Kingsway improvement – you asked, we delivered

gatley junction linesOne of the toughest problems to solve has been the right turn from Cheadle and Gatley. Long queues build up as often only about three cars get to turn with each change of the lights. We spent a long time investigating right-filters but we can’t do that – all the evidence is that even a short right-filter would cause much longer queues in other directions.

An issue raised by many residents is that, when you’re waiting to turn right at the front of the queue, you can’t see the oncoming traffic as your view’s blocked by people waiting to turn right from the other direction.

That means there could be a gap in the traffic, but you can’t take advantage of it because you don’t see it until too late.

To help with that problem, we’ve had the right-turn lines painted a little further out – just enough that if people pull up to the new lines, they’ll have good visibility and be able to spot those gaps. You can never be sure how well these things are going to work, but we hope it will allow an extra car or two to turn right at each change of the lights and that could make quite a significant difference to the queues.

The Kingsway/Gatley Road junction is a difficult problem to solve: there’s simply far more traffic than it was ever designed for and no fiddling with light timings is going to change that. As we always say, the only real ways to sort out the junction are to have more road or less traffic, and neither is cheap or easy.

The junction is controlled by Transport for Greater Manchester, not Stockport Council, and because it’s so close to the motorway, the Highways Agency also gets a say in what happens.

Our approach has been to make small improvements wherever we can, and at the same time look for opportunities to tackle the bigger problems. We put in the left filter lane from Gatley a few years ago, and last year we got the lane-realignment on Kingsway northbound put in – they’ve both helped, but the junction is still not easy.

Cheadle Area Committee agenda, 23rd September 2014

The next Cheadle Area Committee meeting is at 6pm on Tuesday 23rd September 2014 at the Ladybridge Park Residents Club, Edenbridge Road, Cheadle Hulme. All welcome, as ever.

Items on the agenda include

  • Planning application to demolish the Malt Shovels pub on Councillor Lane and replace it with a new-build Spar convenience store including car parking and ATM.
  • post-development works at the Demmings Estate (new houses off Wool Lane).
  • Proposal to change the footpath between Foxland Road and Hawthorne Road, Gatley into a bridleway, so allowing cycling along it (particularly for children going to Gatley Primary, Lum Head and Kingsway where we want to get more kids on bikes and out of cars).
  • Two big new 20mph zones in Gatley, covering the Cambridge Road/Pendlebury Road estate and Church Road and roads off (Oakwood, Elm, Beech, Hawthorne, Burnside, Stonpail Road, Gatley Green…)
  • Improvements in cycle access to Gatley Station and through to the South Park Road Estate from Gatley.
  • Proposed road safety scheme on Councillor Lane (near Peover Walk and the parade of shops)
  • Amendments to parking restrictions on Elm Road, Gatley to improve parking around the church (requested by residents).
  • Request to allow 10 Makers’ Market stalls to be situation on Hall Street Green for the 4th October and 1st November markets.

Gatley post office moves as Postmaster David retires after 31 years

This week saw the end of an era in Gatley as sub-postmaster David Edge retired after 31 years of service to the village.

Well-wishers gathered at the post office on Friday morning, before the new post office opened in Gatley News in the afternoon.

Being part of the newsagents, the new Post Office will have longer opening hours (7am – 6pm Monday to Satuday and 7am – 12.30pm on Sunday).

We wish David a long and enjoyable retirement.

david edge retires

Overnight work on Kingsway next week

Contractors working on behalf of Transport for Greater Manchester will be undertaking works to replace the sensor loops for the existing speed cameras on the A34, Kingsway, Cheadle; under the Etchells Road overpass. These works require the use of lane closures from 21st to 23rd September 2014; between the hours of 8pm and 6am only.

This work was originally scheduled to take place between 7th and 9th September but was postponed.

Styal Road speeding and speed cameras

Gatso_CameraThe Lib Dem team is currently working on making Styal Road safer. When we surveyed residents, one of the suggestions that came up (and, we though, a good one) was to put up a speed camera.

But, as usual, it’s more complicated than that. There are fairly strict rules about where speed cameras can be erected, in part to avoid them being used as a fund-raiser.

Unfortunately Styal Road would not qualify for a speed camera as the numbers of accidents fall below the required threshold as determined by the camera partnership.

The Greater Manchester Casualty Reduction Partnership, or DRIVESAFE as it is also known, was formed to incorporate all aspects of road safety, including speeding and camera enforcement. The partnership is responsible for the management and establishment of safety cameras throughout Greater Manchester. All sites are kept under review, and the enforcement level depends on the accident/casualty and speed record. These are reviewed quarterly.

New sites are selected primarily upon on the basis of their history of Personal injury collisions, killed and serious injury collisions and problems of speed.

They have checked the latest road traffic incident statistics and they indicate there have been 7 slight injury incidents within the last 3 years (No Killed or Seriously injured). This means that it is unlikely that this site will feature on future proposals to install new fixed camera sites, as there are strict Government criteria attached to the establishment of new sites which presently, this section of road does not meet.

