Hundreds sign petition to change speed camera criteria

Nearly 700 have signed Lisa Smart’s petition to update the guidelines for the use of speed cameras in Greater Manchester and beyond.

Currently, a fixed speed camera can only be considered when at least three separate collisions causing deaths or serious injury have happened on a 1 km stretch of road.

The guidelines are set by Government and implemented in Greater Manchester by the Safer Roads Greater Manchester Partnership.

Recently, the BBC’s Panorama programme reported that the road fatality rate has risen by five per cent – the first significant rise in 40 years.

Cllr Lisa Smart, Lib Dem parliamentary spokesperson for Hazel Grove, said: “The use of speed cameras is severely restricted by out of date Government guidelines. We believe that one serious injury on the road is one too many and we should not have to wait until a death to take enforcement action on dangerous drivers.”

Raising the issue at Stockport Council, Lisa Smart said “Cameras have been shown to reduce speeding by 70% and they also reduce the number who are killed or seriously injured by 42%. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents say: “Cameras Save Lives”. The criteria need to change.”

The petition can be signed at www.lisasmart.org.uk/speeding

Lib Dems welcome improved performance at Stepping Hill

Speaking after the publication of the most recent CQC instpection of Stepping Hill NHS Foundation Trust, Cllr Mark Hunter, Leader of the Liberal Democrats at Stockport Town Hall, said: “We offer our congratulations to Karen James and her team at Stepping Hill for the positive turn around in performance as measured recently by the CQC.

“Although their most recent assessment confirms that the hospital still requires improvement overall, it is only fair to acknowledge considerable progress has already been made, particularly in regard to urgent and emergency care. We agree with statement issued by the Stockport NHS Foundation Trust that this is, indeed, testament to the efforts and hard work of all the dedicated doctors, nurses and other staff who work there.

“It’s worth also noting that this improved performance takes place against a background of unprecedented pressures as a result of the Covid pandemic. We are so often accused of being quick to criticise when things go wrong, so it is only fair to comment favourably and publicly when they are going in the right direction.”

Labour Cabinet set to ignore vote to stop closure of Stockport Library?

At the meeting of Stockport Council last night there was a heated, two-hour debate about the Labour Cabinet’s proposals to remove all library services from historic, Grade 2-listed Central Library. This is the first time in the council’s history that a decision has been called to a debate and vote of the full council through the scrutiny process.

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Lou Ankers, Shadow Cabinet member with responsibilities including libraries, said: “We have said all along that Labour aren’t listening, and last night proved it once again. After ignoring residents in their own consultation and ignoring petitions, they made it clear that they have ignored everything councillors have said at scrutiny committees. We have been clear all along that we support the proposed ‘Stockroom’ investment at Merseyway as a new, accessible, multi-purpose centre, that includes some library facilities. What we oppose is the loss of our Central Library to the public as a library.

“Labour claim that the building cannot be made suitably accessible to remain a library. At the same time they are saying it can be converted into an accessible adult education centre. This is just nonsense. It must be one or the other. The money proposed to be spent converting the building to a new purpose should be invested in making the existing Central Library fit for all, and Labour should go ahead with the town centre investment to deliver all of the benefits of that scheme.

Cllr Lisa Smart, Shadow Cabinet member with responsibilities including governance, added: “Last night was an appalling display by Labour. They packed the public question time slot with their own candidates who asked planted questions arguing in favour of Stockroom and crowding out questions from ordinary members of the public about issues of concern to them, knowing full well that we want Stockroom to go ahead.

“The council meeting voted overwhelmingly in favour of retaining library services at the Central Library and to establish an all-party working group to work out how best to do this. But we could only make a recommendation – the Labour Cabinet are the decision makers and they can still ignore the will of councillors, just like they have ignored residents’ views on this so far. I hope they will now see sense and respect the wishes of the people.”

North West ambulance service response times soar for most urgent calls

North West ambulance service average response times for the most serious incidents, e.g. cardiac arrest, have increased to 9 minutes and 5 seconds in December compared to November, new Ambulance Service Statistics have revealed.

The statistics, released from NHS England, show that average wait times for serious incidents have worsened in every region in England over the past month, failing to meet both the Category 1 and Category 2 callout times.

Locally, the statistics show that when comparing November to last month, ambulance wait times for calls in the North West worsened further, with patients across the area being left to wait even longer when they called an ambulance.

Wait times for Category 1 calls in the North West reached highs of 9 minutes and 5 seconds in December, well over the NHS target set.

In addition, urgent Category 2 callouts have worsened in the North West, with the average wait time in December of over 1 hour and six minutes. This is a 36 percentage increase on November waiting times.

The standard wait time for a “Category 1” incident should be no longer than 7 minutes due to the urgency of the matter, meaning the wait times are well in excess of NHS targets. Similarly, the NHS target for “Category 2” is 18 minutes, meaning almost all of the most urgent calls for ambulance services are being missed.

