At the meeting of the Full Council last night, Stockport’s Liberal Democrat councillors refused to support a report built around an excessive housing target of 18,581 additional homes, as work on Stockport’s own Local Plan limps forward.
Whilst the Lib Dems have long support the overall approach of developing Stockport’s own Local Plan, having called for this since 2016, the report failed to acknowledge the work being done to protect our Green Belt by rejecting the formulaic Housing Need figure, which is based on outdated population growth estimates, and seeking a much more realistic target which is sustainable and deliverable.
Speaking after the meeting, Mark Hunter, Leader of the Liberal Democrats at Stockport Town Hall, said: “We have worked hard with the other political groups to try to make them see that we cannot just roll over and allow the government to scare us into concreting over the Green Belt. The report before us totally ignored this work and made no mention of the letter we had sent, asking the Conservative government to confirm that we could work to a lower number to protect our valuable open spaces.
“We had a response from the Housing Minister early this week, confirming that we could take this approach, but even this was not formally brought before us at the meeting.“
Cllr Colin MacAlister, Shadow Cabinet Member for Economy and Regeneration, added: “The Labour cabinet member made much of his continued disappointment about the Lib Dem-led withdrawal from the flawed Greater Manchester Spatial Framework, and the continued use of an artificially high housing “target” just feels like sour grapes.
“Of course the Lib Dems support the continuation of work on a Local Plan, based upon a Brownfield First strategy, but we had to signal our dissent from an approach which could put so much at risk.
“Sadly, and again with Conservative support, Labour were able to force this report through. We will continue to engage and to argue for a Local Plan based on a sustainable and deliverable lower target that protects our Green Belt and green spaces.”
At Thursday’s meeting of the Full Council the Liberal Democrats secured backing to adopt “20’s Plenty” on Stockport’s residential roads.
Liberal Democrat Councillor Mark Roberts from Bredbury Green and Romiley, who brought the motion for debate, said:
“I was glad the other political groups could see the benefits our motion would bring to Stockport and supported our call for action. This was something we would have brought in immediately in if we hadn’t been blocked from forming an administration by the Conservatives and Labour working together after the local elections. It is too important an issue to delay, so I was happy to do some back seat driving of council road policy and force them to act!
“The current administration has been given a mandate by all councillors to work to introduce “20’s plenty” and tackle some of the systemic speeding issues across the borough, and we look forward to this being implemented.
“This really could save the lives of Stockport residents and prevent the heart break of losing a beloved pet on the road. The petition we created backing this is currently open, so people can still add their voice and help us maintain pressure on the Council to act.”
The petition is available here: 20’s Plenty for Residential Streets Across Stockport (lisasmart.org.uk)
At the meeting of the Full Council, Stockport’s Liberal Democrat Group secured support for the council pursuing White Ribbon Accreditation.
The White Ribbon Campaign seeks to end male violence against women and accredited organisations embed the principles contained in the White Ribbon Pledge of never committing, excusing or remaining silent about male violence against women.
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Mark Hunter, Leader of the Lib Dems on Stockport Council, said: “Having submitted a motion in mid-June, calling for the council to seek White Ribbon Accreditation through the usual channels, you can imagine my surprise when the Labour cabinet issued a press release in early July telling the world that they are already intent on doing this despite the absence of any published decision to do so.
“It was disappointing that Labour felt the need to re-write our motion with their amendment, only to reach the same outcome. As the issue is far more important than the wording of a motion, we accepted their amendment despite its flaws and we look forward to seeing rapid progress so that we can mark 25th November’s White Ribbon Day as an accredited organisation.”
The Liberal Democrats are presenting a motion to the next meeting of the Full Council calling for residential roads across Stockport to be 20mph, in an effort to improve road safety and tackle issues of air quality.
Cllr Mark Roberts of Bredbury Green and Romiley said: “On the doorsteps we have found that slowing the speed that people drive on our residential roads is a big issue for residents. Many years ago the Lib Dems brought in a policy of 20mph outside schools when we ran the council, and now we want to see the widespread adoption of slower speeds on the roads we live on too.
“Given the on-street parking across the borough that compresses traffic, 30mph can just seem too fast and a slower speed limit could help save the lives of many loved pets and help protect children. Residents should be able to reclaim their street from the cars which race down them.
