Lib Dems launch scheme for Stockport to recapture recycling crown

  • Lib Dem budget amendment will invest £250,000 to improve recycling rates
  •  The “spend-to-save” investment will bring more money into the council and be good for the environment
  • Other parties given advance notice and asked to support the proposal

Stockport Liberal Democrats are proposing a bold scheme to recapture the recycling crown the borough had just a few years ago as the best urban recycler in the country.

The scheme will see Stockport residents given information and encouragement to recycling more.

“Stockport residents have always done us proud on recycling, making the borough one of the top recyclers in the country,” said Cllr Lisa Smart, “but recently we’ve slipped down the rankings. That’s bad for the environment and it’s costing us money. Every time something goes to expensive landfill instead of being recycled, local taxpayers pick up the bill.”

The Lib Dem scheme, being proposed at the Budget Council meeting on 23rd February, is an “invest to save” plan.

“We’ve looked at the evidence from what Stockport has done in the past and what other councils are doing around the country. We are confident that an investment of £250,000 to help residents recycle more will see taxpayers save that amount several times over. That means more money to spend on repairing our roads and looking after our vulnerable and elderly people.” said Cllr Mark Hunter.

The proposal will come to Budget Council as an amendment to the ruling Labour Group’s budget.

“Opposition amendments are often sprung on the budget meeting by surprise,” said Group Leader Iain Roberts. “In this case we have let the other groups know about our proposal well in advance. We believe it’s a prudent measure that will improve Stockport’s recycling and save the council money so we’re asking the other groups to support it.”

Government white paper adds weight to case against GM Spatial Framework

 

  • Save our GreenbeltNew housing targets proposed for later this year, but GMSF still working on old numbers
  • Despite warm words from ministers, white paper puts our greenbelt under even more threat
  • No measures proposed to make it easier to build on brownfield sites

Stockport’s Lib Dem leader Cllr Iain Roberts has again called for the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF) to be scrapped after the publication of a Government housing white paper made clear even more pressure would be put on Greater Manchester to build in the greenbelt.

“Despite warm words from ministers, this white paper means more building on the greenbelt, not less,” said Iain. “The Government is telling councils to build more houses, but isn’t giving them any help to build more on brownfield sites. As councils are currently saying that they’re building as much as they can on brownfield sites, that leaves only one alternative – build more on the greenbelt.”

The Liberal Democrats are calling for Stockport to withdraw from the GMSF, and calling on the Government to do more to help councils build on brownfield sites.

“The white paper, along with proposed mayoral powers, have already made the GMSF obsolete,” said Cllr Lisa Smart, who opposes plans to build 4,000 homes on green belt around High Lane.

“They are developing a plan based on numbers which we now know one hundred percent for sure will be wrong before the plan is finalised. Now is the time to stop and look again at our options.”

“You can walk through any town in Greater Manchester and find building after building that’s empty, under-used, in poor condition or simply not fit for purpose. We can do better,” said Cllr Mark Hunter, who’s leading the fight against greenbelt development in Bramhall, Cheadle Hulme and Heald Green.

“We need the Government to give us the powers and funding to sort out those sites and bring them back into use. We need the powers to force developers to build on brownfield sites first and only go into the greenbelt when there is genuinely no other option. This Conservative government white paper completely fails to deliver.”

Lib Dem motion to save the greenbelt blocked

The Liberal Democrats’ second attempt to protect Stockport’s greenbelt was blocked tonight when Labour and Conservative councillors once more worked together against it.

The Lib Dems say that Stockport should leave the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework and instead the borough should work with local residents to develop a bottom-up plan that better meets local needs and protects our green spaces.

“We will not give up – the fight to protect our precious greenbelt goes on.” said Cllr Iain Roberts, who proposed the motion. “The Tory/Labour case was exposed at the end of the night when they tried to hold onto two totally contradictory positions. On the one hand, they say that leaving the GMSF would inevitably lead to a thousand more houses being built on the greenbelt and to developers building wherever they like. But in the next breath they claim that if the council doesn’t like the GMSF in a year’s time, it can leave then. Both cannot be true!”

“It’s very clear that Stockport is being targeted by developers and landowners looking to make a profit from building on the greenbelt. That’s unacceptable. We want a plan that puts local people first.” said Cllr Mark Hunter, who seconded the motion.

“It’s clear that the other parties failed to support the motion because it came from the Liberal Democrats – they are putting political point-scoring before the needs of our communities,” he added.

The Liberal Democrats have pledged to continue the campaign to protect Stockport’s greenbelt.

“Leave GMSF now”, say Stockport Liberal Democrats

green-belt-mapjpgThe Liberal Democrats are calling for Stockport to withdraw from the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework and are inviting the other parties to support a Lib Dem motion coming to Full Council.

