Thursday, 31 December 2009

Gritting of Roads and Cyclepaths

During the recent cold spell it became quite clear that the Council's current gritting strategy is not sufficient (especially for sustained periods). Gritting was limited to main roads and even then they were still very icy. I don't think the gritting trucks came to Chorlton very much, as I didn't see any and nobody I have spoken to saw any during the icy period. The more minor and residential roads didn't receive any attention from the gritters. If gritting salt had been provided, I imagine many residents would have been happy to grit their own roads.

Conditions were also very bad for local cyclists as many cycle lanes and cycle paths weren't gritted at all. The Fallowfield Loop (pictured) which links Chorlton to Droylesden along an old railway line is a valuable bit of green space for walkers, but is also used by cycle commuters who want to stay off Manchester's busy roads as much as possible. The loop was very badly affected by the recent weather and was almost impossible for cyclists or walkers to use. I think the council should grit the Fallowfield Loop and give it the same priority as other commuter routes.

I know my Lib Dem colleague, Cllr Paul Ankers, is going to ask for all cycle paths (including the Loop) to be gritted as priority roads in future at the next Communities & Neighbourhood Scrutiny committee. Manchester Lib Dems are also asking for the Council's gritting strategy to be reviewed during the committee.

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

GMP under fire as force is slammed in report

A series of crime and detection league tables comparing Greater Manchester with five similar police force areas paints a bleak picture of law and order across the region. Greater Manchester Police has come under fire from members of the region’s police authority after the area ranked either bottom or next to bottom in four national tables produced from the results of the annual British Crime Survey. The tables showed that the area suffered from a higher rate of so-called ‘acquisitive crime’ – which includes robbery, burglary and car crime – than the five other English forces judged to be most similar. It also came bottom in the proportion of these crimes which are detected.

It came next to bottom in a table of ‘most serious’ violent crime and also in the detection rate for these crimes. The tables, which compare GMP to forces in Merseyside, Northumbria, South Yorkshire, West Midlands and West Yorkshire, were presented to members of Greater Manchester Police Authority yesterday. Chief Constable Peter Fahy also revealed at the meeting that GMP still had the highest burglary rate of anywhere in the country, despite huge operations recently to crack down on house-breakers. He said the burglary rate in Greater Manchester was ‘something we need to understand’. Authority chairman Coun Murphy described the rate of burglary as ‘staggering’, adding: “There’s huge concern both here and at the Home Office. It’s something we have to put right.”
I think these figures are shameful, and the Chairman of the Police Authority should seriously consider his position. I know people in Chorlton are seriously concerned about burglary, car crime and robbery, and these figures do little to reassure our fears. The loss of police officers due to budget cuts next year will only make matters worse. Local People want to see more police on the street - not less.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Cleaning up Chorlton in time for Christmas

This last week I have been busy delivering Lib Dem Christmas Cards and John Leech's Environment survey across Chorlton. This is a picture of me delivering letters in Chorltonville while it was snowing.

Whilst I was out delivering I made a special effort to note down anything worth reporting to the Council, so that it could be cleared up before Christmas. In the last week I have reported over 125 items to the Council which need cleaning, repairing, actioning or inspecting. These have included potholes, poor road surfaces, graffiti on lampposts and other street furniture, flyposting, damaged trees and cages, overgrown vegetation, flytipping, broken walls and fences, amongst other items.

I think it is really important that we keep on top of these problems to keep Chorlton clean and tidy. If you see any problems around Chorlton, please let me know as I would be very happy to get them sorted out. My email address is or you can leave me a message on 881 4139.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Chorlton Meadows update

Yesterday the application to develop Chorlton Meadows came up before the City Council Planning Committee. All the Chorlton Liberal Democrat team attended the meeting along with about 40 local supporters of the Save Chorlton Meadows group. Local Lib Dems are actively opposed to the development and had asked for the decision to be postponed until the committee had made a site visit. I wrote to all the members of the committee asking them to visit the site. Cllr Paul Ankers and John Leech MP were prepared to make representations to the committee against the development.

I am very pleased that the committee has agreed to our request and has decided to make a site visit to Hardy Farm on the morning of 14th January 2010. This allows us more time to campaign against the development and to show the committee how valued these Meadows are. Therefore it is really important that as many local residents as possible show up on that day to demonstrate our objection to this development. I will keep you updated about the site visit nearer the time, but please pencil in the 14th. I Hope to see you there!

