Days are getting longer and there’s a more upbeat feel to everything. We’ve had a couple of dry weekends and it’s great that so many are taking the opportunity to get outside. I’ve been out delivering party leaflets the last couple of Saturdays and I’ve made a resolution this year that I’ll only leaflet in company. We’ve led such solitary lives during lock-down, I’m just not prepared to waste the opportunity to chat to someone outside my bubble whilst I walk the streets. It may be less efficient but some things are more important and it’s a resolution I’m sticking to. It makes leafleting fun and I’ve found it thoroughly enjoyable.
Lots of litter picking going on in Stretford and other places in Trafford. Partington in particular has been especially noteworthy. But it’s Stretford that’s my focus, and isn’t it fabulous how the baton has been picked up by the Stretford Litter Pickers. Hannah and the team seem to have really caught the mood. If you’ve not yet joined their Facebook group, you really should.
This Saturday they’ll be working from Hawthorn Road on that strip of green-space below the Bridgewater Canal.
Continuing to work on the Gorse Street/Chester Road Alley. It’s regularly being fly-tipped by a takeway. Empty bulk containers of chicken are being put out in the alley with impunity. Pressing the council to take action. We’re on a promise for having restoration of lights which seem to have been switched off. The alley is very dark at night and it would improve things to have the council’s lights switched back on. We’ve also had some incidents of human defecation (the working assumption is late night delivery workers) and clearly lights would deter.
The good news is that the last of the abandoned commercial bins has gone and at the same time there’s greater engagement of residents on both sides of the alley.
Sadly, the bid for integrated community funding was unsuccessful. Disappointing as the work on the alley is a classic case of integration arising from common cause. An issue that brings people together is often a better vehicle for funding than existing groups looking for an issue.
HGVs getting lost in residential areas. Progress being made in reinforcing a message that HGVs should not use a route from M60 junction 7 (A56 Stretford/Sale). We really could do with some signage deterring this and I’m pursuing it.
Curzon Road parking issues. This revolves around the increased popularity of Lostock Park, particularly the skateboard section. Not making as much progress with this as I’d like. What we need is a proper audit/survey of parking rather than a catalogue listing of ‘H’ bar prices and dropped kerbs.
School Governors Meetings – I’ve had so many this March – headteacher appraisal, governors update meetings on return to school, Core Group meeting, SEN teacher appointments, Headteacher appointment approval, School Financial Value Standard meetings.
Vaccine progress meeting – more on this in a separate post to follow
Planning meetings – too many applications for one meeting – had to adjourn to a continuation meeting
Children and Health Scrutiny – really recommend the latest Children’s meeting on school places. It’s available on youtube.
Labour Party AGM, Labour Group meeting – AGMs are always a bit turgid and it’s better when there’s contest. Slightly subdued this year.
Mayor’s Challenge Fund Tranche 2 preview meeting. One of the projects shown to us was the Talbot Road/Greatstone Road junction. I’m delighted to say that I’ve been shown a scheme that will withstand actually being implemented. Fingers crossed that this can be delivered without interference.
Trafford is experiencing the rise in positive cases of Covid seen across Greater Manchester. We don’t seem to be experiencing a corresponding rise in hospital admissions.
The rise in positive tests seems to particularly focused on a younger segment of the population. The message continues to be vigilent and get tested if you have symptoms. Trafford’s testing facility is at UA92 this week. Tests are booked via the NHS.
Impact on Council Finances
Dealing with Covid-19 has had a huge impact on Council finances for this year. Remember that the Government’s diktat was to do what was necessary.
The Government has issued grants to councils but go nowhere near addressing the full amount.
So looking at this year’s budget spend, we’re about £17m down on where we should be for the year.
The Government is talking about spreading the cost but Trafford under Labour has been a frugal council. I’d like to see finance reform but unless that happens we’re going to need support from Government. It’s my view you can only squeeze so much out of Council Tax.
You may have seen reports that the impact on Trafford Leisure in terms of maintaining a service has been even greater than on the council since they’ve not been able to open their centres. The council has reconfigured reserves allocated to the Trust to assist but since some of these reserves were connected to a new Stretford Leisure Centre/Pool, it’s obviously a concern to us in Gorse Hill.
