Call-in relating to Ludworth Primary School

Three Liberal Democrat councillors recently “called-in” the Cabinet decision relating to increasing the size of Ludworth Primary School.

Ludworth Primary School is one of twenty schools highlighted by the Council as having the worst traffic problems in Stockport Bourough. It also sits within 100m of another primary, St Mary’s RC, which, like other schools, has its own traffic problems.

Marple is one of two priority wards with a serious shortfall of primary places..The plans to expand Ludworth by a half-form entry are a small but welcome means of addressing this. The Cabinet decision was a great opportunity to get this right and plan well.

Back in October, consultations at the school were not widely publicised in the community so ward councillors organised their own consultation meeting, attended by some 70 people and with the Cabinet member for Education accepting an invitation to join us. That produced an agreed set of minutes and proposals which were sent through to the Council at the time.

Ten months later we had a Cabinet paper come to scrutiny committees which failed to address adequately the traffic issues, was vague and non-specific about the measures it did include, and ignored the St Mary’s implications. The Children and Families Scrutiny Committee made detailed recommendations to improve the report but, when the report went on to Cabinet for decision, it was unchanged.

The Cabinet meeting that agreed the paper did so after facing 18 questions from residents, highlighting areas where the paper was inadequate. Despite this, the Cabinet agreed the report with no changes, prompting Lib Dem councillors to “call-in” the report to a further scrutiny meeting.

Speaking after the call-in, Cllr Malcolm Allan, councillor for Marple North, said: “At the call in, Lib Dem councillors proposed amendments to the report to include a specific and clear set of actions that officers have agreed are feasible, practical, not costly and workable. Without this there is no guarantee the children will be as safe as they should be, and the school will be faced with battling these issues rather than focussing on the children and the expansion plans. These proposals received cross party support from members of the committee, with only the Labour members abstaining.

“We hope the cabinet now take note of this input from the community and agree to change the report as requested by the scrutiny committee.”

Statement regarding recent flooding across Stockport borough

Speaking of the recent flooding incidents within Stockport and the national-level incident at Whaley Bridge that threatened the borough along the River Goyt, Cllr Mark Hunter, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Stockport Council, said: “Concerns have been expressed by residents about the extensive recent flooding in various parts of the borough. The usual rainfall for all of July fell in just a few hours last Wednesday and these almost biblical storms affected many areas, particularly the A555, parts of Romiley, Woodley, Cheadle Hulme and Bramhall.

“As elected members, we have been kept well informed by senior officers of the activity undertaken by the council and our partner agencies, particularly the police, fire service and Environment Agency, in response to the flooding. We have also heard many reports from residents thanking the council for their swift action. Alongside this, the threat of a dam burst in Whaley Bridge, with potential to cause a tidal flood all along the River Goyt, saw the army being deployed in Marple in case an evacuation had to be arranged. Modelling suggested that in a worst-case situation, the flood from the dam could impact the Merseyway area of the town centre.

“I am satisfied that the council and its partners did everything they could in response to the dual emergencies they faced over the past week. However, I am concerned about several issues where previous problems seem to have recurred from other recent floods.

“The repeated closure of a new bypass is particularly embarrassing. I note that the main problem last time was the failure of the pumps along the old section of the A555 to clear sufficient water, and that new pumps have been procured and were nearing installation when the current flood happened, and I am assured that this work will be completed as a priority. It is unacceptable for the road to be closed by rainfall in the way it has and we will be seeking assurances that the drainage is fit for purpose once the new pumps are installed.

“It is also unacceptable to hear stories of residents reporting blocked grids several months ago, for apparently no action to be taken by the council, and for these same blocked grids being identified as possibly having contributed to localised flooding. We will be seeking further assurances that all proactive measures to reduce flooding risks are being taken across the borough.

“Officers have already agreed that a detailed enquiry into this major incident needs to be undertaken, reporting initially to the council’s Scrutiny committees, and we await the report with keen interest. We expect the council to take all necessary steps to do their best to ensure that residents and properties are not put at risk in the same way in future.”

Local Lib Dem champion Charles Gibson wins Hazel Grove by-election

In yesterday’s Hazel Grove by-election, local Liberal Democrat champion Charles Gibson was elected to Stockport Council with a majority of 207 over the Conservative candidate.

