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Lib Dem Oasis verdict – Room for improvement, not 200,000 fans

Local Lib Dem Councillors have praised clean-up staff following recent Oasis concerts in Heaton Park, but voiced concerns that not enough was done to protect local people during the recent events. The concerts, which saw
210,000 people enjoy music in the park over three nights, generated controversy over noise, but passed largely without major trouble.

Commenting on the concerts, Cllr Vic D’Albert, Liberal Democrat member for Holyrood and Parliamentary candidate for Bury South said “What’s clear is that over 200,000 people came to Prestwich and had a great time. But there
were lots of problems for the people that live here, and we need to get the balance right. Before Manchester City Council think about having more concerts here, they need to think about Prestwich residents.”

Residents complained about excessive noise, particularly on the first night when a power failure caused a delay to the end of the concert. Cllr D’Albert said “Of course there was going to be noise, but I think continuing until 11.25 was too late, and I will be demanding that this never happens again. I want to know why the stage was set up facing the houses of Prestwich rather than the open space of the park, and why revellers weren’t moved on quicker at the end. This was particularly unpleasant for older residents and people with young children.”

Parking arrangements were only partially successful. Cllr D’Albert said “We were given assurances that public transport would work and parking wouldn’t be a problem. Whilst streets in St Margaret’s and Sheepfoot Lane were well protected, those in Sedgley and Rhodes were not, and this wasn’t good enough. Buses and taxis were dropping off people in the wrong place, and queues for trams were very long. We need improvements to help residents.”

Cllr D’Albert did praise some aspects of the organisation. “I thought the street cleaning service was excellent, and lots of local people enjoyed a concert, either as paying spectators or for free in their gardens. A lot of local people enjoyed themselves, and local businesses received a welcome boost in trade. The gigs have raised the profile of Prestwich, and that’s great. In addition, some of the profits will be spent improving local parks, so people will see long term benefits as a result of short term disruption.”

“Prestwich Local Area Partnership will receive a report into all aspects of the concerts, and make this available to local people so that we can represent their views. I look forward to working with everyone – local people, and Bury and Manchester Councils – to make sure that if these things are to happen again, we in Bury make Manchester City Council learn from what happened. There’s certainly room for improvement, but perhaps not for 200,000 people across three nights in quick succession. We need to deal with the noise better, reduce the numbers and restrict activity to sensible times and durations. We need to strike a balance between Prestwich people and money for Manchester.”

Bike Doctors come to Prestwich

Specialist Bike Doctors were on hand at the Phoenix Centre in Prestwich this week, giving local people the chance to give the bicycles an “MOT” as part of another successful Prestwich Festival event.   Police Community Support Officers were also on hand to security tag bikes so that they can be returned to their owners if stolen.

‘It’s really important that we encourage cycling and the Prestwich-based National Cycling Academy’s commitment to local people, repairing bikes, maintenance advice as well as giving cycle maps to both adults and youngsters has been a fantastic plus for Prestwich residents’ said local  Liberal Democrat Councillor Ann Garner, whose own bike received a quick MOT at the event. 

‘I’d promised to support the National Cycling Academy’s event and had to hunt out a cycle helmet as well as pump up the tyres of my bike, I don’t use it enough’   said Cllr Garner  ‘I’m not the only person with a bike I need to get on and use more often, rather than use the car!’  ‘The more bikes on the roads, the fitter we’ll all be!’ 

Julie Woodruff, Course Director of the Cycling Academy said ‘We’ve had a fantasic response to the Dr Bike event today, the number of parents and children bringing their bikes for a check over by our Technicians highlights the genuine interest in cycling amongst the local community. Youngsters need advice on how to maintain their bikes and parents have also valued the reassurance that their child’s bike is safe to ride too’.

Safety improvements planned for Prestwich junction

Local residents and Councillors have welcomed Council plans to improve safety at one of the busiest road junctions in Prestwich after a campaign lasting more than two years.

People living near the junction of Hilton Lane, Scholes Lane and Bury New Road have been working with local Lib Dem Councillors since 2006 to secure safety improvements at the busy intersection. The campaign, which culminated in a 500-strong petition to the Mayor of Bury, has now been successful, and Bury Council have designed a scheme to make the area safer.

The scheme, which will see pedestrian crossing facilities installed at the traffic lights, is still subject to planning approval and the Council securing funds, but has been welcomed by Councillors. Cllr Donal O’Hanlon, Councillor for St Mary’s ward which includes Hilton Lane, said “The campaign waged by local people obviously convinced planners that this work is urgently needed. The designs are great news and a real boost for community safety. The junction is close to schools and shops, and I urge the Council to commit the necessary funds as soon as possible so that people will be able to cross the road with proper pedestrian facilities.

