Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Manchester Labour's Attack on the Pupil Premium raised in Parliament

At the last Manchester City Council meeting, the Labour Administration voted to scrap the pupil premium, describing it as a "sham" - even though it brings around £11 million extra to Manchester this year (over £500k to the Chorlton area alone) with the promise of yet more to follow. It is really depressing that our Labour Council which has for over 40 years had such a poor record of Education attainment and attendance, REJECTED huge levels of funding aimed directly at disadvantaged pupils!

The Labour Council's decision was critcised at Deputy Prime Minister's Questions yesterday. This is the transcript of the session:

[87269] Duncan Hames (Chippenham) (LD): Wiltshire schools have long felt short-changed by funding allocations for education, so they will welcome the doubling of pupil premium moneys for our schools in Wiltshire to more than £5 million next year. Now that Labour councillors in Manchester have voted for the pupil premium to be scrapped, will the Deputy Prime Minister consider giving our schools next year some of the more than £18 million of pupil premium that their council has rejected?

Nick Clegg, The Deputy Prime Minister: The pupil premium, which by the end of this Parliament will be £2.5 billion of extra money to help schools that are educating children from the most challenging backgrounds, is a very powerful, progressive policy, and I am very proud that we have delivered it, as a coalition Government. We have been searching in vain for months to find out what the Labour party would actually cut in public expenditure. Now, we have the answer: Labour councillors want to cut the pupil premium that benefits some of the most deprived children in this country. That is progressive politics for you!

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Guest Blog: Happy Indie Christmas and New Year from Tag!

TAG! (Pass it on) is part of a growing ‘Shop Local’ movement which helps support local shops and services; a movement which is, in large part, rooted in a person’s attachment to where they live and their desire to see their area flourish.

In 2010 in the UK, £76 billion was spent on groceries; 80% in supermarkets. Supermarket ‘local’ shops are springing up everywhere as the major chains fight for an ever higher share of our spending in the current circumstances of higher grocery inflation and reduced disposable income. The result is an independent sector under siege.

Neither government legislation nor local issues such as increasing rents and parking price-hikes are doing anything to alter this situation. If we wish to save this vital part of our communities it’s up to us to make the necessary difference.
Independents are one-of-a kind, distinctive businesses; they’ve got character. It’s this character which helps attract other new businesses, residents, visitors and investment to the area.

Walk into a local Chorlton business and more often than not you are greeted and served by the owner, someone with a unique passion and knowledge of the products they are selling and the community they are serving.

When local community projects need support, our independents often come together to offer it and get things done. They are part of the very fabric of Chorlton and have a personal stake in its well being, guaranteeing that they act in the interests of the wider community.

On top of that, they bring disproportionate benefits to the local economy and job-creation. Simply put, money spent locally stays local: it will be used to make purchases from other local businesses, service providers, local professionals and suppliers.

If we are to have any hope of creating a resilient, green economy – a ‘network of local sustainable economies, providing social contact and inclusion with responsible local production and exchange of goods and services’ we will need a strong independent sector, accountable to the local area.

TAG! (Pass it on) is a not-for-profit CIC (Community Interest Company) which aims to encourage us to change our spending habits. For all of the reasons given above we created the TAG! card; for £5 you are rewarded with a huge range of deals and discounts when you shop with independents.

The variety and quality of the 50 (and counting) local independents in our scheme – as well as the 300 or so to be found in other areas of South Manchester - is amazing and the savings on offer from using your card and supporting them are HUGE; from essentials such as groceries, eyecare and cakes to fine dining, fashion, furniture, party items, flowers, toys, plumbing and even (clay pigeon) shooting.

Chorlton’s charities and community groups can make use of the Tagpassiton scheme to sell cards to raise money for their own causes. It’s a fantastic hyperlocal and community-focused way of raising money. Groups such as the Big Green Festival and St John’s Primary keep 50% of the proceeds when they actively promote shopping locally and independently to their supporters.

For more details about what we do, how we help and what you get please visit the TAG! website at New TAG! cards can be bought online or locally at Village Dry Cleaners, A J Adams, Khawaja Bros, Chorlton Wholefoods and most other scheme members. If you register a new card before the end of the year you’ll be entered into our prize draw to win a bottle of fine wine from Village Dry Cleaners, a meal for 2 at Saray, and a fantastic Moroccan themed spa package from Creative Hairdressing. We hope you will want to join in, save money and show your support for all the local shops with your TAG! card.And since we’re entering the festive season let’s try and make this an Independent Christmas!

Carol Thompson is the Co-founder of TAG! You can follow her on Twitter at @tagpassiton or email her at Tagpassiton is a registered not-for-profit Community Interest Company that rewards for shopping smart, local and independent. More information can be found at . Image from Chorlton Community Index (

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Excel Parking's management of Chorlton Precinct under the spot light on BBC's Rip Off Britain

This morning BBC One's Rip off Britain programme had an item about Excel Parking's management of Chorlton Precinct Car Park. I was featured briefly discussing the action I have taken to support residents in fighting unfair parking charges and trying to get Manchester City Council to recognise the established right of way.

You can view the programme at the item about Chorlton is available from 09:18. You can watch it on BBC iPlayer until 23 December.

Please let me know if you are affected by the unfair parking charges or if you can support our campaign to reestablish the right of way.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Latest on Manchester's School Crossing Patrols

I have just spoken to Vicky Rosin, Manchester City Council's Deputy Chief Executive. She has told me that this morning an announcement was made that that the Council has found the money to save the High Risk (Red) School Crossing Patrols. This means 38 Crossings across Manchester are safe including the crossings on Manchester Road / Longford Road, Oswald Road / Nicolas Road, Longford Road / Oswald Road, and Oswald Road / Longford Road. Unfortunately the future of the crossing on St Clements Road/Vicars Road which primarily serves Chorlton CoE school is still in doubt. At Manchester's City Council meeting on Wednesday morning I will continue to press the Council to save all of Manchester's crossings including the one on St Clements Road corner. I have been told that further announcement would be made in the New Year regarding the Yellow and Green Crossings.

Today's news is thanks to the thousands of Parents, Guardians, Grandparents, Teachers and other residents that signed petitions to stop the cuts to this vital service. You can still sign the petition to Save ALL of Manchester's crossings at

I also understand that Chorlton MP John Leech has raised this issue in Parliament. He has put down an Early Day Motion ( and urged local government minister Andrew Stunell to bring forward plans to require local authorities to provide safety crossing patrols. The Minister said Manchester City Council should look very carefully at its spending priorities before it sought to offload duties onto others.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Chorlton Christmas Lights Switch On

Last night I attended the Chorlton Christmas lights 'switch on' at Chorlton Green with John Leech MP and Matt Gallagher. It was a really lovely event with hundreds of residents coming together to celebrate our community and the festive period. The Choir from St John's got everyone in a festive mood with their fantastic Carol Service. I would like to thank Mary Paul and the Beech Rd Traders for organizing a very successful event. Shops on Beech Rd will remain open late on every Thursday evening leading upto Christmas. Here's to a very Indie Christmas!
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