I’ve been remiss in not blogging since virus arrived. I wanted to avoid getting in the way of the advice coming from the authorities whether Government, NHS or Council.
There’s been an incredible effort by local people to beat this threat and we all acknowledge the commitment of workers in essential services. As well as health and care workers, I pay particular tribute to our shop workers, our street cleaners, refuse collectors, bus drivers, delivery drivers, those that keep our drains and sewage systems working. In fact I pay tribute to everyone who has worked or volunteered during this period.
Lockdown commenced on 23rd March. Almost everyone agreed we should reduce the transmission of the virus through a massive reduction in social interaction. The UK threw in the towel as far as tracing and containment was concerned and opted for a lesser version of the lockdowns introduced in Spain and Italy.
There’s talk of lockdown now being eased but it’s difficult to see it happening quickly. The death toll in hospital across the three days to Saturday 25th April was over 1,900. This about the level we had at the beginning of April. So we’re nowhere near the levels we had when lockdown started (less than 150 – 3 day rolling). Hopefully we can see the trend of reduced deaths continue. We’re only at the start of this.
So what’s going on during lockdown?
Planning continues – The biggest planning application we’ve been dealing with recently is the nine storey hotel at Lostock Circle. This should have been heard at the April meeting but it’s been deferred to allow an impact assessment on the hotel market locally (known as the sequential test).
Gorse Hill Pub is up for sale. Obviously we’ll keep an eye on this but with lockdown in operation there’s a worry about the whole sector.
Council meetings are suspended. We’ve had a couple of online video conferences but essentially normal democratic scrutiny is unavoidably suspended. We try to do our best by email but it is difficult.
Council Finances – Trafford relies heavily on council tax and business rates. We anticipate the impact this year will be well over £30m. This is stark. It affects all councils and really worries me. I don’t trust the government and I don’t trust their solutions. They invariably make hedge fund holders and asset strippers richer, whilst the rest of us struggle.
Stretford Mutual Aid
Stretford Mutual Aid has been established at Stretford Public Hall as hub to support various local support groups in delivering to individual needs such things as:
- Food shopping
- Getting fuel (if you’re on a pre-paid meter)
- Getting essential medication
- Looking after pets
- Someone to talk to
If you live alone, are struggling to make ends meet, are self-isolating or generally in need of advice or support please contact 0300 330 9073 (8.30am to 5.30pm, Monday to Friday).
Select option 4 for Trafford and then ignore the options for ‘goods and services’ or ‘pensions’ – just hold the line and they will signpost you to Stretford Mutual Aid.
Gorgeous Gorse Hill, Lostock Community Partnership, Love Gorse Hill and especially Gorse Hill Studios are all supporting and part of this initiative. It’s no surprise to me that local people initiated this response almost immediately that lockdown was called.
Labour has a new leader
For the first time in years I think, I voted for the leader, deputy leader and NEC candidates who all won. I must be growing ‘on message’ for the first time in my life.
It was always going to be difficult at this time for whoever won the leadership. The challenge is to establish credibility as a potential party of Government. I wish Sir Kier well.
Labour’s leaked dossier
For those not following Labour’s in-house troubles, the dossier reveals a party HQ in which individuals modelled themselves on characters from the Thick of It satire, who were more interested in undermining Jeremy Corbyn’s 2017 General Election campaign and used their position to trip up and embarrass the leadership.
None of this is a shock – to be honest, Labour Party’s HQ had been riven with cliques long before Jeremy Corbyn was chosen as our leader. However, those who were in positions at the top of the bureaucracy, whose wages were being paid by ordinary members, who chose to work against their employers and are still benefiting from the patronage of the party should have the ties with the party removed. We’ve got to put an end to this in-fighting and we can’t have these people like Lord Iain McNicoll still involved in any way.
We need a reform of the party bureaucracy. I would advocate strengthening the regional democracy. They should hold HQ to account rather than the other way round.
We still have to deal with antisemitism within the party and it was reassuring that the introduction made clear that it continues to be a blight that has to be dealt with.
It will be a test of both Kier Starmer and Angela Rayner. If they get this right, then the whole party can move forward together. I worry that they may simply try to consign it to a different time and leave a festering wound that will come back to hurt them.
Assisted bin collections have been the one area of the refuse service that has troubled me during lockdown. I have had a couple of cases that could have been handled much better.
This doesn’t detract from the praise I bestowed at top of this page. I do think our refuse collectors have done a fantastic job. The green bin collections are something I really didn’t expect to resume before normality returned so it’s been a real bonus.
Business Relief – called in on a small number of cases to try to help resolve. The teams support these have been working round the clock and they’ve been tremendous in getting info back to businesses.
Hospital Visiting for serious cases. Sadly this is one those really awful aspects of social distancing. There’s no easy answer. With such a contagious disease amongst us, hospitals have had to impose really hard restrictions on visits even where the patient’s illness is not covid-19. Patient Liaison have been incredibly understanding and have tried to facilitate electronic communication etc but it’s incredibly hard on the family. One reason we really need to beat this virus.
Surrender of rented property on death of tenant – clearly lockdown creates special problems when surrendering a home and I have had clarification that account will be taken of these difficulties. Definitely get in touch with a councillor or citizens advice if a landlord is making demands to remove belongings etc.
Foster Care Support during Covid – Lockdown is difficult for us all but for the council’s foster parents it brings extra burdens. With schools closed and at the same time having to manage social distancing there’s clearly a need to support foster parents and it’s something that’s been raised locally.
Social Distancing whilst mobile and not in a car – I am particularly engaged in this issue and it’s one that’s deserving of it’s own piece, but the second class status we give to pedestrians and cyclists is one that’s giving problems when it comes to social distancing. Anyone who’s walked, cycled or ran will have found themselves in the middle of the road when passing with the 2m margin.
Public Transport will be an issue too when lockdown eventually eases.
Gorse Hill – Behind the Takeaways – There’s a build up of commercial waste bins and the drains are blocked with congealed gluck. Seriously, what sort of an advert do they think this makes for their produce?
I’m hoping Environmental Enforcement can take action and perhaps even involve Food Standards. I want to support businesses, but not if they fail to look after their premises and surroundings.
I do want to hear your views
Please leave a comment below or join the debate on Facebook if that’s where you find this post.
We will get through this. Stretford is a wonderful town and it’s a place where we look after each other. So don’t suffer alone, do get in touch and don’t don’t forget the Stretford Mutual Aid number 0300 330 9073.