At the resumed Budget Council Meeting last night, following the rejection of Labour’s budget at the first asking, Liberal Democrats moved a budget amendment to protect and enhance the role of local communities in decision making by ensuring the current budgets for area committees are not scrapped.
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Mark Hunter, Opposition Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, said: “We set out our stall last week that local democracy should be protected and enhanced. Our amendment tonight saw unanimous support and has ensured that each ward has £10,000 a year more for highways schemes and grants to local groups. These make a huge difference to local residents and, in line with a core Liberal Democrat principle, the decision making should remain with local people through their Area Committees.
“Unfortunately the meeting took a bizarre turn as the Conservative Group sought to gain support for a muddled, reckless and ill thought out amendment which would put the council’s future finances at risk. There were several parts which we would have supported but the whole was simply an inappropriate attempt to write their election leaflets, such as throwing away the contingency being put aside for the unknown impact of Brexit. Fortunately the other Groups saw through this and, rightly, all voted the Conservative proposals down.”
Speaking today, after the formation of a new Independent grouping of former Labour MPs announced this morning, Cllr Mark Hunter, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Stockport Council and former Cheadle MP (2005-2015), said:
“The Labour Party has been hijacked by the extreme left, many of their members have been subject to vitriolic attacks and this split has been a long time coming. The recent handling of Brexit and antisemitism by the Labour leadership has clearly made the status quo impossible. I was delighted to see that the “magnificent seven” includes Ann Coffey, MP for Stockport.
“From my time in parliament I know that Ann is a person of great integrity and I commend her bravery on taking what must have been a very difficult decision. This is an important step for all seven MPs to leave Labour and set up a separate, breakaway Independent Group. I hope that we may be able to work together again in the future on the issues where we agree.
“Ann will face a challenging next few days, weeks and months. I offer her whatever support I can as she moves through this difficult period and I hope that the new group will recognise that their interests and those of the Liberal Democrats are very closely aligned. The party nationally has already announced that it will be engaging in talks with all other groups and individuals to progress giving people a final say on Brexit and the wider political agenda.”
Speaking after the publication of the latest version of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework and the imminent launch of a further period of public consultation, Cllr Mark Hunter, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Stockport Council, said: “Liberal Democrats have long fought to protect the greenbelt and, in Stockport, we rejected the original GM Spatial Framework proposals which would have resulted in great swathes of land being concreted over. We accept the need to build the right homes in the right places.
“We continue to believe that a “brownfield first” approach should be taken and that any house building programme needs to be accompanied by the right transport improvements as well as healthcare and education facilities and that this needs to be delivered before any large scale house building commences. “To deliver anything like fifteen thousand new homes in Stockport would cause an intolerable demand on our roads and public transport unless it is accompanied by substantial transport investment including Metrolink, tram-trains, new railway stations at Cheadle and Stanley Green, improvements to the bus network and delivery of the M60 to A6 relief road, joining up with the new A6 to Manchester Airport relief road.
“It is disappointing that the Conservative government have chosen to direct local authorities to ignore the latest independent, national population projections and are forcing on local residents a centralised, artificial target which calls for a level of housebuilding which is clearly undeliverable.”
Cllr Lisa Smart, Deputy Leader of Stockport’s Liberal Democrats and Chair of the GM Housing, Planning and Environment Scrutiny Committee, said: “We strongly encourage all residents to participate in the consultation which is due to start in the coming weeks. Whilst the last consultation was criticised for not listening to local people, we hope the Labour-run GM Combined Authority has learnt lessons and the next consultation will be more robust. We hope as many people as possible will make their views known.
“We recognise improvements to the Spatial Framework proposals following the criticisms we levelled against the earlier version, concerns still remain. Overall, the number of houses to be delivered is smaller and the impact on the greenbelt overall is lower especially as there will be significant development in Stockport town centre. However there is still scope for improvement. “We will continue to fight for the best housing plan for Stockport.”
“We will continue to fight for the best housing plan for Stockport.”
Following the announcement by the council that it is withdrawing the proposal to scrap the Stockport Local Assistance Scheme, Cllr Mark Hunter, Leader of Stockport’s Liberal Democrats, said: “We are sure residents will share our relief that this important safety net has been saved, but they will also share our concern that it is only saved for a year with a ‘thorough review’ of the scheme to be made over the coming year. One would have hoped that such a review would have happened before making a proposal to scrap a scheme which provides vital support to such vulnerable residents.
“Stockport’s Liberal Democrats have opposed this wrong-headed budget proposal since it was announced and we are frankly astounded that it has been handled in such a clumsy way. This was a thoroughly bad and mean-spirited suggestion in the first place and no doubt many members of the public will share our disgust that it should have come from a Labour administration at the Town Hall”.
At last week’s Full Council Meeting, Stockport Liberal Democrats successfully introduced a motion which means the council will require new developments, including conversions, to have charging points for electric vehicles and which will see officers bid for government funding for on-street charging points and the development of a comprehensive plan for implementing borough-wide on-street charging infrastructure to make it as easy as possible for people to switch from more polluting vehicles.
Speaking after the motion was passed, Cllr Colin MacAlister, councillor for Marple South & High Lane ward and Shadow Cabinet Member for Economy and Regeneration, said: “We know one of the reasons more people do not switch to electric vehicles is the lack of charging points, so we want the council to do more to make developers put the infrastructure in place. This is just one more way that we can start to tackle pollution.
“It is a tragedy that the Conservative government have removed or reduced the subsidies for less polluting vehicles at this time, taking away another incentive for people to be more environmentally friendly.”
Cllr Christine Corris, councillor for Bredbury & Woodley ward and Lib Dem Planning lead, said: “With the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework on the horizon and more housebuilding and conversions likely, we want to see our planning policy include provision for electric cars. Hopefully where Stockport leads, Greater Manchester will follow.
“We also hope that the council can successfully bid for funds for on-street charging points to support those residents who do not have driveways.”
Speaking after attending the official ministerial opening of the A6 to Manchester Airport relief road, Cllr Mark Hunter, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Stockport Council and former Member of Parliament for Cheadle, said: “After many years of delays and cancellations by previous Labour and Conservative governments, I was delighted when the Coalition government (2010-2015) finally gave the ‘green light’ to this much needed scheme. Andrew Stunell (then MP for Hazel Grove) and I lobbied tirelessly for the Relief Road and met several times with George Osborne (then Chancellor of the Exchequer) to secure the multi-million pound investment needed to get the road built.
“Thousands of residents in Heald Green, Cheadle Hulme and Bramhall are already seeing the benefits of the bypass, including reduced congestion and improved traffic flows and air quality on our residential streets. I am proud that the Coalition had the political will to ensure this road was finally delivered.”
Cllr Lisa Smart said, “The full benefits of the road will only be seen when the final link from Hazel Grove to the M60 at Bredbury is complete. Roads such as Bents Lane and Otterspool Road are simply too congested and the Liberal Democrats will continue to fight for the “missing link” to be built.”