Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Guest Blog from John Leech MP: We need a Minister for Older People

Yesterday I went to support the Anchor Grey Pride Campaign in Parliament, aimed at having a designated Minister for Older People. I’ve already signed an Early Day Motion calling for the same thing.

What I found staggering was that today more people are over 65 than under 60, and in forty to fifty years half a million people will be over 100: yet there isn’t any – or any plans – to have a person specifically representing their needs in government.

The people I spoke to yesterday were very interesting and raised valid arguments for a Minister for Older People. They need a port of call to raise concerns with – non of this being passed from one department to the next. There should be someone there coordinating departments – this would end up saving the Government huge amounts of money. Finally, someone should be there to ask the Chancellor for money, and to fight their corner when needs be. If we can have a Minister for Equalities, a Minister for Women, and a Minister for Pubs, then we can surely have a Minister for Older People.

This is not an issue that I think anyone should let rest, and I personally will be bringing this up with the relevant Ministers.

John Leech is the Member of Parliament for Manchester Withington which includes Chorlton. You can read more from John at: http://johnleechmp.wordpress.com/ and follow him on twitter at @johnleechmcr

Latest on Mega Traffic Jams in Chorlton

This afternoon I have spoken with the Highways Manager in charge of the Barlow Moor Rd and Mauldeth Rd West crossroads. I discussed the serious problems that occurred there yesterday and expressed the anger of many residents.

Further to my previous Blog post the transmitter was faulty and this had a serious impact on the temporary traffic lights. As a result people on site had to direct traffic themselves for 3-4 hours whilst the traffic light and transmitter problems were fixed. The Council's Highways Department have told me that they expect delays until 9 December because of the Chicane in operation. However all these problems combined led to mayhem yesterday.

I am told a Highways inspector has visited the site many times today and tested the equipment and impact for residents and motorists. He has informed me that in future someone will operate the traffic lights manually so that they are more responsive to traffic congestion. I expressed my concern that this was due to stop at 4.30 every day. the Highways Department have agreed to my request to operate the lights manually at this point until at least 6pm so that rush hour traffic is not as badly hit as it was yesterday. I have also checked that there are sufficient measures in place to report the problem if it occurs again.

The current restrictions will be in place until 9 December but hopefully the traffic jams and disruption will not be as horrendous as yesterday. Please let me know if I can be of any help. You can contact me on 07947383740 or at cllr.v.chamberlain@manchester.gov.uk

Monday, 28 November 2011

Severe Traffic Jam at Barlow Moor Rd junction

This morning a number of residents contacted me after they experienced horrendous traffic jams at the Barlow Moor Rd, Hardy Lane and Mauldeth Rd W crossroad. Some reports were that the traffic jam was stretching as long as one mile in all directions. I, like hundreds of Chorlton residents had the misfortune of getting stuck in this traffic on the way to work. I reported this to the Council and asked them to investigate urgently why these delays had occurred and requested urgent action to ensure they did not recur.

I am told that the junction currently has temporary lights because of works to water and gas mains. Unfortunately, today the lights have suffered a failure caused by a faulty transmitter, I am told this has now been repaired. The agreement with the use of these lights is that they will be manually operated during both the AM and PM peak periods

This is the response I have received from the Council:

----- Original Message -----
From: Vicky Rosin
Sent: 28/11/2011 17:36 GMT
To: Councillor Victor Chamberlain
Cc: Councillor Bernie Ryan; Councillor Norman Lewis; "John Leech"
Subject: Re: Hardy Lane, Mauldeth Rd W, Barlow Moor Rd junction

Dear Councillor Chamberlain

I am advised by my officers that we are currently using 3-way temporary lights at this junction, until the 9th December 2011, during the installation of a new water main in the centre of the junction. In addition, to reduce the period works are being undertaken at this strategic junction, Enterprise Gas are also completing their diversion works. The temporary lights were switched on yesterday morning, our officers were on site during the switch on and the lights were operating as intended when they left site.

