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.”

European Union Referendum – Make Sure You Can Vote

Voting takes places across the country on Thursday 23 June 2016 in the important referendum to determine whether the country will remain in, or leave the European Union.

Many people may be on holiday or other commitments on this additional polling day.

Anyone can sign up for a postal vote. The votes arrive in the post for you just under two weeks before the election and you just need to return them in postage paid envelope.

The deadline for applying for a postal vote for the EU Referendum is Wednesday 8 June 2016, so you don’t have that long.

You can do this online, by filling in and printing out this form and sending it to the Town Hall. If you would like a form but cannot print one out please just let us know and we will drop one round.

Please note that if you have already signed up for a postal vote, you don’t need to re-register again. 

 

Local Elections – Thank you for your Support

Just to thank residents across Bury for their support in the local elections last week.

Our two best results were in Holyrood Ward, where we took a seat from Labour:

Steve Wright (LIB DEM)1,733
Labour 1,463
Conservative 280
UKIP 229
Green 139

and in St Mary’s Ward where we lost by 19, but cut Labour’s majority down from 892 last year:

Labour 1,349
Michael Powell (LIB DEM)1,330
Conservative 463
Green 126

Lib Dem Group Leader, Cllr Tim Pickstone said:
“A huge thank you to voters in Prestwich, who have sent a very clear message that we are fed up with the way we are treated by the Labour-run Council. We’re gutted we didn’t quite make it in St Mary’s Ward, but coming so close is a great foundation for the future. We will continue to be working hard for local residents, all-year-round.”

Results for the whole of Bury are here.

Petition to Save the HomeStart Charity

Local campaigners have launched a petition to save the local charity ‘Home-Start Bury’. This is a charity which supports local families by offering support, friendship and practical help to parents with young children.

Bury Council funded Home-Start thorugh it’s ‘Commissioning Fund’ for a period of three years starting in 2013/14. That came to an end on 31 March 2016. During this period Homestart received a total of £69,000 from the Commissioning Fund.

This is the statement from the Trustees of Home-Start from their Facebook Page”
“It is with much sadness that the Board of Trustees has taken the difficult decision to close Home-Start Bury. This is due to a 100% cut to zero in our funding by Bury MBC.
The Impact is 70 families lose vital support, 3 staff loses their jobs, and 50 highly trained volunteers lost to the community.
When Home-Start Bury closes, there will be no other early intervention services to support families in the same way that Home-Start does: offering personalised parent-to-parent support in the confidential environment of the family home during weekly visits for as long as the family needs support for. This early intervention approach stops many families from reaching crisis point and needing costly statutory support.
The Staff and Board have exhausted every possible avenue for funding, but to no avail. External grant makers like BBC Children in Need, Big Lottery and Lloyds TSB prefer to have some reassurance that there is at least some commitment from Statutory services…so in effect, the cut in our funding is preventing us from bringing £££££ in to the Borough.
Our hearts goes out to those families as well as our brilliant staff and volunteers.
All families and volunteers are aware of the situation and support is being offered to signpost families to other local facilities like the children’s centers.
We have written to the relevant officers within the Local Authority and elected members of the council. As yet, we have not had any responses.
If you are a council tax payer in Bury, please write to your local councillor if you think this is wrong.
You can also follow us on twitter @homestartbury
Thank you for all the messages of support we have had so far, we are overwhelmed with peoples kindness x”

Online Petition
An online petition has been set up to support the charity. If enough people sign the petition it will trigger a formal debate on the issue at the Town Hall.

You can read the petition and add your support here.

Reporting Back – Full Council, Answers to Questions

Earlier in the month was the regular meeting of Bury’s ‘Full Council’. The Lib Dem Group asked our full allocation of four questions: (summaries below – full answers here)

– Children in Residential Care
Mary D’ALbert asked about the recent report that “Thousands of police visits ‘criminalise’ children in care homes”, and could we be assured that children from Bury that are placed in residential care homes outside of the Borough are monitored, and are not the subject of such action.
Answer: We currently have 23 young people in residential care out of approximately 300 children and young people in our care, so they are a very small, but important, part of our group of young people in care. The children are closely monitored through placement’ visits and social workers consultations with other professionals. The children have all been informed regarding Bury’s advocacy service and majority are accessing this service.

– Staff Bullying
Tim Pickstone asked about the recent report that 10% of Council staff reported bullying in the last year:
Answer: The Council takes any allegation of bullying and harassment very seriously and we place the utmost importance on dignity and respect for all our employees which is why we already have a number of key policies and practices in place to prevent and deal with incidences.
In response to this question26 Dignity at Work complaints have been investigated in the past three years (6 since April 2015) and there have been 18 cases which have been handled via the mediation route (4 since April 2015).
There have been 7 whistleblowing cases in this timescale.

– Review of Bus Lanes
Tim asked when the promised review of Bus Lanes would happen in the south of Bury (Prestwich, Whitefield and Radcliffe)
Answer: We have been unable to commence work on a wider review due to pressure of work and significantly reduced resources. However it is our intention to commence a wider review later this year and we will be happy to provide Councillor Pickstone with a more detailed time table once it is available.

Missing School Crossing Patrols
– Mary asked about the number of school crossing patrols that are currently without ‘lollypop men or women’:
Answer:There are currently 18 vacant school crossing patrol sites that do not have a permanent member of staff allocated to them. The number of sites that are not operational can change on a daily basis as priority is given to allocating relief/supply staff to cover unassisted crossings.
For the past few weeks there have been 9 crossings left without cover, these have all been assisted crossings (pelican or puffin), all unassisted crossings have been covered using relief staff. The school crossing patrol coordinator assesses the risk when making the decision about which crossings will be left empty and which will be covered with supply staff taking into account road speed and the road layout near/around the school.

Let us know if you have any queries or thoughts on these, or ideas for questions at future meetings.