Speaking after the result was announced, Cllr Mark Hunter, Leader of the Liberal Democrat’s at Stockport Council, said: “I am absolutely delighted with this result. Charles will be a first-rate councillor for Hazel Grove and a big asset to our group. I want to thank everyone who went out to vote in the appalling weather we had throughout the day.

It was a good night for the Liberal Democrats as, once again, local residents chose to back our positive campaign and a strong local champion and rejected the negative campaigning of both Labour and the Conservatives.”

Cllr Lisa Smart, Deputy Leader of the Lib Dems, added: “I have worked closely with Charles for several years now and I know he will work hard to support the residents of Hazel Grove. Added to the historic victory in the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election, it really was a great night for the Liberal Democrats.”

The full result was:

Charles Gibson 1401 votes
Conservative candidate 1194 votes
Labour candidate 329 votes
Green candidate 142 votes
Majority 207

Pictured are Charles Gibson with Liberal Democrat councillors and local campaigners, celebrating the announcement of Charles’ by-election victory.

Liberal Democrats celebrate Stockport’s third Pride event

Local Liberal Democrats were out in force celebrating the third annual Pride event in Stockport.

Speaking afterwards, Cllr Mark Hunter, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Stockport Council, said: “It was fantastic to be able to join everyone in this annual celebration of diversity, which marked the 50th anniversary of the start of the modern LGBT+ movement in New York. Stockport Pride has quickly become a very popular fixture in the calendar and I was delighted to see so many Lib Dem colleagues enjoying such a wonderful atmosphere.”

Cllr Lisa Smart, Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader, added: “As Liberal Democrats, championing the rights of all groups is in our DNA and it has been great to see Stockport Pride go from strength to strength over the past three years. The progress made in LGBT+ rights over recent decades has been tremendous but the community still faces many inequalities, especially in terms of mental health and bullying, and we will continue to champion this cause.”

Mark Hunter meets Stockport’s MYPs

Cllr Mark Hunter, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Stockport Council, yesterday met Alex Davies and Faith Oliver, Stockport’s elected Members of Youth Parliament.

Mark, a lifelong advocate of youth involvement in politics, said: “It was great to meet Alex and Faith and to hear them voice young people’s concerns about issues as diverse as climate change, young carers and youth mental health services. They also shared their frustrations about ways in which the council had made it harder for them to fulfil their roles, which I will be taking up with the Chief Executive at our next meeting.

“Stockport is really lucky to be represented by two such eloquent and confident young people and I look forward to following their progress, as they clearly have very bright futures ahead of them.”

Members of Youth Parliament (MYPs) are elected annually in every part of the UK. Once elected they meet with MPs and local councillors, organise events, run campaigns, make speeches, hold debates and ensure the views of young people are listened to by decision makers.

The most important aspect of any MYP’s job is to make sure they represent the views of the young people in their constituency. Any MYP can set up a campaign, and any young person can support it and make a difference.

Labour’s parking review delayed until 2020

Stockport’s Liberal Democrats have condemned the recent announcement by the Labour administration that the current review of parking policy, which has halted the processing of all applications for residents’ parking schemes and which councillors believed was already well underway, will now not start until September and is not expected to be completed until next April.

In giving a report on her portfolio at the most recent meeting of the Full Council, the cabinet member announced that the current review of parking policy would not be completed this calendar year, but rather said it “should” be completed by the end of this financial year.  She said that the first draft will “hopefully” be ready by the end of December, before going to Scrutiny and to public consultation next year.

Following a series of questions put to the cabinet member, Cllr Lisa Smart, Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, said: “We were all assured that the parking review was already well under way and that the outcome would be known in the autumn so that the backlog of residents’ parking schemes could start to be tackled.  Instead, work isn’t even going to start until the autumn and it will be next spring before the policy is in place. 

“Residents want the council to act to alleviate their parking difficulties, not spend months creating a policy while applications for schemes back up.”

Cllr Mark Hunter, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, added: “This is just the latest example of Labour’s failure to follow through on their promises and deliver something in a timely fashion.  They are frankly asleep at the wheel.  If delivering a parking review after three years in power is too difficult, Labour should step aside and let the Lib Dems sort this out properly.”