The Liberal Democrats on Stockport Council have submitted a motion for the next meeting of the full council which encourages all male councillors to take the White Ribbon Pledge against domestic violence; calls for the Council to seek White Ribbon Accreditation and to appoint a male councillor as a White Ribbon Ambassador; and to encourage participation among council staff and local primary and secondary schools.
Speaking ahead of the publication of motions later this week, Cllr Mark Hunter, Leader of the Lib Dems at Stockport Town Hall, said: “I am delighted to be proposing this motion, which seeks to highlight the problem of male violence against women and that the answer lies with men never taking part in, condoning or staying silent about such violence.
“With the recent HMI report into Greater Manchester Police highlighting that victims of domestic violence were particularly let down by the force’s failings, it is perhaps more important than ever that we act as a community to try to prevent these crimes.”
Cllr Louise Ankers, Shadow Cabinet member with responsibility for Communications and Engagement, added: “In seconding this motion, I hope to ensure we get maximum involvement by male councillors as well as reaching out to our school communities to ensure that young men grow up knowing that violence against women is wrong.
“I am really pleased to see that, within a couple of weeks of us submitting our motion, the Council have just announced plans to seek White Ribbon Accreditation. This should mean this and the other important aspects of our motion have a better chance of gaining all-party support at the meeting next week.”
Motions will be published on Wednesday 7th July for the meeting of the Full Council on Thursday 15th July. This will be available to watch via the Council’s webcasting platform.
Following a meeting of councillors to scrutinise the Labour Cabinet’s plans to consult about service delivery in a new town centre location, Liberal Democrats have branded the proposed consultation a sham.
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Colin MacAlister, Shadow Cabinet Member for Economy and Regeneration, said: “The Labour Cabinet have shared their plan to ask residents what services they want to see at the new ‘Stockroom’ site, at an as-yet undecided location in Merseyway.
“What they are not telling residents in that consultation is that support for library services would be the final nail in the coffin of the Carnegie-endowment Central Library. Labour’s own report makes it clear that there are no viable alternative uses for the building and yet they seem hell-bent on setting up a rival site, just a few hundred yards away, to try to breathe some life back into Merseyway. At the Scrutiny Committee we discovered for the first time that the whole £14.5m funding package could be at risk if it does not include library facilities and having a cafeteria.”
Cllr Louise Ankers, the Shadow Cabinet Member whose remit includes consultations and library services, added: “Stockport Labour still haven’t learned to listen! Once again they are carrying out a sham consultation, having already decided that they are going to set up a new library in the town centre, which will make Stockport’s loved Central Library obsolete and with no clarity about the future use of this key heritage building to serve Stockport and its residents.
“It seems clear from the Cabinet report that the Central Library building is seen as a burden and it will need to be sold off for a giveaway price to make any future use viable, rather than being brought up to date and made into a properly accessible, modern library, such has been done successfully elsewhere with heritage buildings such as Carnegie Libraries. The Labour Cabinet have even taken legal advice to try to get around the need to consult on this important issue.
“As the largest Group on the Council, the Lib Dems had made clear their opposition to Labour’s stealth closure of the Central Library. It’s not the first time important decisions like this have been taken behind closed doors and we will continue to call Labour out for their dishonest approach to consultations. But residents must remember that we are only in this position because the local Tories have propped up the Labour administration for another year.”
Following contact from local residents across Offerton regarding off-road and road-legal motorcycles being driven dangerously your local Liberal Democrat councillors are working with the local neighbourhood policing team and other partners, including council officers and housing providers, on a coordinated approach which will see known offenders targeted and an increased policing presence in the local area.
We are aware that nuisance motorcycles are regularly causing residents distress and are being driven in an anti-social manner around residential roads, which is unacceptable. Both the council and police would therefore encourage anyone experiencing issues to report them to 101 or online on the www.gmp.police.uk website so resources can be allocated accordingly. All concerns are referred on to the local neighbourhood policing team and allow them to apply for further support in the area.
There has recently been a 50% increase in policing resources for the Offerton area which has resulted in warnings being issued to known local offenders riding bikes anti-socially, as well as intervention from specialist traffic units resulting in 2 bikes and a car being seized near the Offerton estate recently. A request for support from the GMP Off Road Bike Unit has also been submitted.