Cllr Andrew Garner, whose Sedgley Ward includes Scholes Lane, said “We’ve been campaigning for this for years. It’s a real testament to the good relationships between local residents and Councillors, and the hard work of campaigners in the community. Well done to everyone who’s lobbied hard for this to happen. All we need now is for the Council to find the money.”

“Bury let down in transport deal” say Lib Dems

Bury has missed out on big public transport improvements after a deal was struck between all Greater Manchester authorities, according to Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Bury North Cllr Richard Baum.

The new deal sees big improvements promised across the city region, including a new bypass in Stockport and Metrolink extensions into Rochdale and Oldham. Bury’s only major gain is a feasibility study into improvements tot he East Lancashire Railway. Cllr Baum said “The Tory leadership of Bury Council have struck a bad deal for Bury. We needed better buses, especially in the north of the borough. We also want a commitment that the ELR will be improved and serve as a commuter line. This deal gives us nothing like that.”

The agreement, struck between leaders from the 10 authorities in Greater Manchester, involves individual boroughs giving up their local transport grants and paying more levy to the Greater Manchester Integrated Transport Authority. Cllr Baum said “Bury will be paying for transport improvements in Wigan and Salford. That’s not good enough and the Tories have let us down.”

“Greater Manchester as a whole gets improved public transport without a congestion charge, and I welcome this. It exposes Labour’s TIF bid lies once and for all. But Bury deserves more of the spoils, and the Tory leadership didn’t negotiate us a good deal.”

Lib Dems warn of Heaton Park traffic chaos

Local Councillors and residents of the St Margaret’s Road area have joined forces to highlight potential traffic chaos if Manchester Council’s plans for Heaton Park go ahead. Current plans for a Goals Soccer Centre would put significant added pressure on this narrow residential road, and campaigners are concerned that Manchester Council isn’t thinking properly about its own plans to turn a renovated Heaton Hall into a major tourist attraction – traffic which will again use St Margaret’s Road.

Paul Toner, a resident on St Margaret’s Road, Prestwich said: “We already have major problems with traffic congestion on St Margaret’s
Road, which is only going to become worse if this development gets the go ahead. What also worries me is the increase in noise and light
pollution. The greatest sadness is that we will loose a large piece of open parkland for ever. I am not against good quality sports
facilities, I just don’t think they should built it in a public park, considering there are plenty of brown field sites available.”

Local Councillor Tim Pickstone said “We all love Heaton Park, and the improvements to the Hall would be spectacular. But it’s no good
having a lovely park if the parking arrangements don’t work.

Manchester Council needs to think carefully about the impact on the local area, before pressing ahead with their controversial privately
run Soccer Zone .”

Photos and a video showing how busy St Margaret’s Road is already, BEFORE these developments has been made available at
www.SaveHeatonPark.org.uk

Transport funding proves waste in C-Charge debate, say Lib Dems

Bury Liberal Democrats have reacted to the news that £1.4bn transport investment in Greater Manchester which has been made despite the rejection of congestion charging in last year’s referendum.

Speaking after news of the investment was made public, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary spokesman for Bury North, Cllr Richard Baum, said “The fact that these improvements to transport are happening without a congestion charge finally exposes the pro-charge campaign’s key message as a complete lie. They said that there was no Plan B, but there obviously was and this is it.”

Bury Lib Dems led the fight against congestion charging, securing Council backing for their motion rejecting the charge. Cllr Baum continued “The whole c-charge idea wasted millions of pounds of public money for absolutely no reason. Not only was the proposal hugely expensive and riddled with flaws, it now turns out to have been totally unnecessary.”

Cllr Baum gave a cautious welcome to the extra money, but warned that there were still many unanswered questions to resolve. “£1.4bn into Greater Manchester is great news. But we should remember that this is our taxpayers’ money to begin with, trying to make up for decades of under-investment. This new package still doesn’t give Bury what it needs. We will still have an inadequate bus service, an expensive tram service, and little in the way of incentives for cycling and walking. The government are giving us back some of our money, but nowhere near enough.”

“I also have concerns about the deal that’s been done to get this funding. There will be Council Tax increases to pay for it, and all local Councils in Greater Manchester have had to give up a large part of the local transport grant which could have been directed to local schemes. The government are giving with one hand and taking away with the other. And none of this has come before Bury Council for a vote or even a discussion. Once again the people of Bury are being ignored by the government. Our Council Tax will pay for a bypass in Wigan and a busway in Leigh, and whilst these are welcome schemes, the Councillors of Bury have been denied their say once again.”

Clough Clean up success for locals

A team of community volunteers collected over twenty bags of rubbish from Prestwich Clough during an anti-litter action day recently.
The volunteers, from across Prestwich, first came together to clean up the local area earlier in the spring, with a graffiti clean up day. This time their attentions turned to litter, with an attempt to shift some of the rubbish which blights the Clough.

