Bury’s dole queues have lengthened by over three quarters this year to over 4,000.
Now Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate Vic D’Albert says the Government must act fast to halt the rise in job losses and home repossessions in the borough.
There are now 4,230 people claiming Job Seekers’ Allowance in Bury, an increase of 78.9% compared to this time last year, and an increase of 41.7% in the last three months.
Unemployment in the borough is now at a higher level than before Labour came to power in 1997, after the ravages of 18 years of Tory government.
Commenting, Vic D’Albert said: “Despite some sterling work by local businesses, these figures show that the recession is continuing to hit Bury hard as more jobs and homes are being lost. It is clear to me that the Labour government has failed Bury, and that the Tory Council isn’t doing anything like enough to help.
“It is vital that the Government offers help to the millions who are struggling to keep their heads above water. Income tax should be cut, and the banks must pass on the cuts in interest rates to reduce the cost of borrowing and keep people in their homes, and businesses open.
“The Prime Minister promised to abolish boom and bust, yet for the people of Bury it’s unemployment that’s booming, and their businesses that are going bust. At the same time, the Tories at the Town Hall are dithering over Lib Dem proposals like our “Park Free After 3” idea which would be a big boost to jobs.
“The banks have had their bail-out, how much longer must ordinary people wait for theirs?”
Liberal Democrats in Bury have accused the Conservatives of breaking an election pledge after it was revealed that no new CCTV camera is being installed in the borough this year, despite the Tories promising an increase.
Figures obtained by the Lib Dems show that since coming to power in May 2007, no new public safety cameras have been introduced across the borough. The only increase planned for this year is a single additional camera aimed at catching motorists parking illegally on Silver Street.
Commenting on the news, Liberal Democrat Councillor Steve Wright said “The Conservative election manifesto made a specific commitment to improving community safety by investing in CCTV cameras. The Tories have broken that promise and have not given Bury a single new camera.
“I am very disappointed that whilst the Police and the Bury Safe Partnership continue to work so hard to make Bury Town centre and the wider Borough a safer place, the Tories at the town hall aren’t pulling their weight. They have broken their promise, and the only CCTV camera they have bothered to install is more about fining motorists than making the town safer.”
Cllr Wright pointed out the recent initiatives in Lib Dem-run Oldham to make the town centre safer at night. “In Oldham there are innovative schemes in place to make town safer. Here in Bury we are hamstrung by ineffective Tories who have neglected our borough and seem happy to make promises which they just don’t deliver on.”
The amount of bulky waste sent for recycling in Bury has slumped since the Conservative Council introduced charges for collection, say local Liberal Democrats.
Information gathered by the Lib Dems shows that over 800 tonnes of bulky waste (excluding fridges) was collected in 2007/8. In 2008/9, the first year during which charges were fully operational, that figure almost halved to 468 tonnes, and in the first quarter of this year only 72 tonnes was collected.
Commenting on the figures, Lib Dem Councillor for St Mary’s ward Cllr Donal O’Hanlon said “These are truly shocking figures. At a time when we should be encouraging recycling, this Tory policy does exactly the opposite. Since introducing the charges, we’ve seen the amount of waste collected almost halve. Now it’s falling even more. More bulky waste will be illegally dumped, and less will be recycled. The Tories have put money before doing the right thing.”
Local Liberal Democrats have backed shopkeepers’ calls for the removal of new
parking charges at the Bay Horse pub in Unsworth.
Businesses and shoppers nearby have complained after brewers Joseph Holt
introduced a £2 per day flat rate parking charge on land used by shoppers for
free for years.
Julie Baum, Liberal Democrat campaigner for Besses ward, which includes the
affected shops, said “I have been shopping at these shops for over 30 years and
I’ve never had to pay. It’s a shame that the brewery have installed this car
parking charge. It won’t make them much money but it’s certainly enough to deter
people from using these local businesses.”
Lib Dems reject the brewers’ claims that parking has caused a problem for the
pub. Julie Baum continued “In all the time I have used shopped here, I have
never seen the car park full, so it simply isn’t right to say that shoppers are
stopping pub-users getting into the car park. And besides, it’s obvious that
drinkers shouldn’t be driving to the pub.”
