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.

 

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.”