Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Twenty's Plenty say Manchester Liberal Democrats

MANCHESTER Liberal Democrats will urge Wednesday’s City Council meeting to reduce the default speed limit to 20mph. Their plans are being backed by Transport Minister Norman Baker who has encouraged the Council to make use of new powers to reduce the speed limit and save lives.

Manchester has the North West’s second highest rate of overall pedestrian casualties. And last year 166 people were needlessly killed or seriously injured on Manchester’s Roads and nearly 2000 people were hurt. The Lib Dem proposal would see 20mph becoming the speed limit on all residential roads, but excludes major routes.

I am very pleased to be proposing the motion as Chorlton residents often raise their concerns about road safety. There are still far too many people killed or injured on Manchester’s Roads. Our motion is tackling this issue head on and would result in far fewer casualties. The vast majority of the people support reducing the speed limit because it not only makes our roads safer it also encourages more people to walk and cycle. This reduces traffic noise, pollution and carbon emissions.

Manchester Council does not take this issue seriously enough. The status quo is unsatisfactory, and a decision to reduce the speed limit on a particular road is usually reactive to fatalities and accidents, rather than proactive. In Chorlton the Council has spectacularly failed to take action to reduce or even enforce the 30mph limit on Kensington Rd; despite studies showing speeding problems and speeds of up to 62mph! We should assume that 30 mph is a dangerous speed on all residential streets, and that on the whole, twenty is plenty.

The Coalition Government has cut bureaucracy and made it easier to implement 20mph speed limits; I want Manchester to take advantage of this to help save lives.

Lib Dem Transport Minister Norman Baker MP has given his backing to the plans: “I will be very happy to meet Councillors next time I am in Manchester, and look forward to the Council taking forward the increase in the use of 20mph limits which I have made possible.”

The Liberal Democrat motion is available as item 11 at: http://www.manchester.gov.uk/egov_downloads/1_February_2012_summons.pdf

More information on Twenty’s Plenty campaign is available at http://www.20splentyforus.org.uk/

Alan Turing should be pardoned

Chorlton Lib Dem MP, John Leech, has just sent out a Press Release and handed in an EDM (see below) calling for Alan Turing to be pardoned. Alan was a hero, who help shortened the Second World War by cracking the German enigma codes. The fact that he was persecuted by the state for being Gay is a scandal that shouldn’t be allowed to stand.

John signed an EDM in 2007 about Alan, but this EDM is prompted by a petition on the Downing Street web page calling for a pardon submitted by local resident Will Jones.

His petition has over 21000 signatures, and can be signed using the link below.


Petition organiser Will Jones said,

“I am very happy than John has submitted this EDM. I urge all MP’s to sign it. I urge everyone else to sign my petition calling on Alan Turing to be pardoned.

John's Parliamentary motion:

EDM 2660: ‘That this House notes the vital contribution made by Alan Turing to Britain’s war effort by inventing the machine that broke the Enigma code, regrets that following his years of national service he received a criminal conviction for having a sexual relationship with another man; further regrets that he was forced to take oestrogen therapy or be sent to prison if he did not comply; finally regrets that he went on to take his own life on 8th June 1954 at the age of just 41 years; notes that so far over 21,000 people have signed the E petition on the 10 Downing Street website calling for Alan Turing to be pardoned, supports these calls, and acknowledges the huge and unnecessary suffering that he and so many other gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people have had to endure.’

Monday, 30 January 2012

Jobs Fair at Chorlton Central Community Centre

Chorlton Central Community Centre; Thursday 9 February, 10.30 - 15.00; 0161 860 5921; yourc4@gmail.com

Talking Down of Metrolink damages City's Reputation

You may have recently seen this BBC Manchester article quoting Manchester Labour MP, Graham Stringer saying Metrolink is "damaging the city's reputation and economy". Like a number of Chorlton residents I have been disrupted by the some recent delays on the system and recognise the severe delays need to be addressed; but I think Mr Stringer's comments are innapropriate and are themselves damaging for Manchester's reputation.