Support has also been given the shopkeepers’ view that the charges are damaging
business during the recession. Mrs Baum said “The first time I came here after
the charges were brought in, the car park was absolutely empty. It is clear that
less people are shopping here because of the new fees, which could be disastrous
for local businesses. I will campaign hard to have the brewery remove these
“Overcrowding on Greater Manchester’s Trains could get worse,” says Transport Chief Keith Whitmore
Overcrowing on Greater Manchester’s trains could get worse if Department of Transport (DFT) rules lead to five trains, currently used betweeen Oldham and Manchester, being mothballed next month,” says Cllr Keith Whitmore – the first-ever Liberal Democrat Chairman of the Greater Manchester Integrated Transport Authority (GMITA).
Cllr Whitmore said:
“Due to Transport Authority activities in Greater Manchester, we will next month begin conversion of a train line from Oldham to Manchester to carry Trams. When this happens, five trains will become available. We believe that the DFT’s super profits, raised from North West rail companies, should be used to allow those five trains to continue operating in Greater Manchester, where they will be invaluable in relieving some of the chronic overcrowding we experience.”
“The DFT has refused to make any funding available and have instead decided that these trains will be put into cold storage, very likely never to see the light of day again in our area. This is frankly scandalous.”
Liberal Democrats in Bury have revealed that the Conservative-run Bury Council is set to take 75 years to repair the borough’s broken roads unless road repair policy is changed.
Answering a written question from Lib Dem leader Cllr Tim Pickstone at the meeting of Bury Council on 9th September, the Conservatives disclosed that 426 roads in Bury fall below the government’s standards. Current budgets allow for only 6 roads per year to be fixed, meaning that at current spending rates the roads will stay broken until at least the year 2084.
Commenting on these figures, Cllr Pickstone, who represents Holyrood ward in Prestwich, said “I am astounded that the Tories are neglecting Bury’s roads so much. The streets which failed the test included such famous streets as Gigg Lane and The Rock in Bury – streets in our area included Fairfax Road, Heys Road and Cuckoo Lane. We’ll all be long gone before the Tories get round to fixing them.”
“Last year the Liberal Democrat group proposed a massive 50% increase in the road repair budget – but we were voted down by Conservative councillors. This is the result of that decision.
The 75 year delay comes just weeks after Lib Dems disclosed the multi-million pound bill facing taxpayers in compensation claims for trips and falls on local pavement. Cllr Pickstone said “The Council are spending millions paying out for people who have injured themselves on the roads. This is a scandalous waste of money. It’s not good enough.”
Local Liberal Democrats have reacted angrily after Conservatives at the Town Hall blocked proposals which would have made it easier for members of the public to grill Councillors.
The Lib Dems presented plans to improve openness and democracy at Council meetings to the Council on September 9th. Ideas included making it easier for members of the public to ask questions, but the Conservatives in charge of Bury Council voted against these plans, and rejected opposition calls for stronger scrutiny of their actions.
Reacting to the vote, St mary’s ward Councillor Richard Baum, who is also the Lib Dem Parliamentary candidate for Bury North, said “I am bitterly disappointed that the Tories have turned their backs on openness and democracy. Bury is way behind the leading Councils in terms of public access. Scrutiny in Bury is flawed, and everyone admits it. The proposals we put forward were measured, but they were rejected, and we have moved no further forward.
Liberal Democrat ideas about letting Councillors and members of the public see meeting minutes from the Local Area Partnerships, the Strategic Partnership and county-wide bodies in one place were also turned down by the Conservatives.
Cllr Baum said “Why are the Conservatives running away from proposals which simply make it easier for everyone to hold Council accountable? I am genuinely upset that we can’t become a leading light in terms of openness. The leadership had a real opportunity to change things for the better last night, and fluffed it. The Leader of Bury Council lives in Rossendale, where members of the public can ask Councillors whatever they like, without giving notice. Here in Bury the Tories ask for almost a week’s notice before someone can ask a question at a meeting, and that’s not good enough.”
Cllr Baum concluded “This has really exposed what the Tories are all about – secrecy and power, rather than being properly accountable to the people of Bury.”
Visitors to Bury should be able to park for free after 3pm, so says Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Bury North Cllr Richard Baum.
The proposal to allow free parking from 3pm on Bury’s streets is designed to increase the number of visitors to the Town Centre, and help local businesses struggling through the recession.
Cllr Baum said “The Park Free After 3 campaign is a simple idea which can make a big difference to the experience of people wanting to visit Bury. There’s so much to do in the Town Centre, from the World Famous Market to the new Fusiliers’ Museum, to some big high street names. But people are put off by parking charges and our local businesses are struggling to survive this recession. I’m calling on the Council to remove parking charges from 3pm to allow more people to come to Bury and spend money with local businesses without worrying about parking fees.”