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Chorlton Meadows before the Planning Committee

Later today the Planning Committee of Manchester City Council will consider the proposals to develop the Hardy Farm site. Dave Morris from the Planning Department has recommended the Committee accept the proposals. I have already written to each member of the planning committee asking them to reject the recommendation and to support a site visit.

We must go and show our objections by turning up in large numbers. Please join me at the main entrance to the Town Hall at 1.30pm on Thursday 17th Dec where we will meet Cllr Paul Ankers who will take us to the Public Gallery to watch the Committee.

I will blog after the meeting to update everyone on how it goes.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Council fails Chorlton Meadows

Last night I was extremely disappointed to find out that Manchester City Council's Planning Department has recommended the Planing Committee be 'minded to approve' the development on the Hardy Farm site. This is a huge mistake by the Planning Department and another example of the City Council failing the people of Chorlton.

Andy from the Save Chorlton Meadows campaign summed it up perfectly in his email: "I really cannot understand the planning process - there seems little point in public consultations if this is the outcome."

We must continue to show our opposition to the development and keep up the fight. The Save Chorlton Meadows group will be meeting this Saturday (12th Dec) at 6pm on Chorlton Green for a Carol Service. More information and a Carol sheet are available here:

I think now, more than ever we need to write directly to the Planning Committee members briefly outlining our objections, the strength of opposition in Chorlton and asking them not to accept the Planning Department's recommendations. Please join me in writing to:

Elaine Boyes 16 Spean Walk, M11 2HY
Tony Burns 39 Paulden Ave, M23 1PH
Basil Curley 12 Abbotside Close, M16 7RP
John Flanagan 203 Broom Lane, M19 3LX
Andrew Fender 21 Burton Rd, M20 3GD
John Grant 179 Manley Rd, M16 0GY
Joyce Keller 14 Nan Nook Rd, M23 9BZ
Mick Loughman 150 Stanton Street M11 4PX
Harry Lyons 117 Heaton Park Rd, M9 0QQ
Peter Morrison 11 Caxton Rd, M14 6FE
David Sandiford 330 Lapwing Lane, M20 6UW
Graham Shaw 644 Wilmslow Rd, M20 6DG
Rita Tavernor 109 The Fairway, M40 3WT
Mary Watson 41 College Rd, M16 8EJ

My Lib Dem colleague Cllr Norman Lewis is a Chorlton Park councillor on the Planning Committee. He has already come out in opposition to the Proposals and consequently has wavered his right to vote. Norman has been a real asset to the Save Chorlton Meadows campaign and has been involved since the very first meeting. You can still email him at to tell him how you feel as he will be able to make a representation at the Planning Committee.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

'The Wave' climate change demonstration

This morning I got up early to take the train down to London to take part in 'The Wave' climate change demonstration.

'The Wave' was aimed at demonstraiting to world leaders how important action against climate change is. The Liberal Democrats demanded at The Wave that the Government takes real action whilst at the same time, showing that the Lib Dems are the only party with the ambition and policies to reverse climate change.

But local councils also need to take action to tackle climate change. That is why I discussed with Nick Clegg, the Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Manchester's City Council's poor record on climate change. In particular the failure to spend money earmarked to tackle climate change and the exclusion of the airport from the city's Co2 emmisions.

I think we did a really good job at demonstating how important climate change is and will be, and put pressure on the government to make the right decisions at the Copenhagen Summit on climate change.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Busy Bee Toyshop and No mega TESCO campaign

Last night I attended the members Christmas preview evening of the Busy Bee Toyshop on Wilbraham Road in Chorlton. I joined the Busy Bee co-op earlier this this year when the much loved shop was threatened with closure. After months of hard work by local people and refurbishing and updating the shop it reopened again in the Summer. I was so encouraged to see that the new shop is going from strength to strength. I really enjoyed talking to other members, the committee members and the shop's manager Claire. The homemade mince pies were delicious and the window display and Santa's postbox was excellent. I loved the advent calender made by local schoolchildren - it looked brilliant and was a great festive addition to the shop. I would highly recommend a visit to the shop over Christmas as it is bursting with great gifts and cards.