The Metrolink is a fantastic addition to our City and is one of the few sustainable transport systems that have received significant investment and support. Metrolink has created jobs and provided economic value to our City. It has also helps to tackle congestion by massively improving people's choice in public transport, resulting in less cars on the roads which helps to tackle air quality problems. I know there have been hiccups and some severe delays (it took me an hour to get from Chorlton to Piccadilly recently) but Mr Stringer is just been sensationalistic and is not looking at the benefits Metrolink offers his constituents and millions of other Greater Manchester residents.

Last week I wrote to Mr Stringer's Labour colleague, Cllr Andrew Fender the Chairman of Transport for Greater Manchester, and asked him if he agrees with Mr Stringer that "Transport for Manchester and the tramline operators have to get their act together"; that Metrolink is "damaging the City's reputation and economy", and "is bad for Manchester's image"? I am still awaiting a response.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012


Content taken from Matt Gallagher's Blog :

I am sure that there are many people who wonder what it might be like to travel into the future. What looks cool now that will eventually appear dated and inefficient? How will we deal with the most pressing problems of the age? What will change, and what might stay the same?

There are no such things as time machines…yet! However, there is a hidden corner of Chorlton where it is possible to make a journey of sorts into a world that is yet to come. This Sunday Victor Chamberlain and I had the privilege of visiting 3 The Thorns, in Chorltonville, where we met with Kit Knowles and Jonny Allen at the Ecospheric Eco Show Home.

Victor and I went there to congratulate them on receiving a £50k grant from DECC’s Local Energy Assessment Fund (LEAF), recently announced by Lib Dem Energy and Climate Change Secretary of State Chris Huhne. Their Ecoville project will help Chorltonville residents improve their homes energy efficiency, reduce energy bills and live more sustainably.

Chorltonville was selected for a number of reasons, not least of which is the fact that the houses there are exactly 100 years old and as such they are not constructed of the latest materials. Their size and location were also considered when the decision was being made.

From the outside the Eco Show Home looks much like its neighbours, but step inside and you are immediately struck by how bright and airy it is, how well-regulated the inner temperature is and how the latest technology can work with a century-old house to create a truly up to date and comfortable home.

Working in partnership with Action for Sustainable Living Kit and Jonny will ensure the grant is targeted at communities to help them understand the potential for improvements in their homes and prepare for new opportunities in sustainable energy arising from the Green Deal, Renewable Heat Incentives and Feed-In Tariffs.

Kit and Jonny plan to offer up to £500 worth of products and services FREE to each household to help them reduce their energy bills. This will include;

• An energy monitor for every household and access to an on-line forum where you can ask advice from experts and track savings.

• Energy fitness and retrofit surveys for 40 households

• A series of workshops delivered by Action for Sustainable Living, Ecospheric and Carbon Coop.

• Tours of the Chorlton Eco Show Home.

The project will help to develop positive ways in which these worthy objectives can be rolled out further afield. I recommend checking out www.ecospheric.co.uk/ecoville for further information. If you get the chance arrange to visit the Eco Show House. It is well worth seeing.

Local MP John Leech has endorsed the project and said, ” I am delighted that Ecospheric and AfSL have been awarded a £50,000 grant as part of the Local Energy Assessment Fund, and will be one of the UK’s 82 pioneering energy efficiency projects.”

Post offices saved by Lib Dems

Post Offices in Chorlton and Manchester have been saved by Liberal Democrat Business Minister, Ed Davey.

After ending Labour’s shameful Post Office closure programme, which saw more than 7100 Post Offices disappear in their 13 years in office (like the one we used to have on Beech Road), Ed Davey MP has announced a ten-year deal between the Post Office and the Royal Mail has been reached.

The deal gives additional certainty to subpostmasters across the UK and covers the full range of Royal Mail products available at post offices such as first and second class post, parcels, air mail, recorded and special deliveries.

The deal adds to other recent progress for the Post Office, with extra Government cash kicking in, new national and local government contracts won, successful piloting of new models to transform many local post offices and improvements in financial services offered.

After years of Post Office closures under the Labour Government, it is excellent news that Liberal Democrats are doing the right thing by ensuring that the Post Office has a sustainable future ahead of it through investment and by brokering this deal with Royal Mail. Residents and Traders often tell me that they still miss the post office on Beech Road.