Liberal Democrats are calling for the Government to commission an investigation by the Care Quality Commission without further delay.

Responding to the new figures, Cllr Lisa Smart, Lib Dem parliamentary spokesperson for Hazel Grove, said: “It is disastrous that our local NHS services are under such severe pressure. We need real investment in our area with a plan from the Government.

“The Conservatives are taking our area for granted and now we’re seeing local patients and families pay the price.”

Cllr Tom Morrison, Lib Dem parliamentary spokesperson for Cheadle, added: “The Government needs to step up and stop taking our area for granted. Health service wait times across the board are struggling, our local health staff are under immense pressure, and it looks like things are getting even worse.”

NHS England’s Ambulance Quality Indicators, published on 13 January 2022, are available here.

These figures refer to Category 1 incidents: An immediate response to a life threatening condition, such as cardiac or respiratory arrest.

The NHS target is an average response time to these incidents of 7 minutes, and for 90% of them to be responded to within 15 minutes.

The NHS target for Category 2 is 18 minutes.

Stockport Lib Dem Deputy Leader to focus on parliamentary campaign

Liberal Democrat Councillor Lisa Smart has been reselected to fight the marginal constituency of Hazel Grove at the next General Election.

Cllr Smart said, “I am delighted to have been reselected by the local Lib Dems to fight the next General Election as their candidate for parliament. Hazel Grove is being let down and taken from granted by the current Conservative MP and Boris Jonhson’s Government.”

It will take a swing of only 5% for the Liberal Democrats to take the Hazel Grove constituency from the Conservatives, which makes it one of their top targets in the country. With Labour finishing a distant third in Hazel Grove, it will be a two horse race between the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives at the next election.

Last month the Liberal Democrats overturned a 23,000 Conservative majority to win the North Shropshire by-election and earlier in the year also won the Conservative constituency of Chesham and Amersham.

Speaking after the Lib Dem council group meeting last night, Lisa said, “Our area is being taken for granted by Boris Johnson’s Government and it deserves better. We need an MP who is going to stand up for our area in Parliament and fight against the sleaze and corruption of Boris Johnson’s Conservatives.

“I’ve loved working with Mark Hunter as his deputy over the last five years, but with a General Election just round the corner I felt it was the perfect time to step back from my Deputy role so I can concentrate on getting Hazel Grove the MP it deserves. I look forward to supporting Mark and Wendy from the back benches and fighting for local residents.”

Lisa Smart has stepped down as the Deputy Leader of the Lib Dems at Stockport Town Hall. She will continue as councillor for Bredbury Green and Romiley and a member of the shadow cabinet.

Councillor Wendy Meikle, newly elected Deputy Leader and councillor for Offerton, added: “Lisa has made absolutely the right decision for the people of Hazel Grove. They are being taken for granted by the current Conservative MP and I will be helping Lisa to become our next MP. She works tirelessly on behalf of our local community and is truly the MP we deserve. On a personal level, I am delighted that my colleagues have elected me to serve them, supporting Mark Hunter in leading the Group. ”

Lib Dem Group Leader, Councillor Mark Hunter, added: “I would like to put on record my thanks to Lisa for all her hard work as Deputy Leader. I understand her decision to focus her efforts on becoming the next MP for Hazel Grove and she has my full support. I thank my colleagues for electing her replacement and I look forward to having the same constructive relationship with Wendy as I have had with Lisa.”

Greater Manchester and the government must play fair on clean air

Amid rumours of plans for Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham to pause the introduction of the GM-wide Clean Air Zone ahead of the planned implementation in May and following public pressure, Liberal Democrats call for Labour to sort out the shambles they have created, continue to call for more government funding so that fairness can be at the heart of any measures to tackle air quality, and call out hypocrisy by local Tory MPs.

Councillor Mark Roberts, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Climate Change and the Environment at Stockport Council said: “It is clear action on pollution is needed – air pollution contributes to at least 1,200 deaths each year across Greater Manchester. However the Conservative Government have refused to back up the Clean Air Zone they have prescribed with sufficient funding to ensure the hardships this scheme will create are properly mitigated, especially on small businesses and given the impact of Covid.

“This weekend a spokesperson for the Federation of Small Businesses demanded further discussions between the government and the GM Mayor about a satisfactory financial settlement. We support this position. Throughout this process we have highlighted our concerns about inadequate funding and the unfair impact on small businesses and sole traders.

“The whole situation is a shambles and Greater Manchester Labour Leaders, who have the responsibility for implementing the scheme locally, need to get back around the table with government ministers to sort this out.”

Councillor Mark Hunter, Leader of the Lib Dems at Stockport Town Hall, added: “The hypocrisy shown by Tory MPs across Greater Manchester in writing to their own Secretary of State to protest about the Clean Air Scheme their own government is insisting we implement is simply breath-taking. They clearly have no influence within their own government but, much like with our housing targets, they have jumped on another bandwagon to try to court popularity. Residents will see this for the cynical stunt it is.”