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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 

Thank you for your Support

A huge thank you from the Liberal Democrat team here in Bury for your support in the local elections.

The Liberal Democrats had our best result in Bury for almost a decade:

– holding Holyrood Ward, with an increased majority (986 votes over Labour) electing our new Councillor Cristina Tegolo

– gaining St Mary’s Ward, by 942 votes over Labour, electing our youngest ever Councillor, Michael Powell.

Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Councillor Tim Pickstone said:
“This is the first time in a decade that the Liberal Democrats have won so many seats in Bury. Not only that but we also got significantly more votes than Labour across the three Prestwich seats.

Local people are sending a clear message that Labour’s policies around building on our green belt land, and their failure to tackle congestion and air pollution need to change”.

Full results here.

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.

Reporting Back – Full Council

Earlier this month (8 April 2019) was the regular ‘Full Council’ meeting of Bury Council. This is the meeting, six times a year, where all 51 councillors are in attendance.

This meeting, as you may have seen reported online and in the press, was controversial before it started. At each full Council all political parties submit motions for discussion. However at this meeting, one motion (the Conservative Group one) was ruled out of order and both the Liberal Democrats and Labour motions were withdrawn upon advice from the Council Solicitor.

The reason for this is a law around what is called ‘Purdah’, which is the period running up to an election where a Council must be ‘non-political’. We obviously understand the law, but the way that this meeting was scheduled has meant that very important issues – like the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework – have not been properly debated by your local Councillors. This is wrong and we asked the Mayor for a review of the whole process around Council motions to make sure this never happens again.

Without motions, the remaining business of the Council was:

  • Additional daytime ‘panels’ for the Licensing Committee to consider applications to become taxi drivers. At present these take place in the evening, but in the future daytime meetings will also take place with smaller panel of (3) councillors. We opposed this because we feel that this sort of function, where councillors sit in a quasi-judicial role (ie non political) needs to be where all councillors can attend – in the daytime we are restricted to just councillors who do not work. 
  • Questions to the Leader of the Council – our questions included a question on preparation for a ‘no-deal’ Brexit (this was before the European Council had met!), childhood obesity and also a question about the Council’s ‘investment’ property in Lytham St Annes. this was an Italian restaurant, but sitting empty and costing Bury’s Council Tax payers over £2,500 a month business rates and service charges. With reference to Bury Pride (which was coming up on the Saturday) we also asked the Council Leader if he would raise with the Mayor of Greater Manchester to write to the Government about the appalling situation in one Commonwealth country (Brunei) where the penal code now says that lesbians and gay men should be stoned to death. 
  • Questions on Joint Authorities – our questions included a question about the fact that Greater Manchester Police are bottom of the table when it comes to racially and religiously-motivated hate crimes being closed without a suspect (46% are). What we were told is that theprimary reason for this figure is the fact that Greater Manchester have been particularly successful in increasing the reporting of Hate Crime. We understand that, but surely other police forces have done similar things, and it is no excuse for Greater Manchester being at the bottom of the table.

Mary D’Albert, who has was first elected as a Liberal Democrat councillor in Prestwich in 2008, is finishing as a Councillor in May and we took the opportunity to thank her for her service at the meeting. Mary and her husband Vic have given Prestwich and Holyrood Ward three decades of service as local councillors which is an amazing contribution.

Any questions on the meeting please just ask. The full papers are available 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.

Lib Dems demand action on Town Centres

The Liberal Democrats have set out a comprehensive plan ahead of the local elections to support struggling high streets across England, including town centres across Bury.

The proposals, agreed by Liberal Democrats at their Spring Conference in York, set out plans that would:

  • Boost support for local entrepreneurs, including subsidised work space and business support for start-ups.
  • Reform planning law, enabling councils to ensure that commercial space is used flexibly and efficiently.
  • Introduce publicly-accessible local asset registers, enabling local entrepreneurs to identify promising business opportunities
  • Use local insights to improve customers’ experiences, including by providing free public Wi-Fi.
  • Create a new industry-led body to help retailers adapt to the digital economy.  

The Liberal Democrats are also campaigning to replace the broken business rates system with a tax on land values, cutting taxes for businesses by 12% in Bury.

Liberal Democrat Local Government Spokesperson Tim Farron said:
“With shops closing and too many people losing their jobs, there can be no doubt that our high streets are in crisis. The absolute mess the Tories have made of Brexit bears some of the blame, but the roots of this crisis run far deeper.

“From the rise of online retail to the burden of business rates and local planning failures, people are crying out for solutions. It doesn’t need to be this way. People deserve better and Liberal Democrats demand better.”



Local Elections 2019 – Our Priorities

Bury Liberal Democrats have announced their key priorities for the local elections on 2 May 2019: Congestion and Air Pollution; Environment and Green Spaces and Safe and Strong Communities.

Congestion and Air Pollution  
Communities all over Bury suffer from congestion causing delays and increasing air pollution. Many secondary roads suffer from use as ‘rat runs’. Metrolink is a brilliant public transport option, but it is overcrowded and fares are going up well above inflation (19% over three years). Based on Transport for Greater Manchester’s own figrues, 1 in 8 passengers don’t buy a ticket. 

We will: 

  • Campaign to immediately tackle the worst congestion hot-spots by reviewing traffic flow, traffic lights sequencing and shifting parking bays off main roads onto off-street parking. 
  • Propose traffic calming schemes where they are most needed – particularly outside schools and where roads suffer from use as ‘rat runs’ 
  • Propose a freeze on Metrolink fares, and instead tackle fare-evasion and passenger concerns over safety through the introduction of conductors on all trams  – paid for by increased ticket sales. 
  • Campaign for increased capacity on the Metrolink by extending the ‘third tram’ (Trafford Centre line in 2021) to at least Whitefield, and eventually to Bury (currently this is proposed to terminate at Crumpsall). 
  • Tackle Air Pollution by introducing compulsory ‘no-idling’ zones around all of our schools and through prioritising newer low/zero emission buses in future bus company negotiations. 

Environment and Green Spaces
Bury Council is proposing through the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework to build 6,000 homes on our precious green belt land, as well as destroying whole areas of green belt for industrial use. Bury is not doing enough to help our environment by reducing waste and increasing healthy green travel. 

We will: 

  • Reject the current GMSF proposals and campaign for NO loss of green belt land. 
  • Focus on providing the affordable houses that local people need by building on existing brownfield sites, particularly bringing life back to our town centres. 
  • Move Bury to the forefront of developing healthy and green travel through the faster development of safe walking and cycling routes right across the Borough. 
  • Reduce the amount of waste that Bury produces by moving Greater Manchester, and Bury in particular, to being a place with less waste produced, through working with supermarkets and residents to reduce uneccessary waste. 

Safe and Strong Communities
Everyone knows that the police are underfunded and it is not surprising that crime levels in many areas are increasing again. Greater Manchester Police have the worst record in the country for solving hate crimes in England. 

We will: 

  • Spend 100% of the extra police funding delivered through the increase in Police Council Tax on visible front line policing and shift focus back to visible local policing. 
  • Provide extra police focus on solving hate crimes in our local communities. 
  • Immediately end the disgraceful use of 15 minute home care visits by Bury Council. 
  • Provide extra resources to enable our local schools to help increase support around mental health issues. 
  • Prioritise the development of local services to tackle acute lonliness, particularly among older people. 
  • Invest in our community groups and services and significantly increase the number of volunteering opportunities available. 
  • Ensure that the redevelopment of Prestwich Village only goes ahead after the views of local people are heard, and with the current level of community facilities as a minimum.