Jon and Paul Welcome Phase Three of Stockport Exchange

Phase 3 of Stockport Exchange has been launched, with a new office block to be built on the site of the former Cineworld cinema by Stockport station.

This is phase three of six that was agreed by the Lib Dem administration on Stockport Council. A few years ago, anyone coming out of Stockport station would see the back of the closed Heaven and Hell nightclub and the bowling alley. It wasn’t a great advert for the town.

The Lib Dem administration have brought about a transformation. We now have a new hotel, grade A offices, a new cinema complex at Redrock, numerous road improvements and more on the way. There’s still a long way to go, but Stockport is changing for the better.

“While Hazel Grove won’t see development on the scale of the one Billion Pounds that was planned by the Liberal Democrats in the Town Hall a bypass would allow us to invest and regenerate right along our patch of the A6 once a majority of all the dirty and heavy vehicles that are just passing through could go around us,” said Lib Dem Councillor Jon Twigge.

A6 to Bredbury Road – The Process Continues

After one of the longest debates in recent Stockport Council history the process possibly leading to building the new road from the A6 just south of Hazel Grove across to Bredbury and the M60 still continues.

 

The Road is the Second Phase of a Road from the Airport to Bredbury

The debate was only to put a recommendation to the the Council Cabinet later in December (19th) and voted strongly to recommend continuing the process.  In a much closer run vote Cabinet decided to rubber stamp that recommendation and the Council will now bid for money to do a full business case study.

It has to be stressed, this is absolutely not a decision to build the road, it is still a very long way from that but the process has not been stopped yet.

In the full council meeting many councillors with a variety of views on the road were saying that they want more information and that is why they want the process to continue (including some councillors who want the information to finally, once and for all, to reject the road after decades of discussion). This vote was only a recommendation to the cabinet not a decision.

The Labour Cabinet then met on the 19th december and decided by a vote of 5-3 to continue the process.

The next stage is for the council to bid for government money to do a full business case for the road – approximate half a million pounds. If the business case was started it would include a full environmental study as well as a full business case study and a full public consultation.  Only after the full business case was complete, if the bid was successful, would council then vote on whether to bid for the actual project money to build it – a much larger amount of money of hundreds of millions of pounds.

There are still a number of times that the new road might be rejected in the coming process.

Contacting the Council Gets More Difficult

This is not new news, it has been getting harder to speak to someone at the council over a few years!  Unfortunately, the reason is, the large cost of running the call centre.

The Council Needs a Modern Phone System

To help meet the cuts in the council budget, people are, wherever possible directed to the website.  I have written about this before but I think it deserves more attention.  Many people cannot get on the internet and have to ring the council instead.  This has two major problems:

  • the phone number is not as easy to find as it used to be – deliberately to try to encourage people to use the internet and,
  • with limited staff in the call centre it can sometimes take ages for anyone to answer !

The answer, it seems to me, with my background in software and IT, is that the council should get up to date with the latest technology and install a voice recognition system.  I know many people don’t like talking to computers but to be honest, there are not many alternatives – the council faces further cuts in the coming years and the prospect of taking on lots of staff to expand the call centre is remote.

There is good news though.  The latest systems are far better than the first systems that call centres installed years ago where you had to press the numbers on your keypad and it seemed to take forever to go round in circles.  No, the latest systems allow you to say what your issue is and the clever software repeats it back to you for you to confirm.  And, it is getting better all the time.

This would not be a cheap option to set up and it would not instantly cure the problem completely but it just might help a lot of people get the information they need from the council – or easily leave a message for someone to ring back about if appropriate.  But, in the long term it would help the council save money AND give a better service.

The Liberal Democrats are not in power in Stockport at the moment so we can’t make the decision at the moment.  But, I have emailed my bank, they has a really good system now, to see if I can get some information and start to get a plan together that might just get the ball rolling.  The council can borrow money very cheaply, and if a long term cost saving can be shown then it is called prudential borrowing.

 

Have Your Say on Community Policing

The Manchester Mayor is currently developing a new police and crime plan which will set the strategic direction for the police and other organisations with responsibilities for keeping our communities safe. The name of the draft plan is ‘Standing Together: A Plan for police, community safety, criminal justice services and citizens in Greater Manchester’ which reflects the range of people and organisations working together to keep us safe.

The draft plan has been developed by talking to people working in neighbourhoods, those who have been victims of crime and the people who support them, businesses and various organisations active within Greater Manchester’s different communities.

Please visit their website to view the draft police and crime plan and to take part in a short survey to let us know

They don’t ask for your name and so all responses are confidential. The survey will close at midnight on 14 January 2018.