Post Offices are a vital part of our communities and are the lynchpin of our towns and villages. More than 20m people visit a Post Office every week to send letters to loved ones, to manage their finances or to renew passports for holidays and hundreds of thousands of pensioners rely on them every day for their pensions.

Labour left Royal Mail in a terrible mess and it is Liberal Democrats in the Coalition Government who have stopped closures and put Royal Mail and the Post Office on a secure footing. Our plans mean that we will never see the kind of planned closures that devastated local communities under the previous Government. The 20m people who use the Post Office every week don’t deserve anything less from us.

Commenting further, Ed Davey said: “A year ago I set out a radical plan to transform Post Office’s future, with £1.34bn of Government support and investment but without any closure programmes. Since then the Post Office has made good progress to become more competitive, building on its strengths. While it will take several years to turn round the Post Office’s finances, it’s increasingly clear the reforms are beginning to work. The 10-year deal struck between Royal Mail and the Post Office will give subpostmasters and others greater confidence. The signs are extremely encouraging for the future of the Post Office.”

Monday, 23 January 2012

"Labour: from the wrong place to all over the place" - Nick Clegg

Message sent by Lib Dem Leader and Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg MP, to Liberal Democrat members:

Nearly two years ago, Liberal Democrats chose to do the right thing in the national interest at a time of crisis. We put tribalism aside and the good of the country first.

We didn’t come into politics to make cuts, but with the economy on the verge of collapse we knew we had to take the difficult decisions necessary to get the deficit under control and the country back on track.

And how did the Labour Party react?
They attacked us viciously. They refused to apologise or take responsibility for the mess they created. They opposed every cut and they indulged in cynical scaremongering.

In Sheffield, David Blunkett warned of ‘post-Soviet’ meltdown with people fending for themselves. It was the politics of fear and it was a disgrace.

But now, after nearly two years of opposing every cut, Ed Miliband and Ed Balls say they won’t reverse a single one. Yet they still say they oppose them.

They have gone from being in the wrong place to being all over the place. From denial to disarray.

Many of our excellent councillors lost their seats last May because of the vicious attacks of their Labour opponents. We must not let them get away with it again.

Liberal Democrats approach this May’s elections with a track record of proud, progressive achievements in Government:

Lifting a million of the poorest workers out of tax and cutting taxes, not for the rich but for 23m basic rate taxpayers;

Making the well off pay their share by raising Capital Gains Tax, a new £10bn bank levy and keeping the 50p top rate of tax;

The most generous rise in the state pension for a generation;

A revolution in the way we support the children who need help the most when it matters the most, in the crucial early years and throughout their school lives;

More apprenticeships than Britain has ever had before;

And from this April, the Youth Contract, an ambitious £1bn programme to make sure every 18 to 24-year-old has the opportunity to earn or learn.

Clearing up Labour’s mess is not easy, but right.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Guest Blog: Ecoville

I was really pleased to find out this week that Chorlton based Ecospheric and Action for Sustainable Livng (AfSL) have been successful in their bid for a £50,000 grant from the Government's Local Energy Assessment Fund. Detals about their Ecoville project taken from Ecospheric website:

Action for Sustainable Living in partnership with Ecospheric have secured Chorltonville funding from the Local Energy Assessment Fund (LEAF) to help promote energy efficiency in all its 262 households. LEAF is a government grant for communities to help them understand the potential for improvements in their homes and prepare for new opportunities in sustainable energy and climate change arising from the Green Deal, Renewable Heat Incentive and Feed in Tariffs. This means we are able to offer up to £500 worth of products and services FREE to each household to help them reduce their bills including:
· An energy monitor for every household with access to an online dashboard and forum. Your private dashboard will allow you to track your energy usage over time, allowing you to see when you might be able to cut down. The community forum will collect anonymous data from all the monitors and give us average and total consumption figures for Chorltonville that we are aiming to reduce as much as possible! It will also give you the opportunity to ask questions to experts and your peers about access to an online forum where you can ask for advice from experts and your peers.

