Gorse Hill Labour

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

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Weekly Update 29 November 2010

Cold Cold week

Windows being replaced at home and structural work to front of house on the coldest week of the winter so far. I tried to divert appointments away from this week so I could attend to building work. A mistake as life without windows is fffreezing! I’d have welcomed a chance to get warm at the town hall.

Monday

Released Daylight Saving letter to Stretford and Urmston Advertiser. They didn’t ultimately use the release which is a shame. The campaign to give an extra hour of daylight in winter has gathered pace. I even received a telephone call from Rebecca Harris, the Conservative MP who is fronting the campaign in Parliament. Rebecca was hoping I could influence Kate Green to attend the vote on Friday of next week. However, Friday votes are incredibly difficult for northern MPs; Fridays are their busiest days of the week and I know from early discussions that Kate has long-standing appointments for Friday from dawn to late.

Nevertheless the campaign for extra daylight is going well and it is supported by an ever growing list. Following open support from the Central Council for Physical Recreation, the Football Association, the England and Wales Cricket Board and the Lawn Tennis Association and safety groups including ROSPA, BRAKE and Road Safety GB, the AA has signed up to the campaign and Edmund King, the boss of the AA has written an insightful piece for his blog.

Another Conservative MP, Tobias Ellwood has published probably the definitive pamphlet on the subject. For one time only, I’m going to provide a link to Conservative Home to download the leaflet. The arguments in favour of extra light in the evening are compelling:

  • Safer roads: There would be a reduction of over 100 deaths and over  200 serious injuries each year by virtue of lighter evenings when there is a higher peak of road activity.
  • Reduction in NHS (A&E) budget: Fewer accidents would result in around £200m savings by the NHS each year. This would also impact on insurance claims.
  • Reduction in crime: More light later into the evening would result in reduced crime statistics across the nation, as most crime takes place under cover of darkness later in the day.
  • Improved health and wellbeing: Increased opportunities for exposure to daylight (around 235 additional hours of after school and after work daylight a year), which would encourage more participation in outdoor activities and sports and help tackle the obesity time bomb.
  • Boost to UK tourism: More daylight in the early evenings would deliver a boost to British tourism of an estimated £2.5bn per annum, with an increase in overall spending in the UK leisure sector of £3.5bn.
  • A reduction in energy bills: More hours of available sunlight towards the end of the day would see about 5% reduction in energy bills across the UK as a whole.
  • A reduction in the UK’s carbon footprint: The reduction in energy would also lead to about a 2.2% national reduction in CO2 emissions during the winter months equating to 1.2m tonnes of CO2; equivalent to removing 20,000 cars off the road for 6 months over winter.
  • Increased international business and trade: One hour time difference with central Europe results in four hours loss of overlap in the working day.  Changing the clocks would not only reconcile our time gap with Europe, it would help towards improving the overlap with the world’s biggest emerging markets, namely China and India.

The Daily Telegraph  joined the debate with this very strong piece on Monday – Double summertime would make Britain richer, greener and happier.

Probably the one reason I couldn’t get my campaign into the local paper was I just didn’t get enough signatures. I was just a couple short of 50% of Trafford Councillors but it I couldn’t get over the line. Whether that was due to an aversion to cross-party co-operation or colleagues were simply in favour of the status quo, I don’t know. In some ways I hope it is not party-lines, as this has been an all-party movement from the top downwards.

I gave apologies in respect of the evening’s Labour Group meeting

Tuesday

Received the agenda for next Wednesday’s council meeting. I think the local Conservatives must be losing the plot. They’ve submitted two almost identical motions and they betray a real sense that either a leadership challenge is imminent or they are panicking they’re going to lose badly in May. These are two of the dumbest embodiments of political horlicks making ever witnessed.

The first bullet of the motion tells you everything:

Labour claim they can save millions of pounds by opposing the disposal of 4 Council administration buildings and renewal of Trafford Town Hall.

Fact: Not reducing the number of Council buildings would cost £5 million to £11 million more, money which under Labour would have to come from reducing front line services.

