Labour fail to take decision over much-needed relief road

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.”

Response to Council consultation on the Information, Advice and Guidance service

 

Stockport Council ran a consultation on its website for residents to comment as part of plans to reduce spending on the Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG) service in 2018/19.

The Liberal Democrat Group on Stockport Council responded to the questions in the following way.

  • We agree that advice drop-in sessions should be available at Fred Perry House on weekdays from 9.30am to 4.30pm.
  • We strongly agree that advice drop in sessions should also be available in selected community locations.
  • We believe that drop-in sessions should be available in Cheadle, Marple and Brinnington (a maximum of three locations could be given).
  • We strongly agree that appointments for more complex advice should be available in community locations.
  • We suggested that the three community locations where appointments should be available should be Cheadle, Marple and Brinnington.
  • We strongly agree that people who are able to self-serve using digital services should be encouraged to do so, enabling face to face services to be prioritised for the most vulnerable.
  • We strongly agree that home visits should be available for people with a physical or mental health issue which prevents them coming into Fred Perry House or a community location.

The Information, Advice & Guidance service offers vital support to residents across the borough of Stockport.

Improvements in the council’s online IAG over recent years are welcome and the Liberal Democrat group is keen to support further positive developments in this area. We should acknowledge, though, that however much work is done to encourage residents to use online services, some people will always need support either over the telephone or face to face. The council should continue to support residents who need that additional support and who are often our most vulnerable residents.

Stockport’s most vulnerable residents don’t all live in priority areas and IAG provision should continue in communities across the borough. There are pockets of deprivation and vulnerable residents across the borough and their needs should be addressed.

IAG is a service that can prevent problems from growing and from further costs being incurred further down the line. The Liberal Democrat group believes that a strong, well-supported IAG service is an important way to support the residents of Stockport.

Response from Department of Education to Lib Dem motion on age-appropriate sex and relationships education

At the Full Council Meeting on 30th March, the Liberal Democrat Group moved a motion calling for the government to provide appropriate support to schools to deliver age-appropriate, LGBT-inclusive, comprehensive relationships education (in primary schools) and sex and relationships education (in secondary schools).

The council have now heard back from the Department for Education. Whilst they are not committing to all of the things we called for – for example, ensuring faith schools and academies deliver this to a common standard – they do set out the government’s current thinking in this area.

The message is attached below.

Correspondence received from the Department for Education 30th-Mar-2017 18.00 Council Meeting

Stockport Lib Dems bring Vince Cable to visit Stepping Hill Hospital

Mark Hunter & Lisa Smart bring Vince Cable to Stepping Hill Hospital to see the pressure our local health services face

Liberal Democrats have called for a 1p rise in income tax to properly fund our NHS and provide the services we need.

Stockport Liberal Democrat Councillors Mark Hunter & Lisa Smart brought Vince Cable to Stepping Hill hospital at the weekend to find out first hand from NHS staff about the pressures they face. Lisa, Mark and Vince toured the A&E, Acute Medical & Surgical Units at the hospital where Lisa and Mark previously led the campaign against ward closures by delivering 6,000 petition signatures from local residents and delivering them to No. 10 Downing Street.

Commenting, Lisa Smart said: “I am always in awe of the amazing work our health professionals do and it’s such a privilege to be able to hear from them first hand. However, it’s clear from the pressures they are under that the NHS is struggling to provide the services we expect without additional funding. That’s why I and the Liberal Democrats are campaigning for an additional penny on income tax so that the NHS can continue to provide the level of service that we need.”

Mark Hunter added: “I am pleased we have had the opportunity to show the Party Leader around our local hospital where so much good work is happening despite the financial challenges they face.”

Vince Cable, Leader of the Liberal Democrats, added: “It was an honour to meet so many dedicated professionals at Stepping Hill who are doing a terrific job despite the very difficult financial circumstances the NHS is in. The Liberal Democrats are the only party willing to have an honest conversation with the British public about the level of funding the NHS requires.”

Vince added; “Local residents are lucky to have such determined campaigners as Lisa Smart and Mark Hunter standing up for local services such as Stepping Hill hospital and putting local people’s needs first.”

Lib Dem Council Motion calls for Police 101 Action

Stockport Liberal Democrats will call for action to make it easier to report non-emergency crimes in a motion at Stockport Full Council on Thursday. If passed, the motion will see Stockport Council writing to Mayor Andy Burnham, who is responsible for policing in Greater Manchester, calling for a review into how the system can be improved.

Cllr Iain Roberts, proposing the motion, said “Every week I am contacted by residents who have witnessed crimes or even been the victim of crime, but have not been able to report it. In 2017 it can’t be right that our only option for reporting non-emergency crimes is to call 101 and wait on the phone – sometimes for an hour or more. As the person in charge of Greater Manchester Police, Andy Burnham needs to get a grip on this.”

Greater Manchester Police’s own figures show that 23% of 101 calls were abandoned in June of this year, up from 17% in May.

Cllr Mark Weldon, who is seconding the motion, said “Every call that the Police are unable to answer is a crime that goes unreported and intelligence that the Police miss out on.”

One in two areas in North West, including Stockport, to see cuts to pupil funding this year

One in two areas in the North West will see school spending per pupil fall this year in real terms, analysis of government figures by the Liberal Democrats has found.

  • 11 of 23 local authorities in the North West will see per pupil funding fall in real terms (i.e. once inflation is taken into account) during 2017-18.
  • Local authorities hardest hit by the cuts include Blackpool (losing £93 per pupil), Salford (£84 per pupil) and Bolton (£78 per pupil)
  • Stockport will see a real-terms cut of £18 per pupil.

Layla Moran MP, Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson, commented:

“Conservative school cuts are putting the futures of young people across the North West at risk.

“After the election the government promised to protect per pupil funding, but these figures show many areas are still set to lose out in real terms.

“We need an education system that broadens young people’s horizons and equips them with the skills they need to be part of the workforce of the future. This is something our government should be proud to invest in.

“Instead we are seeing school spending slashed, resulting in a narrowing curriculum and in dedicated, hardworking teachers being forced out of the profession they love.

“Ministers must urgently reverse these damaging cuts and invest to protect school budgets in real-terms.”