The group have been supported by Liberal Democrat Councillor for St Mary’s ward Richard Baum, who attended both the graffiti clean up and the litter pick, and got stuck in cleaning up. Cllr Baum said “It’s great to see a group of local people giving up their free time to help the community like this. We cleaned a lot of graffiti a few weeks ago, and today we collected over twenty bags full of rubbish between us. It makes a real difference to the local environment, and it’s actually surprisingly good fun!”

But Cllr Baum had some words of criticism for the authorities who have done little to help the situation. “It’s a shame that the Council don’t seem to be helping keep the Clough clean as much as they should. We’ve found everything from old tyres to broken mirrors today, some of it clearly dating back years. It’s obvious that stuff is getting dumped here and not cleaned up by the Council when it should. We all need to do our bit not to drop litter, but I will continue to press for more help from the authorities as well as a crackdown on the people responsible for spoiling the beautiful Prestwich clough with their litter.”

Lib Dems shocked by “crisis” unemployment figures

 

Bury Liberal Democrats say that new unemployment figures for Bury point to a jobs crisis for the borough. The figures, released today by the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA) reveal that there are 60% more local people claiming Job Seeker’s Allowance than a year ago.

 

Commenting on the figures, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesperson for Bury North Cllr Richard Baum said “These figures are a shocking display of how Labour’s mishandling of the economy is having a real impact on local people. There are now thousands more people out of work and claiming benefits in Bury than a year ago. This is terrible news for them, for our borough, and for the local economy. And the figures may not tell the whole truth. When people stop spending their redundancy pay, or come back to Job Seekers Allowance from other benefits, the true scale of the problem could be much worse”

 

There is particularly bad news for the long term unemployed and for jobless young people. There are nearly one third more long term unemployed claimants in Bury than a year ago, and the numbers of young people out of work in the borough has risen by 48%. Cllr Baum continued “Labour claim to be tackling the economic crisis. But tell that to the people of Bury desperately struggling to get out of long term unemployment, and tell that to the young people leaving college and joining the dole queues.”

 

Job Centres in Bury have reported steep falls in vacancies. Cllr Baum said “There are 66% fewer vacancies in Bury’s job centres compared to just a month ago. These figures are the worst for any borough in Greater Manchester, and reveal the level of this crisis. The Labour government are doing nothing to tackle this crisis. Gordon Brown is off trying to save the world, but people in Bury need jobs now, and there aren’t any. The government are letting the people of Bury down.”

 

Hundreds Attend “Save Heaton Park” rally

Hundreds of local people staged a “Save Heaton Park” rally on Sunday in protest at plans to create a large commercial sports centre on part of the park.

 

Over 150 local residents were joined by six local Councillors to make clear their opposition to the proposed Goals Soccer Centre which is planned to be built near the St Margaret’s Road entrance to Heaton Park. The message was clear: Save Heaton Park!

 

Cllr Tim Pickstone, the Liberal Democrat Councillor for Holyrood ward, addressed the crowd. He said “More sports facilities are great, but this is in completely the wrong place. The park has been here for the people of north Manchester and Prestwich for over 100 years. It’s open parkland where people can play football, have a picnic, walk the dog or play in the sun. All of this will be lost forever if it is a £40 an hour soccer centre.”

 

St Margaret’s Road resident Paul Toner, who helped organise Sunday’s rally, said “None of us are opposed to sports facilities, but the impact of this development on the local area would be terrible – parking, traffic, illuminated pitches.”

 

The scheme will be decided on by Manchester City Council, who own Heaton Park despite it being bordered by Bury land on three sides. Local residents were urged to send in letters and emails of objection to Manchester City Council before the deadline for comment on 20th July.”

Council thumbs-up for new Arts College facilities

Prestwich Arts College

Planners at Bury Council have given approval for state of the art new facilities at Prestwich Arts College, marking the end of a long campaign for improvements to the successful local school.

The Council’s Planning Control Committee voted on Tuesday 16th June to grant planning permission for a new dining room and arts auditorium for the school, which was threatened with closure back in 2005. Commenting on the news, local Lib Dem Councillor Tim Pickstone said “This is great news, not just for the school but for the whole community. Prestwich Arts College is the only high school in Bury without a dining room, and this news is long overdue. We’ve been lobbying the Council for years, and I’m glad they’ve finally seen sense and given Prestwich young people what they need.

Commenting on the new arts auditorium, Cllr Pickstone, who is also a governor of the school, said “This will be a first class facility for a top quality school. But more than that, it will be used as a community facility, bringing better arts provision for the whole of Prestwich. I’m delighted it’s been given the go-ahead.”

The new facilities will be built in the near future. Cllr Pickstone said “We need to listen to the concerns of local residents on Heys Road, Glebelands Road and other nearby streets to ensure that the plans do not adversely affect local residents. When we get the process right, Prestwich Arts College and the whole area will have splendid new facilities.