After enjoying myself in the shop, I moved onto the Gorse Hill United Church in Stretford to meet with the No Mega TESCO campaign. I was really encouraged to see that so many other local people were as opposed to this development as me. The meeting discussed the mammoth size of the development, possible objections and ways in which to object. Because of the scale and impact of this proposed development, the group wants to see the final decision made by the Secretary of State. I completely agree, if it goes ahead it will have an enormous negative impact on Chorlton, Stretford and surrounding areas. The group is going to post information on the development and ways in which to object on its website ( in the coming days. I will keep you updated about how to make your objection.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Stop the deportation of the Mansour family

The Mansour family fled Egypt five years ago following months of harassment and serious threats to the family. After receiving no help (and torture and confinement) from the Egyptian authorities they settled in the Manchester where they became active members of their community. Now the British authorities are trying to deport the whole family back to Egypt. The police came to arrest and take them to a detention centre in the middle of last night for the 2nd time this year. They need our help. Please join me in writing to Tony Lloyd their local MP and Phil Woolas the Immigration Minister.

Please send this letter to Tony Lloyd ( and cc Phil Woolas ( into it.

Dear Mr Lloyd,

As you are already aware of the plight of Hany Mansour and his family and generously offered your time and support previously, we are sure that you will be concerned to hear that the family have once again been forcibly removed from their home this morning. Neither the family nor their solicitor had been given any information as to how their asylum case was progressing, therefore this morning's events were a complete shock. Once again the legal system in this country has failed to meet the human rights of this family by neglecting to provide them with basic information. Mr Mansour had, in fact, recently told the head teacher of the children's school that he felt they were going to be allowed to stay.

Our primary concern is for the mental health of the children, who have already been through so much this year. Mrs Mansour is also under immense stress, is in a fragile mental state and is still coming to terms with the previous trauma suffered by herself, her husband and children in the summer. Her memories of her ordeals in Egypt are still raw, and her fear of the future is ever-present; including fears for the children, three of whom were born here in England. The school community have managed to help the family slowly recover and feel that this second detention will have serious and far-reaching effects upon them all; as well as the community itself who care so much about their welfare.

One of the children has just undergone major surgery on his hand and will need a high degree of medical care as he recovers over the next six weeks. In light of recent media coverage, and the previous experiences of the Mansour family, we are extremely concerned that the detention centre does not have adequate facilities to care for young children, especially those with specific medical needs.

We implore you to do everything in your power to allow these valuable, law-abiding members of our community to remain here where they are loved and supported, under no threat of religious persecution.


Go to for more information.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Hidden Secrets?

Last night I put in a number of Freedom of Information requests to Manchester City Council, GM Police, GMPTE, Department of Work and Pensions, Manchester JobCentre and the local NHS trusts asking about a number of Chorlton issues such as local truancy and crime rates.

So far the Police and the JobCentre have acknowledged my request but still waiting to hear back from the rest.

I will keep you updated about how I get on.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

'No Council Tax rise' victory for Liberal Democrats

I believe Manchester residents should not have to worry about a rise in their Council Tax next year whilst we continue to fight the effects of the recession in the city.

Tomorrow the City Council has the chance to confirm a report from the City Treasurer that sets out a proposal for a freeze in the level of the Council Tax for the 2010/11 financial year starting next April. I know my Liberal Democrat colleagues from across the city will be strongly supporting an approach that will not see the Council Tax in Manchester rise next year. If the Council Tax can be brought down a bit to help Manchester residents through the recession, as we proposed earlier this year, that would be even better.

Simon Wheale, Liberal Democrat Finance Spokesperson , has said "This proposal is a victory for common sense following a year long campaign by Manchester's Liberal Democrats to stop the city's Council Tax rising during the recession. City Council finances have benefitted this year from lower interest rates and better prices on overhead costs. It is important that these savings stop Council Tax bills from rising for Manchester people. Knowing that there will be a freeze in the Council Tax level next year will mean one less thing for Manchester residents to worry about when personal and family budgets are stretched."

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Manchester Councillor Simon Ashley commented "Britain is the only one of the G20 economies still in recession. Liberal Democrats have argued nationally that the income tax threshold should be raised to make the tax system fairer at this testing time. Not raising the Council Tax in Manchester, as Manchester Liberal Democrats have campaigned for all year, represents a fairer deal for our residents and we will campaign now to see it implemented."