Unfortunately, today the lights have suffered a failure caused by a faulty transmitter, this has been repaired, ( the engineer is still on site monitoring the repair). The agreement with the use of these lights is that they are manually operated during both the AM and PM peak periods. Due to the nature of the diversions at this junction, there was always envisaged to be delays to motorists as a result of the works. To inform motorists of this, advanced warning signs have been erected at key junctions to encourage the use alternative routes. As you will appreciate the faulty transmitter has resulted in significant delays this morning that were not anticipated and I can only offer my apologies for the inconvenience this has caused.

We have developed close working relationships with bus operators through TfGM. This relationship enables bus drivers to highlight locations where significant delays are being experienced as a result of temporary works. We use this relationship to monitor the operation of the lights during the periods they are not manually operated as well as reports from our contractors on site.

Should there be any further problems with the signals a review of the Traffic Management against work completed will be undertaken to determine if the Traffic Management can be improved to the benefit of motorists.

Kind regards

Vicky Rosin

Deputy Chief Executive (Neighbourhoods)
Manchester City Council
Town Hall ( Room 219)
Manchester M60 2LA

I have told the Council that delays this long are not acceptable and have sought their reassurance that lessons will be learnt and this won’t happen again. Please let me know if you would like more information or if I can do anything to help.

UPDATE: Latest on Chorlton Mega Traffic Jam: http://victorchamberlain.blogspot.com/2011/11/latest-on-mega-traffic-jams-in-chorlton.html

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Save our Crossings Petition

Please print off this petition, Sign it, ask friends and family to sign it, put it in an envelope and return for free (no stamp required) to Matt Gallagher, Chorlton Liberal Democrats, FREEPOST, RSHA-AKBC-UXTU, Manchester, M20 5NF.

You can also sign up the petition online at bit.ly/savemcrcrossings

It would be fantastic if we could get as many parents and suporters as possible to sign this petition to Save all the Crossing in Manchester as this would show the Council how strongly parents and local residents feel.

Thanks very much!


The safety of our children travelling to and from school is PARAMOUNT and school crossings are a vital road safety service.

I was appalled to learn recently that Manchester City Council plan to cut the School Crossing Patrol service. When my colleague Matt Gallagher and I learned about this we contacted the Manchester Evening News who have joined us in asking the City Council to think again. I’m joining the Manchester Liberal Democrats in calling on the Council to change their mind at the next City Council and I am proposing the motion that funding is found for this vital service.

Manchester City Council has cut the budget for the School Crossing Service by 80%; much higher than the City Council’s overall 15% budget reductions. They are now asking local schools to fund this service themselves. As you know schools are already under enormous financial pressure.

The Liberal Democrats in Government have obtained extra money through the Pupil Premium (over £500k for Chorlton alone) to ensure all children have an equally good start to their education. This money cannot be used to fund the School Crossing service. We are concerned that Heads may be forced to find the money by cutting other essential school programmes or staff. We don’t think this is acceptable and we believe there are other ways to fund this vital service.

We think there is so much Council waste and confused priorities that should be addressed in order to save our lollipop men and women. Just last week the Manchester Evening News reported that the City Council was paying almost £7,000 a WEEK to NCP to allow their staff to have free parking. £7000 would pay the salary of a crossing warden for MORE THAN A YEAR. The City Council has to decide what they feel is more important; the safety of our children or parking for their staff.

Please join me in calling on the City Council to drop this dreadful proposal. If you agree that the Council should think again please sign this petition (bit.ly/savemcrcrossings) or contact me (victor.libdem@ymail.com) for a hard copy of our freepost return petition.

Lib Dem Motion to Manchester City Council (proposed by Chorlton Lib Dem Cllr Victor Chamberlain):

This Council notes:
1. The safety of children travelling to and from school as paramount.
2. The good work done by school crossing patrol personnel in keeping the country’s children safe since 1954.
3. With regret the Council’s decision to cut the school crossing patrols budget.
4. The concerns of Parents, Head teachers, Governors and Crossing Patrol staff at the lack of consultation about changes to service provision.
5. That school crossing patrols are an important road safety service.
6. Its role as corporate parents and resolves to take all necessary measures to maintain the School Crossing Patrol at its current level of service.

