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.
A shorter update this week. Quite a bit of casework but two events dominate everything else. Holocaust Memorial Day and Brexit.
We stand together
Trafford’s Holocaust event was on Wednesday. Incredibly well attended, the event grows every year. The theme this year was Stand Together. The event told the story of Sam Walshaw, born in Poland, he was only 11 when war broke out yet, miraculously, survived the horrors of Buchenwald and Dachau. His parents and four of his siblings were gassed at the Treblinka extermination camp. Only Sam and his sister Rachel survived.
Three students from Lostock High school then told their present-day stories. The stand together theme was so apt. We live in an inter-related, co-dependent world and yet populist leaders in this country and abroad, foment division for political gain to an extent that I hope shocks. We need to be shocked. If we view the collective hatred of (our) faith, politics, nationality, skin colour as part of our daily grind without being shocked, then we have already begun preparing the ground for something poisonous to flourish.
I was incredibly moved by the three Lostock students. They had been through so much but they have come through it as incredible human beings and in that, there is so much hope.
Brexit is Done
I didn’t vote for Brexit. I lost.
I’ll not forgive David Cameron for holding the referendum during a period of severe austerity that imposed a loss of place, sustenance and respect on so many in our communities. I do not begrudge holding the referendum, I just begrudge the timing and the entitled self-confidence with which Cameron went into it.
Nevertheless I lost, we lost; and it should have been clear that we had to carry out the people’s instruction. We had to leave. Labour tried to prevaricate. For three years we prevaricated, neither fish nor fowl. Brexit but not this Brexit; Another referendum. And we got hammered for it, we lost communities that had Labour written through like a stick of rock. And I don’t really want to forgive the architect of that disaster, but it looks like I’m going to have to, as I think we’re about to elect him leader.
So Friday was my gammon day. I was a person to avoid all week if truth be told.
Sunday I did a bit of a solo canvass on one side of Gorse Street.
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.
Monday night’s meeting was all about planning for the new year. The work that Gorgeous Gorse Hill do is fabulous. Please do get involved.
More information is on the Facebook page – Gorgeous Gorse Hill Noticeboard.
Sad funeral of Peter Cowburn. Peter and Margaret walked more miles delivering Labour Party leaflets than anyone I knew. He was a wonderful character and City fan. Selfless in his devotion to Nepal, he was a trustee for over twenty years to the charity Children of Nepal. A keen runner, his was a life well lived. I was quite moved that the photo on the funeral service was of Peter holding the Labour Party merit award I’d nominated him for.
Lostock Community Partnership
In the afternoon a meeting of Lostock Partnership, particularly focused on plans to build a hotel at Lostock circle. We’re still waiting for the submission to planning and whilst there’s been some early consultation, it’s really only when the application’s in that we can really evaluate.
A hotel at Warwick Road was rejected but another hotel extension at Lancs Cricket was allowed. I think I was more inclined in favour of the application than other members of the committee. It is a very tall building though.
The planning application I was most inspired by was an application for housing in Timperley at social rent. This will be the first in Trafford for over a decade. We talk about affordable housing but this at best is just a small discount from the market rent. These in Timperley will be at Social Rent. It’s the closest we’ve come to building council housing in years. The Tories sold them off and now Labour is building new ones. It’s what I went into politics to do and I’m really proud of this small step in the right direction.
Saturday Parkrun / Labour Hustings
Three quarters round the Wythenshawe Park run and my calf muscle pings. It’s happened before and there’s not much you can do about it. It’s like a thin tendon snapping. Having done it before, you can’t get too worked up about it, I’ll be back running in a week or two at worst.
Anyway the snapped tendon allows me to miss canvassing and to watch the leadership hustings on YouTube.
I don’t think we’re anywhere near ready to enter into a leadership election. December’s defeat is far too raw. The Liverpool hustings were awful. It might get better when we’re down to the last two or three. I hope so.
Circle Court caps a busy week but shows in adversity the very best of Lostock.
Saturday 4th Jan
Marshalling the first corner at Wythenshawe Pk Run. First time I’ve marshalled, but I’ve now done 12 runs and that’s not a bad ratio. One morning volunteering for a dozen runs.
In the afternoon I cycled round Gorse Hill identifying the full set of streets that had missed bin collections as the council had arranged additional Sunday shifts of collections.
Sunday 5th Jan
Spent the morning trying to establish whether the promised bin teams had gone out and whether they doing Gorse Hill. Took until lunchtime to get confirmation. Frankly, being told that they’d be reporting the next day just infuriates. Don’t often lose my temper but came close over that. Anyway the word was the teams were out and were doing the streets I’d submitted. Not totally as it turned out, but most.
Receive an update on the Education portfolio. Can’t hide the fact that there’s some local schools giving concern. School finances, it seems to me, are more responsive to school numbers than they ever have been. This is a good thing if your school is attracting good numbers, but if, for whatever reason, you’re not getting the demand, it can quickly spiral. Going to need different approaches, but the bottom line is we can’t just stand by.
Monday 6th Jan
Fury on the emails about the bins. Flixton particularly angry. Make some progress on casework. Christmas has been particularly busy.
I’m also putting together the spending return for the election. These have to be submitted next week and it’s not the sort of thing you want to do during the festivities so I now need to get going with it.
