The Government has announced additional funding to provide free early years education to two-year olds across England including 1,100 2 years olds across Bury.
130,000 two-year olds from the poorest homes will be eligible for 15 hours of free childcare a week with a nursery or childminder.
The Government is investing more than £500 million into childcare this year and £100 million through local authorities to create new places to ensure those children eligible right now can benefit from these places.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:
“From today, if you’re a parent on a low income with a two year old in the family your child will qualify for 15 hours a week of free early years’ education. These funded places are focused on helping the families that need them most.”
Next year the Government will be investing £760m to help an additional 130,000 two-year-olds in families on less than £16,190 a year who receive working tax credits.
Commenting Bury Lib Dem Group Leader Councillor Tim Pickstone said:
“This is a welcome announcement for families across Bury.
“Early education helps promote a child’s physical, emotional and social development. This extra support for low income families is a real Liberal Democrat achievement.”
Liberal Democrats in Bury are calling on the Council to step up consultation on the future of local services after the government cut Bury’s budget by around £12m for the coming year.
The budget, set as part of the nationwide local government settlement, will see Bury Council lose around a quarter of its budget over the next four years. Liberal Democrats are concerned that without proper consultation, many valuable services could be threatened.
Cllr Richard Baum, Resource spokesman for the Bury Liberal Democrats, said “We all know that cuts need to happen to deal with mess inherited by the government. Some of those cuts are happening here in Bury so it’s vital that local people get the chance to tell us what they want prioritised.”
“Lib Dems have been asking local people for a long time now, so that we can fight to protect the services local people need. The only way we can get the debt and deficit down is by taking local people with us, so I call on the people in charge of the Council to get out into our local communities across Bury now and start an open, honest conversation about the challenges we face.”
“Lib Dems in Bury will continue to fight to give Bury the best services we all want and need.”
Bury Schools are set to receive up to £430 per pupil a year for each poorer pupil they teach under details announced by the Coalition Government. It means that Bury stands to gain over £1.8m extra cash in the coming year to help towards improving teaching and learning in schools and boosting achievement.
The extra cash will be given according to the number of pupils on free school meals and whose families earn less than £16,000 per year. It means that Bury gains an estimated £1.825m.
It was one of Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats main pledges before the election. The Pupil Premium prioritises spending on boosting the chances of younger kids starting out at school, rather than those already at university.
Lib Dem leader in Bury Coun Tim Pickstone said,
“There are over 4,200 pupils in Bury eligible for free school meals, so this will mean a really boost for our schools and make a huge difference to the outcomes and chances for our young people. Children need the best possible start in life, and this much needed extra cash will make a real difference in schools to getting our children a better start in life”.
Construction of a controversial soccer centre in Heaton Park has been delayed after Liberal Democrat Councillors “called in“ proposals to sell off land in the park.
A planning application was heard earlier this year by Manchester City Council who own Heaton Park. All Labour Councillors voted in favour of the plans to concrete over a corner of the park and open a pay-to-play five-a-side soccer centre. All Lib Dems voted against, citing community concerns over noise, traffic, and the destruction of green space. The application was successful, and on December 7th Manchester City Council agreed to lease the land to Goals Soccer Centre to commence construction.
Now though, the continuing community protests, including a 10,000 signature petition, have led to Lib Dems “calling in” that decision for further scrutiny.
The call-in means at least a temporary delay to the project, forcing the Council to look again at community objections.
Bury Lib Dem Leader Cllr Tim Pickstone said today “I am pleased that our Lib Dem colleagues in Manchester have ‘called in’ this decision. Local Councillors in Holyrood and Sedgley, such as Steve Wright and Ann Garner have been at the forefront of efforts to look again at this decision.”
“Given that thousands of residents objected to these plans originally, a complaint has been made to the Local Government Ombudsman that the Council have not followed due process. Six issues have arisen through this consultation process that have not previously been addressed, so we felt that further scrutiny was necessary.”
Cllr Pickstone continued
“I am pleased that Manchester City Council will be forced to look again at these proposals which local people have objected to since the start. We continue to fight to save Heaton Park.”
Following the announcement of the early retirement of Bury Council’s Chief Executive, and the need to make up to £24 million of savings over the next four years Liberal Democrat Group Leader Tim Pickstone said:
“We will be extremely sorry to lose Mark Sanders from Bury Council. Mark has been a key part of some significant progress in Bury over the last nine years and will be a great loss to the Borough.
“Even in the timing of his retirement shows leadership around the significant savings that the Council has to make over the coming years.”
On the £7 Million a year budget cuts:
“Everyone knows that significant savings need to be made across all areas of public spending after the deficit built up under the last Labour Government. Bury’s share of this will be a huge challenge”
“We believe that all parties need to work together on finding a way through these savings. We need to ask the people of Bury what they think so that the future services provided by the Council best meet what local people need and want”.