Crime in Greater Manchester is currently up by 25% compared to the same time last year. This is a significant change as the figures for April and May were quiet in comparison.
I’m told that Trafford is not seeing the same increase. That may be across Trafford as a whole but my experience suggests that there is a peak in crime and disorder, as well as anti-social behaviour.
We are not very good at reporting crime in Gorse Hill. We know there is drug dealing at a number of locations. It’s not being reported to the police.
Do report on Crimestoppers too. It gives police vital information to apply resources
Lostock Circle Court
Circle Court has been due regeneration for a number of years. Windows are draughty and uninsulated and it needs all aspects bringing up to 21st century standards. There were hints that building a new hotel (still subject to planning) could bring in the receipts needed to assist. However, the financial outlook is such that the Housing Trust has indicated that any regeneration is now pushed back.
As councillors we’re arguing that this is precisely the right investment to be making at this time. We’re angry about it and will continue to make the case.
I don’t think closing the household waste and recycling centres was ever a good idea. They are at last open but we’ve been left with a legacy across the ward of fly-tipping and overflowing and abandoned commercial waste. I’m doing my best to find a way through these but people are angry and I understand that.
We also seem to have had a spate of bin thefts this week. Now the collection service is supposedly back to normal, expectations are confused and it’s clear that there’s a backlog of frustration and unattended fly-tipping and a big increase in incidences of rats across the ward.
The September resumption is a really difficult issue. Schools have been operating primarily as learning hubs with most of their pupils learning at home. The effectiveness of the learning we know is very mixed and the quality of the learning environment is extremely varied. The impact of covid-19 on learning will range from almost zero to a level seriously detrimental to the child’s outcomes.
Teachers and staff have worked incredibly hard throughout the period. I know there are worries about a full resumption. I suppose I’m in the camp where I just think we have to get children back. It is not going to be easy.
I’m a governor at Lostock High as well as Old Trafford Community Academy; but I did want to report back on Lostock as it’s important to the ward. Since May we have a new Headteacher, Lindsay Brindley. I’m really impressed with how she’s addressing the current situation. She’s managed to recruit some really proven senior staff into key positions. She’s worked so hard and I really wish her all the best in September when it’ll be the first time she’s had all the children back.
Extremely disappointing that Trafford’s GP practices with the worst ratings amongst patients were all located in the Stretford/Old Trafford area.
Trafford has 30 practices:
27 – Delamere Medical Practice, Stretford (72), 28 – Old Trafford Medical Practice (67), 29 – North Trafford Group Practice, Stretford (61) 30 – Brooks Bar Medical Centre, Stretford (60).
Only Lostock avoided the bottom places coming in at 14.
I raised this with the Director of Public Health but I suspect it’s an issue for the CCG and the Council’s Health Scrutiny. I suppose looking at the position as a whole, then Trafford’s practices are doing well, however I’m not happy our practices are failing to serve their patients as well as others.
There are a number of pressures building up whilst covid-19 lockdown has been in place. It is only now that Social Landlords are entering into new lets. We had an effective freezing of movement. The ban on evictions extends until 23rd August.
Obviously no one wants to see evictions without cause but sometimes it’s the only way for a situation to ease and it’s pressured to say the least at the moment.
Easing of Lockdown
I think generally it’s gone well. Clearly a lot of this is for the council to police. The requirement to wear a mask was 100% adhered to when I visited Tesco, but I understand the company (along with Sainsburys) is now saying they won’t intervene with people not wearing a mask. I think that’s a mistake.
From what I have seen bars are quiet.
Really disappointed to see the Up Top project not proceed. I have no inside information on what happened there.
Not comfortable with gyms reopening personally.
Supporting the A56 Bike Lanes
I’ve made my position clear that I very much welcome the bike lanes. Perhaps interestingly, I think it’s less about facilitating bike riding and more about taming the A56 so that traffic movement is at civilised speeds and steady whilst people can reclaim the pavements for walking and chatting without the poisonous exhausts and imposing roar.
I think we’re going to see more facilities brought in quite quickly. Close to home we might see some filtering around Gorse Avenue and Ashover Street. Apparently letters are going out today though I’ve not seen them.