This Council believes:
1. That school crossing patrols should be retained.

This Council instructs:
1. the Chief Executive, in consultation with the relevant Executive Members, to prepare a report for the Executive identifying funding to maintain school crossing patrols across the City.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Chorlton U Decide 2011 - Update

I've just got back from this year's fantastic Chorlton U Decide event. The event allowed Chorlton residents the opportunity to award £7500 of funding (upto £750 each) to local community groups and initiatives.

Very well done to the 11 successful Projects:

Chorlton Big Green Festival - £750 for workshops, sound system, toilets, staging

Cracking Good Food - £450 for group cooking sessions for affordable and healthy food

C4 (Chorlton Central Community Centre) Café Club - £700 for hall hire, workshops, mini-bus for cooking workshops for young people to cook for elderly

Digital Arts & Music - £750 for digital artworks workshops with young people & equipment (Part of the Chorlton Arts Festival)

Friends of Beech Road Park - £220.20 for the replacement of two cherry trees

Garden Share - £750 to pair up people with garden space with those who have none – posters, tools, plants, compost

Jump - £750 for free arts sessions for unemployed people at The Edge

Nam-Bee-Pam-Bee - £750 for a secure steel shed to hold and protect bee equipment (At the Community Allotments at the end of Scott Avenue)

Pop Up Farm - £750 for food growing projects with a local school and the launch event

Tag Pass It On - £750 for 400 Tag cards, publicity and promotion

Unity Toybox on Tour - £750 for transport and refreshments to showcase young peoples circus skills at residential care homes

Sadly the bids for £750 for Zumba classes, a new tea urn and a new sound system at Chorlton Leisure Centre and £643.20 for seven trees to be replanted in Chorltonville were unsuccessful this time around.

I thought one of the highlights was the fantastic rendition of Molly Malone performed by the Choir at Oswald Road Primary School.

Thanks very much to all those that attended, the Oswald Road School Choir and other performers, the projects that bid, and those that organised the event.

Please get in touch if you would like any more information about any of the above groups.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Chorlton U Decide 2011

Tomorrow Evening is the 2011 Chorlton U Decide event where local residents get the opportunity to vote on how £7500 of funding should benefit local community groups.

At the event fourteen Chorlton community groups will explain their projects to local residents in a two minute pitch. Residents who attend the U Decide event will then be able to vote on which of these projects they think should be given the thumbs up for up to £750 of funding.

The fourteen projects competing at this year's U Decide Event are:

1. Chorlton Big Green Festival - £750 for workshops, sound system, toilets, staging

2. Cracking Good Food - £450 for group cooking sessions for affordable and healthy food

3. C4 Café Club - £700 for hall hire, workshops, mini-bus for cooking workshops for young people to cook for elderly

4. Digital Arts & Music - £750 for digital artworks workshops with young people & equipment

5. Friends of Beech Road Park - £220.20 for the replacement of two cherry trees

6. Garden Share - £750 to pair up people with garden space with those who have none – posters, tools, plants, compost

7. Jump - £750 for free arts sessions for unemployed people at The Edge

8. Nam-Bee-Pam-Bee - £750 for a secure steel shed to hold and protect bee equipment

9. Pop Up Farm - £750 for food growing projects with a local school and the launch event

10. Speakers Corner - £750 to help create a space to allow people to voice their concerns

11. Sports & Leisure - £750 for Zumba classes, new tea urn and a new sound system

12. Tag Pass It On - £750 for 400 Tag cards, publicity and promotion

13. Tree Planting - £643.20 for seven trees to be replanted in Chorltonville

14. Unity Toybox on Tour - £750 for transport and refreshments to showcase young peoples circus skills at residential care homes

Residents will be asked to rank each presentation by putting projects in the order of what they think is the most important to least important.

Chorlton U Decide will be held at Chorlton Leisure Centre on Manchester Road at 6pm on Thursday November 17.

Look forward to seeing you there.


