Liberal Democrats are celebrating success in Stockport after victory at the local elections. After all the votes had been counted, the Lib Dems emerged with 28 council seats, Labour 25, Conservatives 5, Independent Ratepayers 3 and Greens 2. The council therefore remains under no overall control with no single party able to form a majority administration.
Whilst there was no change to the number of Labour councillors – one gain and one loss – the Lib Dems made two gains from the Conservatives by capturing both Bramhall North and Bramhall South & Woodford as well as holding all the seats they were defending. It was an especially disappointing night for the Tories who now have their smallest group on the council for over 20 years.
The Liberal Democrats won the most votes in both parliamentary seats of Cheadle and Hazel Grove as well as across Stockport borough as a whole, signifying clear support for our approach and policies.
Speaking after the results, Cllr Mark Hunter, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, said: “Of course I am pleased that we continue to make progress and delighted to welcome four new faces to our group at the Town Hall. I’m confident that Vince Shaw (Bredbury & Woodley), Ian Hunter (Cheadle & Gatley), Ian Powney (Bramhall South & Woodford) and Frankie Singleton (Bramhall North) will all be first rate councillors for their communities and strengthen our team at the Town Hall.
“Given the results, all parties on the council will have to work more closely together if progress is to be made. Consensus and co-operation should be the way forward wherever possible. We are ambitious for Stockport and believe we can achieve so much more with an open, transparent, and accountable leadership”.
Last Thursday, councillors of all parties voted for the proposal put forward by Cllr Lisa Smart, Lib Dem parliamentary spokesperson for Hazel Grove Constituency, to reduce dangerous speeding across Stockport borough by calling on the Greater Manchester Safer Roads Partnership to review their outdated criteria for speed cameras and to offer Stockport as a trial location for a new approach.
Speaking after the meeting, Lisa said: “Under current guidance, there have to be at least 3 deaths or serious injuries on a stretch of road before a fixed camera is considered. Councillors agreed that this isn’t good enough and the Council will now work with local councillors in each area to understand where speeding hotspots are so they can apply for a Community Concern location listing for a camera where possible.
“The Council vote follows on from the agreement I got from the Deputy Chief Constable at the Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s ‘Police Accountability Meeting’ recently that action IS needed on speed camera criteria as part of efforts to tackle speeding as a whole.
“Following my asking for a review of the current criteria, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority Deputy Mayor for Policing has agreed that a ‘danger reduction approach focusing on prevention’ should be looked at and the Department for Transport is being ‘frustratingly slow’ to review the guidelines.
“With the Lib Dem team here, I will keep fighting as hard as I can to save lives on our roads.”
Following the recent announcement that Greater Manchester Police (GMP) have abandoned the ‘PoliceWorks’ part of their failed iOps computer system, Stockport Liberal Democrats have called on Andy Burnham to commission and publish a full report into the true cost and impact of this long drawn out experience.
Cllr Tom Morrison, Lib Dem representative on the GM Police, Fire and Crime Panel, said: “We knew for several years that the new computer system was failing. At last the new Chief Constable has done what should have happened under his predecessor and abandoned this mission-critical system that was not fit for purpose. As well as wasting around £70m of public money, Greater Manchester has had several years where residents have been unable to rely on their local police to correctly record and investigate crime, leading to a hidden explosion of criminality.
“I am calling on Andy Burnham and Bev Hughes, as the politicians responsible to our residents for holding the police to account, to commission and publish a report into the true cost and impact of this sorry episode. How much has actually been spent in buying and trying to make this system work? How much has been recovered from the supplier? How much is the replacement system costing? And what has been the additional cost of crime and the personal impact on residents in Stockport and elsewhere across Greater Manchester because our police force was unable to operate effectively during this time?”
Cllr Mark Hunter, Leader of the Lib Dems at Stockport Town Hall, added: “This has been a complete waste of public money on Andy Burnham’s watch. He says it was procured before he became mayor but, by his own account, he failed to ensure the former Chief Constable and his team were effective in its implementation. The problems with iOps were being reported in our local press, and being vehemently denied by the former Chief Constable, almost from day one back in 2019.
“This is an utter shambles and our residents deserve to know exactly what this has cost both in terms of public money and in terms of unreported and additional crimes committed across the region.”
