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 9 November

Trying to influence…..

Emails seem to the preferred method of contacting a councillor these days. I received probably 300 emails last week. Many were relating to the Bio Mass plant at Barton but also dealt with complaints on match day litter clear-up, anti social behaviour, improving transport, housing conditions and many more.

Monday – Labour Group Meeting

I met with colleagues on the Monday night to discuss the implications of the Adjudicator’s decision to save Stretford High School and Lostock College from closure. It remains to be seen how the decision impacts on the transfer of Stretford High School’s field to Tesco.

It’s a genuine cause for concern for me. Ideally I’d like to see Stretford High work with Trafford Leisure Trust to collaborate in regenerating both Stretford Sports Centre and the adjoining Stretford High School (Tesco) field to provide a truly sports led / community regeneration. There is a £3m sum set aside for Stretford High to develop a sports barn, this sum has been around since the disposal of the original smaller plot of land to Tesco. It would be great if this £3m could be used as the impetus to attract a greater development but it requires good will from all. I can’t help feeling Trafford’s Conservative Council is so focused on saving face in delivering the £21m to the cricket club, when so much of this project has fallen apart, that it’s incapable of taking an objective look.

And the tragedy is that losing the Tesco field means that if Stretford High is to deliver the enhanced facilities to which it aspires, it’s obliged to look towards Gorse Hill Park for any extra land.

I hope that Stretford High can take its time and resists council efforts to rush it into any decision that puts Tory desire not to have another failed project on its hands. Getting an ashes test at Old Trafford should not be a greater priority than delivering the best for school and community.

Tuesday – 3rd Stage appeal to Trafford Housing Trust

As a council nominated board member of Trafford Housing Trust I get called upon from time to time to hear complaints from tenants or leaseholders that have exhausted the normal procedures. They are time consuming but do provide an insight into the difficulties faced by customers and staff in the carrying out the work of the housing trust.

Barton Clough Governors Meeting

The end of my year as chair. It’s been a year of challenges having taken on the role on the departure of chair and 3 other senior governors in late 2009. We’ve also seen the retirement of a long serving Assistant Head and capped by a career progression move for the existing headteacher. So I can honestly say I drew the short straw in the timing of becoming chair of governors.

But whilst the timing might have been better, through the support of Trafford’s officers and co-operation from staff and children, we’ve pulled the school through. The arrival of Anthony Rae as temporary executive head has been an inspired move and is really down to that support coming from Trafford that we were able bring him. The lesson is that the Government’s flagship Academy/free school programme will see the end of local authority involvement in supporting individual schools. Academies are fine when things are going well but you don’t know what’s round the corner. We’ve had to navigate an unsettled sea at Barton Clough for the past year and we’ve really needed Trafford.  As an academy Barton Clough would have hit rocks.

I’m staying on as a governor at Barton Clough but I’m pleased to have stepped down and wish Moira Slack as chair and Ryan Chrysler as incoming new head the best of times.

Wednesday – Anti Social Behaviour Meeting at Stretford Public Hall

Long meeting of the different agencies in respect of concerns around the behaviour of young people and the tolerance of older people in Lostock. It’s an issue we’ll keep working at.

Overview and Scrutiny Core Meeting Trafford Town Hall

Looked at the Comprehensive Spending Review – no new information and we’re still awaiting the break down for Trafford. Clear that council tax will be frozen for the 2011/12 year. We await the council’s response to its ‘Spending Challenge’ consultation that closed at the weekend.

Also looked at the long-term accommodation (new town hall) strategy. I still think we’re missing a trick. Rightly or wrongly the Comprehensive Spending Review is going to lead to a revolution in the services provided by councils and how they’re delivered. It’s not clear to me that many of the services delivered independently now by Trafford will be delivered in the same way in 4 years or so, never mind 20 years. We seem to be building to meet last year’s needs rather than the next decade’s.

Scrutinised Trafford Primary Care Trust’s plans with the PCT’s Chief Executive Graham Wallis and Director of Public Health Abdul Razzaq, giving verbal reports. I raised the issue of air quality and how it might be impacting on health. Mr Razzaq said that past working practices such as asbestos-use and mining had a greater impact in Trafford but the soon to be abolished health protection agency had a greater role in monitoring air quality. I’m meeting with Trafford’s air quality monitors tomorrow and I’m hoping to get more information that I can put back to the PCT if necessary.

Thursday

Labour Local Government Committee Meeting – Pretty much a repeat of Monday’s group meeting with largely the same people.

Friday

Councillors and Social Media Conference – Some useful stuff and some showing off. Tweeting councillors – say no more.

Saturday

Advice Surgery at Lostock Library – no customers

Leaflet delivery in Urmston

Sunday

Entered and uploaded the marked register for Clifford. It’s part of political life that parties are provided with the marked register of voters and it’s a laborious task uploading them to the database. This is from the general election in May. I’ve now done seven of the nine wards so nearly finished. It’s useful to know not to knock on the doors of electors who never vote; and to knock a little more often on electors who sometimes vote and sometimes don’t.

And that’s it apart from…

  • called in decision to consult on removing subsidy for caring support where person has more than £50k capital (rejected)
  • continued drumming up support for lighter later campaign (see below) Disappointing response so far. I’m going to give it one more go.
  • issued press releases on the call in rejection