Hazel Grove Library Closing Temporarily in September

Hazel Grove Library  will be closed between Monday 17th September 2018 date and Thursday 20th September 2018 while they install self-service technology.

 The Library will reopen on Friday 21st September 2018.

 You can renew Library items online or borrow ebooks and eaudiobooks via our web pages :Look for, reserve or renew an item – Stockport Council

 The nearest alternative Library is Great Moor, not far from the A6, but you can visit one of our other Libraries if more convient. Details of locations can be found here – https://www.stockport.gov.uk/about-your-library/opening-times-and-locations

Torkington Road Roadworks for two weeks

Stockport Council has committed to invest £100m to improve roads and footpaths across the borough over a nine year delivery period after LibDems approved the funds when running the Council. This funding will be used to carry out a range of repairs from patching to resurfacing in targeted areas which will provide a long term solution to the deterioration on the highway network.

As part of the programme, Stockport Council will be carrying out carriageway resurfacing works on a section of Torkington Road, Hazel Grove (Offerton Road to Wynchgate Road).

This work is anticipated to commence on the 19th August 2018 for up to 2 weeks, weather permitting, the work will be carried out between 9.00AM to 5.00PM.

During the times stated above it will be necessary to restrict traffic movements on Torkington Road using a temporary road closure notice. These measures are in place to minimise disruption to residents and businesses and to allow safe working operations to take place. As the work progresses it may also be necessary to utilise temporary two way traffic signals at the junction with Offerton Road. The use of the temporary traffic signals at this junction will be restricted to 9.30AM to 3.30PM to minimise the impact to traffic flows in the surrounding area.

Access to properties and businesses in the working area will be maintained where possible however it may be restricted for certain periods as the work progresses.

Signed diversions will be in operation advising of appropriate alternative routes for vehicles affected by the work. The diversion route for vehicles wishing to access Torkington Road is Offerton Road/Marple Road/Stockport Road/Hibbert Lane/Upper Hibbert Lane/Windlehurst Road or Windlehurst Road/Buxton Road/London Road/Torkington Road.

The Council have contacted TFGM (buses) and they will make the necessary arrangements to bus services that will be affected during working times. Although some local disruption is inevitable this will be kept to a minimum by our staff on site.

Making Contacting the Council Easy Again

I am passionate about restoring the Council’s communications – too many people struggle to reach the Council when they need them because the Council does not have the money or resources to run a large telephone contact centre any more.

Earlier this year I attended UCExpo in London which was all about Unified Communications – making sure that organisations can provide a great service across all contact systems from phone, email and online in a seamless way. If you want to see more see – https://www.ucexpo.co.uk for next years event.

We may be some time before we can actually see one of these systems in operation here in Stockport but it is great to see Council officers open to exploring these new opportunities.  The good news is that the first commercial systems with voice recognition are starting to appear and first impressions are that they will revolutionise the Councils capacity to interact with the public and I want to see Stockport as one of the first Council’s to use these systems.

My vision is that as well as anybody being able to easily ring the council again, modern systems will make sure the phone is answered quickly and simple questions will be answered immediately. The artificial intelligence systems can learn from everything on the website and answer questions on any of those subjects. Having many simple questions answered automatically frees up council staff to answer more complex questions when they are needed. These systems can even redirect people with access to the internet to the right web page they need if there is one.

New Stockport Interchange Planned – Now is the Time to have your say on the proposal which originally came from LibDem plans to regenerate the whole of Stockport centre, part of our lasting legacy for Stockport

Proposals for the multi-million pound redevelopment of Stockport’s bus station were today (Friday 29 June) given the green light by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA).
The scheme, part of a whole range of regeneration plans LibDems put forward before losing control of the council, are getting close to development. 
Funded by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM), Stockport Council and the GMCA, the development is planned for the site of the existing Stockport Bus Station alongside the A6 and Mersey Square in the town centre and will continue the radical £1 billion transformation under way in Stockport town centre.
Proposals include:
• a fully accessible, covered passenger concourse in the interchange with seated waiting areas
• better and easier routes to the town centre and rail station for pedestrians and cyclists. This includes upgrading the section of the Trans Pennine Trail alongside the River Mersey and interchange, and a lift between the interchange and A6
• bus and train travel information screens and a new Travelshop for tickets and information
• 20 bus stands, providing capacity for future growth in bus services
• a new town centre park and public space, with level access directly from the A6
• a residential development off Daw Bank with up to 200 apartments and associated car parking.
• accessible toilets in the interchange with baby changing and ‘Changing Places’* facilities
• enhanced CCTV across the interchange
• cycle parking
From Monday 2 July until Sunday 29 July 2018, TfGM and Stockport Council are inviting residents, businesses and community groups to tell us what they think of the plans, to help finalise proposals before they are submitted as part of a planning application.
People can give their views through an online questionnaire at www.tfgm.com/stockport-interchange or at one of a number of public information events being held in the town:
• Thursday 5 July, 10am-2pm, Stockport Bus Station
• Saturday 14 July, 10am-2pm, Mersey Square (outside entrance to Merseyway Shopping Centre)
• Tuesday 17 July, 10am-2pm, Stockport Bus Station
• Tuesday 24 July, 10am-2pm, Stockport Rail Station
Cllr Paul Ankers commented “It remains annoying how many consultation events are in the day in a borough with high employment rates, but thankfully there is an event on a Saturday.”
The TfGM project team will be available at these events to give further information and answer any questions on the scheme.

