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.”

Lib Dems lead call for review of council’s Brexit preparedness

At July’s meeting of the Full Council, Stockport Liberal Democrats presented a motion calling for a comprehensive review of the council’s preparedness for Brexit, highlighting the particular risks of a “no-deal” Brexit. This received unanimous support across all parties.

Speaking after the debate, Lib Dem Group Leader Cllr Mark Hunter said: “With the Tory leadership contenders both tying themselves to renegotiating the Brexit deal in the face of our European partners being very clear that no further negotiations are possible, the spectre of a no-deal Brexit looms ever larger. And our supposed ally across the sea in America has only this week launched further attacks on our government.

“We do not and cannot know the full impact of this reckless folly until it is too late and, because of this, we cannot know whether the council is properly prepared to support our residents and local businesses through what will certainly be challenging times. We need to be diligent in our preparations and be seen to be doing everything we can to mitigate a no-deal Brexit.”

Lib Dem Deputy Leader Cllr Lisa Smart added: “Liberal Democrats will continue to campaign to stop Brexit as there is no deal with the European Union better than the one we already have. In the event that Brexit cannot be stopped, we need to make sure that the council is fully prepared for the uncertainty that will inevitably follow.

“From managing food and drug supplies to ensuring there are carers available for our most vulnerable residents, no part of the borough will be immune from the damage of a no-deal Brexit.”

The text of the motion can be read at the link below:

01 Brexit preparedness

Stockport Labour fail to follow through on Climate Emergency

At Stockport Council’s Cabinet Meeting on Tuesday evening, and in response to a public question, the Labour cabinet member with responsibility for Climate Change and the Green Agenda admitted that, despite the Council Meeting on 28th March passing a resolution declaring a Climate Emergency and calling for a letter to be sent from the Council Leader to the Prime Minister, no such letter has yet been sent.

The excuses given included the local elections in May, the consequent change in who leads the Labour Group and the future change of Prime Minister.

Cllr Mark Hunter, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Stockport Council, said “I am astounded that, despite a motion being passed with all-party support, the Labour administration have not seen fit to write to the Prime Minister in a timely fashion. An emergency was declared almost 12 weeks ago, the outgoing Council Leader had almost two more months in office after the motion was passed before he was replaced and the new Leader has officially been in post for almost a month.

“If Labour really were treating this as a Climate Emergency, rather than just paying lip service to it in reaction to public pressure, they would have sent the letter immediately after the Council Meeting in March. This is simply not good enough and a sign that you cannot trust Labour with the environment.”

Update regarding Stockport Council following the Local Elections

Following the local elections earlier this month, Labour and the Liberal Democrats ended up in a dead heat, each having 26 of the 63 seats on the council, with a small number of Conservative and Independent Ratepayer councillors holding the balance of power.

During the past week there have been intensive negotiations between the Groups which have ended up with agreement that Labour will continue as a minority administration, with no formal support from any other Group, and the Liberal Democrats will remain the main opposition and Chair all five of the Council’s Scrutiny Committees to hold Labour to account.

Speaking after the negotiations had completed, Cllr Mark Hunter, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Stockport Council, said: “We were delighted to make such great progress at the local elections. We conceded that Labour could form the administration for a further year but the Group Leaders had to acknowledge that a dead heat between the main Groups plus a shrinking Conservative Group meant the Lib Dems should control Scrutiny. We will continue to work constructively at the town hall but we will be holding the minority Labour administration to account.”

Deputy Leader, Cllr Lisa Smart, added: “The outcome reflects the political reality of the number of councillors each Group has plus Labour having the mayor’s casting vote for the year ahead. We are looking forward to a very interesting year ahead.”