£5 million to £11 million!! not much margin for error there!: they’re just making these figures up!!

In actual fact fixing the town hall would cost significantly less than they’ve estimated and with the current trend towards partnerships between local authorities we would avoid paying for a huge expensive white elephant built to address the business needs of 2007.

Wednesday

Shivered – winter’s on the way and we’ve no front windows

Thursday

Windows almost fixed.

Attended Trafford Cycle Forum.

I got a little irritated at the forum. Trafford is lagging so far behind other boroughs in the attention it gives to cycling provision and it’s been that way for as long as I can remember. We occasionally take advantage of funding when it’s available to produce a worthwhile scheme such as the Bridgewater Way between Stretford and Sale, but even there the investment is undermined in failing to build it into any sort of cycling network. They refuse to acknowledge that it could form part of safer routes to work/school etc. (it’s purely recreational!).

The context to my irritation was Trafford’s submission to Greater Manchester’s Local Transport Plan. It was clear that Trafford is not prepared to submit anything that has any potential investment costs to it and we can expect nothing but weasel words about how much Trafford welcomes increased uptake in cycling and recognises the health benefits / environmental benefits blah, blah etc. But it won’t do anything to create low-traffic routes for cyclists, ensure cycling is taken into account in planning decisions or build any sort of network. It’s maintenance and policing of the 1940s/50s cycling paths is appalling and they’ve largely surrendered these for car parking use. But Trafford will still make the token noises when it comes to the consultation.

You can comment directly to the consultation at www.gmpte.com/LTP3/responding.cfm

I also attended the Council’s Accounts and Audit Committee from 6:30 to 8pm. I raised questions over the Council’s procurement policy in connection with a report that had been made on the tree maintenance section. The report had exposed slight vulnerabilities to challenge in its tendering processes. These had been addressed but I wondered if there were lessons to be learned for other sections.

Friday

Another go at giving up smoking after I’d recently lapsed. Windows finally sealed so the Arctic draft is finally sorted and I can start to feel warm again.

Posted a response I’d received from Peel Energy onto Urmston.net after I’d submitted a long enquiry to them. The Barton BioMass Plant is a difficult issue. I’m sure that a vote across Trafford would result in a ‘No’ vote against the plant. Planning law plays little regard to what communities want. The planning committee is made up of councillors, so there’s some accountability but you sometimes wonder.

I’ve never forgotten the Tory chair of planning, Viv Ward, stating in connection to rock concerts at Old Trafford:

“People know what they are moving to in Old Trafford. Just show me someone who lived here before the club came to the area nearly 100 years ago.”

The concert quote is still the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard from a councillor and really capped a bad decision. We have to hope for better informed decision making when it comes to the Barton Bio Mass.

In the evening I attended the Trafford’s Labour Group of Councillors’ Christmas Dinner. In terms of electoral progress it’s been a better year than we’ve had for a considerable time in Trafford. At last we’ve seen those magical words ‘Lab Gain’ on the council’s elections webpages. We know the wins in Urmston and Sale Moor are something we can build on. They’re something we have to build on as this Conservative Government continues to target working people and their children, whilst bolstering the privileged. Labour councillors are vital to challenging the Tory agenda and we need to raise our game and then raise it some more.

Saturday

Picked up two rounds of leaflets for delivery drawing the week and then attended a residents consultation meeting organised to discuss plans from Lostock Tenants and Residents Association to develop some children’s facilities at Nico’s field nr Humphrey Park Station. There’s some opposition to the plans from immediate neighbours. I don’t think the issue has been handled well and I predict that it will be abandoned. I’d have liked the meeting to have explored what improvements the neighbours would have liked to see at the green. It seems a shame that an opportunity to give a little bit of a lift to a patch like that is going to be spurned but opinions are polarised and I don’t see compromise.

In the evening I attended a social event with New Way Forward. Not strictly councillor activity as it’s my wife who has the connection as a director. New Way Forward are a charity providing support to people in Trafford affected by Mental Health.

Still giving up smoking