However the site is currently designated as a mobile site and receives enforcement using hand held radar; the Police were out most recently on 18th July, when several offenders were fined and the highest speed recorded was 40 mph.

A speed camera was just one of the suggestions made – we’re working on proposals and we’re hopeful that we can use the ideas from residents to put together a good proposal.

George & Dragon and Post Office re-open in Cheadle

Both the George & Dragon pub and Cheadle Post Office have re-opened in Cheadle this week.

The George and Dragon looks fantastic, refurbished inside and out. At the other end of the village the Post Office has re-opened for the counter service, with the new shop (inc. a WH Smith) opening in a week or so.

Mark Hunter’s Notes from Westminster

Dear Resident,

Thank you as ever for taking an interest in my work as MP for Cheadle constituency, both here at home and down in Westminster.   Parliament did not sit during August, giving me a chance to spend some more time meeting with local residents, businesses and charities back home.

The turmoil in the Middle East of course threw a shadow over August as day after day the conflict in Israel and Palestine grew worse.  Throughout the summer I was in contact with Government ministers to urge them to implore both sides to desist in the violence.  I am of course relieved that a cease-fire has been agreed and has held; I sincerely hope that the negotiations might be a stepping stone to reawakening a process where a more concrete peace agreement can be secured, and a move towards realising a two-state solution.

Being privileged to serve both a Muslim community and a Jewish community here in Cheadle constituency, I warmly welcomed the decision by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Muslim Council of Britain to release a joint statement, mourning the loss of life, and rebuking anti-Semitism and Islamophobia here at home.  Any form of racism or xenophobia has no place in our community, and perpetrators will face prosecution.

The hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War was marked by many throughout the constituency by turning out lights for an hour at 10pm on Monday 4th August, for some time to reflect on the ultimate sacrifice made by so many.  Some 30,000 residents from the Stockport borough served in the armed forces in the Great War, and over 2,000 of them did not return to their families.  We will remember them.

Contra Vision Supplies Limited is a Bramhall based company that invented see-through graphic products that are sold worldwide – on the windows of buses and trains, offices and shops, providing advertisements, signs and privacy glazing.  I was pleased to be able to visit the business to congratulate them on recently being given a Queen’s Award for International Trade; a terrific advert for what a great place Cheadle constituency is to do business.

I was pleased to welcome my colleague Simon Hughes MP, Minister at the Department of Justice, to the north-west for a series of visits in our local area.  We first inspected the facilities at HMP Styal, a prison for women and female young offenders, meeting with both prisoners and prison officers.

After the visit we travelled to Stockport Town Hall for an informative meeting with Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd and Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy.  Lastly we went to the excellent Stockport Women’s Centre which provides services to any woman that lives or works in the Stockport area who is in need of support, including those that have suffered from, or are experiencing, domestic violence.

Kwik Fit invited me to re-open their Cheadle depot after a significant refit.  The investment is a sign of the company’s confidence in the strength of the demand in our area, and it is great that local drivers can now benefit from their state of the art equipment.  I was also pleased to learn that Kwik Fit has an apprenticeship scheme which local young people are already taking advantage of.

Football league clubs would be allowed to introduce safe-standing areas into their stadia in plans proposed by the Liberal Democrats.  Supporters have long called for the introduction for safe standing following successful implementation across Europe, most noticeably in the German Football league.

Local NHS services are changing; proposals include that some hospitals will become specialist centres of excellence for life-threatening conditions, more experts in one place will mean the highest-possible care.  Both Stepping Hill and Wythenshaw hospitals can bid for specialist status and are doing so, but before any changes can be implemented, local people’s views must be heard.  ‘Healthier Together’ has been set up to consult local residents and they have launched a consultation which can be accessed either online, or by phone – please hurry however, as it closes on Sunday 28th September.  Please have your say.

As autumn comes around and local children return to school, all 5 to 7 year olds will, for the first time ever, receive a free, hot and healthy school lunch which they will be given every day throughout term-time.  In Stockport alone over 10,000 children will benefit.  The new scheme will save families an estimated £400 a year per child while helping to raise school standards, encourage the social benefit of groups of friends eating together, and cut the attainment gap.

The Liberal Democrats are committed to helping every child have the very best start in life; this September the number of two-year-olds entitled to free childcare is doubling - the least well-off 40% are now eligible.  This is in addition to the free childcare (15 hours a week during school time) for all three and four year olds introduced by the Coalition Government.  I am determined that no two-year old or their parents miss out on this benefit,so please check to see if you too can claim.

Last year Stockport Homes was voted second best landlord in the UK in a poll organised by the influential 24 Housing magazine.  This year they have once again been named in the top ten, with final positions decided by public poll.  I have voted for Stockport Homes as I know well how hard their employees work to provide an excellent service and to build strong neighbourhoods – please take a moment to register your support here.

Good news as stats reveal that local unemployment continues to fall; there are now just 679 local people looking for work that are claiming benefits – this represents just 1.5% of economically active people aged between 16 and 64.  There is never any complacency, please rest assured that I continue to do what I can to attract new investment into our community.

