Stockport Council grant funding news

Grants and funding available for community, charity and voluntary groups across Stockport for November 2014.

Covered bike store proposed for Gatley Station

We’ve reported recently on a number of improvements around Gatley station funded by the Government’s Cycle City funding, including wider pavements and the sorting out of the flooding problem at the junction of Oakwood Avenue and Gatley Road.

One thing we wanted to see was decent cycle parking at Gatley station, but as the land is owned by Network Rail it wasn’t in the gift of the Council to do it.

We’ve now been told that there is agreement between the Council, Network Rail and TfGM to install a covered cycle parking facility at Gatley Station, hopefully next Spring.

We’re also pressing for Network Rail to convert the overgrown land behind the electricity substation into additional car parking – that’s beyond the scope of the current scheme but we firmly believe it would be a big help for the overall parking situation.

New Cheadle crossing at accident blackspot

new cheadle crossingWe all talk about places that are an “accident waiting to happen” from time to time, but there are places where an accident has happened.

The new crossing on Cheadle High Street (half way between the George & Dragon and Sainsbury’s) aims to make one of the most dangerous places in Cheadle safer. We consulted on it a couple of years ago as part of the overall plan to improve Cheadle village and it got strong public support, so we’re very pleased to see the crossing go into operation and start being used for people to safely cross the High Street.

Making Cheadle village centre easier and safer for shoppers to get around is an important part of boosting trade in the village, along with the new pavements.

Mark Hunter takes Gatley Shopper bag to Westminster

Mark Hunter with Gatley shopping bag

Mark Hunter takes Gatley shopping campaign to Westminster

Local MP Mark Hunter has taken his Gatley Clock shopping bag to Parliament to support local traders in the village.

You can get your own Gatley Shopper with the iconic Gatley Clock logo from Best Friends Pets or Mather’s Bakery. It’s also on sale at the Christmas Festival, 29th November.

The Gatley Shopper costs just £5 with proceeds going to Gatley Village Partnership events.

New study looks at retail in Cheadle

Every few years the Council commissions a report into the state of Stockport Town Centre and our district centres. It feeds into the Council’s planning policy – is land being correctly allocated for different purposes around the borough.

There’s lots about Stockport Town Centre in the report – despite its issues it’s still the fourth largest centre in Greater Manchester after Manchester Central, Trafford Centre and Bolton.

The latest report has just come out and it has some interesting research about Cheadle.

Cheadle is the third largest district centre in Stockport on money spent. The only places above it (Hazel Grove and Cheadle Hulme) both have supermarkets in their centres. £44.9 million is spent in Cheadle annually.

Cheadle has 175 retail and service units – more than any other Stockport district centre. That includes 17 vacancies at the time of the survey. Its mix of shops is fairly typical but it has more banks than most. The percentage of empty units in Cheadle peaked in 2004, then fell to 2008. It rose again in the recession, but has been falling since 2011 and never went higher than it was in 2004.

An unusually high proportion of people walk into Cheadle. 48% of trips to the village centre are made by car or van, 10% by bus, 1% on bike and 40% on foot. However, Cheadle is less of an everyday destination than most other centres. For example, 51% of people surveyed in Romiley said they visited at least four times a week, compared to just 30% in Cheadle.

When asked what they most liked about Cheadle, people said it was convenient and near to home, and mentioned the good choice and quality of independent shops. When asked what they didn’t like, 17% mentioned difficulty parking, 15% said too many charity shops and 12% said heavy traffic (of course, more parking spaces would mean more cars and heavier traffic so that might not be an easy one to sort out!)

Asked how Cheadle could best be improved, 17% said more parking, 15% said more independent shops and 10% said more non-food multiple stores.

Asked what was lacking in Cheadle, ‘delicatessen’,’Marks & Spencer’ and ‘bakers’ were the food shops mentioned. For non-food shops, 40% mentioned a general clothes shop was missing, 16% a DIY shop and 12% a shoe shop.

Cheadle generally rated low for accessibility: by bus, cycle, foot and on car parking. It was also rated poorly on access for people with mobility, hearing or sight difficulties.

The survey looked at ‘linked visits’ – combining shopping with other things like eating and drinking. 35% of people almost always did more than one thing when visiting Cheadle – the highest of any district centre.

Overall, Cheadle is rated as a healthy district centre, but the report notes the high number of charity shops and the poor ranking on transport and accessibility.

The report focuses on the larger centres so it doesn’t have a lot to say about Gatley. However, it does tell us that the total annual spend in Gatley shops is £6.3 million (compared to £44.9 million in Cheadle) and that most of that spend (£4.1 million) is “convenience” – i.e. food and the sort of goods you’d buy in a convenience store.

Tackling Child Sexual Exploitation across Greater Manchester

On Thursday I made the trip up to Bury Town Hall for a meeting about Crime and Policing across Greater Manchester. At the time my fellow councillor Keith Holloway was also away – talking to other councils from around England about how we can best deliver adult social care.

I represent Stockport on the Police and Crime Steering Group. There are representatives from all the ten GM councils plus the Police, the Police & Crime Commissioner and the Fire Service. The idea is simple: criminals don’t respect council boundaries so neither can we; plus there are ways we can do things better and more efficiently by working together.