In December, in a motion proposed by Cllr Mark Hunter, Deputy Leader of the Lib Dem Group, the Lib Dems tried to pull Stockport out of the plan, which will see thousands of houses built on the greenbelt. That attempt was blocked by the Labour and Conservative councillors who not only voted it down but even blocked debate on the issue.

Now they are trying again, with a motion to Stockport Full Council on 19th January.

“The GMSF is a top-down plan that will see thousands of houses built on the greenbelt with no plan to deal with the problems it will cause. It is very clear that the people of Stockport disagree with the proposals,” said Cllr Hunter.

“The right approach is to pull out of the GMSF and start work on a plan for Stockport, with Stockport people involved from day one,” Mark added.

The Liberal Democrats want Stockport to develop a 15-year Local Plan, as many other councils are doing. The GMSF is a 20-year plan, which means a third more houses.

“This is about the future of our area for decades to come,” said Cllr Lisa Smart. “Our future should be decided by our local communities, and that won’t happen if the GMSF goes ahead. We should leave it now and get on with developing a plan that’s right for Stockport.”

On whether the other parties would support the motion, Lib Dem leader Cllr Iain Roberts said “I’ve been told that we can’t do this in case we upset other leaders across Greater Manchester. I say we have to do this because it’s the right thing for Stockport. I hope the other parties will reconsider their positions and support our motion.”

Below is a briefing note we have prepared setting out the Stockport Lib Dem position on this issue.

 

Why the Liberal Democrats want Stockport to withdraw from the GMSF

A briefing document from Stockport Liberal Democrats, January 2017

The ten Greater Manchester authorities and the Combined Authority are jointly pursuing the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF) to identify land for housing, offices and industrial use over the next twenty years. The requirement for a local plan comes from the Government.

The Liberal Democrats want Stockport to withdraw from the GMSF and instead start work on its own Local Plan.

We proposed this in December but the proposal was rejected by Labour and Conservative councillors who not only voted us down but refused to even allow the issue to be debated. However, we think this is too important to drop so we are proposing it again this month and we are urging councillors from the other groups to support us.

20 years is too long

Most councils across the country are producing 15 year local plans. Greater Manchester’s plan is over 20 years, which means a third more housing is required. But a lot can change in 15 years. The Liberal Democrats believe a 15 year plan would be more appropriate, and it would also greatly reduce the pressure on the greenbelt.

Look again at brownfield sites

If the GMSF goes through, the result will be large-scale building on the greenbelt while numerous brownfield sites in our towns remain empty and derelict. That’s largely a Government policy failure. The Government has cut funding available to develop those brownfield sites which means they are not viable. The Liberal Democrats want to see more done to use the existing brownfield sites, and to ensure that greenbelt is not developed while brownfield remains unused.

GMSF is a bad solution

The GMSF plans for Stockport are badly flawed. Sites are being proposed which will have a huge environmental effect, for which there is no transport infrastructure plan and little chance of getting the money to deliver to sort of plan that would be needed. We have concerns about many other issues including pollution, pressure on the NHS, schools and flooding. Taken with Cheshire East’s proposals, the thousands of additional houses near High Lane and clustered around the A34 are simply unworkable. We do not believe this can be fixed by tweaking – we need to rethink from first principles what we are trying to achieve.

Bottom-up, not top-down

The GMSF plan has been produced by Greater Manchester council officers and a small number of politicians. Former Lib Dem leader Sue Derbyshire never saw the proposals: they were developed when she was no longer leader. Stockport councillors, and the public, didn’t even get to see the plan until it was fully-formed. That’s no way to make such an important decision that will affect our communities for decades or even centuries to come. The Liberal Democrats want a plan built by communities. It should start with a discussion about what we want for Stockport, and then neighbourhoods can work on how to deliver it.

An end to secrecy

Greater Manchester will soon be electing a Mayor, but the Combined Authority is too secretive. The GMSF is just one example, but it’s an important one. Just as with the Congestion Charge back in 2008, this is an opportunity for local people to say “enough is enough – don’t take important decisions without involving us from the start”.

In line with the traditions of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority

The ten councils across Greater Manchester have a long tradition of working together effectively where they agree, and doing thing in other ways where they disagree. The councils have almost never tried to force everyone to go along a particular path against their will (the congestion charge is a rare exception). The Liberal Democrats strongly support the Combined Authority, but do not believe that this work is best done at a Greater Manchester level – it is just too remote from the local communities that will be affected.

We must use the GMSF consultation data

It is absolutely clear that Stockport residents strongly oppose the level of greenbelt building being proposed. But the responses to the GMSF over the last months will have a great deal more important information. That should be fed into Stockport’s Local Plan to help inform it.

What happens if Stockport leaves the GMSF

The GMSF is based on all ten councils working together, so if one leaves then the GMSF falls. It will then be up to the individual councils to decide how to develop plans: they may choose to do so individually or in partnership with one or more other councils, as happens with other issues.

