Greater Manchester Spatial Framework is “dead in the water”

Liberal Democrats at Stockport Town Hall have declared the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework to be “dead in the water” at a meeting of the full Council last night. Speaking at the meeting Cllr Mark Hunter, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group said given the decision of Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham to postpone the next round of consultation until after the May 2020 local elections the controversial issue had effectively been “kicked in to the long grass”.

Cllr Hunter called for much greater emphasis to be placed on Stockport Council’s own Local Plan and demanded more urgent progress be made. He said “while Liberal Democrats recognise the need for more low cost homes in Stockport, we need the right homes in the right places. Accepting the case for new housing is not the same thing as giving licence to concrete over the countryside”.

The Liberal Democrats have twice attempted to persuade Stockport Council to disengage from the whole GMSF process but were defeated by a combination of Labour and Conservative councillor’s voting together.

Speaking after the meeting Cllr Hunter said “it is increasingly clear that GMSF is going nowhere fast and the current Leader of this Council has no mandate to support it in its current form. With the position of the remaining Conservative councillors now a matter of great uncertainty, it’s clear that there is no majority in Stockport for GMSF to proceed. It’s time to focus on plan ‘B’ “.

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Lib Dems call on Labour to reverse proposed cut to Stockport Local Assistance Scheme

Following concerns expressed by residents, the Liberal Democrat group on Stockport Council have today called on the ruling Labour Council Cabinet to reverse the proposed dangerous £315,000 cut in the Stockport Local Assistance Scheme. The fund was specifically set up to assist those most in need and the vulnerable. If Labour’s proposed cut were to go ahead it would represent a massive 68% reduction in help for those in the greatest of need in our community.

Cllr Mark Weldon, shadow cabinet member for Inclusive Neighbourhoods, said “This will be devastating for families and single people in crisis. These funds help people trying to set up homes after a crisis or young people leaving care, with grants for basic furniture and food and heating. The Lib Dem group will be opposing this attack on Stockport’s most vulnerable citizens”.

Full details of the proposed cut can be found here.

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Tories starve Stockport NHS Foundation Trust of over £4m

The Liberal Democrats have slammed the Tories as “heartless” for starving the NHS of vital cash after revealing Stockport NHS Foundation Trust paid £4,136,907 in interest on outstanding debt over the last five years.

Former Liberal Democrat leader, Tim Farron, warned taxpayers money being spent “lining the Government’s coffers instead of training more doctors and nurses” was “an absolute slap in the face to all of us that rely on the NHS”.

The figures from the Department for Health and Social Care, uncovered by a Liberal Democrat Freedom of Information request, revealed £607,404,854 worth of interest on outstanding debt was paid by over NHS Trusts to the Department for Health and Social Care in the last five years.

According to calculations by the Liberal Democrats, that money could have paid for 22,000 Nurses, 13,850 Clinical Psychologists or 6,700 Consultants.

The same statistics also show that the NHS Trusts, which service a local area or specialised function to deliver aspects of healthcare, paid almost £63m of interest on outstanding debt in 2013/2014. In 2017/2018, it dramatically rose to over £205m.

The revelation reinforces concerns from the National Audit Office which warns “the underlying financial health in some trusts is getting worse”, despite the Government’s commitment in the NHS Long Term Plan to “reducing year-on-year the number of trusts and CCGs individually in deficit, so that all NHS organisations are in balance by 2023/24.”

Liberal Democrat spokesperson Lisa Smart for Hazel Grove said:

“While hard working doctors and nurses are being forced to work with insufficient resources, it’s frankly heartless that the Conservatives have starved Stockport NHS Foundation Trust of over £4m.

“If the Conservatives were actually giving our hospitals the funding they need then health trusts wouldn’t be forced to run a deficit in the first place.”

Liberal Democrat spokesperson Tom Morrison for Cheadle added:

“That taxpayers money is being spent lining the Government’s coffers instead of on training more doctors and nurses is an absolute slap in the face to all of us that rely on the NHS.

