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What a difference a decade makes – the local news in 2004

by Iain Roberts on 16 December, 2014

Clearing out my loft this week I came across a copy of the Stockport Times East from 29th July 2004 – just over a decade ago. It makes interesting reading!

Front page of the Stockport Times East from 29th July 2004

Front page of the Stockport Times East from 29th July 2004

  • The main story is “Armed girl gang lay in wait for female victims” – the gang robbed two other girls at knifepoint in Bredbury.
  • Armed robber at travel agency on p2 – gun-wielding robbers burst into Lunn Poly in Hazel Grove
  • An article about the Council and Police launching the “Safer Night project” (featuring Cllr Mark Weldon (LD)) lists the top six nightspots in Stockport as Heaven & Hell nightclub, the Bamboo Club, Bambooza, Brannigans, Kelly’s Nightclub and Stockport College Students Union. How many of those are still with us?
  • Cllr Hazel Lees (LD), then Stockport Council’s environment spokesman launched a campaign against fly-posting
  • Stockport failed in its attempt to get a Virgin train named after the town when all the Class 57 locomotives were named after characters from Thunderbirds.
  • The Stockport Express and Times launched a campaign to save Metrolink after Transport Secretary Alistair Darling scrapped plans for the Metrolink extensions to East Didsbury, Manchester Airport and Rochdale/Oldham. Cllr Sue Derbyshire (LD), Executive member for infrastructure, was first to sign the Stockport Express petition calling for a rethink while Stockport MP Ann Coffey (Lab) defended the decision in the light of rising costs for the project. Without the East Didsbury line, it was noted, there was no chance of a planned extension into Stockport.
  • Stockport Council leader Mark Hunter  (LD) said Stockport would become one of the first boroughs in the country to ban smoking from public buildings, offices, workshops, waiting rooms, receptions and service vehicles. “My personal view is employees and members of the public have a right not to breathe in other peoples’ tobacco smoke in our buildings,” he said.
  • Stockport’s Mayor, Cllr Michael Wilson, collected a cheque for £7,497 as Stockport came third in the Race to Recycle awards for Greater Manchester, collecting “a massive 7,690 tons of paper”. The Mayor noted that Stockport’s recycling rate had almost doubled over the previous year from 13% to 24.9% (in 2014 it’s over 60%).
  • A very young-looking Cllr Dave Goddard (LD) attacked the Labour Government over the axing of the Metrolink extension – and asks when John Prescott is going to make his decision on Stockport’s Ikea.
  • 200 jobs to be created as the new Tesco store being built at Tiviot Way nears completion
  • Cllr Les Jones (Con) attacked the Labour government over regional assemblies, education and NHS bureaucrats.
  • The letters page included presumably an ongoing argument about Cllr Paul Bellis (Con)’s views on Halliday Farm – the ancestral home of the Dodge family, someone opposing the SEMMMs link road, someone else opposing bus lanes, a complainant about the amount of litter by St. Peter’s Chuch and one author who claims “…don’t expect to see any otters. They have moved to a safe house in Wigan under armed police protection because they feel (quite rightly I think) that Stockport Council is trying to kill them.” No idea what that one was about, but the person in question is still a regular letter-writer to the local paper.

Where are they now?

Paul Bellis, Hazel Lees and Mike Wilson are still on the council. Dave Goddard went onto lead Stockport Council and has recently become Lord Goddard of Stockport, in addition to remaining a councillor in Offerton. Les Jones was Mayor a couple of years ago before stepping down from the council. Sue Derbyshire has been leader since 2012. Mark Hunter stepped down from Stockport Council in 2005 when he became MP for Cheadle following the death of Patsy Calton. Ann Coffey remains MP for Stockport. Mark Weldon narrowly lost his seat in 2014 having served as Deputy Leader. As to where any of the armed robbers are – I have no idea.

   14 Comments

14 Responses

  1. Robert Taggart says:

    Stocky – still as grim as ever – twas ever thus !

  2. Bruce Thwaite says:

    My council tax since then has gone up around a third – and that includes three years of zero rise.

  3. Iain says:

    True Bruce – council tax rose sharply across the country under Labour (though the real increase is a lot less, taking into account inflation of course). Governments have cut funding to local councils so we have to raise a higher proportion of our funding from council tax, even though we spend less now.

    • Mark McIntyre says:

      Try spending less !
      LieDim = Liebore = Wolves in Sheeps clothing !

      • Iain Roberts says:

        Er, yes Mark. Silly insults aside, Stockport’s cut its spending by over £50 million since 2010 with cuts of a further £60 million in the next few years. I tend to find people who say “just spend less” go a bit quiet when I ask them for ideas – they normally come up with things that might save a few hundred thousand at most, not the tens of millions we need to find simply to keep council tax at current levels.

        Of course, you may be different. If you have any specific proposals that would save tens of millions then please do say.

        • bruce says:

          As I have said on many occasions you could reduce the number of councillors to two per area. And blaming Labour for the huge increases is a cop out – Libdems always blame the others – it is always someone else’s fault – never theirs

          • Iain Roberts says:

            Bruce – I’m not blaming anyone. I’m stating the fact that although Stockport is the lowest-spending borough in Greater Manchester, because we get less money from Government than the others, we’ve had to increase council tax in past years to make up the difference.

            Your suggestion of going to two councillors per ward is a good example of what I was talking about before: it would cost more than it saved but even if the cost was zero (which it isn’t) and it could be done immediately (which it can’t) it would save no more than £200,000 a year – not a big chunk out of the £60 million annual savings we’ve got to find just to keep council tax where it is now. Where would you like the other £59,800,000 to come from?

          • Bruce Thwaite says:

            200,000 is better than nothing so why not do it Iain?
            How about reducing the number if issues of the Civic Review to two?. Years ago I asked (Dave Goddard?) to reduce the number of issues to 3/4 and he totally dismissed my suggestion.

            There are two ideas.

  4. Iain Roberts says:

    As I mentioned above Bruce, the main reason not to do it is that it would cost more than it saves.

    The Civic Review (again, very small amounts of money compared to the £60 million we’ve got to find) has already been cut back and will continue to be as alternative ways to communicate with residents such as online and with targeted newsletters become more viable. In fact, the Council’s cut its communications budget by hundreds of thousands over the last few years.

    These are of course the sort of ideas that come up time and again, and where they make sense and genuinely save money without damaging the council’s objectives we do them.

  5. Mark McIntyre says:

    CUT THE COUNCILLORS !
    Never mind by the one that BT suggests – try by TWO ! – one seat = one councillor = simples !!

    • Iain Roberts says:

      Can I refer you to my earlier point, Mark. I know it must all seem very simple but as your suggestion would actually cost Stockport council tax payers money and not contribute a penny to the tens of millions we need to save, I hope you’ll appreciate that I don’t feel it solves the problem.

      If you have an ideas that would save money rather than costing it, please do let me know.

      • Mark McIntyre says:

        RE: your other point …
        On that basis our idea would save £400K per annum.
        Not much ? – NOT ENOUGH, but, WHAT A START !

        • Iain Roberts says:

          Mark – as I explained previously, changing the number of councillors would take several years (due to the legal obligations around it) and cost a good deal more than £400k so no it isn’t enough and it isn’t a start! Let’s not even get onto the entirely obvious question of whether 21 councillors could do the same job as 63 councillors – something you could only answer by understanding everything councillors do.

          • Mark McIntyre says:

            A ‘friend’ of ours said you would say that !
            This ‘friend’ also said you once had to correct your error !!

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