Lib Dem Business Secretary Vince Cable has today announced a raft of new measures to build on a successful year for the national apprenticeship scheme.

Apprenticeships reached record highs in the academic year 2010/11, with Manchester seeing an 77% average increase in apprentice numbers over the previous year. In Manchester Withington constituency, 610 learners took on an apprenticeship in 2010/11, an increase of 75%. Manchester Central constituency saw a 72% increase and Manchester Gorton constituency a massive 97% increase, all substantially higher than the England average of 58%.

The Lib Dems are now looking to strengthen the apprenticeship scheme even further, with an £1,500 incentive to small businesses to take on apprentices amongst the range of proposals announced by Vince Cable.

The Liberal Democrats are determined to tackle youth unemployment and get our economy back on track. Apprenticeships make companies more productive and give young people the experience and skills they need.

Small businesses form the backbone of our economy and the announcements by Liberal Democrat Business Secretary, Vince Cable, are very welcome. Young people and local employers should be at the heart of the government’s economic policy and these measures are an important step in the right direction.

Commenting on the announcement, Chorlton's MP John Leech said:

“I have long been a supporter of apprenticeships, and have worked with the Manchester College to promote them. Apprenticeships benefit everyone involved and this record rise in learners taking them up is great news for Manchester and the economy as a whole.

Business secretary Vince Cable said, ““The apprenticeships programme is a success story, with record numbers of learners starting an apprenticeship this year. But I have listened to employers, and will go further to ensure that investment is targeted where impact is greatest, delivering the specific skills businesses need to drive growth. “

Thursday, 10 November 2011


During the 2010 General Election all three of the main parties accepted that there would have to be cuts. The Conservatives said that they would make cuts of £92 billion if they got a majority. Labour announced that they would halve the deficit by 2014 if they were re-elected* (Labour’s Fiscal Responsibility Act 2010 committed it to halve the overall budget deficit by 2013–14 from its 2009-10 levels). The Liberal Democrats campaigned for cuts of £80 billion.
After the election neither Labour nor the Conservatives were able to form a government on their own. The Lib Dems eventually formed a Coalition with the Conservatives. A key factor in the Coalition negotiations was Lib Dem insistance that children, the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in our society would be protected from the worst of the cuts.
In the event cuts of £81 billion** were agreed, and every week measures are being announced by the Lib Dems that demonstrate that they are delivering on their promise to help those who cannot help themselves, such as The Pupil Premium, raising the tax threshold to help the lowest paid, restoring the link between wages and pensions, trebling cold weather payments and many, many more.
As a result of forming the Coalition the ‘cuts’ are 11 billion less than they would have been if the Tories governed alone, and 4 billion less than we would have experienced had Labour been re-elected***. And remember, Labour had no plans to cut taxes for the lowest paid, or to find EXTRA money for the poorest school children or pensioners.
When you hear Labour activists trying to denounce the Liberal Democrats for making ‘cuts’ you might want to point this out to them.
* (Labour will) Secure the recovery by supporting the economy now, and more than halve the deficit by 2014 through economic growth, fair taxes and cuts to lower priority spending. Labour Party Manifesto 2010
(**figures from the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies)
*** The deficit stood at 170.8 billion at the end of the 2009-10 financial year. Cutting it in half, as required by Labour’s Fiscal Responsibility Act, would have resulted in cuts of 85.4 billion.
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Friday, 4 November 2011

Hardy Farm Playing Fields

The above pictures shows the developer's plans for the Hardy Farm site.

A number of local residents have recently contacted me after the grass on the Hardy Farm site turned brown. I asked the City Council’s Environmental Protection Group to look into the issue urgently.

I have since learnt that this is part of plans to convert the meadow into playing fields and carry out other works to the site. The grass has been recently sprayed to deter grass growth and will be ploughed shortly. The land will be left to aerate over the winter. Next spring the plans are for laser levelling and pitch cultivation to take place. We also understand that a new see-through steel fence will replace the existing concrete ‘post and panel’ fence along the WDCAFC football club boundary in the next few months. The Sites of Biological Importance (SBI) will also be managed by a plan set out by the Greater Manchester Ecology Unit. I understand that the developers are planning to inform local residents of these plans in the near future.