“People deserve better, and the Liberal Democrats demand better. That is why Liberal Democrats are committed to a transformational investment in public health with a modest penny on income tax.”

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Dramatic increase in complaints against Labour-led Stockport Counci

Research by Stockport’s Liberal Democrat councillors has revealed that there has been a dramatic increase in the number of complaints upheld by the Local Government Ombudsman against Stockport Council, over the last three years since Labour came to power. The number of cases regarding SMBC considered by the Ombudsman over the period 2016-2019 has increased by 20% but the number of complaints upheld has increased by a massive 100% according to figures obtained by the Liberal Democrats.

Leader of the Liberal Democrats at Stockport Town Hall, Cllr Mark Hunter, said “These figures show a worrying trend of not just more complaints from local residents to the Ombudsman but – significantly – many more of them are being upheld. As the highly regarded independent referee of disputes between the Council and residents, going to the Ombudsman is often the final sanction a resident can take. For the Council to be losing so many of these cases suggests something is very wrong. Looking back over the figures for the previous three years of Liberal Democrat leadership, 2013-2016, Stockport Council had only one in ten complaints upheld against it. In the three years of Labour leadership the figures show that now over one in five cases are successful against the Council.

“From my questions at the full Council meeting yesterday evening it seems Labour are once again asleep at the wheel when they should be investigating the reasons why complaints have soared and why the Council is losing so many of the appeals to the Ombudsman. Liberal Democrats demand better, Stockport residents deserve better, and we are asking for an urgent review of just exactly how these complaints are dealt with by Stockport Council”.

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Stockport Liberal Democrats call for action on engine idling

Liberal Democrats on Stockport Council are proposing a motion to bring forward plans for No Idling Zones across the borough, particularly near schools, to try to improve air quality.

Speaking ahead of publication of the motion, Cllr Colin MacAlister, Liberal Democrat councillor for Marple South and High Lane, Shadow Cabinet Member for Regeneration, and mover of the motion, said: “All of the evidence shows that we need to improve air quality, particularly around our schools. For example, contract school buses often sit with their engines running whilst waiting for the school day to end, pumping harmful gases into the environment. Car drivers need to play their part too.

“We need action by the council and Transport for Greater Manchester to educate people through a proper public awareness campaign, and this needs to be backed by fair enforcement measures.”

Cllr Becky Senior, Liberal Democrat councillor for Marple North and seconder of the motion, added: “The problem is not just around schools. There are lots of public spaces like railway stations where taxis, for example, habitually leave their engines running for extended periods. We are asking for officers to do a comprehensive assessment of where No Idling Zones should be introduced across Stockport to have the most impact and to then deploy the existing civil enforcement officers and the anti-social parking camera car to enforce them.

“We hope that this non-partisan motion will be welcomed by and gain support from all parties across the council chamber when it is debated next week.”

The text of the motion can be read here. It will be debated at the Full Council Meeting on Thursday 12th September.

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Stockport Labour lurch ever further to the left

Speaking after the announcement of Labour’s selection of another hard-left prospective parliamentary candidate (PPC), this time in Ann Coffey’s seat of Stockport, Cllr Mark Hunter, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Stockport Council, said: “It was disappointing but hardly a surprise to see that the Momentum-backed candidate was recently selected as PPC for Stockport. Reports on Labour’s own channels tell of manipulation of the shortlist to give a favoured hard-left candidate, supported by John McDonnell amongst others, a clear path to victory. This ignored the local party’s decision for an all-woman shortlist and excluded a well-known local councillor who had been endorsed by the Jewish Labour Movement.

“It must be a terrible time to be a moderate Labour supporter. With no clear position on Brexit and with roles at all levels being taken over by Momentum, it is no surprise that support for and membership of the Liberal Democrats is at an all-time high, with many former Labour members coming to us. It does help to explain why the current Labour administration appear to be asleep at the wheel and getting nothing done – they are too busy having to focus on their internal rifts.”

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