The Liberal Democrats warn that Stockport could be sleepwalking into further traffic chaos as the Labour Cabinet are unable to provide reassurances about the imminent closure of the A6 in the town centre, even at the second time of asking.
Lib Dem Group Leader Councillor Mark Hunter first raised this issue at a Town Hall Meeting on 21st June, when he sought assurance from the Labour Cabinet member that roadworks, scheduled for 12 weeks from late July and which will see the A6 closed where it crosses the River Mersey, were to be handled as efficiently as possible.
Cllr Hunter said “We need the road closure to be as short as possible to minimise inconvenience and I wanted assurance that the contractors were being directed to work overnight, or at least late into the evening, and that work would be continuing across the weekends. Nothing infuriates residents more than seeing road closures with no roadworks actually happening.
“An officer present at the meeting told me that the contractor had been asked to work late, but no one was able to tell me for certain what has been agreed.”
Having failed to receive these assurances, Cllr Hunter again raised this issue at the Full Council meeting on 29th June and, once again, the Cabinet member for Economy and Regeneration was unable to give any detail about what has been arranged.
Cllr Hunter said: “It is frankly shocking that, over a week since my first enquiry and just a few weeks before the complete closure of this major arterial route, the Cabinet member still doesn’t seem to know what is going on and could only promise to write to me with the details.
“The closure of the A6, alongside other ongoing roadworks, has the potential to have a huge impact on thousands of residents and many businesses. Labour clearly aren’t taking this seriously and are simply sleepwalking towards traffic chaos.”
Lib Dem Group Leader and Cheadle Hulme South Councillor Mark Hunter has slammed the decision of a planning inspector to give the go ahead to controversial plans for large-scale development at Handforth Dean.
The decision just announced will allow Conservative controlled Cheshire East council to build more than 2000 new homes at Handforth, the vast majority of which will be opposite the Marks and Spencer Store at Handforth Dean.
The development planned has already been vociferously opposed by local residents, who will be desperately disappointed that the inspector has allowed the plans to go ahead.
Speaking on behalf of the Lib Dem Group at Stockport Town Hall, Cllr Hunter said: “This is an appalling decision and I know many local residents will share my anger at the green light for this scheme given the traffic chaos that will ensue as a result.
“This whole project has been mired in controversy from the start and represents a nice little earner for Tory-run Cheshire East Council, who own the site. They are apparently unconcerned about the impact it will have on traffic flows, I suspect because most of the traffic will be flowing through Stockport rather than the other way in to Cheshire.
“The A34 is jammed at peak times already and these plans will only make matters much worse. We agree that new homes are needed but they must be in the right place and the need for new homes is not the same thing as a licence to concrete over the countryside.
“I shall seek an assurance from Stockport Council that they will be pressing Cheshire East to meet the cost of any and all mitigation measures necessary to ensure the A34 can flow freely.”
Stockport Liberal Democrats have demanded a speedy response to concerns over the safety of tower blocks in the borough following the heart-breaking tragedy at Grenfell Tower in London.
Cllr Mark Hunter, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group at the Town Hall said: “I welcome the fact that Stockport Homes, who manage these homes for Stockport Council, have invested almost £5m in the last 5 years upgrading fire safety measures including fire doors, smoke alarms and door closers.
“But it is perfectly understandable that, following the disaster in London and as several of our tower blocks have external cladding, our tenants here in Stockport should want re-assurance that their homes are safe.
“Liberal Democrats welcome the council’s announcement of a review of safety in the light of these concerns – but it must be, and be seen to be, fully independent of the contractors involved in delivering the property improvements in question, and it must be conducted promptly.
“We are also concerned that the ‘stay in your property’ guidance is not appropriate for a fire of the type seen in London and thought must be given to how the actions of fire crews and advice to residents may need to change in the light of this recent tragedy. Lessons must be learned.”
Cllr Mark Hunter has replaced Cllr Iain Roberts as Leader of the Opposition Liberal Democrat Group on Stockport Council, with Cllr Lisa Smart taking on the position of Deputy Leader.
Cllr Roberts decided to step down as Group Leader, a position he has held since May 2016, due to work commitments.
Cllr Mark Hunter became Group Leader and Cllr Lisa Smart became Deputy Leader following Group elections on Monday.
Cllr Iain Roberts said: “It has been a tremendous honour to lead the Lib Dem Group over the past year. We have held the new Labour administration to account and actively campaigned to highlight national issues, protect services our residents rely upon and to fight off the excesses of the proposed GM Spatial Framework.
“I have been ably supported by Mark as my Deputy Leader and I know the Group is in safe hands with him as Group Leader. He will be just as ably supported by Lisa Smart.”
Cllr Mark Hunter said: “We are all very grateful to Iain for the leadership he has shown and his hard work over the past year. That the Group is in such a good shape to continue to challenge the Labour administration is in no small part due to his efforts. It was an honour to serve as Leader between 2002 and 2005 and I relish the opportunity to return to this role.
“Our initial job is to continue to constructively oppose Labour who, in their informal alliance with the local Tories, continue to operate as a minority administration.
“The Liberal Democrats are campaigning for a Stockport Council run in the interests of residents – that is what people will get if they elect Lib Dem councillors in next year’s local elections.”
Local Councillor Lisa Smart will be the Liberal Democrat candidate for the constituency of Hazel Grove at the General Election on June 8th 2017. Councillor and former MP Mark Hunter will be the Liberal Democrat candidate for Cheadle constituency.
Mark and Lisa have a track record of campaigning for better services at Stepping Hill Hospital, standing up against Conservative and Labour plans to bulldoze our greenbelt and winning fights to keep local buses on the road.
In this election Hazel Grove is a clear fight between hard working local Councillor Lisa Smart and the Conservatives. In Cheadle only Mark Hunter can beat the Tories. The other parties are out of the race.
The Labour Party are a mess. Fighting among themselves rather than fighting the government. Only the Liberal Democrats will stand up against this Conservative government.
Tim Farron MP, leader of the Lib Dems said,“This election is your chance to change the direction of our country.
“If you want to avoid a disastrous Hard Brexit. If you want to keep Britain in the Single Market. If you want a Britain that is open, tolerant and united, this is your chance.”
Lisa added, “As a local Councillor it’s a privilege to stand up for residents at the Town Hall. I’m keen to take that fight to Westminster.”
Printed, published and promoted by Keith Holloway on behalf of Mark Hunter, Lisa Smart and Jane Brophy (Liberal Democrats) all at 11A Victoria Avenue, Cheadle Hulme, SK8 5DJ
The Liberal Democrat Group were sad to hear of the death early this morning of Labour Councillor Maureen Rowles, after a lengthy period of illness.
Speaking of her passing Cllr Iain Roberts, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, said “It was with much sadness that I heard of Maureen’s death this morning. A stalwart of the Labour Group who was popular with members across the political spectrum, she first became a councillor almost 40 years ago. She was well liked and respected in equal measure. She always spoke with passion and was a stalwart champion of her residents in Brinnington and Central ward. Our thoughts go to her family and many friends both in and out of politics.”