“As the administration in waiting, we will use the channels available to us to encourage the current Labour Cabinet to take the issue seriously, including presenting a motion at the July Council Meeting backed by a petition that residents can sign, and I hope the other political parties will support us on this important issue.”
Cllr Jilly Julian of Cheadle Hulme North added: “Residents are constantly getting in touch about road safety related issues, and speed is top of the list of concerns. I believe that having a 20mph limit on appropriate residential roads is an important first step to reducing the instance of serious injuries and being able to make Stockport streets safer.
“Dangerous and inconsiderate parking, potholes, impassable footpaths and so on are among the factors contribute to vehicle and pedestrian accidents and injuries on residential streets, but the faster the vehicle, the less time there is to react to those hazards. Slower vehicles have a much better chance of seeing us and of us seeing them, with plenty of time to stay safe. By reducing speed, we reduce the ‘multiplier’ in terms of the likelihood of the accident happening and the impacts and consequences it may have.”
The Liberal Democrats on Stockport Council have submitted a motion for the next meeting of the full council which encourages all male councillors to take the White Ribbon Pledge against domestic violence; calls for the Council to seek White Ribbon Accreditation and to appoint a male councillor as a White Ribbon Ambassador; and to encourage participation among council staff and local primary and secondary schools.
Speaking ahead of the publication of motions later this week, Cllr Mark Hunter, Leader of the Lib Dems at Stockport Town Hall, said: “I am delighted to be proposing this motion, which seeks to highlight the problem of male violence against women and that the answer lies with men never taking part in, condoning or staying silent about such violence.
“With the recent HMI report into Greater Manchester Police highlighting that victims of domestic violence were particularly let down by the force’s failings, it is perhaps more important than ever that we act as a community to try to prevent these crimes.”
Cllr Louise Ankers, Shadow Cabinet member with responsibility for Communications and Engagement, added: “In seconding this motion, I hope to ensure we get maximum involvement by male councillors as well as reaching out to our school communities to ensure that young men grow up knowing that violence against women is wrong.
“I am really pleased to see that, within a couple of weeks of us submitting our motion, the Council have just announced plans to seek White Ribbon Accreditation. This should mean this and the other important aspects of our motion have a better chance of gaining all-party support at the meeting next week.”
Motions will be published on Wednesday 7th July for the meeting of the Full Council on Thursday 15th July. This will be available to watch via the Council’s webcasting platform.
Following a meeting of councillors to scrutinise the Labour Cabinet’s plans to consult about service delivery in a new town centre location, Liberal Democrats have branded the proposed consultation a sham.
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Colin MacAlister, Shadow Cabinet Member for Economy and Regeneration, said: “The Labour Cabinet have shared their plan to ask residents what services they want to see at the new ‘Stockroom’ site, at an as-yet undecided location in Merseyway.
“What they are not telling residents in that consultation is that support for library services would be the final nail in the coffin of the Carnegie-endowment Central Library. Labour’s own report makes it clear that there are no viable alternative uses for the building and yet they seem hell-bent on setting up a rival site, just a few hundred yards away, to try to breathe some life back into Merseyway. At the Scrutiny Committee we discovered for the first time that the whole £14.5m funding package could be at risk if it does not include library facilities and having a cafeteria.”
Cllr Louise Ankers, the Shadow Cabinet Member whose remit includes consultations and library services, added: “Stockport Labour still haven’t learned to listen! Once again they are carrying out a sham consultation, having already decided that they are going to set up a new library in the town centre, which will make Stockport’s loved Central Library obsolete and with no clarity about the future use of this key heritage building to serve Stockport and its residents.
“It seems clear from the Cabinet report that the Central Library building is seen as a burden and it will need to be sold off for a giveaway price to make any future use viable, rather than being brought up to date and made into a properly accessible, modern library, such has been done successfully elsewhere with heritage buildings such as Carnegie Libraries. The Labour Cabinet have even taken legal advice to try to get around the need to consult on this important issue.
“As the largest Group on the Council, the Lib Dems had made clear their opposition to Labour’s stealth closure of the Central Library. It’s not the first time important decisions like this have been taken behind closed doors and we will continue to call Labour out for their dishonest approach to consultations. But residents must remember that we are only in this position because the local Tories have propped up the Labour administration for another year.”