This is the email I recieved from the Council's Environmental Protection Group:

Hello Councillor Chamberlain,

I have also recently received a similar request for information from Councillor Lewis and sent the following response:

With regard to your request for information about the Brown Meadows / Hardy Farm Landfill, I can respond as follows:

The Contaminated Land Section (CLS) of MCC are aware of the developments taking place on the area of land known as Hardy Farm. There is a planning application for the buildings (former sports centre) and contaminated land conditions are attached to the application. We are also in regular communication with the owners of the land and the developers and they are complying with the attached conditions.

The lands to the rear of the buildings are covered by a permitted development and therefore do not require planning permission. This allows the owners of the land to develop them for playing fields. The owners of the land recently sent an e-mail (see attachments) supplying plans and photographs.

The owners have also consulted various stakeholders including the Friends of Chorlton Meadow (Mr Bishop) and they are in the process of producing a leaflet to be distributed to local residents explaining the development.

Officers from the CLS undertake regular visits to sites of potential concern across Manchester and Hardy Farm has been on our visiting schedule for some time and has received numerous site visits.

In response to your specific questions, ‘Is the owner of this land breaking the law, if chemicals have been used the effect on the wildlife / bio diversity could be Catastrophic’? The owner has taken advice from the Greater Manchester Ecological Unit (Mr Derek Richardson) and is working to a plan agreed with them.

Why has Hardy Farm meadow gone brown? The owner is removing the shrubs and grasses with the application of plant retardants; this has been undertaken by Complete Weed Control (Manchester).

What are the implications on the landfill site soil cap? The CLS have discussed with the owner about the proposals and the integrity of the cap. Plans and details of the cap are to be supplied to us for review. It has also been stated that the overall depth / thickness of the cap will be increased, not decreased.

Continual destruction of the vegetation will eventually lead to erosion of the top soil end expose the underlying and potentially harmful landfill contents. Please review the attached photographs showing the proposals for the end use and the grassed areas.

The following questions can be answered with a single answer below.

I am concerned that the proprietor may have treated it with some kind of chemical?
If so what are the implications of this on the natural habitat for insects, bats, and pets?
What are the likely effects on general public health depending on what chemicals, if any, have been used?
What is the potential for any chemicals leaching into the river and surrounding environment?

The owner of the land has hired a specialist contractor to undertake the works on site. The contractors use ‘best practice’, sustainable techniques, approved herbicides (see attachment), are fully qualified and apply all relevant health and safety protocols. With the works being part of a permitted development the Planning Department and the Contaminated Land Section can only act if the law is being broken and we receive proof of this.

The CLS and Planning Department have been in correspondence and had meetings with the owners of the land and have been assured that the development will undertaken in a professional manner and all reasonable requests will be undertaken. The CLS will closely monitor the situation within our permitted remit.

With regard to planning information and applications the case officer for the site is Paula McGovern.

I hope this answers your questions. If you need any further information regarding Contaminated Land issues for this site please feel free to get in touch.

Kind regards,

Simon Rogers
Environmental Protection Specialist - Contaminated Land

Manchester City Council
Environmental Protection Group

Please let me know what you think about the plans. I will bring your views to the attention of the relevant agencies and the developer.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Manchester's Labour Leader Celebrates Money-Saving Staff Appointment by Inviting 270 "Great and Good" to £4,000 Town Hall banquet

Manchester's Labour Council Leader Sir Richard Leese has been slammed as a "hypocrite" for celebrating a new staff appointment by personally inviting 270 people to a £4,000 Town Hall banquet, just days before implementing cuts to services for Manchester's vulnerable older people.

Those invited to the freebie included 4 Labour MPs, 9 Labour Councillors, a Labour peer, 20 University staff, and numerous Council and quango staff. The Leader of the Opposition was invited but declined to attend. The banquet took place a week before Labour agreed to cut services for older people. Earlier this year, with Lib Dem support, the City Council appointed the University's Art Gallery Director to run the City Council's Art Gallery too. This innovative cost-saving measure was widely welcomed as a sensible step, reflecting the nationwide recession. But Manchester Lib Dems believe most people will be sickened by yet another example of Labour's town hall extravagance.