Further work is also being done in the local community by Stockport Homes’ Anti-Social Behaviour Team to advise residents on how they can report any off-road bikes causing nuisance.
Extra staff will also be deployed over the summer across Stockport to tackle anti-social behaviour as part of ‘Safe4Summer’.
At the resumed Annual Council Meeting last night, Labour and Conservative members voted together to remove the Chairs of two key Scrutiny Committees from the Liberal Democrats, despite the Lib Dems being the largest party on the council, and reinforcing the fact that there is clearly an agreement between these Groups to operate in their own interests, riding roughshod over the Council’s constitution and what is best for good governance at the Town Hall.
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Mark Hunter, Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Stockport, said: “The past three weeks have been a clear demonstration that Stockport now has a Conservative-backed Labour administration. Last night they voted together to secure the Chairs of the committees which scrutinise all of the council’s governance, finance and major investment. This was the third time in the last week that Labour and Conservative councillors have voted as a block.
“Those Chairs have the power to agree late items can be pushed through the decision-making process with minimal scrutiny and to agree which items can be kept from public view. Labour already have form for trying to do things behind closed doors, with their attempt to permanently shut down our wonderful, Carnegie-endowment Central Library, and to sell off Woodbank Hall. Now they have willing accomplices from the Conservative ranks installed in key positions.
“Much was made about this being all very ordinary and in the best interests of the borough, but the truth is this is simply a marriage of convenience, as the Lib Dems are the only challenge to Labour to run the council and the only challenge to the Conservatives in the parliamentary seats of Cheadle and Hazel Grove.
“The Liberal Democrats will hold this unholy alliance to account over the year ahead, and we will be urging residents to vote for a more positive outcome next May.”
Following an adjournment of yesterday’s Annual Meeting, Stockport Council will now meet again tomorrow (Thursday 27th May), as the parties try to agree a way forward for the new civic year.
Last week’s informal meeting had determined a Labour minority administration would continue in office with Conservative support. All eight Conservative councillors voted with Labour to deprive the Liberal Democrats, with 26 seats the largest party on the council, of the chance to form a new minority administration.
Not content with, effectively, being part of the administration it seems the Conservatives also want to control the overview and scrutiny process – a role traditionally taken by the opposition. Such a decision would mean they would only be scrutinising matters which they agreed with in the first place and would be a flagrant disregard of standard local government practice.
Speaking in advance of tomorrow’s meeting Cllr Mark Hunter, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group said “Not content with their grubby deal to cling on to power in Stockport at any price, it now looks as if Labour and the Conservatives are working together to hand control of certain Scrutiny committees to themselves. This really is ‘Alice in Wonderland’ politics and cannot be allowed to go unchallenged.
“In the interests of openness, transparency and accountability Liberal Democrats will oppose these moves and take every opportunity to expose this Conservative-backed Labour administration for the unholy alliance at the Town Hall it is. We will be proposing that the Chairs of Scrutiny remain firmly in opposition hands – the number of Conservative and Liberal Democrat seats on the council remains exactly the same as last year, so there is no justification whatsoever for this proposed change.
“In any event, as far as we are concerned any changes should have been agreed at the Informal Council last week. The very purpose of that meeting was to resolve any matters which may cause disagreement at the Annual Council Meeting. To try to push these controversial proposals through at this late stage is simply unconstitutional.”
Following pressure from the Liberal Democrat Group, Stockport Council’s meeting to determine which Group forms the administration for the year ahead will now be webcast so that the press and public can attend virtually.
Cllr Mark Hunter, Leader of the Lib Dems at Stockport Town Hall, said: “The Informal Council Meeting is held purely to avoid any party political conflict spoiling the installation of a new Mayor at the start of the civic year. This outdated mechanism has not been used for some 15 years and, despite claims made in the press by the current Leader of the Council, the constitution is silent about whether this meeting should be held in public.
“The council’s chief legal officer has now confirmed that the meeting is not a formal decision making meeting but that it is for councillors themselves to decide whether it is held in public. I simply don’t understand why the Leader of the Council was so certain that the meeting had to be held privately and I am glad she has now agreed with me that it should be webcast.
“Clearly this whole process needs to be reviewed before next May, but I am delighted that the press and the public will be able to see local councillors discussing who should lead Stockport for the year ahead before coming to an informal decision that will be formally ratified at the Annual Council Meeting next week.”