Council gets back in its stride
Executive Meeting of Council
Top item on agenda was the consultation on home to school transport. Essentially we can anticipate that after the consultation there will be much less support for getting children to schools that are further away. This includes children with special needs and those who are attending religious schools. Pupils on free school meals will be protected.
At present all children receive a travel pass if their school is more than 3 miles away. This is at an annual cost of £425,000. The proposal is to grant the pass only if the family has no choice for example if their nearest Grammar School is more than 3 miles away. There will not be grant of a pass based on preference even if this a preference for single sex or a particular religious denomination. There will also be tightening of the rules governing transport for Special Educational Needs with yearly reviews.
We on the Labour side rightly vigoursly opposed the proposed cuts. I recognise that an online poll in the messenger suggests that people are prepared to see this provision reduced but we should not make it easy for Conservatives to make cuts to services. They are choosing to throw money at the cricket club and make cuts to families.
Although receiving less attention, it could be argued that the other significant item on the agenda had greater long term significance.
The Core Strategy is Trafford’s plan for development in the borough. It designates areas that are a priority for residential, commercial or preserved as greenspace. It works very much in conjunction with the City Region strategy and as such the various borough’s keepa close eye on their partner authority’s aspirations.
Monday’s council executive was asked firstly to define the Regional Centre as it exists within Trafford. At regional level this had been defined as Pomona Docks and Trafford Wharfside. These areas are therefore seen as primary economic drivers of the Manchester City Region, ensuring that the Regional Centre continues to provide the main focus for business, retail, leisure, cultural and tourism development in the City Region. In other words they are the places for dynamic high quality developments but where exactly are they? (where do they begin and end?).
Trafford Wharfside in particular required greater definition. We knew that the Imperial War Museum was ‘Wharfside’ but was the Manchester United ground?
Well Trafford have designated Manchester United as within that Wharfside area and essentially the ‘regional centre’ pretty much includes that part of Trafford Park from Warren Bruce Road up to Pomona see map .
So it includes a sizeable portion of Gorse Hill Ward.
More contentious was the definition of the City Region’s Inner Area as it lay within Trafford. I know this sounds like something from a 1980s BT commercial with Maureen Lipman in it, but it matters whether you’re inner or outer.
The inner areas should be the focus for residential development in order to secure a significant increase in their population, and to secure the improvement of community facilities and the creation of sustainable communities. The emphasis will be on providing a good range of quality housing, The Inner Areas have enormous potential, which, if left untapped, will limit the ability of the Regional Centre to secure investment and generate further growth. Development within the Inner Areas will boost overall economic growth in the City Region, reduce local inequalities (such as worklessness) and deprivation and provide a clear alternative to further decentralisation and the unsustainable commuting patterns associated with it.
Neither Manchester City Council nor Salford City Council wanted Trafford to include in its Inner Area that part of Trafford Park known as the Trafford Centre Rectangle. That is the area bounded by the M60 however Trafford is keen to include it. So Trafford is submitting that the inner area includes all of what we know as Trafford Park, all of the Gorse Hill and Firswood neighbourhoods together with all of Old Trafford.
‘Historically, the Inner Areas have been associated with the allocation of major regeneration funds and have therefore tended to be associated with some of the City Region’s most deprived and under-populated neighbourhoods close to the Regional Centre. In more recent years, however, the role of the City Region’s Inner Areas has been evolving. These areas represent a marriage of need and opportunity – large scale residential development can attract people to locations from which the Regional Centre is easily accessible and can also regenerate local communities’.
You can see why Salford and Manchester were threatened by the Trafford Centre Rectangle’s inclusion but it’s important that Trafford is included as a generator of economic growth and we can expect to see developers wanting to utilise the areas described as ‘inner’. See map of proposed ‘inner area.
Lakes Estate walkabout with officers, Councillor Acton and residents. Main concerns were the state of the road surface on Coniston and Langdale. I’ve raised this repeatedly and as a consequence both are scheduled for this year. I have to say that whilst they may not be the deepest potholes on Coniston it’s clear that it was the thinnest coating of tarmac I’ve ever witnessed on a road or pavement and no wonder that it’s completely disintegrating.
Annual Council – A largely ceremonial affair with the installation of a new mayor who this year will be Labour’s Jane Baugh. She’ll make an excellent mayor. She chairs the council meeting like she was born to it.
Meeting of shadow executive.
Stretford Community Panel – the panels are changing and we need to prepare for the process by describing the neighbourhood needs.
Meeting with the doctors at Gorse Hill Medical Centre about their needs for improved facilities
Evening meeting at St Matthews as a listening event for Kate Green. Good to hear everyone’s views. There was a wide range of differing opinions from those that wanted an end to overseas aid and others who saw as a priority the maintenance of public services. It’s clear that people are being hit hard but and I think there’s a growing competition over priorities. I suspect that the cost of EC membership will be one area that grows in significance to people.
Covered Councillor Walsh’s advice surgery. No visitors.
Door knocking on the Lakes Estate with Councillor Walsh.
Action for Sustainable Living Event at Sevenways Church. We listened to community activists from Moss Side who’d turned their ‘alleys’ into community spaces with neighbourhood planting. The Trafford approach has been that Gating Schemes have been seen seen as a way of keeping crime on the outside but no work has been done to turn the alley into a resource. ‘Here’s your gates and here’s your key’. The trouble is that fly tipping and rubbish have still had to be dealt with. The gates on their own have only made moderate improvements to the space behind gardens. Elsewhere on this website we’ve highlighted the Seedley and Langworthy gating schemes. Now we’re seeing that Moss Side is also getting much better results. It’s time we we made some progress in Trafford. ASL are looking at using the community spirit to enhance the subway area at the Stretford Mall / Chester Road crossroads. It would be great if we could bottle some of that Moss Side imagination and sprinkle a little in this corner of Stretford.