Stockport Lib Dems call for special meeting on policing

Cllr Tom Morrison, the Lib Dem spokesperson for Inclusive Neighbourhoods, has called for a special meeting to go through the issues raised by damning report into Greater Manchester Police, by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS).

The report, which found over 80,000 crimes in 12 months went unrecorded, stated that Greater Manchester Police was one of the worst forces in the country.

Since then, GMP has been placed into special measures and the Chief Constable has resigned.

Stockport Liberal Democrats have now requested an extraordinary meeting of the Communities & Housing Scrutiny Committee be organised, to which the Deputy Mayor of Greater Manchester, the person with responsibility over policing, is invited to answer questions.

Cllr Tom Morrison said, “This is a full blown crisis and people across Stockport deserve answers on what has happened and what plans are in place to make sure Greater Manchester gets the police force it deserves.

“GMP’s police officers and frontline staff have done an incredible job of keeping our communities safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it appears there has been a real failure at a senior and political level, which has meant victims of crime are not getting the justice they deserve.

“This cannot carry on, and it is only right that the Deputy Mayor comes and explains to councillors what is happening and how she is ensuring a vast improvement is going to happen.”

Stockport Lib Dems concern at GM Police being placed in special measures

Reacting to the news that Greater Manchester Police have been put into special measures by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services, Cllr Mark Hunter, Leader of the Liberal Democrats at Stockport Town Hall, said:

“Whilst we all have faith in our local policing teams, who literally put their lives on the line for our communities each day, the news that Greater Manchester Police have been put in special measures is truly shocking and an indictment of both the political leadership of the Greater Manchester Mayor and the Deputy responsible for policing and the professional leadership of senior officers.

“This is only the second time a police force has ever faced such an intervention, and it only happens because HM Inspectorate believe a force is not responding to or failing to manage a cause of concern. Urgent action is needed to rectify what has been a struggling service for some years now, exacerbated by a failing new IT system which is still not functioning correctly almost 18 months after launch.

“I look forward to a clear statement from the Mayor of how he intends to turn this situation around.”

Relief as Stockport Council votes against the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework

At a dramatic extraordinary meeting of Stockport Council, Councillors voted not to proceed with the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF) in its current form by 35 votes to 26.

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Mark Hunter, Leader of the Liberal Democrats at Stockport Town Hall, said: “Finally other groups have joined with the Lib Dems and voted down GMSF, which has caused immense concern for local residents for several years, threatening the Green Belt and open spaces across the borough in the process.

“We have been arguing for a focus on Stockport’s own Local Plan for over four years now and we have until the end of 2023 to develop a plan that is robust but protects the green spaces our residents care about. We are not opposed to working with our Greater Manchester neighbours and other political parties to make a success of a new strategy. Urgent work is now needed to ensure that the Labour administration act to protect our borough from developers who want to simply concrete over the Green Belt.

“This is a clear victory for common sense and many residents will share our relief that these unloved plans have been rejected.”

Liberal Democrats in key GM Spatial Framework summit

Following the publication of their open letter to GM Mayor Andy Burnham, Stockport Council Liberal Democrat leaders were invited to a high level summit meeting on Monday for a discussion of their red lines with respect to the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF), the now much-overdue 17 year plan for housing.

Moved forward from Tuesday, the meeting included Mayor Burnham, Cllr Wilson, the Labour Leader of Stockport Council, and Mayor Dennett, Salford City Council’s leader and the main architect of the current version of GMSF.

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Mark Hunter, Leader of the Lib Dems at Stockport Town Hall, said: “We were invited to a meeting having made clear our concerns about GMSF – the use of outdated and inflated housing need figures and too much development on Green Belt, and with absolutely no guarantee of any public transport or other improvements needed to make the proposals practicable.

“This was a very cordial meeting and we acknowledged that the current version of GMSF was better than previous drafts, and the further changes now being suggested are a marked improvement over what was described only a week ago as ‘as good as it can be’. We believe this is because Lib Dems, community groups and local residents have held out and kept the pressure up rather than just accepting the initial proposals.

“We do remain disappointed, however, that at this late stage there is apparently no willingness on Labour’s part to go further.”

Deputy Leader, Cllr Lisa Smart, added: “Some limited concessions have clearly been made in some tightly defined areas but we aren’t prepared to throw the rest of the borough under a bus for those. For all its improvements, we believe the public want us to continue to resist this inadequate plan and to continue to fight for the best deal for our borough.”

Stockport Lib Dems send open letter to Andy Burnham re GM Spatial Framework

Following the adjournment of last night’s meeting, which was expected to vote down the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF), Andy Burnham invited Groups willing to be cooperative to make contact with him to try to find a way forward.

Cllr Mark Hunter, Leader of the Lib Dems at Stockport Town Hall, said: “Though some might see this as a desperate stop-gap measure whilst Labour scratch together a deal with the Tories, we have decided to take Andy Burnham at his word and we have set out what we believe needs to change for us to be able to support a revised version of GMSF.

“The first priority has to be protecting the Green Belt for everyone to enjoy. Next, we need assurance that public transport and other infrastructure improvements needed for any site will be guaranteed as an integral part of the overall package. Finally, we want to see housing need to be based on more realistic figures than those from 2014.

“I hope that the offer to discuss a way forward was sincere and I look forward to hearing back from the GM Mayor.”

The letter can be read below.

Labour pull plug on crunch housing vote

At tonight’s Extraordinary Meeting of Stockport Council to have the crunch vote on the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF) the extraordinary happened.

With no prior consultation or advance warning, the Labour Leader of the Council proposed an adjournment of “two to three weeks” to have further behind the scenes discussions to try to cobble together enough votes to save GMSF.

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Mark Hunter, Leader of the Lib Dems at Stockport Town Hall, said: “Once again Labour, propped up by the Tories, have dodged a vote they were going to lose on whether Stockport remains in GMSF or pursues its own Local Plan.  GMSF has already been voted on at other Local Authorities and yet their decisions will be meaningless if GMSF is changed.

“Hearing a prepared speech in response by the Tory Leader, it was clear that yet another stitch up has happened, showing nothing but contempt for councillors and, more importantly, for residents who have had the threat to their green spaces hanging over them for years now and thought this would come to an end tonight.  There have been many years for them to have these talks and, if they were serious about building a broad coalition rather than a grubby deal, we would have been told in advance what was planned.

“Liberal Democrats remain committed to oppose GMSF because of the continued threat to the Green Belt and we will do so again whenever Labour and the Tories see fit to allow the vote to happen.”