Following the decision by Bury Council, supported by all three parties to support moves to restore the Local Area Partnership Grants, Liberal Democrat Group Resource Spokesperson Councillor Richard Baum said:
“When we heard that the Local Area Partnership (LAP) Grants were to end following the grant cut by the last Labour Government we were devastated.”
“LAP Grants have provided much needed funds to improve our local area. In Prestwich, where I am a Councillor, grants have seen projects like Prestwich Festival, the Farmers Market and the Graffiti Clean Up – to lose all of this would be a disaster”.
“It is great that there is cross party support, facilitated by a Lib Dem amendment in Council, to finding a solution to restoring grants both this year and in the future”.
Prestwich Festival and many other important community projects may be at risk after an annoucement that Bury Council is to cut all Area Board Grants in the current financial year.
The Conservative-led Council has announced that there will be no Area Partnership grants for Prestwich – or any other the other parts of Bury this year. This is a grant scheme which has been running by the local areas for the last ten years. In Prestwich the grants have funded projects throughout the community, with the support for Prestwich Festival being the most visible in recent years.
Local Liberal Democrat Vic D’Albert said “This is another decision to cut services taken by the Conservatives without any consultation whatsoever. It’s damaging and not what people want. Once again we think the Bury Conservatives have got it wrong. We all know that cuts are needed to pay off Labour’s debt, but yet again the Tories at the town hall are cutting without asking people what matters to them.
“The Prestwich Festival is something we’re really proud of. We will fight to keep it going, and the Council need to realise how much this means to local people. They have made their decision without asking anyone, and are making the people of Prestwich pay disproportionately for Labour’s debt mess.”
(Picture: Prestwich Carnival Parade this summer)
Councillors and residents victory with Prestwich traffic improvements
Local Lib Dem Councillors have joined residents in welcoming a pair of improvements to traffic hotspots in Prestwich. After lengthy campaigns, new restrictions on parking have been proposed for Queen’s Drive and School Grove, making roads safer for residents and fellow drivers.
The plans for Queen’s Drive will see extended double yellow lines opposite Rochester Avenue. Liberal Democrat Councillor for Sedgley Steve Wright said “I welcome these plans, as we have been helping residents campaign for them for years. Parking near to the police college has always been difficult, making the road dangerous especially for parents and children at nearby schools.”
In St Mary’s ward, the turning circle on School Grove will also be made a “No Waiting at any time” zone. Cllr Richard Baum said “This area is frequently packed with people stopping for the nearby school. It is dangerous for the children and not fair on the people who live on School Grove. These improvements will make things better for everyone.”
The plans have been considered by the Council’s Traffic Management Unit and will be formally advertised in the coming days.
Prestwich Local Area Partnership voted overwhelmingly against Bury Council’s plans to impose parking charges on Fairfax Road at its meeting on 15th July.
The vote was taken after the controversial plans were outlined at the meeting. Angry residents in the audience grilled Council parking chiefs for half an hour after it was confirmed that the Council plan to charge motorists £1 to park for up to an hour, and £2 afterwards.
St Mary’s ward Councillor Richard Baum said “It was clear that everyone in the room was against these proposals. It’s all about making money for Bury Council by punishing the people of Prestwich. These charges mean that people going to the doctors or the walk-in centre will have to pay. That’s just not fair, and that’s why I voted against the parking charges at the LAP like I did at the Council meeting when they were first proposed.”
Sedgley Councillor Steve Wright said “Local people are angry and we need to make it clear to the Conservatives at the Town Hall that Prestwich opposes these proposals. They are bad for business, bad for traffic congestion and bad for the town. I appeal to everyone in Prestwich to try and beat these plans by letting the Council know how much we oppose these charges.”
Local Liberal Democrats have accused Bury Conservatives of threatening the future of the town after big cuts were announced to Town Hall budgets last week.
The Council confirmed a range of cuts to be made immediately, including a reduction in funding for children’s services, playgrounds and roads. The decisions were made with immediate effect and without the involvement of Councillors or local people.
Commenting, Cllr Tim Pickstone the leader of the Bury Liberal Democrats said “We all know that cuts need to be made because of the huge debts left by the last Labour government. But this is the wrong way to go about making those cuts. In just a few days the Conservatives have decided to slash vital services without asking local people what they think is important.
“Why didn’t the Conservatives at the Town Hall ask other Councillors to talk to local people and get a sense about where they would like to see the cuts made? If they’d have asked local people they’d have found out just how bad some of their plans are. For instance, all year people have been telling me how much the roads need better maintenance, and yet this is the first budget to be cut. That’s madness and it isn’t fair. Local people have also said that they want more facilities for young people, but this budget too has been cut straight away. Where’s the sense in that?
“I call on the Conservatives to start a big consultation with local people right now about the full options for these necessary cuts, and I call on local people to let us know what their priorities are so that local Lib Dems can work with local people as we make the best of the mess the Labour Government have left us in.”