Purely, in terms of cases, we’re hitting a new peak. Locally, the number of Covid infections has gone through the roof compared to how it was just a few weeks ago. Your chance of coming into contact with the disease in Gorse Hill or Lostock is greater now than it’s ever been.
Whilst the numbers being admitted to hospital are low, they are growing and worryingly the northwest’s number of covid patients requiring mechanical ventilation has risen six-fold in the past 6 weeks. So these are stark figures.
Get your jab
Maddeningly, we know that the vaccine works to reduce hospitalisations. So this is a plea to you to get your jabs. The vaccine is available to everyone 18+. If you’re registered with a GP, you can book through the national booking service. For those that can’t use the booking service, there are vaccination drop-in sessions advertised on the Manchester City Council website. https://secure.manchester.gov.uk/info/500362/covid-19/8079/covid-19_vaccination_programme/5. You can just turn up and will usually get your jab.
In less than two weeks most of the restrictions we have had imposed on us to combat Covid are lifted. I desperately want July 19 to be a success but you need to get your jabs if you’ve not already done so.
I was contacted in June in respect of an infestation of rats at a property on Gorse Street. This was an exceptionally large and bold infestation that were moving openly on a lean-to roof of the property’s outbuilding.
Whilst the infestation of rats was the trigger for the contact, there were a lot of separate issues in connection with the alleyway.
The Chester Road businesses are generally keeping their commercial waste bins in the alley. Most are unlocked, but increasingly we’re seeing commercial bins locked shut. This is welcome, but has implications for the flats above shops. Bags of household waste are routinely thrown into open commercial bins.
An issue as recently as June was the blocking of the alley drain due to congealed oils and fats. There have been long periods of the drain being blocked and a large milky white sludge collecting as a large puddle in the alley. Responsibility was disputed between the council and United Utilities, but I understand that that is now clarified with the council taking on responsibility.
However, residents understandably are keen the takeaways undertake their business responsibly and it has not always been the case.
When a business ceases trading
At least one of the takeaway businesses ceased trading during the first lock-down and essentially shut-up shop, leaving their commercial waste uncollected and un-invoiced.
This was unresolved for months. The bin was left festering whilst accumulating even more black waste bags alongside it.
Eventually this bin was removed, presumably by the contractor; and the Council removed the bags (as fly-tipping) a week or so later.
As a minimum, I’m arguing that there needs to be clear indications as to which business a bin belongs to. If a business does ‘a runner’ and ceases trading it should be made relatively easy for a third party to contact the waste contractor. On this bin I couldn’t do that, all I could do was tell the waste contractor it was one of theirs and it was unlikely they’d get paid for removing it.
We should therefore expect it to be standard that all commercial bins in the alley should have an indication as to which business they are contracted to. We would hope that the council would make this a condition of keeping bins in the alley.
We would also expect that commercial bins in the alley should be locked so as to avoid accumulating fly-tipped waste and overflowing.
Flats above the shops with no bins
We’ve inherited a situation where it’s commonplace that no bins are attached to the flats above the shops there. Even if they had bins, it’s not clear where they could be kept.
Quite sensibly in many ways, the residents use plastic bags to take out and dispose of the waste. However, it’s not efficient and encourages pests; and it’s never been part of the waste contract whether Amey or their predecessors to collect waste in bags. We do not want to change that.
But it’s completely unacceptable to have the situation we had with the commercial bin in the photograph. Most of that waste is domestic ‘fly-tipped’ waste put into a commercial bin that was abandoned.
We’ve got to get to a proper scheme of waste disposal for these flats. They’re council tax payers and they’re entitled to a proper scheme. I don’t know whether that will be bin stores in the alley or some form of communal bins, but the current situation is not tenable. We need to work with the residents to come up with a solution.
Although we made massive strides since June, we’ve still got a way to go. I want to get to a situation where rats go hungry and move on by, that there’s not a ready supply in the alley.
Local people performing miracles. Getting on with it and sorting out their neighbourhood.
whilst in government
Every contract seems to go to the mates of Johnson or of his free-wheeling ministers. Everything the government touches seems to fall apart. It matters.
The lazy algorithm
The algorithm replicating the previous year’s results was inherently unfair. The calculation took no account of effort or attainment. It was a rotten method, and it would never stand up to the scrutiny of real-life circumstances. Leaving the retreat so late was incredibly frustrating. Given no exams, these results could have been released months ago. That would have given time for appeal and challenge before university places needed to be allocated.
Thankfully, the combined might of the pupils and schools, together with backing from our very own Kate Green in her role as Shadow Education Minister forced the Government to abandon it. I’m so grateful that the pupils won before it was applied to GCSEs.
It’s not all good. BTEC results are only just beginning to filter through after being pulled at the last moment.
Perhaps the hardest hit has been those students who were independently submitting themselves to resits to get the grades for their chosen University. They’re not getting any grade, and now the worry is that it’ll be much harder next year.
Please sign the petition for universities to honour the 2020 offer.
Local lockdown continues to apply in Trafford. Wigan and Stockport having their lockdown relaxed, it can’t be long before the measures are lifted here too.
I’m not sure the additional restrictions in themselves have had the substantial impact, but they reinforced the message that the disease continues in our community. My hesitation is that measures need to make sense within the context of what is going on in the local area. We should design our own measures. This should be Andy Burnham’s job with the support of the local councils and our superb Directors of Public Health.
We need the data. We need our Directors of Public Health to know who’s getting the disease and the places where they may have caught it. National tracing is not working. Another of Boris Johnson’s mates has the job of running track and trace. Local knowledge is a tremendous part of effective track and trace. We need full devolution of this to make it work properly.