All your responses will be used to finalise the plan, which will be published later in January 2018. If you have any questions about the draft plan, please email [email protected]

Christmas Bin Collections

Lots of us produce extra waste over the Christmas period (wrapping paper, parsnip peelings and one or two bottles…) and it can be easy to lose track of what day it is so check the collection calendar on the Council’s website here:
https://www.stockport.gov.uk/news/christmas-bin-collections

It has useful information in case of a disruption of service (for example if the weather gets really, really bad).

Emergency Contacts For The Festive Period

Christmas is almost upon us and is a wonderful time. But often it can be a difficult time if you need Council or emergency services.

Stockport Council is urging residents to be be prepared this festive period and make a note of useful numbers should they face a crisis.
The information available on the Council’s Winter Web Pages includes emergency health and social care contact numbers as well as contact numbers should households be faced with a gas leak or power cut.

Stockport People a handy Local NHS/.Local Authority guide for over the winter season has also been published on line and includes helpful numbers and opening times for local pharmacies, dentists and other services as well as guidance on how to stay well this winter, caring for yourself and others.

Let Us Know Your Dog Fouling Hot Spots

LibDem Campaigner Paul Ankers wants to know the dog fouling hot spots in Hazel Grove.

Council bosses are asking for sites to put posters up dissuading dog fouling.

The Keep Britain Tidy campaign posters are placed on lamp columns in identified dog fouling hotspot areas for 2 to 3 weeks. The area is surveyed for incidents of fouling, prior to the posters being displayed, during and after so that we can measure the impact of the posters.

Please let us know if you have any hotspots that you would like to use these posters at. We have 40 posters so we will list the sites identified and move the posters from site to site over the winter months

Paul Ankers said ” There needs to be real action & prosecutions, but we will see what happens with this.”

Free Parking in Hazel Grove On Next Two Saturdays

All Council Car Parks in Hazel Grove will be free of charge for the next two Saturdays. In addition to this, there will be free parking in Stockport Town centre on the following days:

  • Monday 11th December to Friday 15th December, free after 3pm
  • Sunday 17th December, free all day
  • Monday 18th December to Friday 22nd December, free after 3pm
  • Sunday 24th December, free all day

Car parks where this offer applies: Merseyway, Redrock, Heaton Lane, Newbridge Lane, Churchgate, Knightsbridge.

The initiative, first introduced by the Liberal Democrats when they ran Stockport Council is intended to help bring in people to shop locally.

LibDem Paul Ankers is supportive “Christmas is an important time for shoppers & local businesses. Local Councils should support them. This is standard now. Town Hall bosses should be looking for new ways to strengthen Stockport.”

A6 to Bredbury: Labour Decide not to Decide

Like the community, the minority ruling Labour Cabinet are split on the road from the A6 to Bredbury.

Strong feelings and arguments on both sides were clear at a recent Cabinet meeting that was supposed to decide whether to proceed with applications for funding for a full business case for the road.


A6 to Bredbury Proposed Route

In simple terms the main arguments for and against the road are…

For:

  • Alleviation of current congestion especially in Hazel Grove, Bredbury and Stockport itself.
  • The coming additional journeys from new houses and businesses currently being built to the south of Stockport and proposed under GMSF
  • Need to support economic growth

Against:

  • Environmental damage, especially to sensitive and cherished areas of Stockport including the Goyt valley
  • Induced additional traffic from a new road; encouraging ever more journeys and leading to a back-to-square-one result in terms of congestion in a few short years
  • Lack of information on the long term impact of the road across the whole borough

The decision of whether to proceed with applications for funding to complete a full business case has been passed to the full council meeting of 63 councillors from across all areas of Stockport.  That decision will not decide the final fate of this road but a decision not to proceed would at least halt plans for a significant number of years.

“The need to relieve congestion in Hazel Grove is without any doubt a major concern – we are being suffocated by fumes and strangled by the volume of traffic.  It is only going to get worse as thousands of new homes are built in Stockport and to our south.

“But, the environmental argument that we cannot simply keep building new roads and completely filling them with even more cars is unquestionable too.

“We should only build this road if we have all the evidence and we make absolutely sure that it will play a strategic role in a truly sustainable multi modal (including trains, buses, taxis, cycling and walking) transport infrastructure across the whole of Greater Manchester that moves far more toward public transport and a shared vehicle basis,” said Cllr Jon Twigge.

 

Further Council Cuts to Affect More Services

With government austerity set to massively reduce council budgets once again next year Stockport is no exception and will have to make further cuts.

As part of budget planning the council is asking residents for their views on five sets of cuts in:

  • Cuts to apprenticeship events for young people
  • Closure of the Apprenticeship’s Store
  • Removal of free school transport for some families that receive Working Tax Credit
  • Changes to advice services provided by the council in libraries and Citizens Advice centres
  • Significant changes to Sure Start Children’s centres

Andrew Stunell visited local Sure Start Centre’s in 2013 when they were protected

You can let the council know your views on these cuts in a series of consultations that run until November 10th at https://www.stockport.gov.uk/showcase/have-your-say.