Second councillor in three weeks quits “bullying” Stockport Labour

Cllr Paul Moss resigns from Labour

Councillor Paul Moss, who represents Reddish North ward on Stockport Council, has resigned from the Labour Party to sit as an Independent, saying “I can no longer be bullied into supporting the underhand actions of my party”. Cllr Moss is opposing proposals to build houses on part of Reddish Vale Country Park as part of the wider Brinnington Regeneration Scheme*.

Cllr Moss is the second Stockport councillor in three weeks to quit Labour: Cllr Laura Booth (Offerton) resigned earlier this month citing a “culture of systematic bullying in the local Labour party”. Cllr Booth was also Chair of Disability Labour and Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for Hazel Grove.

The accusations of bullying have been denied by Stockport Labour. They admit they’re unable to disprove the claims and suggest that everyone should just stop talking about it.

The latest resignations follow a similar case in 2012 when Cllr Patrick McAuley resigned from Labour, also citing bullying in the Stockport Labour Group.

* Full disclosure: I support the Brinnington Regeneration Scheme, including building houses on a small part of Reddish Vale.

Council warns of text loan scam

Stockport Council is warning residents about a text message scam involving a loan that is not paid out.
Earlier this month a Stockport resident received an unsolicited text message from a business purporting to be a loan company.

The message stated: ‘Dear Customer, the loan you applied for recently has been approved. The loan will be paid to you today. Please call (phone number) to receive the money into your bank’. The message was sent by a withheld number.

The victim was persuaded to pay £100 via PayPoint e-voucher on the promise that £500 would be put into their account. The business then asked for a further £200 to secure a loan of £690. The victim realised that it was a scam and did not pay any more. However, the scammers only gave fictitious contact information and the victim is now £100 out of pocket.

The Council’s Trading Standards advises residents never to respond to unsolicited text messages, phone calls or emails offering a loan. These may be received after leaving a phone number on a website. People may be asked to make payments into a bank account or via a money transfer business before a loan can be approved or paid to you. Once the initial payment has been made, and the loan withheld, the scammers will often try to contact the person again to ask for further payments before the loan can be released. Regardless of the number of payments made, the loan never materialises.

Councilor Martin Candler, Stockport Council’s Executive Member for Communities and Sustainability, said: “This type of scam targets people who have difficulty obtaining credit. These are often the people who can least afford to lose money to the scammers and I would urge residents to be on their guard against this type of fraud.”

All loan brokers and lenders are required to be licensed by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). If the business is not on the register at the FCA website it is likely to be bogus.

Victim of bogus loan brokers can report the details to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. People can also contact the Financial Conduct Authority Consumer Helpline for advice on 0800 111 6768.

Cheadle is changing – have your say

Help shape Cheadle – come along to Cafe One, the Upper Rooms, Cheadle at 9.30am on Saturday 1st November 2014 to get involved and have your say.

Cheadle in changing. As budgets become tighter, the Lib Dems have launched a programme to give local people more say over how our area looks. Cheadle is piloting the approach with the rest of Stockport following on next year.

We want as many people as possible to get involved. Cheadle Village Partnership have already done a lot of the leg-work and the next step is to get practical.

There are two ways you can contribute.

First, we want to understand what people’s priorities are for Cheadle. With limited money to spend, how should it be split between parks, play areas, libraries, street cleaning, the village centre and other areas.

Second, we want to know where local groups would like to get involved. If a Friends of the Park group is interested in doing more, we can help that to happen and get better outcomes for everyone at the end of it.

So please come along, have your say and get involved.

Cheadle Civic Society launch photograph archive

From Cheadle Civic Society:

See the Civic Society’s new photograph archive here.

Photographic history of Cheadle
The Cheadle Civic Society has digitised its entire collection of approximately 800 ar­chive photographs and has now uploaded these online to provide a revealing insight into Cheadle history.

The rare photographs cover 130 years, dating back to the 1860s and include every­thing from early pictures of Abney Hall, Cheadle High Street and the historic St Mary’s parish church. There is also an excellent selection of late 19th Century photographs of the horse-drawn bus services which used to operate between the White Hart Hotel and the centre of Manchester and revealing colour photographs of the old Buckley Chapel, which stood in the grounds of Abney Hall until it was demolished in the 1960s.

Other highlights include many old school group photographs, street scenes, special occasions, as well as photographs of former prime ministers Winston Churchill and Edward Heath when they visited Cheadle during different 20th Century general elec­tion campaigns.

The full collection of photographs were taken by both amateur and professional pho­tographers and donated to the Society over many years. Significantly, many of those which have deteriorated through age have now also been digitally improved.