Tuesday 7th Jan
Labour Group meeting. Started late and slowly ground to a halt. I think Christmas has frazzled us. I’d be tempted to avoid the first full week of the year for a Labour group meeting next year. Anyway City won the first leg at United, even if I missed the first half, and apparently we played quite well.
Wednesday 8th Jan
More work on the spending return. In the evening it’s to Stretford Mall for an officer meeting with architects, planners and Bruntwood over the next consultation event.
It’s not long since the last one and whilst that means actual tangible progress might still be a little way off, I think this was a useful meeting. I think the public drop in will also be useful too.
At November’s drop in there was a discreet minority who felt the best option was to knock the mall down. To be honest, that has been my view too. I think it’s fair to say that isn’t a view shared by the planners and architects. I quite like the fact that they saw positive strengths in parts of the Mall and really saw their role as trying to design and enhance those strengths. So whilst I seem to have lost one argument, I’m far more energised by their way of thinking. Don’t be expecting fleshed out designs, but I think their approach both to the mall and to the wider Stretford town centre neighbourhoods is measured and exciting.
Consultation Drop-in at the Mall – Saturday 25th January 8am until 6pm
You really need to attend this. It’s your Stretford. And the planners need to hear from you.
Completed the ‘Doing Buses Differently’ consultation on bus franchising. This is something I’ve actively supported for a long time. The free market simply doesn’t work for bus travel. It’s my contention that the bus companies should really embrace this. It’s the only way they will ensure a long term future for their business. It’s an incredibly positive proposal that will support the bus companies and build the bus transport sector.
Thursday 9th Jan
Library Volunteering and in the evening yet more planning previews
I’m a member of the planning committee so I have to be circumspect over live planning applications, but we were previewing the new stand and hotel extension planned for Lancs Cricket Ground, as well as a tall hotel at the corner of Chester Road and Warwick Road.
Friday 10th Jan
Casework and a Labour Party Meeting reflecting on the Election Defeat (oh, and I went for a five mile run!)
The Labour Party meeting was interesting, particularly the thoughts of ordinary members rather than MPs or Councillors.
I think the scale of the defeat is taking some adjusting to. There’s a rawness to the wounds that have been rendered. I don’t think anyone has the complete answer. I’m not going to spend a lot of time dissecting our manifesto or the likeability of Jeremy Corbyn. He is already in the past. There were a lot of textbook failings in our campaign that will have to be put right whether Labour chooses to tack to the left or right: the lack of a story that related to people’s lives, the diminution of shared values. We failed to connect
We were for the many, not the few, but came across as a party too often set apart from and contemptuous of the very people we wanted to vote for us. That is a charge that can be made against both wings of the party; and one particularly apposite with regard to Brexit.
Saturday/Sunday – Serious Incident at Circle Court
Start the day away with the Labour Group but quickly learn of the Circle Court fire and flooding. Tell Dave Acton and we get over there. It was an everchanging set of circumstance throughout the weekend. The fire and initial water leakage were dealt with quickly but from then on there was loss of power, further floods and the affected area would enlarge, shrink and enlarge again. It would vary from almost no tenants needing rehousing to substantial decanting. The residents were superb and so were Trafford Housing Trust staff. When you go through something like this with people, you realise how stoical people are, how they deal with setbacks. I don’t think I’ve ever been so proud to represent this place.
I know things are not yet back to normal for quite a few residents and we’re continuing to monitor. I was really pleased to invite Kate Green over on the Sunday to see the recovery operation and to meet with staff and residents. I know she was impressed.
Unsuitable housing accommodation. Not an easy issue, we don’t have an adequate supply of social housing. It’s what we should have been doing following the crash instead of bailing out bankers.
Social Care issues – heartbreaking stuff
Manchester United – bad behaviour by some of the peripheral activities (match day parking in particular and in all its forms)
Bins – contaminated left to fester
Policing – we want to improve liaison. There’s been knife incidents, thankfully not necessarily ones of serious wounding, but the victims don’t always co-operate with the police.
Speeding – particularly going into Trafford Park. We want a camera on Park Road.
Bus Services – Hardly a month goes by without some reduction in services. Trouble is that some services are hardly used. We need integrated tickets. The loss of the 276 is being keenly felt in Lostock at the moment. Going to look into making the 85 a hail and ride service on Winchester Road.
Homes of multiple occupation – trying to improve our regulating operation
Planning’s been relatively quiet here this month. The only application of note is an application to build two semi-detached properties on Skelton Avenue in a garden. Having said that, there’s a really big application on its way for a massive health spa at the Trafford Centre.
Planning Permission was granted for the addition of a nursery within the planned Orchards school on Barton Clough fields.
Nandos at White City commenced business today. Likely to be very popular.
Really impressed with the Stretford Precinct Market. The first time it opened, it gave the mall its best footfall figures in a long time.
Thomas Street Bridge – needs proper maintenance of the brambles. I think Councillor Walsh took his shears to them. I know he was planning to; and I’ve seen evidence that there’s been a trim of the worst of it. Well done, whoever it was, but it needs to be on a proper maintenance schedule.
There’s been a few issues that have been around for so long I’m almost embarrassed to include them here. I think I’ll have to do a feature on them. As a taster, I really do not understand why it’s so difficult to get a litter bin at the bus stop at Taylors Road. No wonder we can’t negotiate a withdrawal deal if we can’t deliver a litter bin.