Stockport Liberal Democrats have demanded an emergency cut to VAT to protect local families from soaring bills and the Conservatives’ worsening cost of living crisis.
The Liberal Democrats are calling for the standard rate of VAT to be reduced from 20% to 17.5% for one year, a move that would save households in Stockport an average of around £600 each. This would mean putting around £54.36m back in the pockets of 90,600 families in Stockport.
The plans were set out by Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey at the party’s Spring Conference this weekend and have been backed by Lisa Smart and Tom Morrison.
It comes amid warnings that the war in Ukraine will worsen the cost of living pressures facing households, with energy, food and fuel bills all expected to rise. Inflation is also forecast to reach 8% in April, its highest level in decades.
The Lib Dem plans would support the economy by boosting spending at local high streets. The proposals would also be expected to keep inflation down by making the prices of everyday items lower than they would have been.
The emergency change to VAT could be introduced quickly and easily by the Chancellor for one year. Stockport’s Liberal Democrats have said he should use the Spring Statement coming up on March 23 to bring forward the change as well as scrapping the Conservative’s National Insurance tax hike, to bring much-needed respite to local families.
Lisa Smart, Liberal Democrat parliamentary spokesperson for Hazel Grove, said:
“The Conservative cost of living crisis is hitting families hard and it is about to get worse. People across our community are worried about how to make ends meet as bills go through the roof.
“An emergency cut to VAT would offer a massive boost to people in Stockport feeling the pinch by putting over £54m back into their pockets. It would also support our treasured shops, cafes and restaurants by boosting spending on the high street.
“In Hazel Grove constituency over 24,000 households would save £600 each, totalling over £14.5m.”
Tom Morrison, Liberal Democrat parliamentary spokesperson for Cheadle, added:
“For the 22,000 households in Cheadle constituency the £600 saving we are proposing would mean over £13m staying in our local economy.
“This is crunch time for the Chancellor and the Conservatives. Will they act or just inflict more financial pain on families by clobbering them with another unfair tax hike?”
Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said:
“This is a once-in-a-generation crisis, and the government must step up to help struggling households and businesses on the brink. Instead of clobbering struggling families with a tax hike, the Chancellor should be putting money back into their pockets.”
Marking International Women’s Day on 8th March, Stockport’s Liberal Democrats have pledged to ‘break the bias’.
Cllr Wendy Meikle, Deputy Leader of the Lib Dems at Stockport Town Hall, said: “As Liberal Democrats we confirm our support for International Women’s Day, celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and a call to action for accelerating women’s equality.
“This year’s theme, to ‘break the bias’, aims to address both deliberate and unconscious bias that make it difficult for women to move ahead and calls for action to level the playing field across society.”
Cllr Lisa Smart, Lib Dem councillor in Hazel Grove constituency, added: “Serving your community by working as a councillor is a role in which women can and do excel.
“Yet women represent only one in three councillors in the UK which means there are double the number of men elected to represent their communities as there are women.
“Our communities would particularly benefit from having more LGBT women, more women from ethnic minorities, more women with disabilities, more women who are carers and more women from working class backgrounds stand for election. If you’ve ever thought about it before, let this International Women’s Day be the day you take action.”
At the Budget Council meeting last night, the Liberal Democrat amendment to give most residents a cost of living rebate received cross-party support.
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Lisa Smart, Lib Dem lead on the budget, said: “Our residents are facing a cost of living crisis with soaring energy bills and rising food costs as well as a hike in National Insurance and central government pushing more and more of the costs of social care onto local residents through council tax precepts. I am delighted that councillors from [other/all] parties agreed with us that we ought to do what we can to reduce the impact a little through our cost of living rebate.
“We took a deliberate decision to share our proposal well ahead of the meeting to try to encourage other groups to put politics aside and think about what is best for our residents, and this was clearly the right approach this year.”
Cllr Mark Hunter, Leader of the Lib Dems at Stockport Town Hall, added: “This is a great boost for us as we face the local elections in a few months’ time. We have shown that we are the party of sound financial management and that we are the ones who are able to broker the cross-party agreement needed to take Stockport forward.
“We have responded to the unprecedented cost of living crisis our residents face with a realistic proposal, backed up by action, not the hollow promises we have seen from the local Tories. It is their government’s fault that our economy is now in a mess, with inflation running at a 30 year high and energy costs through the roof.”