Senior Manchester Liberal Democrat Councillor Paul Shannon said:"Manchester Lib Dems fully support our excellent museums, galleries and the City's vibrant cultural life. But this is a gross error of judgement from Labour's leadership.""In these hard-pressed times, when every penny counts, it's incredible that Labour still haven't got the message. The Leader of the Council should know better. There is much deprivation in Manchester. It's wrong to spend public money wining and dining the cultural elite when ordinary people are suffering. "

"One day everyone else is to blame for cuts Sir Richard is implementing, and the next his snout is deep in the trough hosting this lavish banquet. Sir Richard has failed to lead by example. These are the actions of a hypocrite. Lib Dems want to see him working for growth, jobs and investment, not wasting public money on excessive hospitality."
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Tuesday, 1 November 2011

More than £0.5million for Chorlton Schools thanks to Pupil Premium

Building on the record high settlement for Manchester schools, the government have announced yet more money going towards pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds through the pupil premium this year. Manchester is set to receive almost £11million extra for its schools through the pupil premium this year which is £1,292,704 more than originally expected.

This year’s Manchester School spending has gone up 5.8% compared to last year with additional money from the pupil premium meaning the difference in budgets for 2010/11 to 2011/12 is an additional £18,346,306.

Manchester local authority will receive the fourth largest pupil premium in the country and this will have a lasting effect on the 155 schools primary and secondary schools in the area. The money will be allocated to Manchester’s schools to help the poorest pupils. The money works out as £488 per pupil who receive free school meals. The cash will not be ring fenced and the schools have the choice what to spend the money on.

Whalley Range 11-18 High School and Business and Enterprise College was amongst one of the biggest winners receiving a staggering £259,128.

Even in these tough times the government are still managing to direct money to schools in areas like Manchester that need it the most. Education is the best way to end the underachievement of disadvantaged pupils through supporting children comprehensively from early years straight through to secondary school

The extra money for Manchester schools is yet another boost for the city with levels at record levels with school budgets ring fenced under the coalition government.

The funding to Manchester schools is now at record levels and now pupils in Manchester will have a fairer start in life because Liberal Democrats fought and delivered for extra cash and in Government we have made it happen

In a letter to Manchester Liberal Democrats Children and Families Minister, Sarah Teather said:

“The Pupil Premium will benefit poorer pupils, providing extra money directly for those pupils who need it the most.

“This extra funding will help tackle inequality and enable schools to provide the extra support their pupils need to reach their full potential.”

The amounts allocated to each School in the Chorlton area are listed below.


Chorlton High School £213,256
Loreto High School Chorlton £125,416
Oswald Road Primary School £27,328
St John’s RC Primary School £18,544
Brookburn Community School £12,688
Chorlton CofE Primary School £10,736
Chorlton Park Primary School £64,416
Barlow Hall Primary School £60,512
St Ambrose RC Primary School £42,944

TOTAL £575,840

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John Leech MP calls on Government to take those on National Minimum Wage out of Income Tax altogether

Manchester Withington MP John Leech has put down the following Early Day Motion in Parliament;

That this House welcomes the commitment of the Coalition Government to increase the personal allowance to £10,000 by 2015; recognises that increases in the personal allowance have already taken hundreds of thousands of the lowest paid tax payers out of paying income tax altogether and that further increases in the personal allowance will benefit all taxpayers, but benefit the poorest taxpayers more as a proportion of their income; welcomes the recent increase in the minimum wage to £6.08 for adults over 21, which translates into a £228 weekly wage based on a 37.5 hour week, or £11,856 per year; believes that any future reductions in direct taxation should be targeted at the poorest taxpayers rather than the rich; and therefore believes that any further reductions in direct taxation should be further increases in the personal allowance with the aim of taking those on the national minimum wage out of paying income tax altogether.