Local Issues predominate
The week started with attendance at Lostock Tenants and Residents Association. The state of roads predominated with Selby Road in particular drawing attention. The Humphrey Park station approach was also criticised as overgrown, unkempt with subway becoming increasingly smelly and forbidding. And dog poo is an increasing issue. We also discussed the deteriorating state of the shop forecourt at Lostock Parade.
There was some discussion as to the future for the tenants and residents association given the retirement of the chair. The residents were clear that it should continue; they valued its focus on the neighbourhood to the south of Barton Road and offered access to Trafford Housing Trust’s community panels. The alternative was to fall under the Lostock Partnership but it was felt that there was room for both associations. The challenge is to ensure we have officers in place to continue the good work.
In the evening it was Stretford’s Neighbourhood Forum, interestingly with less residents present than the morning’s Lostock meeting despite covering a much greater area. The two main agenda items were Trafford Link and Sustainable Living.
Trafford Link is the Local Involvement Network for Trafford – a dreadful name and one that belies a truly important statutory role. Thankfully the Government is changing their name to Healthwatch. Trafford Link is effectively the citizen’s voice on local health issues. With that ‘voice’ comes certain statutory rights to inspect providers whether it be hospitals or service providers and make a meaninful contribution to setting priorities. Ann Day, chair of Trafford Link (and coincidentally, acting chair of Lostock Residents – see above) gave an update on the changing shape of Trafford Healthcare Trust. The trust is looking to be taken over by a larger trust as it is not financially sustainable in its current form. The services currently provided at Trafford General will change – some services will inevitably be withdrawn but others could be added as the new trust develops the provision. The role of Link /Healthwatch will be crucial
The presentation raised interesting questions from residents and it’s clear that there’s a lack of awareness over the changes as many were learning about the scope for the first time.
Trafford’s sustainability officer then gave a talk on the borough’s approach to carbon reduction. The focus of points made by residents was on the lack of clarity over what plastics are recyclable. Plastic bottles are ok but what about those containing yoghurt drinks when yoghurt cartons themselves were not recylable? Residents are still confused and wanted guidance on the website.
Attended Lostock Youth club to hear (with officers) of the concerns of young people about changes to the accommodation to be allocated to them in Lostock College to replace their current delapidated premises. With the cuts agenda, I suppose we should be grateful that the provision is going to continue but you can’t help feeling that we really underprovide for our youth generally, but in Trafford particularly. The Lostock youth club is the only such council provided provision in the ward and many Trafford wards don’t have any youth clubs. At the same time we complain whenever youths gather round a bench or garden wall. It’s so frustrating that we put so much resources into countering anti-social behaviour and so little into providing diversionary activities. Still £120,000 being put into Lostock Youth Club is welcomed, even if I have reservations about locating it within the parameters of a secondary school. The lesson from Tuesday’s meeting was that the young people want to have ‘ownership’ of the plans, and a provision that matches their existing facilities.
Day dominsated by the High Court ruling on Gorse Hill Tescos. Disappointing verdict; we all support a successful Cricket Club but the price of that success mustn’t fall upon residents either in cash terms or in the imposition of developments that wouldn’t otherwise be allowed. This proposal breaches both. It’s rich for Jim Cumbes to complain that his development has alreay passed enough hurdles and must be allowed to proceed when the Tesco on its own was rejected at just as many hurdles.
Attended GMITA Bus Network Committee as an observer. The main item on the agenda was the bus network changes. Predominately the changes were based in the Wigan area but the 290/291 service between Flixton, Trafford Centre, Trafford Park and Manchester is proposed to be foreshortened so that it will be Flixton to Trafford Park only. The changes to the 23/23A made temporarily last summmer whereby they alternate in the evening are to be made permanent.
Attended the Trafford Local Elections Campaign Launch with Andy Burnham as special guest. This was a really positive event. Labour is turning up the heat on this discredited Government. The Government have set on a course so damaging to the economy and our services. Andy told us about how the Tories were undermining the principles of the NHS:
- They were removing the cap on private practice so hospitals could deliver as much private care as they wanted.
- They were insisting that all Trusts remained within budget, rather than allow the surplus of one trust balance the deficit of another
- They had removed the 18 week time-limit on seeing a consultant
Essentially they were encouraging trusts to deliver more and more services privately to balance the budget and it didn’t matter how long those who couldn’t afford to pay had to wait. I cannot understand Lib Dems such as Chris Huhne saying that the reforms adhere to Lib Dem principles. I haven’t forgotten marching with Lib Dems against the Iraq war, I even supported Vince Cable’s mansion tax, but what they’re doing now is beyond the pale. Beveridge was a Liberal; he wouldn’t be now! They seem to have sold their souls. It’s just incredible.
Dave Acton gave a tremendous speech at the meeting, the best I’ve heard him give. He denounced the pretence of Tory Trafford for portraying the local cuts as almost painless when in fact they were hitting the most vulnerable.
Really good doorstep conversations in Altrincham. Quite a few former Tory voters are switching to Labour arguing the Conservatives are just going too deep too fast. Former Lib Dem voters are deserting them en masse. So it’s going to interesting in the local elections