· Ecospheric are offering to provide 40 households with energy fitness and retrofit reports. This consists of a survey using amongst others, thermographic techniques to pinpoint heat loss within a property and produces a report with prioritised recommendations for individual properties. The bespoke report not only contains information about the property surveyed but also a comprehensive range of advice on sustainable living ranging from efficiency measures to occupancy health and behaviour.

· A series of workshops delivered by Action for Sustainable Living, Ecospheric and Carbon Coop aimed at helping every owner of the community. These include:

o AfSL's Energy Academy - Workshops on the importance of behaviour change in conjunction with refurbishment for the most effective energy saving solution. The performance of a house is affected +/- 30% by how the occupier interacts with it.

o Ecospheric's Chorltonville Houses Workshop - Specifically tailored to Chorltonville houses to help those who were not able to secure a full survey and report so that you are aware of what changes you can make and how to do it.

o Carbon Coop Householder Workshop - This will be a large workshop to enable residents to come together and identify their energy usage and discover ways of reducing any unnecessary losses. The Carbon Coop is a community benefit co-operative that promotes the development of carbon reduction measures.

o Ecospheric's Elderly Residents Workshop - This will focus on elderly residents, families, carers and other volunteers to provide specific advice about making homes more comfortable and reduce costs. Chorltonville has a rich heritage and many people have lived here all their lives. We want to ensure that they can continue to do so without worrying about being warm and comfortable in their own homes.

· Tours of the Chorlton Eco Show Home to show a practical example of a successful energy efficient refurbishment of a Chorltonville property.www.facebook.com/chorltonecoshowhome

We want to arm every resident in Chorltonville with the knowledge and desire to reduce their energy bills and enable them to live in a comfortable and sustainable house. We hope that this project will inspire on-going community lead action and generate awareness for other communities to initiate their path to sustainable living. UK building stock contributes to 43% total UK emissions and by 2050, 85% of our current stock will still be in existence. The importance of energy efficiency in refurbishment has never been greater. Helping communities with the knowledge and willingness to create a more sustainable future is the best way to help us meet our Kyoto agreements and reduce waste energy consumption. For individual homeowners, fuel costs have never been higher and are only set to rise over time as resources become scarcer. By reducing your reliance on energy, you’re helping everyone, not just your wallet

"I am delighted that Ecospheric and AfSL have been awarded a £50,000 grant as part of the Local Energy Assessment Fund, and will be one of the UK’s 82 pioneering energy efficiency projects. My Colleague, Energy Secretary Chris Huhne MP set up the £10m Local Energy Assessment Fund to raise understanding of energy efficiency and renewable energy generation issues at a local level. LEAF is intended to be a precursor to the Government’s Green Deal later this year which will overhaul the energy efficiency of millions of homes across the UK. It’s great that Kit and Jonny are leading the way in Chorltonville.

I think the project in Chorltonville is fantastic because it will help residents to understand how they can improve their home's energy efficiency and reduce their energy bills, whilst also helping to make their homes more comfortable and sustainable. The activities and services that Kit and Jonny have put together will have a lasting benefit because they are helping all residents to be more conscious of their energy use and live more sustainably in Chorltonville. I really enjoyed joining residents in celebrating Chorltonville’s centenary last year; I hope this project will help ensure Chorlonville’s homes are sustainable for another 100 years."

- John Leech MP for Manchester Withington. (Chorlton, Didsbury East& West, Withington, Burnage, Old Moat & Chorlton Park)

Ecospheric is a sustainability consultancy based in Chorltonville specialising in domestic retrofit. I will post more details about this brilliant project when they are available. In the meantime please visit Ecospheric's website: http://www.ecospheric.co.uk/; their Chorlton Eco Show Home Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Chorltonecoshowhome and follow them on twitter at @ecospheric.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Natural Play Facilities in Beech Rd Park

When I have spoken to parents and children about the facilities in Beech Road Park they have often told me that they wished there were more natural play facilities in the park.

As a result I have been trying for about a year to get the Council to move a tree into the park for natural play.

When A sixty year old Lime tree that once stood proudly on Chorlton Green (on the corner of Chorlton Green and St Clements Road) was blown down during recent gales I asked the Council to move the 15 meter tree 300 meters down the road into Beech Road Park; so that it can become a natural play facility and provide additional seating.