Planning appeals have been lodged against refusal on:
Hotel at corner of Warwick Road and Chester Road
The safe-storage facility opposite Arnold Clark showroom
A planning application has been submitted for the B&Q site to build 333 apartments (use class C3) and communal spaces ancillary to the residential use; flexible space for use classes A1, A3, D1 and/or D2; undercroft car parking; new public realm; and associated engineering works and infrastructure | Former B&Q Site Great Stone Road Stretford M32 0YP
We’ve also received a pre-planning consultation letter in respect of 13 storey appartments on Warwick Road. The letter has also been delivered to local residents.
This continues to be the busiest time I can remember for casework. At the same time, Trafford’s officers are mainly working from home. I’m continuing to do my best to deal with issues. I have had a mixture of complete success, partial progress and getting nowhere on various issues.
It’s a fabulous role being a councillor. It’s much better when I can get out and about as trying to deal with it all from a laptop is a pain. Have a great summer and hopefully things will be a little bit better come September.
Pulled a calf tendon at Parkrun on Saturday so I can’t run even for a bus. Thankfully the bike remains the best way of getting round and whether the calf is redundant on those pedals or it’s specific tendons, I don’t know, but I’m thankful I can get around. I actually had access to the car this week but you’ll be pleased to know I never used it once.
You’ll see that the following update contains a friendly nudge to my council that they get a move on with the Bee Network.
Monday was neighbourhood watch
Gurdev Singh is one of those people who when he sees things need doing he gets on with doing it. It’s great that Gorse Hill ward has so many of these people. Gurdev lives in Lostock and he’s seen enough attempted burglaries and car thefts to know that it’s a growing problem, that the place is not kept as clean as it should be and there’s too much dog dirt in the park and paths.
We receive the invitation in the morning for an inaugural neighbourhood watch meeting in the evening. He’s done some advertising on Facebook and we get enough people. It was such a worthwhile meeting it earned its own post here.
One thing the meeting really underlined was the need for more policing resources and it very much prompted me to respond in favour of the precept increase on council tax proposed by our Labour mayor and Deputy.
Tuesday Circle Court Drop-In
With PCSOs Jonathan and Mike, as well as officers of Trafford Housing Trust and Ian Underhill of Safer Trafford for their regular drop in.
Wednesday Trip to Trafford Park Hotel
Thrilled to see the inside of Trafford Park Hotel for the first time in 30 years, maybe longer. More here
Hopefully we can get this heritage jewel into use again.
Design Guide Presentation
There’s a lot of good work going on in Trafford about urban planning for the 21st century and beyond. I still worry that the Council’s decision makers are not yet ready to break old habits. So we might adopt new design standards, but only if we know we can ignore at leisure.
Trafford habitually rejects planning applications for want of parking despite there being no minimum figure already. The car is given far more status than greenspace or play areas for children.
This was my initiative. This street backs the shopping parade and pub in Gorse Hill. The combination of commercial premises, particularly take-aways as well as above-the-shop accommodation and a residential area means bringing people and services together is a challenge. The alleys and street needs a deep clean, we need better management of cleaning and litter removal and not just from the council.
On Thursday I got councillors and officers together just to focus on Gorse Street. We need to identify what’s adopted and what’s not, work with the commercial waste and try to develop a permanent strategy. We can’t continue just tweaking, removing the odd bag of builders waste etc. So it’s an issue I want to return to.
Urmston Active Travel
500+ people in a wedding venue in Urmston to hear Chris Boardman launch the Urmston Active Neighbourhood. Lots of activities set up but the sheer weight of numbers was the big story.
The numbers of people turning up to this meeting are really important. We’re now into the third calendar year of the bee network project. Whilst other local authorities like Salford are making good progress on moving forward from design stage, Trafford is beginning to lag behind now. It would be a shame if we didn’t make progress. The Talbot Road cycleway we inherited put Trafford at the forefront. The 500 people turning up to the Urmston event shows Trafford residents want to keep us in the leading pelatron on active travel.
Over to Broadheath for a Labour Party canvass in support of Denise Western. Denise is a very popular councillor and that came through on the doorstep. It felt ok, better than I expected if truth be known. We see the polling, but out on the doorstep it felt ok, at least in Broadheath.