Critics say that a move to free parking after 3 will reduce income to the Council, but Cllr Baum refutes this accusation. “It’s just short-sighted thinking,” he said. “The Council may take in a bit less in parking fees, but the Town Centre will be revitalised with more people spending more money. This means higher takings for Council facilities and stronger businesses paying us rates. The Council may lose a couple of pounds per car, but visitors will spend far more than that, and at the moment they’re put off the small parking charge because it’s free to park elsewhere like the Trafford Centre. The Council has the power to re-vitalise the Town, and it should take action.”
A similar Park Free After 3 scheme in Rochdale was recently launched by the Liberal Democrat Council there, with startling success. Cllr Baum said “In Rochdale the figures speak for themselves. Since the introduction of a Park Free After 3 scheme there, footfall went up massively, and there were increases both in the value of goods bought, and the number of goods bought. Businesses in nearby towns are benefiting from this scheme and I urge Bury Council to adopt it so that we too can see the benefits.”
Cllr Baum will formally ask for Council action on his “Park Free After 3” campaign after the Council’s summer recess, but is calling for action now. “This positive and easy idea should be introduced straight away,” he said.
A Prestwich Councillor has been chosen to star in a national campaign aimed at recruiting more people to come forward as candidates as Councillors.
Donal O’Hanlon, Liberal Democrat Councillor for St Mary’s ward in Prestwich, is one of six Councillors from around the country to appear in a new guide called “People Like You Are Councillors – A Guide to becoming a Councillor in England.”
The guide, published by the Leadership Centre for Local Government, aims to give people more of an idea of what councillors do and how to become one. Cllr O’Hanlon, a Councillor since May 2006, said “I was delighted to be involved in this project. I am a passionate believer in the ability of local people to change things for the better in their communities, and that’s why I stood for election. I hope that this guide will let a lot more people find out about how to become a Councillor and what it can mean for them and their communities.”
The guide is being produced in conjunction with a national programme called “Be a Councillor,” also aimed at boosting involvement in elected local government. Bury Lib Dem’s Leader Councillor Tim Pickstone is the Liberal Democrats national “Champion” for this project. He spoke at the official launch of the guide last week, and said “It’s great that Donal is starring in this guide, and that two of us from Bury have made it through to a national level on this important project. Hopefully the guide and the wider Be a Councillor project will make a big difference and boost the involvement of local people in their communities. The idea that it was somehow acceptable for councillors to be unrepresentative of the communities they serve belongs to a previous generation and has no place in our future democracy.”
More information on the guide and on getting more involved in community politics can be found at www.beacouncillor.org.uk
Liberal Democrat Councillors in Prestwich have reacted with anger after details of the Council’s road maintenance package for the year were announced this week. The Conservative-run Bury Council has announced that Prestwich will receive just under £63,000 for road and pavement repairs for the coming year, despite a list of required repairs amounting to over ten times that figure.
Reacting to the news, St Mary’s Ward Liberal Democrat Councillor Donal O’Hanlon said “I am astonished by this disgraceful neglect of local roads and pavements by the Tories. The Council’s engineers have identified the thirteen most dilapidated roads in Prestwich, including really shocking cases like Warwick Street. In total these will cost over £700,000 to fix, yet the Council have offered us just £63,000. That’s a terrible neglect of the area, especially since the Tories just put up Council Tax by over 4%. Once again they’re taking more, and giving less.”
The funding figures were released at the same time as it was revealed that broken roads and pavements are costing local taxpayers millions in compensation claims. In response to a question raised by Liberal Democrats at the Town Hall, Conservative Executive Member for Environmental Services Cllr Dorothy Gunther admitted that compensation claims for trips and falls on local pavements totalled over £2m in recent years.
Commenting on the figures, Cllr O’Hanlon said “Two million pounds of taxpayers’ money has been wasted because the Council aren’t maintaining our roads and pavements. They are clearly a danger, and this is a staggering amount of money being thrown away. The fact that the Tories are still offering us nothing like the appropriate amount of funding just shows how out of touch they are.
“We will continue to campaign for a better deal on local roads, and stop this shocking neglect of Prestwich. It’s time the Conservatives at the Town Hall gave us a fair deal.”