I was very pleased to join the Tree team from the Council this morning to watch them move the tree into the Children’s play area (pictured). The Council carried out work on the tree’s crown to make it safe so that it can become a natural climbing frame. At the weekend I saw children were already enjoying their new climbing frame whilst it waited to be moved from Chorlton Green. The Council have detached the tree trunk so that it can become a bench.

When I saw the fallen tree on Chorlton Green I knew it was the tree we had been waiting for! The tree will be a fantastic addition to Beech Rd Park and I am sure it will be popular with local children and parents; it will certainly be good for the biodiversity. It looks great in it's new home. Thanks to everyone that helped make this happen.

I remember Beech Road Park used to have a number of tree trunks around the boundary of the park. The trunks were well used as play equipment and seating, but also provided a home to mosses, insects and other biodiversity. The trees were left to naturally decompose which also helped to teach children about nature.

Information on Natural Play from the Forestry Commission is available at: http://www.forestry.gov.uk/forestry/INFD-7LSEHW

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Developments in Chorlton Centre

You may have recently heard that the Council has proposed to replace Chorlton Leisure Centre (Chorlton Baths) and Chorlton Library with a new joint service centre (http://bit.ly/yU9z5q). The Council is proposing to build a new Joint Service Centre, which is expected to cost around £5.7million and be located in Chorlton District Centre, in order to save approximately £190,000-a-year in running costs.

Chorlton Liberal Democrats have welcomed these proposals which are long overdue. Chorlton Library and Leisure Centre are both very popular and well used but are outdated and need investment to match our community’s needs in the 21st Century. I have asked Council bosses for an assurance that that our Leisure Centre and Library won’t be closed until the new ones open. I have also asked the Council to outline where they plan to site the new centre, and to consider integrating ‘Green’ and high energy efficiency standards into plans at this stage as this is important for sustainability and another area where savings can be made. I will be joining my colleagues, Matt Gallagher and John Leech MP, in calling for a proper public consultation on these plans so local residents wishes are integrated into the plans. You can read the Council’s report on the proposals at http://bit.ly/vZh92Q.

You may also have heard about the plans to redevelop the Chorlton Precinct and Car Park site (http://bit.ly/AECe0j). Plans have still not been submitted for approval and I understand it may still be three months before they are. This is because NHS Manchester still has to confirm their involvement in the project. Like many local people I am concerned that the redevelopment will see a new supermarket built on the site which could harm local independent shops. A few years ago the Council held a consultation about the future of Chorlton District Centre, which said that 2/3 of local residents don’t want an additional supermarket in Chorlton. I will be working with my Chorlton Liberal Democrat colleagues, Matt and John, to ensure that any redevelopment helps protect, promote and enhance Chorlton Independent Shops and brings back free parking. We will also be calling for the Council to make a determined effort to Consult widely on the proposals so that the local community's needs and wishes are central to any redevelopment; and so that a new supermarket is not thrust upon us. Having grown up in Chorlton and as a shareholder in the Busy Bee Toy Shop co-op I know how valuable our local shops are and don’t want to see the Council make a mistake which could harm Chorlton Centre.

Please get in touch with me (cllr.v.chamberlain@manchester.gov.uk; 07947240568) if you have any concerns, comments or questions.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Youth Action Grants

In partnership with Starbucks, UK Youth has launched Youth Action, a project that supports young people to improve their own communities.

Starbucks Youth Action aims to encourage and inspire a generation of young people to take action and create positive local change. Starbucks has joined up with UK Youth and the Irish Youth Foundation to provide training, support and funding to young people from 10 cities in the UK and Ireland.

The grants offer 16 to 24 year-olds from Manchester and nine other cities across the UK, the chance to receive grants of up to £2,000 to run a community change project in their local area.

For further information and to apply: visit: http://www.ukyouth.org/our-work-with-young-people/corporate-responsibility/youth-action.html or contact Liz Ablett, on 0787 241 5351, or email: Elizabeth@ukyouth.org.

Deadline: Monday 5 March 2012