Gorse Hill Labour

A regular blog and updates from Mike Cordingley, Councillor for Gorse Hill Ward in Trafford – Gtr Manchester.

Alleyway Blues

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.

April 2020

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.

May 2020

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.

November 2020

ONS figures show the loss covid has had on our areas

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.

Planning Committee

It was half term and so a quieter week than normal. However, it was dominated by a particularly heavy Planning and Development Meeting on Thursday.

Sometimes you just have to site-visit

Google Earth is a great resource for planning committee members but sometimes you’ve just got to get on your bike and go and see. So I took trips out to Altrincham and Partington.

Altrincham

Application for variation of Erection of detached dwelling, following demolition of existing garage block on eastern side of Greenbank House.

Greenbank is quite an impressive mansion on Altrincham’s Downs. It already had been converted to flats and the landowners had planning permission to build a separate single storey detached apartment in place of the garage block. Construction was well underway but it hadn’t been built to plan.

The planning officers recommended approval of the new plans. The temptation might be to refuse on the basis that they frankly had taken liberties in building something different. However, the changes weren’t radical, it wasn’t as though they’d built more storeys. You have to ask whether the plans now such that you would not have approved them had they come to planning committee in this form initially? In this instance I felt I would have voted to grant the application and so I was content to approve. The developer though takes a huge risk in not building to approved plans.

Partington

Cycling to Partington is not my favourite journey. The A6144 is a nasty piece of road; too narrow and too fast. The pavements have really high kerbs and you ride in fear of being taken out through too close a pass.

When I have used a bus to get to Partington, the service has been infrequent and in this weather I don’t suffer long waits at bus stops willingly, so I end up risking it on the bike.

The application was to convert a disused nursing home on the A6144 into a mini-housing estate, utilising the existing building and adding an extension to get four houses out of the site as well as a new separate bungalow at the back.

The issue was parking. Planning officers had recommended approval.

This is where planning rules get messy because the Local Highways Authority objected due to under provision of a single on-site parking space. This under provision against a maximum by one space. We don’t have a minimum provision but Local Highways officers can take a view as to the impact on the highways network. And we’re back to the A6144 being too fast and too narrow, so we don’t want overflow parking out on the main road.

Anywhere but Partington, I think I would have wanted to allow the application as it was presented. We really do need to provide decent public transit for Partington. I’d love to encourage more to use their bikes but that main road really is horrible. So we’re left with a place dreadfully reliant on the car. That’s not going to be sustainable as we close down our city to petrol and diesel over the next decade or so.

We deferred this particular application as we were advised it may be possible to get that extra space into the scheme but it’s not really the long term answer, is it?

Warburton

This is an application to build up to 400 (Four Hundred) dwellings on open land. The land which is situated beyond the southern edge of the built up area of Partington. The site extends to approximately 24.8 hectares and spans two parcels of land which are separated by the route of Warburton Lane (which divides the site on a north/south axis).

The developers Redrow Homes have appealed against non-determination by the council within the timeframe. It now goes to inquiry.

The applicant’s decision to submit a non-determination appeal came at a time when negotiations were continuing in an attempt to resolve outstanding issues; a process that it was understood both parties were committed to.

To grant planning permission on this ad hoc basis for up to 400 dwellings, and on greenfield in the absence of supporting infrastructure would be at odds with central planning principles in the NPPF of providing sustainable development.

The site of the 400 Dwelling Warburton Development just South of Partington

The planning committee determined that it would have opposed and that should be the council’s stance at the inquiry commencing 21st April 2020.

Other Applications

  • The Market Hall Urmston
  • Football pitches and supporting infrastructure adjacent to Soccer Dome, Trafford Park
  • Soccer Dome to become new location for Event City, Trafford Park

All approved.

Lastly,

I wasn’t allowed to determine this one because I was supporting it. Approval was granted for the Wine Bar on Davyhulme Road East next to Della Roma. I was pleased that the committee agreed with me that the hours of opening should be allowed until 11pm (12 at weekend) rather than the 10pm proposed by officers. I’m hoping the new wine bar will be a welcome enhancement to our street scene.

Just don’t ask me to run

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.

Thursday

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.

Gorse Street

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.

Bee Network Progress Tracker

Saturday Canvass

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.

The difference we make

Social value and local spending

When we began our journey into control there was wide interest in using the council’s procurement and commissioning practices to strengthen the local economy.

I’m pleased to report significant progress.

In just one year, the share we procured locally almost trebled from 17% in 2017/18 to 49% in 2018/19. That’s an extra £22m of public money being used to support businesses and stimulate economic growth in Trafford.

Andrew Western
Labour Leader of Trafford Council

So Proud of our Progress

We prioritised local spend during my stint last year as cabinet member for finance and Chair of Star-Procurement, the service we share with Stockport, Tameside and Rochdale. I’m incredibly proud of the progress we made and particularly pay tribute to Lorraine Cox and all her staff at Star. They really turned it around very quickly. These are stunning figures.

And More to Come

Looking further ahead, I’d really like us to embrace the Fair Tax Mark proposed by the Co-operative Party (I’m a member). And yes that is Gorse Hill’s Mary Patel who is leading this.

You’re going to hear a lot more of this