Speaking after the publication of the latest version of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework and the imminent launch of a further period of public consultation, Cllr Mark Hunter, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Stockport Council, said: “Liberal Democrats have long fought to protect the greenbelt and, in Stockport, we rejected the original GM Spatial Framework proposals which would have resulted in great swathes of land being concreted over. We accept the need to build the right homes in the right places.
“We continue to believe that a “brownfield first” approach should be taken and that any house building programme needs to be accompanied by the right transport improvements as well as healthcare and education facilities and that this needs to be delivered before any large scale house building commences. “To deliver anything like fifteen thousand new homes in Stockport would cause an intolerable demand on our roads and public transport unless it is accompanied by substantial transport investment including Metrolink, tram-trains, new railway stations at Cheadle and Stanley Green, improvements to the bus network and delivery of the M60 to A6 relief road, joining up with the new A6 to Manchester Airport relief road.
“It is disappointing that the Conservative government have chosen to direct local authorities to ignore the latest independent, national population projections and are forcing on local residents a centralised, artificial target which calls for a level of housebuilding which is clearly undeliverable.”
Cllr Lisa Smart, Deputy Leader of Stockport’s Liberal Democrats and Chair of the GM Housing, Planning and Environment Scrutiny Committee, said: “We strongly encourage all residents to participate in the consultation which is due to start in the coming weeks. Whilst the last consultation was criticised for not listening to local people, we hope the Labour-run GM Combined Authority has learnt lessons and the next consultation will be more robust. We hope as many people as possible will make their views known.
“We recognise improvements to the Spatial Framework proposals following the criticisms we levelled against the earlier version, concerns still remain. Overall, the number of houses to be delivered is smaller and the impact on the greenbelt overall is lower especially as there will be significant development in Stockport town centre. However there is still scope for improvement. “We will continue to fight for the best housing plan for Stockport.”
“We will continue to fight for the best housing plan for Stockport.”
Following the announcement by the council that it is withdrawing the proposal to scrap the Stockport Local Assistance Scheme, Cllr Mark Hunter, Leader of Stockport’s Liberal Democrats, said: “We are sure residents will share our relief that this important safety net has been saved, but they will also share our concern that it is only saved for a year with a ‘thorough review’ of the scheme to be made over the coming year. One would have hoped that such a review would have happened before making a proposal to scrap a scheme which provides vital support to such vulnerable residents.
“Stockport’s Liberal Democrats have opposed this wrong-headed budget proposal since it was announced and we are frankly astounded that it has been handled in such a clumsy way. This was a thoroughly bad and mean-spirited suggestion in the first place and no doubt many members of the public will share our disgust that it should have come from a Labour administration at the Town Hall”.
At last week’s Full Council Meeting, Stockport Liberal Democrats successfully introduced a motion which means the council will require new developments, including conversions, to have charging points for electric vehicles and which will see officers bid for government funding for on-street charging points and the development of a comprehensive plan for implementing borough-wide on-street charging infrastructure to make it as easy as possible for people to switch from more polluting vehicles.
Speaking after the motion was passed, Cllr Colin MacAlister, councillor for Marple South & High Lane ward and Shadow Cabinet Member for Economy and Regeneration, said: “We know one of the reasons more people do not switch to electric vehicles is the lack of charging points, so we want the council to do more to make developers put the infrastructure in place. This is just one more way that we can start to tackle pollution.
“It is a tragedy that the Conservative government have removed or reduced the subsidies for less polluting vehicles at this time, taking away another incentive for people to be more environmentally friendly.”
Cllr Christine Corris, councillor for Bredbury & Woodley ward and Lib Dem Planning lead, said: “With the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework on the horizon and more housebuilding and conversions likely, we want to see our planning policy include provision for electric cars. Hopefully where Stockport leads, Greater Manchester will follow.
“We also hope that the council can successfully bid for funds for on-street charging points to support those residents who do not have driveways.”
Speaking after attending the official ministerial opening of the A6 to Manchester Airport relief road, Cllr Mark Hunter, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Stockport Council and former Member of Parliament for Cheadle, said: “After many years of delays and cancellations by previous Labour and Conservative governments, I was delighted when the Coalition government (2010-2015) finally gave the ‘green light’ to this much needed scheme. Andrew Stunell (then MP for Hazel Grove) and I lobbied tirelessly for the Relief Road and met several times with George Osborne (then Chancellor of the Exchequer) to secure the multi-million pound investment needed to get the road built.
“Thousands of residents in Heald Green, Cheadle Hulme and Bramhall are already seeing the benefits of the bypass, including reduced congestion and improved traffic flows and air quality on our residential streets. I am proud that the Coalition had the political will to ensure this road was finally delivered.”
Cllr Lisa Smart said, “The full benefits of the road will only be seen when the final link from Hazel Grove to the M60 at Bredbury is complete. Roads such as Bents Lane and Otterspool Road are simply too congested and the Liberal Democrats will continue to fight for the “missing link” to be built.”
In a motion to be discussed at the Full Council meeting on 18th October, Stockport Liberal Democrats are calling for a “dignity bags” scheme to operate at secondary schools and colleges across the borough so that young women can be assured of access to sanitary products.
Cllr Lisa Smart, proposer of the motion and Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, said: “It is a scandal that, in a country as rich as Britain, ‘period poverty’ is an issue. Research shows that young women are embarrassed about periods and those in low-income families in particular can feel unable to ask their parents or carers to buy the sanitary products they need as they are yet another expense.
“Whilst in an ideal world there would be universal free provision of sanitary products, we feel an appropriate starting point is to provide them free of charge to young women in our schools and colleges.”
Cllr Mark Hunter, seconder of the motion and Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, said: “All the evidence is that young women from poorer families are likely to miss school as a result of not having access to sanitary products. The simple change of making sanitary products available free of charge in schools and colleges could help more of these young women achieve better learning outcomes and have a much brighter future.”
Following yesterday’s news release by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and Mayor Andy Burnham regarding possible further delays to the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF) due to uncertainty about the formula Government is to use to set housing growth targets, Stockport Liberal Democrats agree that the government need to get their act together.
Cllr Lisa Smart, Chair of the Greater Manchester Housing, Planning and Environment Scrutiny Committee and Deputy Leader of Stockport’s Liberal Democrat Group, said: “We agree with Andy Burnham that the Government’s handling of setting housing targets is shambolic. Version two of the GM Spatial Framework proposal was due to be made public for consultation some months ago but it was initially delayed when the latest national population projections were released and it is being delayed again waiting for the Conservative Party to get their act together in Westminster. Residents deserve to know where the thousands of new homes are going to go.”
In the same news release, the GMCA announced that there would be a vote on the GMSF proposals in each of the 10 participating councils, despite the requirement for this being removed following a technical change to the process.
Cllr Mark Hunter, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Stockport Council, said: “We are pleased to see the GMCA agrees with Liberal Democrats that it is vital each council retains a vote on the final proposals. We would prefer to see bottom up plans developed by local communities to deliver the housing those communities need. The Conservative government’s rules will impose targets that will see unprecedented levels of development in certain areas.”