Zoom feature
To enhance the experience of viewing the photographs, the Civic Society web site has a special full-screen and zoom feature which gives users the opportunity to view each photograph in great detail. There is also an online comments page to enable anyone to add personal stories relating to any of the pictures.

Phillip Gould-Bourn, chairman of the Cheadle Civic Society, says the photographs should be of great interest to the community at large, not just to the people of Cheadle. “They provide a rich snapshot of local life spanning several generations and will be an invaluable resource to all social historians,” he says.

Mark Hunter MP stands down as Deputy Chief Whip

Mark Hunter MPCheadle MP Mark Hunter has stepped down as Lib Dem Deputy Chief Whip after four and a half years to spend more time on his constituency work.

In his resignation letter, Mark said

It has been a privilege to serve for four and a half years as a member of the coalition government and I remain proud of our achievements over that period. We have faced many difficult decisions as a party but I believe it was the right choice, in the circumstances, to form the coalition and provide the political stability necessary for economic recovery to take place.

As you know, it was never my intention to serve in the same post for the duration of the Parliament and now seems a sensible time to move on. As we reach the end of the conference season and return to Westminster this is an appropriate moment to announce my decision.

My first priority is, and always will be, to serve my constituents to the best of my ability and I intend to carry on doing just that for as long as I am able.

It has been an honour to serve and I thank you for the opportunity.

As with all the best Whips, Mark’s work as a member of the Government has been largely in the background.

He has played a key role in delivering many of the Lib Dem’s key achievements in Government including cutting income tax for millions, the pupil premium, the massive growth in apprenticeships and the fairer tax system which has seen the richest pay more and the poor pay less than under the previous Labour administration.

Manchester section of Styal Road will be resurfaced too

Manchester section of Styal Road to be resurfaced as part of the works.

The Lib Dems have secured the resurfacing of the sections of Styal Road in Gatley, with local MP Mark Hunter pressing for the work to be done.

We had thought that as most of Styal Road was resurfaced, the part in Manchester (from Hollyhedge Road down to near South Drive) would be left undone, though we had always asked that agreement should be reached if possible.

We’re very glad that an agreement has now been reached with Manchester so Stockport’s contractors will do their section with Manchester Council picking up the bill.

The two main junctions (with Church Road and with Hollyhedge Road) will now be resurfaced on Sunday 19th and Sunday 26th October – the other timings will not change, and the current projected completion date for the full resurfacing (from Yew Tree to Church Road) remains 26th October.

Lib Dem’s Tatton CPO on target for 2015 development start

It’s very easy to say “something must be done about the Tatton” – anyone can do that. It’s a lot tougher to actually get something done, with the site being privately owned.

The Lib Dem team have been pursuing a twin-track strategy to getting the Tatton site developed. First, we’ve got the Council to start a Compulsory Purchase Order. It’s not instant and it’s not certain to succeed, but it gives us a really good chance of sorting out the site. Second, we remain open to the existing owners developing the site – as they’ve been saying they want to for the last two years. If they come forward with a plan, that would be great.
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Here’s an update on the CPO:

Back in May I signed off the Development Brief for the site – that’s the document that goes out to developers and says “these are the sorts of things the Council would be happy to see on the site”, and I published it here a couple of weeks ago so everyone could take a look.

The site is currently being valued and land ownership confirmed.

There is a proper legal process we need to go through, and that takes time. It’s important we do it properly: if we try to cut corners, the owners can use that in court to stop the CPO going through and we’re back to square one.

We are currently on target to be handing the site over to a new developer before the end of 2015, or for the existing owners to come forward with a development plan before then. It’s not 100% certain, but we believe it gives us the best chance of sorting out the Tatton for good – something we all want.

So if other political parties say they’ve got a better plan, ask them what exactly it is – we don’t think there’s a better way and rather than just talking about it, the Lib Dems are doing it.

Mark Hunter MP’s Notes from Westminster

Dear Resident,

It has been a busy month both here at home and in Westminster since my last monthly bulletin.  Parliament returned for a short session and then broke up for the political party conferences, only to be recalled for the important vote on UK Armed Forces’ action in Iraq.

Between the commutes to and from London, I have been out and about meeting with local residents around Cheadle constituency.

Parliament was recalled to vote on proposed action against Islamic State extremists (ISIS) in Iraq.  Decisions to commit the UK Armed Forces into a conflict are the hardest and most important that I am asked to make as an MP. Along with the majority in Parliament I voted in favour of military action for a number of reasons.  First, ISIS are a barbaric organisation that are murdering innocent people regardless of their religion, and I believe the UK should play its part in opposing them.  Second, unlike the invasion in 2003, the democratically elected, Muslim, government of Iraq has approached the UK to help defend their country.  Finally, the vote did not commit UK Forces on the ground, nor to action in Syria.  My Lib Dem colleagues and I will of course continue to monitor the situation closely.

