At its November meeting, Stockport’s Labour Cabinet failed to take a decision on whether to seek funding from the Department for Transport for the work needed to prepare a final business case for the A6 to M60 Relief Road, the final link in delivering the road part of the South East Manchester Multi Modal Study.
Whilst faced with a Group split down the middle on this issue, and in an apparent attempt to dodge the decision by sending it to the Full Council Meeting on 30th November, the Council Leader found that this decision could only be taken by the Labour Cabinet.
Instead, a note had to be circulated to Councillors on the morning of the meeting explaining that their role would be advisory only.
Speaking about this situation, Cllr Mark Hunter, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Stockport Council, said: “We were in the ludicrous position of having a two and a half hours debate about an issue over which the Council Meeting has no decision making power. The Labour Leader of the Council has yet again shown that he freezes when faced with a difficult decision and that he does not understand the powers he has and the processes he should follow.
“The debate itself was very mature and the Council Meeting’s recommendation was to do what was blindingly obvious all along – seek funding for a full business case so that we can get a proper understanding of all of the costs and benefits of the proposed relief road.
“But the focus on this one issue meant that there was no time to hold the Cabinet to account, to debate motions on matters of importance to our residents, or to properly consider a huge contractual decision about waste disposal. All of this was cast aside or rushed through as the meeting ran out of time.”
Cllr Lisa Smart, Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, added: “We know that there are residents who are desperate for an end to be in sight to the traffic congestion and pollution they face every day. We know there are other residents who are desperately worried about the impact of this bypass and want it stopped. The debate last night showed that the best way forward is to gather in the information needed to see whether a full business case stacks up.
“But this was already known nearly a month ago when the Labour Cabinet ducked this decision the first time. There will now be a third meeting in December when the Cabinet will re-visit this and do what they should have done a month earlier.
“The current window for government funding closes this month until next June, which could mean Labour’s failure to show leadership will result in yet further delays to this long awaited relief road.”