Overall Death Rate
Trafford got through the peak Covid-19 in better shape than most metropolitan boroughs. Testing for coronavirus before discharging patients back to care homes had a significant impact. However, we are seeing a slightly more pronounced increase in deaths now compared to the five-year average. These are small numbers, but it’s worth monitoring as we move forward.
All councils set out a local plan for their area. It forms the basis of planning development decisions the council takes on applications that come before it. I’m a member of a consultative group on Trafford’s Local Plan as it has fallen out of date.
It’s a necessary, and sometimes boring document, but councils can be ambitious and visionary, if they choose. I am keen that the plan should bolster neighbourhoods and communities. I am attracted to the ethos of the 15 minute city. Trafford’s outdated plan encourages urban sprawl. It’s going to be an interesting debate.
Urban sprawl as a planning concept has lost its sheen, but it seems at least in Trafford to be the default model. You’re just not allowed to call it sprawl.
You can describe a development as a once in a lifetime opportunity to invest in an attractive urban extension with nearby access to town amenities and close to a renowned rural setting. These developments have no public transport links and no shops or community setting.
I hope we can produce a local plan that puts people at the heart of it.
Stretford Town Centre
Keep an eye out for the next update on Stretford’s Masterplan. We were hoping this weekend to reopen the continuing conversation on the town’s evolvement. We didn’t quite get everything ready, but it’s coming.
A planning application to demolish the Greatstone Hotel and build a 6 storey apartment block
101637/OUT/20 | Outline planning application for the demolition of existing hotel and erection of 69 residential apartments, including details on layout, access and scale, with all other matters reserved. | Greatstone Hotel 845 – 849 Chester Road Stretford Manchester M32 0RN
Motorbiking gang tensions on Chester Road
Nansen Park investment
Gorse Street Alleyways and Environs (issues of cleanliness and waste removal processes)
Parking issues connected to Lostock Park visitors.
Waste removal at Milton Court – serious breakdown in services
Sub-standard street restoration following tree removal in Lostock
Vibrations caused by structural issues on foundations on Barton Road
Housing issues – a number of residents unable to move from inappropriate accommodation. Covid-19 has effectively clogged up housing allocation.
Overgrown passageways and footpaths
Royal Mail Deliveries
Accommodating Active Travel (walking and cycling) v The needs of people in cars and vans
HGVs getting lost in residential areas trying to find Trafford Park, particularly Moss Road and Avondale Road.
Those Bowness/Derwent Alleyways
It’s always brilliant to help community clean-ups but the work of Dave on the Bowness / Derwent Estate has been of another level. It’s took us a few weeks but he’s achieved so much.
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.
The good news is that Gorse Hill Ward has fared slightly better than the places around us according to official statistics. We don’t have within the ward those elderly peoples homes that have suffered so much. This probably improves our figures. Nevertheless, it is good news that our adherence to the lockdown is paying off. We’re coming out of this in a lot better state than we might have done.
The three output areas that approximate to the make up of Gorse Hill Ward total 12 covid deaths since the start of the pandemic. Clearly this is absolutely tragic and my thoughts go out to the family and friends of those we have sadly lost. However, it could have been so much worse.
You can enter your postcode into the top left hand corner of the map to zoom into your area. Or you can go to the Office of National Statistics by clicking on the link below and accessing the data directly from their site.
A big thank you to all our services who worked through Storm Ciara. We shouldn’t underestimate the task of getting things back to normal after something like this.
My workload has been particularly focused on Lostock High School and continuity within the school as the head moves on to new challenges. We want to see the changes that have already taken place become embedded. I am still so thrilled at the standards set by pupils as at the previous week’s Holocaust memorial and that’s exactly where we want the school.
Circle Court Hotel
It’s nine storeys and 197 rooms so it’s bigger than I would like, and it’s creating the need for residents’ parking to be displaced. The main focus is on making sure the residents don’t lose out, that they gain from employment opportunities both within the construction and longer term operation of the hotel.
Labour Party Nomination – Lisa gets 12 points from Stretford and Urmston
I voted to nominate Lisa Nandy for leader and Angela Rayner as her deputy. I think for the first time, my choices coincided with the majority of members in Stretford and Urmston Labour Party. So it’s quite nice that I’m mainstream for once. I think Lisa is the one that’s showing the most insight into the reasons we lost and how we go about regaining trust.
Living Streets is the charity promoting Everyday Walking. Essentially normal urban walking to nip down to the shops or get the kids to school. A small group of us has decided to get a Local Living Streets Group set up for Stretford. We know there’s a lot going on to get Bee Networks developed and we’re keen to see that happen, but we’re also keen to put pressure on to improve existing crossings as a matter of urgency through timings etc. and it’s something we want to pursue. We’ve got the seal of approval from Living Streets HQ, so you should be seeing us spring to life in the coming weeks.
Stretford Memorial Hospital and the lack of Health Infrastructure for Stretford/Old Trafford
I noticed Stretford Memorial Hospital came up on the agenda at Health Scrutiny the previous week. There was no report attached so I ran through the YouTube video to see what it was about.
It’s presence on the agenda was triggered by my colleague Councillor Judith Lloyd. Judith quite rightly wanted to know what was happening following the closure Stretford Memorial. She was making the point that there was a dearth of decent quality health resources in the north of the borough. It’s a point I too have been making. The Conservatives steered everything to Altrincham, we now need to make sure that we get some decent facilities here.