I was pleased to lend the Affordable Homes Bill my support and help it to pass its second reading.  The Lib Dem sponsored legislation looks to address some of the concerns I have about how the removal of the spare room subsidy has operated in practice by bringing in further protections for vulnerable people, as well as ensuring that existing tenants are not penalised when smaller accommodation is not available.  The next stage for the Bill will be the Committee Stage, with dates due to be announced shortly.

Back at home, I attended a local residents meeting organised by Mr Suresh Mehta, Chair of the Independent Advisory Group to the Stockport Division of GM Police, with representatives of the Police, where concerns regarding a recent rise in burglaries were shared.  It was a very helpful opportunity to discuss what actions have been taken in light of the crimes, and how local officers make Stockport one of the safest places in Greater Manchester.

I followed up on this meeting with Chief Superintendent Caroline Ball, Stockport’s new chief police officer, to highlight residents’ concerns.

Woodford Neighbourhood Forum held its first AGM where discussions focused on proposals to build new houses at the Woodford Aerodrome site. I was pleased to attend to show my continued support of local resident’s opposition to the current proposals as I believe the development is inappropriate in size and scale and would dwarf the current Woodford village.  The following week I was back in the Woodford Community Centre for a St Ann’s Hospice fundraiser which I was delighted to support.

I do recognise the need for new and affordable housing, but I think construction companies need to be creative in their solutions and more sympathetic towards existing local residents.   I recently viewed a housing development in Cheadle Hulme, eleven new houses in Eastings Close just off Turves Road.  The old Scout Hall that stood on the site previously was not fit for purpose and was looking run down.  Stockport Homes worked in partnership with the Scouts to refurbish another existing hall locally in Oak Avenue, and then build smart, eco-friendly and affordable homes in a great location.

Blood Pressure UK were highlighting the eight million people in the UK that have high blood pressure but are not being treated for it, placing them at risk of a stroke or heart attack.  Blood pressure checks are free, do not take long, and are available in pharmacies around the constituency – do pop in for a checkup.

It was a pleasure to go along to the Cheadle Hulme Garden and Allotment Association’s Annual Open Day at their HQ on Billy’s Lane, off Heath Bank Road.  The glorious weather was the perfect backdrop to be shown around by Chairman Ian Ray, and the displays and produce were, as always, hugely impressive.

The ‘Thursday Club’ of Bramhall Methodist Church kindly invited me to address their members and then participate in a question and answer session.  The club provides a setting for older members of the community to socialise, have lunch and listen to guest speakers, and it was a great opportunity for me to meet with both the members and the volunteers that run such an invaluable service.

A good evening was had by all at the 284 Cheadle and Gatley Air Cadet Squadron’s Annual Dinner; as ever the Cadets were turned out immaculately and it was great to hear about all the activities that they have done over the last year.  I was delighted to be their special guest.

Residents across Cheadle constituency answered Macmillan Cancer Support annual plea for fund-raising coffee mornings, £20 million was raised last year alone.  Due to the recall of Parliament I was unable to attend coffee mornings that took place in Cheadle Hulme and Woodford as planned but was able to show my support at a hastily arranged event down in Westminster.

To highlight their ‘Wear it Pink’ day that will be held on 24th October, Breast Cancer Campaign visited Parliament.  On the day itself, they are encouraging supporters to wear pink at work, at home and at school and raise funds to support breast cancer research and to help give people quicker diagnosis.

Please do not hesitate to contact me about any of the above, or if you have any concerns 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

Labour and Conservatives lose councillors in Stockport

The Chair of Disability Labour, Cllr Laura Booth, has resigned from Stockport Labour, citing a “culture of systematic bullying in the local Labour party”. Laura Booth was also the Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Hazel Grove, a position she has now stood down from.

Two other Labour councillors have been deselected by Stockport Labour Party and so will not be able to stand as Labour candidates next May: Paul Moss in Reddish and Brian Hendley in Davenport and Cale Green. This comes after a fourth councillor, Patrick McAuley, quit the Labour group less than two years ago.

Even though Paul Moss remains a Labour councillor, Reddish’s Labour MP Andrew Gwynne, along with his staff member Claire Francis, has taken the astonishing step of publicly branding him a “waste of space” on Twitter – they also dismiss Cllr Booth’s concerns about Labour’s behaviour.

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Tory councillor steps down

Sad news in Bramhall South and Woodford where newly elected Conservative councillor Anita Johnson has resigned the seat she first won in May, due to ill health – we wish Anita well.