Why leave now and not wait

Government rules means councils are racing against the clock. The Government is saying to councils “If you don’t have a plan, we’re going to let developers build houses pretty much wherever they want”. The Liberal Democrats do not want that to happen.

We do not believe the GMSF can produce a final proposal that’s acceptable to Stockport residents, for the reasons we’ve given above. If we wait to go through the whole process, one of two things can happen: either the GMSF will be approved, and Stockport’s greenbelt will be decimated, or it will be rejected, leaving all ten councils vulnerable to predatory developers.

Stockport currently has a compliant local plan, but it is getting old and needs replacing soon. To protect our greenbelt from the GMSF and from developers, the best option is to leave now and develop a Local Plan for Stockport.

Stockport Lib Dems respond to Greater Manchester Spatial Framework consultation

The consultation for the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework is underway, and the closing date has now been extended to 16th January.

We encourage you to have your say by emailing GMSF@agma.gov.uk – below you will find the response made by the Stockport Council Liberal Democrat Group.

 

Stockport Liberal Democrats believe the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF) process is not right for Stockport and have already formally called for the borough to withdraw from the GMSF and to focus on developing its own Local Plan instead, taking into account the concerns with GMSF that we have raised.

As the Labour and Conservative Groups on Stockport Council blocked our attempt at the Council Meeting on 1st December 2016, we submit below our constructive response to the current consultation on the basis that we would prefer that Stockport plays no further part in GMSF.

 

Greenbelt release
We believe that: 

  • The scale and location of the Greenbelt release in Stockport and the scale of development on those sites in the proposed GMSF is completely inappropriate.
  • Stockport is being targeted by developers due to its popularity and too large a share of the housing across the conurbation is proposed here. Fully 20% of the potential sites identified in the “call for sites” earlier this year are in Stockport. The GMSF allows for a potential 12,000 new houses to be built on Greenbelt in our Borough.
  • Developers will target building larger properties in current Greenbelt areas first rather than tackle the remediation issues of Brownfield sites.
  • The growth targets for Greater Manchester are too high and result in too much proposed development. Attempting to identify a 20-year land supply for housing is too much – too many things may change during this time. A 15-year land supply would avoid most of the proposed Greenbelt release and give time for alternatives to be developed.
  • There are parts of Greater Manchester – in the centre of the larger towns in particular – where higher density housing may be appropriate and would allow a revised GMSF to reduce the pressure on the Greenbelt.

 

Unlocking Brownfield Sites
We need a firm commitment to infrastructure with a detailed plan and sufficient money identified to support it prior to any significant additional building being possible across the Borough. Vague promises are not sufficient.

We believe the significant numbers of Brownfield sites should be built on and exhausted before any of the Greenbelt is built on.

More work needs to be done on ways to unlock Brownfield sites, such as funding being secured to handle sites needing decontamination or old mills that can be expensive to convert.

While the development cost is higher for these sites than on Greenfield, the overall cost may not be much different, as far more of the infrastructure is already in place.

 

“Opportunity sites”
Among the so-called “opportunity sites”, the “High Lane” site sits inside already heavily congested infrastructure and would see the merger of south Marple with north High Lane conurbations, violating one of the original reasons for having Greenbelt.

The “Land off A34” and “Heald Green” (both neighbouring Cheadle Hulme) would see massive overdevelopment alongside Cheshire East’s proposed “growth village” on already overstretched A34, which will not be alleviated to the extent needed by the A6 to Manchester Airport Relief Road.

The “Woodford” site shares the same general infrastructure as the sites above. The new development currently in progress alongside the GMSF proposal would see the existing village completely dominated by new housing.

When taken together with Cheshire East’s plans the proposals for Heald Green, Cheadle Hulme and Woodford create a huge, contiguous area of thousands of new houses. There is currently no plan to deal with the additional journeys the developments around the A34 would generate, and there is not even any idea of what such a plan might look like.

 

Housing mix
The need in Stockport is for a mixture of housing types and tenures. Our concern is that, developers will naturally seek to provide larger, more expensive properties for sale on the current Greenbelt. There is a great need for affordable housing (both to buy, part-buy and to rent) and social housing, particularly for smaller families as well as for single people and couples.

 

Conclusion
Stockport Liberal Democrat Group do not agree with the approach taken by the GM Spatial Framework.

We believe the Greenbelt release proposed is unacceptable. We do not accept the growth assumptions made nor do we agree with trying to identify a 20-year land supply.

We are concerned not enough will be done to unlock Brownfield sites or to ensure the correct housing mix is delivered in our Borough.

For these reasons we continue to call for Stockport to withdraw from this Spatial Framework and to pursue instead our own Local Plan.