The Office of National Statistics revealed that crime has fallen by more than 10% since the last election, in Stockport there was a total of 16,209 crimes recorded in 2013, down from 19,246 in 2012.  The Coalition Government has been focused on trying to release police officers from crippling amounts of bureaucracy and get them back out on the beat; I pay tribute to them for their work in keeping us safe.

I was delighted to be invited to two very different but well-established annual events, one hosted by the Cheadle Muslim Association (CMA) and the other by the Cheadle Hulme Flower Show Society.  Both were terrific community events which invited in local residents to join in the family fun.

Returning to Westminster, attention has been rightly focused in large part on the UK Government’s position in relation to ongoing concerns in Iraq, Syria, and the Ukraine.

Closer to home, I supported my Lib Dem colleague Andrew George’s Affordable Homes Private Members’ Bill which proposes necessary amendments to the Spare Room Subsidy or ‘Bedroom Tax’.  The Bill was passed by Parliament and we are now awaiting the Committee Stage to be scheduled later this autumn.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if there are any issues that you think I might be able to help you with, either via email, post or by telephone.

I also hold twice-weekly surgeries at my constituency office on most Mondays and Fridays; my constituency office staff will be pleased to help make an appointment.

Yours sincerely,

Mark Hunter MP

Kingsway lane closed on Tuesday

From the Council: contractors working on behalf of Vodafone will be carrying out maintenance work to their telecoms mast on the southbound carriageway of Kingsway, approx 20m south of the junction with Broadway. The works are scheduled to take place on Tuesday 16th September between 09:30 and 15:30 and will require a lane closure.

Dementia funding boost for local Wellcroft care home

Stockport Council in partnership with Stockport Clinical Commissioning Group has been awarded £755,000 from the Department of Health’s Dementia Grant, with money going to care homes across the Borough including Wellcroft at the bottom of Gatley Hill.

This money is being used to create care environments for people with dementia that help reduce anxiety, distress and help them feel safe, which will greatly improve the quality of their lives.

This includes providing 25 Dementia Reminiscence Therapy units in care homes and a day centre. These use software called My Life which incorporates local Stockport images, music, videos and historical information to create a personalised life-story book for each resident which helps reduce anxiety, improve quality of life and improve relationships with staff and relatives.

Other changes funded include the provision of dementia friendly furniture in 20 homes, enabling more independence; the improvement of signs and lighting, including the use of bold and tactile signs, colour coded floor zones and spaces with clear functional purposes; and improved accessibility to two gardens to make them more enjoyable for those with dementia.

Following the changes, homes have reported a much calmer atmosphere with less agitation and a reduction in the number of falls and of admissions to hospital.

The Lib Dem-led Council is also supporting the Dementia Friends campaign, launched by the Alzheimers Disease Society and Public Health England, encouraging staff, businesses and Stockport residents to become “Dementia Friends”, highlighting the fact that, with the right support, you can live well with dementia.

M60 sliproad issues – update

A few days ago Mark Hunter MP and the local Lib Dem team were knocking on doors around the South Park Road Estate – we didn’t quite get to everyone, but we made it to most.

This is to update you on some issues that were raised by residents.

Queues southbound from Parrs Wood and the M60 J3
We’ve all sat in the queues, with the Kingsway/Gatley Road junction being the major problem (built half a century ago and now trying to cope with massively more traffic than it was ever designed for).

The recent improvements on the slip road have made things a bit better coming off the motorway, especially if you’re going to Gatley where you no longer have to fight your way across 3 lanes of traffic upon joining the A34.

However, it hasn’t worked as well as the Highways Agency had hoped and we’re concerned that there are often long queues stretching back towards Parrs Wood, and longer queues in the Kingsway right hand lane to turn to Gatley.

The current view from the Highways Agency and Transport for Greater Manchester is that, whilst there may be some tinkering to be done to give us small improvements, it needs a proper study into traffic flows across the area. The key here is to look at whether there could be better places for traffic to leave and join the motorway which would reduce the amount of traffic trying to access J3.

Keep Clear box on the slip road by South Park Road estate exit
We continue to press the Highways Agency for a Keep Clear box on the J3 slip road where the South Park Road estate joins it. The idea is to make it easier for cars from the estate to pull out into stationary traffic when the lights are red.

The Highways Agency have now had the results back from their consultants. As we thought all along, the initial concerns that a Keep Clear box might cause longer queues are, they now think, unfounded. There’s no firm plan yet, but we’ve been told they will be looking to put a Keep Clear box on the slip road in the near future. We’ll continue to press for it.

Visibility of cars coming off the slip road onto the estate
A number of residents mentioned that cars leaving the slip road to come onto the estate can be almost invisible to cars coming off the estate – with a number of near misses and collisions as a result. The problem is grass growing high on the bank next to the junction.

We’ve asked council officers to look at solving this – most likely by taking out the grass and putting in tarmac or gravel instead so it doesn’t need maintenance.