LED Street Light Update

There has been talk of upgrading the street lights in Stockport to shiny new LED technology for some time and the program to replace them is finally going to start this year.  The good news is that Hazel Grove will be one of the areas that get the first replacements so we should see our first new lights fitted in the autumn.

LED lights use far less electricity than the old kinds that have been used before and the bulbs last longer so in the longer term the council will save money in both electricity costs and maintenance.

LED Lights are cheaper to run and maintain

Replacing the lights also means that the fittings are the latest designs as well which should mean less wasted light up into the sky and less light pollution into neighbouring houses as more of the light is directed to where it is needed.

One think to watch out for is that new LED lights can be brighter and whiter than old bulbs.  In many cases this is a big benefit but not everyone likes the change until they get used to them.  The council may use a softer coloured light than the pure white bulbs in quieter areas where a strong light might be intrusive but that would be balanced against safety needs as well.

To make the swap as cost effective as possible they will start by replacing older lights first especially where the posts or columns are in need of more repairs.  The complete swap will take a few years and with such an expensive bill to do it it will be rather a lot of years before the savings come back.


Melford Road Unauthorised Occupations

We have seen a series of unauthorised occupations in Melford Road by various different groups of travellers over the years but hopefully there will be an end to the problem soon with the council to make extensive changes to the site – more below.

The last year has seen probably more than ever and we have an occupation by a number of people at the moment.

The End of Melford Road Has Wide Open Streets – Google Street View

Every visit is unpleasant for local businesses and residents, especially those closest in Kyle and Tannock Roads, with the physical mess that they leave behind, the feeling of intimidation that their presence can cause for some and the worry of crime in the area that some feel may come with their presence.

Stockport council have a great team of people that deal with these incursions, along with the police. As soon as it is reported to them they go to visit to assess the level of the problem and then follow a strict legal process to remove them. It is difficult to assess the total cost to Stockport when you add up all of the staff, police, court time and other costs but it really adds up for every visit.

The Removal Process

Often travellers will move on within two weeks but sometimes it can take longer. The first delay can be welfare needs of any travellers present, for example children that are not well. Stockport council has to follow legal procedures in this respect to ensure that these immediate welfare needs are met. As frustrating as it can be seeing travellers stay any longer officers have to respect these needs.

Once it is clear that immediate welfare needs are ok then the formal legal process can be followed from the Criminal and Justice and Public Order Act 1994.

Travellers are issued with a Section 77 notice from this act that directs them to leave within 24 hours.

Unfortunately some groups ignore these notices and the council then has to apply to the Magistrates’ Court for a Section 78 Order of this act. This takes a few days longer but it can then be enforced.

While everyone in the council works hard to keep the process running as quickly as possible, they must follow national laws.

Future Prevention

As part of the A6MARR scheme Hazel Grove received a sum of money for complementary measures because we will see a small decrease in traffic though the town when the road opens. This money can be spent on transport related improvments. As the travellors park on the public highway we can use some of this money on measures to prevent the illegal occupation problem.

We wrote about the complementary measures in an earlier post here:

The changes to be made at Melford road include improvements to the pavements and installation of barriers which will restrict unauthorised access while allowing local businesses to continue to operate.

Road Repairs on Torkington Rd (Overnight Working)

Stockport Council will be carrying out carriageway resurfacing works on London Road from Torkington Road to Church Grove and Torkington Road from London Road to Avondale Avenue. The works started on  the 31st January 2018 and are expected to take approximately 2 weeks to complete, weather permitting. The working hours will be between 8pm and 5am. 

Local Campaigner Paul Ankers said, “This is one of our busiest roads but repairs are vital. I am glad work is taking place overnight. LibDems, when running the Council, prioritised road repairs and schemes like this are part of our £100M investment plan that will still run for another three years.”

During the times stated above it will be necessary to restrict traffic movements along London Road using temporary traffic signals with a road closure notice on Torkington Road. As the work progresses any adjoining roads will also be restricted through closure notices prohibiting traffic entering and exiting onto both London Road and Torkington Road with signed diversions in operation during working times. These measures are in place to minimise disruption to residents and businesses and to allow safe working operations to take place. 

Access to properties and businesses in the working area will be maintained where possible however, they may be restricted for certain periods as the work progresses.

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.