Almost forgot to mention the Stretford town centre consultation. People are really keen. The mall is an issue, its physical presence sits on the wrong trajectory for me. There aren’t enough routes that place a person accidentally passing through the mall. I get the sense that I’m in a minority as far as the mall’s potential is concerned and I’m more than happy to see Stretford get its overdue attention.
additional work on the Stretford cycleway (Talbot Road / Stretford Road)
Programme Entry status for
Talbot Rd/Greatstone Rd Junction
A56 Talbot Rd Junction
Programme Entry status means that Trafford is encouraged to work up plans and that the Mayor’s team would want to support a scheme that’s workable and cost effective. It gives them a slight get out clause and no funds are transferred but I personally would hope the business case is so strong that these will become reality.
The next scheme in the pipeline is described as:
Dedicated Cycle and walking link from Moss Road to Wharfside, Trafford Park
I want to stress that this is the complete Trafford list, it’s not a selection for a Gorse Hill Ward readership. I’m quite proud that every single scheme has had benefits for Gorse Hill Ward.
The future direction for Trafford’s use of the fund is now beginning to shift towards active neighbourhoods: something I very much support. Initially, it will be targeted on the Urmston Town Centre and routes into it. I’m keen that it means that dropped kerbs become the standard at crossing points and we embrace something called ‘implied zebras’, a thing that you’re going to hear much more of, particularly in Salford. But I want it also to provide more seating and access to toilets on routes. We have to be including all ages and needs in this.
Leisure Centre Investment
The report sets out Trafford Leisure’s investment strategy. Within the document is reference to Stretford Leisure Centre, still very much subject to Civic Quarter Masterplan consultation but we’re assuming a new centre will be built:
It is designed and firmly positioned as community leisure centre predominantly serving residents in the Stretford and Old Trafford areas but also of sufficient capacity to meet the needs of an expanding student population at UA92.
The facility mix includes a 25m pool and 18m leisure pool with moveable floor. A 160 station fitness suite some 3 times bigger than the existing one with a health and wellbeing suite and assessment room to help people get the most from their fitness regimes. Overall there will be 9 court sports hall capacity with flexibility as an indoor cricket practice area to professional standard which attracts funding from the ECB and provides a route for local people to access world class practice facilities alongside the elite cricketers.
This would combine with a number of fun activity based facilities aimed at the family market along with a social meeting point and café area offering wholesome, healthy food and party catering. The total construction cost including overheads, inflation and car parking for 300 cars is £24.460m.
I think the key thing is that it has to serve the needs of wider Stretford and Old Trafford. Proximity to Metrolink will help but fitness isn’t just about sports centres and we need to stop expecting to be able to travel door to door in a car. We need to provide an urban landscape that people want to walk and talk in.
Every year I submit Chatsworth Road in Lostock to the council's highways dept as my number one priority within the ward for resurfacing. The best I've achieved is some haphazard patching of occasional potholes there.
It's a well used route. I've talked to councillors with residents who'll use it regularly, particularly in Davyhulme and Flixton. All have agreed that the road is the worse for wear. I've always had the suspicion though that cyclists see this road as in a lot more serious condition than 'worse for wear'. It's more than an uncomfortable ride too. The road is rutted throughout and the cyclist is forced off their natural course by regular fractures of the surface. This makes it quite dangerous in sharing the route with motor vehicles as the cyclist is forced to weave in and out.
We've not really put in a concerted collective demand for the road to be resurfaced from cyclists and it's perhaps time we did. I've helped cyclists before, particularly with regard to Victoria Road in Hale; but that was for a cycling club. We don't seem to have a collective voice for cyclists from the Urmston side of Trafford. I've been approached by one cyclist who feels that he's going to have to change his route to avoid Chatsworth – I believe there's many more cyclists out there who 'require' this road to be resurfaced. My lonesome annual plea for this road to be top of the list has not worked. I'm therefore putting the call out for anyone who's had experience of an uncomfortable/dangerous riding experience along Chatsworth Road to 'tell' their story to the council, to make the case collectively with me.
Tell me about your bike ride on Chatsworth Road in Lostock. Ideally use the comments below, so that it might encourage others to join in. If you absolutely prefer confidentiality then email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.