At Thursday’s meeting the main issue was Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) – a very important topic with a lot of work going on around it. Stockport MP Ann Coffey has recently produced a report for Greater Manchester on the topic, and all Stockport councillors had a briefing on Wednesday evening, led by Cllr Wendy Meikle.

We’re now tackling the problem, highlighted in videos like this one from West Yorkshire Police.

Although we, as a society, are much better than we used to be at spotting and tackling CSE there are still major problems to tackle. Too often children are seen as complicit in their abuse and young girls sometimes don’t realise themselves that they are being abused until it’s too late. A 13 year-old might just be flattered at an older man taking an interest and buying her presents. Abusers tend to focus on vulnerable girls – those without stable homes or with learning difficulties.

Comments like this from a girl inteviewed for Ann Coffey’s report show the problem:

I lost my virginity to him. When my foster parent found out, she said: ‘Why are you being a slag?’ I was 12 and he was 19.

‘F’ – Victim who gave evidence in court

In Stockport and across Greater Manchester we are taking the issue very seriously and tackling it wherever it’s found.

Bruntwood Hall to become boutique hotel

The Manchester Evening News is reporting that Bruntwood Hall, situated in Bruntwood Park, Cheadle is to become a boutique hotel – opening next year.

A boutique hotel will be developed in an historic south Manchester hall.

Oddfellows, with already runs a hotel in Chester, has bought Bruntwood Hall, in Cheadle.

It sits in the heart of Bruntwood Park, which the Manchester property developer is named after.

The firm wants to develop a luxury venue in the hall, which will have around 23 room, with a bar, restaurant, spa treatment rooms and a ‘dramatic’ event space.

It will be called Oddfellows On The Park and the project is in the hands of architect Tim Groom.

It is hoped the hotel will open next Summer/Autumn and will lead to the creation of around 70 jobs.

A Mayor for Greater Manchester – what is the Combined Authority?

Last week I signed up to a new deal for Greater Manchester, giving us control of nearly £2 billion currently spent down in Whitehall, along with new powers to improve transport, skills, business, housing, planning and more.

As part of that, we’re getting a mayor for Greater Manchester – appointed at first (since they need to change the law to allow an election), then elected from 2017. But we’re not getting another Boris. Our mayor is Made in Greater Manchester – not a single person with all the power, sitting above the councils but the leader of the Combined Authority, working with the ten Greater Manchester Authorities and only able to do things in agreement with them.

What is the Combined Authority and what does it do?

The Combined Authority is a way for the ten Greater Manchester councils to work together and get things done collectively that they couldn’t do on their own. The ten councils are Stockport, Tameside, Oldham, Rochdale, Bury, Bolton, Wigan, Trafford, Salford and Manchester.

By far the biggest thing the Combined Authority does right now is transport, and TfGM is part of the CA. The Combined Authority plays a key role in new tram lines, funding for the A6 to Manchester Airport Relief Road, Stockport’s proposed new Transport Interchange and Town Centre Access Package, subsidised bus services and train improvements. Through TfGM it manages major junctions across Greater Manchester (including our local Kingsway/Gatley Road junction) and maintains traffic lights.

The Combined Authority allows the councils to work together on other issues too. It offers loans to businesses, works on cross-GM planning issues, funds skills and business development work, works in partnership with the Police and Crime Commissioner on a whole range of areas, co-ordinates the approach to health and social care and more besides.

Of course, the powers of the Combined Authority are currently limited – if the devolution deal goes through it will be able to do a lot more.

The Combined Authority is currently led by the leaders of the ten councils. The devolution deal means they’ll be joined by an eleventh leader – the mayor of Greater Manchester. Many other people (councillors and non-councillors) are involved in other committees, such as TfGMC – the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee that looks in detail at the issues around trams, trains, buses, roads and cycling.

AGMA

You might also have heard of AGMA – the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities – and wondered what that was all about. AGMA is an informal partnership of the ten authorities formed when the Greater Manchester Council was abolished thirty years ago. It has limited legal powers (e.g. it can’t hold money) but has been a very useful way for the councils to work together in the past.

The Combined Authority is a more recent partnership of the same ten councils, but unlike AGMA it has legal powers from government. At the moment both exist side by side – for legal reasons there are some things only AGMA can do and some things only the CA can do. AGMA and the CA are two different ways for the ten councils to work together.

Holding the Combined Authority to account

The Lib Dems on Stockport Council see the Combined Authority as a positive development: it allows us to achieve more for local people. I believe Devo Manc will take that to the next level and help us to make a real and positive difference to the lives of local people.

It’s not perfect though! The fact that very few people know what the Combined Authority is and what it does tells me that a lot more needs to be done to explain it to people.

We also need to get much better at holding the leaders to account for decisions they make in the Combined Authority. It needs to become a lot more transparent. The CA makes important decisions that affect our lives so we need to get those out there – on websites and in the local media. People are going to disagree with things, and we need to get those debates out in the open.

Stockport Full Council meetings are webcast so everyone can see what we do (even if our viewing figures lag disappointingly far behind X-Factor). Shouldn’t key Combined Authority meetings be webcast too?

Remembrance Thank You

The Lib Dem team attended the local Remembrance Sunday services to pay our respects and lay wreaths, and in both Cheadle and Gatley we were very heartened to see so many people attending such well-run events.

remembrance dayWe would like to thank everyone involved in organising the services, all who took part and every person to took the time out to come along and pay their respects to those who died in wars so we could live in peace.