At Stockport’s Full Council Meeting on Thursday, Liberal Democrat councillors voted in favour of a motion supporting the expression of interest in funding for a new hospital building to replace some or all of the buildings at Stepping Hill.
As the motion was not considered until the guillotine fell at the very end of the meeting there was no time for a proper debate and no opportunity to try to improve the motion with an amendment to add some much-needed caution.
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Helen Foster-Grime, Lib Dem shadow cabinet member for health matters, said: “The Liberal Democrats warmly welcome the possibility of long overdue investment in Stepping Hill Hospital. But residents need to be under no illusions that the funding available nationally is a tiny drop in the ocean compared to the estimated £6.5bn backlog maintenance bill and, even if this bid is successful, it will take many years before any new facilities are opened.
“We have many concerns about what these proposals mean for the already-planned emergency care campus or whether this will mean some services get moved outside of Stockport altogether. We have already seen far too many broken promises from this Conservative government and our National Health Service simply remains chronically underfunded. Add to this the huge waiting lists and increased pressures from our overburdened GP practices with patients turning to Stepping Hill in crisis, there’s no question emergency care support for Stockport is vital.”
Liberal Democrat Councillors continue to fight for more resources for Stepping Hill and for Council support to help the local residents, patients and their families facing exacerbated parking problems at and around the hospital.
At Stockport’s Full Council meeting last week, councillors voted in support of a Lib Dem motion, calling on the Labour Cabinet to be more ambitious in pursuing the Council’s Climate Action Now strategy.
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Mark Roberts, Lib Dem Shadow lead for climate change and proposer of the motion, said: “We cannot afford complacency on the issue of climate change. It was a shame that the Labour group and most of their Conservative backers chose to try to derail the motion, but the desire for true leadership and ambition in tackling this issue won through in the end.
“The issue is too important to allow Labour to try and dismiss it as party political or to switch to simply patting themselves on the back. People see through that and there is simply too much at stake. We have been raising our concerns throughout the Climate Action Now process and it is telling that most of the members of that working group voted in support of our motion.
“A clear signal has now been given that the public expects more of the Labour Cabinet and they need to give officers the resources needed to make a real difference. If they don’t, a Liberal Democrat administration certainly would!”
Pictured, Cllr Mark Roberts beside the Mount Recyclemore sculpture at Stockport Exchange.
Concerns over rising crime levels in Stockport were expressed by a number of councillors at last night’s meeting of Stockport Council. Cllr Mark Hunter, Liberal Democrat Group Leader, requested that the Council Leader convene a summit meeting with the new District Commander for Stockport, Chief Superintendent John Webster, as soon as possible.
Cllr Hunter pointed to the recent spike in crime statistics and said residents were increasingly concerned and worried by the increase in car crime and domestic burglaries in particular. Cllr Wilson agreed the request and committed to pursuing the concerns directly with the Chief Superintendent.
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Hunter said “I’m pleased Cllr Wilson has agreed to my request and look forward to meeting our new Chief Superintendent. I think this issue is way too important for it to be left to individual politicians and political parties and I believe a genuine cross-party initiative to help the Police tackle crime in our area could pay dividends”.
“I also highlighted the fact that the Lib Dem nomination for the GM Police, Crime and Fire Panel is still unable to take his place on that committee despite being nominated almost five months ago. Since the meeting I learned that the GM Combined Authority sat on the Home Office paperwork to make this happen for nearly three months.
“We have been without representation on this panel and its predecessor body since May 2016 – it is no wonder there has been no effective scrutiny of the political management of our local police force.”
A motion calling on local MPs to oppose government Voter ID proposals will be debated at the meeting of Stockport Council on Thursday evening.
Speaking ahead of the meeting, Cllr Lisa Smart, Deputy Leader of the Lib Dems at Stockport Town Hall and shadow lead for election issues, said: “Any government worth its salt should be working to encourage more people to vote, not making it harder for people to have their say. A government that was confident in the action it was taking would believe it can win the argument and not have to exclude those people least likely to vote for it from the process in a nakedly political attempt to rig the system.”
