more openly what we want or need.

OFSTED Inspection of Services for Children in Need of Help and Protection, Children Looked After and Care Leavers and Review of Local Safeguarding Board
OFSTED have recently undertaken a full inspect of the above services in Bury.

The outcome for Bury was:
The outcome in terms of grades for Bury is as follows:
– Overall Effectiveness – Requires improvement to be good
– Children who need help and protection – good
– Children Looked after and achieving permanence – require improvement
— Adoption – good
— Experiences and progress of care leavers – requires improvement
– Leadership, Management and Governance – good
– Effectiveness of the LSCB – good

There are many good things that the report said about Bury, and to some extent it seems a little unfair that the overall rating was ‘requires improvement’ when four out of six of the individual aspects were rated as ‘good’.

However it is very important that we undertake the services for children who need extra support from the council to a very high standard, and there will be a full action plan developed to make sure that the authority improves in these areas.

Please do not hesitate to ask if you have any queries. The full papers for the meeting are here.

Carers Week 2016

This week (6-12 June 2016) is National Carers’ Week.

The theme of the week this year is to encourage all of us to create ‘Carer Friendly Communities’- and the organisers are asking all of us to RECOMMEND organisations, services and employers who are already carer friendly and INVITE other organisations to use our checklist to COMMIT to becoming carer friendly.

Bury Liberal Democrats have formally signed up and pledged what we can do to help create carer friendly communities in our area.

There is more information about what you can do to invite and suggest organisations here.

The Bury Directory is a great resource to find support and information for carers provided in our area.

A Carers Week Special Coffee Morning is being provided this Friday (10 June 2016) at Bury Carers Centre where carers and the cared for are invited to come and have a cup of coffee and piece of toast and mingle with other carers. The Carers Centre say: “It is very popular and newly registered carers are welcomed, if you are not already registered we will be happy to take your details and send you our newsletter, give you advice and support you. At the carers week we have a variety of activities on going, the Friday coffee morning is extra special in addition to toast we have cakes and pampering hand massages and guests speakers too.”

More information here.

Last Chance to Register to Vote – EU Referendum

If you want to have your say at the EU Referendum, you must be registered to vote.The final deadline is 7 June 2016.

You can register to vote online anytime at gov.uk/register-to-vote.

Anyone who was already registered to vote (or recently registered) before the 18 April deadline for the elections taking place across the UK on 5 May will also be registered to vote at the EU Referendum and will be able to cast their vote. You do not need to re-register.

If your circumstances change, for example you move home between now and the EU Referendum registration deadline on 7 June, then you will need to re-register at your new property.

If you’re going to be away, or just want to vote by post, the deadline to apply is 8 June 2016. Apply here.

Transport Authority Welcomes Bus Services Bill

New powers could enable a London-style transport network in Greater Manchester

​Transport leaders in Greater Manchester have welcomed the publication of the Bus Services Bill, a new piece of legislation which will enable an elected Mayor to franchise bus services.

The Bill, which proposes powers to allow Combined Authorities with an elected Mayor to franchise bus services, would enable Greater Manchester to create an integrated, London-style transport network with a simple fares and ticketing system and consistent quality standards.

Bus franchising, a model used in other global cities, including London, Sydney and Amsterdam, would enable Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) to take control of bus service planning with private operators contracted to run routes under a franchise agreement.

Greater Manchester currently has a deregulated bus system, where 80 per cent of services are provided on a commercial basis by bus companies. For these services the routes, fares, frequencies and quality standards are decided by the bus operators.

Under a franchised system the elected Mayor for Greater Manchester will have the ability to decide the routes, frequencies, timetables, fares and quality standards for bus services in the city-region.

Bus services play a significant role in Greater Manchester’s transport network with over 210 million journeys in 2015. That accounts for 79 per cent of all public transport journeys compared to nine per cent by train and 12 per cent by tram. Despite a growing population and increased demand on the transport network, overall bus use in Greater Manchester has flat-lined in recent years.

The option to implement bus franchising powers was requested by GMCA as part of the Greater Manchester Devolution Agreement signed with the Government in November 2014. The power for an elected Mayor to choose to implement bus franchising has benefited from cross-party political support amongst Greater Manchester’s Leaders.

Warm Welcome to Electric Bus Trials

Liberal Democrats across Greater Manchester have welcomed the announcement earlier last week that officials from Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) have met with the Volvo Bus Corporation to discuss proposals to replace the current bus fleet with a new electric fleet run on rechargeable batteries.

A spokesperson for the Lib Dem group on Transport for Greater Manchester has welcomed the move:

“I am pleased that Volvo have indicated that they would like to start a trial of up of thirty new battery-powered buses in Manchester city centre in 2017, and that they would also like to back this with an investment in charging points.”

“The Liberal Democrats firmly believe that making our public transport system greener must be seen as a priority. We need to move away from fuel-guzzling, carbon-emitting vehicles to clean, quiet electric vehicles. We have already made progress with hybrid vehicles but this represents the next step. We look forward to the day when passengers can ride on any bus knowing that they have made a green choice for their journey.”