Local Lib Dem Leader, Cllr Mark Hunter, added: “This has been called ‘a solution looking for a problem’. It is a nakedly political move by this Tory government to try to exclude the younger, the less well-off and those from a minority ethnicity from voting. Of 58 million votes cast in 2019 there were only 33 allegations of impersonation, leading to one conviction and one caution. We urge all our local MPs to support our democracy and act to oppose the government’s proposal.”
Stockport Liberal Democrat councillors will table a motion at Thursday’s Stockport Council meeting, demanding urgent action and a stronger emphasis on the council’s approach to dealing with the cause and effects of Climate Change across Stockport.
The motion will be proposed by councillor Mark Roberts, from Bredbury Green and Romiley, and seconded by Councillor Becky Senior, from Marple North. Both wards have been affected by flooding in recent years after heavy rainfall events. The Liberal Democrat motion calls for local councillors to be given the means to work with residents and contribute to the solutions in dealing with both the causes and effects of climate change locally.
Speaking ahead of the meeting, Cllr Mark Roberts said “We need ambitious, achievable interim goals and targets to monitor progress towards the goal of carbon zero by 2038, rather than finding in 17 years’ time that we have failed. We should be banging the drum and leading the fight locally on climate change as opposed to the current Labour administration’s ‘shake a tambourine’ approach. If we lead, residents and businesses will follow. We can and should do more for the sake of our children, our grandchildren and all future generations.”
Councillor Becky Senior said “The council should be planning and delivering an ambitious response to both our local causes and effects of climate change and any mitigation on public roads and services that is required. Unblocking many of the silted up gullies should be part of the response, but looking to hold water back and slow the flow off the hills is equally important for those residents who live in our flood zones. Climate change presents many challenges, and flooding is a very important issue for those affected.”
The Liberal Democrats have published figures showing that 18,610 State Pensioners in Hazel Grove Constituency, 20,237 in Cheadle Constituency and 12,412 in Stockport Constituency are set to be impacted by the government breaking its manifesto promise and suspending the triple lock on pensions.
The state pension triple lock is a rule that means the state pension must rise each year in line with the highest of three possible figures, inflation, average earnings or 2.5%.
It follows a vote in Parliament on the issue on Monday in which Conservative MPs including William Wragg and Mary Robinson voted to suspend the triple lock. This is despite a Conservative manifesto commitment to keep the triple lock in place until 2024, and comes just weeks after Boris Johnson led his Conservative MPs to vote for a promise breaking tax hike on National Insurance. The Liberal Democrats have warned that the Conservatives are “turning their back on local elderly residents,” many of whom are living in poverty.
The figures, based on analysis by the House of Commons Library commissioned by the Liberal Democrats, show that 23.2% of people in Hazel Grove Constituency, 21.5% in Cheadle Constituency and 13.8% in Stockport Constituency will be hit by the government’s broken promise. They also show that 1,917, 1,634 and 2,194 pensioners in each area are benefiting from state Pension Credit, which is given to the poorest pensioners.
The Liberal Democrats tabled an amendment in Parliament to the Social Security Bill that called for additional support to address the impact of the pandemic on the two million pensioners currently living in poverty and making the uplift to Universal Credit permanent. Labour abstained on the vote, making the Liberal Democrats the only major UK-wide party to stand up for pensioners and oppose the government’s broken promise to them.
Commenting, Tom Morrison, Lib Dem Parliamentary Spokesperson for Cheadle, said: “This is yet another broken promise from the Conservatives that will hit pensioners across Stockport borough hard in the pocket.
“The government is turning its back on local elderly residents, who risk no longer being able to heat their homes this winter as energy costs spiral.”
Lisa Smart, Lib Dem spokesperson on Finance and Resources on Stockport Council and a Councillor in Romiley, said: “Our pensioners deserve a fair deal. The triple lock was a cast iron guarantee that vulnerable elderly people were relying on and the Conservatives have failed them.
“Liberal Democrats are demanding that the government supports the many pensioners in our area living in poverty and ensure that we don’t return to the days of the 75p rise to the state pension.”