A diary clash between Lostock Tenants and Resident’s Committee or Labour Group meeting saw me chosing the former. I learned at the meeting of the sad death of Steve Leathwaite. Steve has been a champion of the tenant’s voice. He was hugely influential in the stock transfer of council owned homes to Trafford Housing Trust and was appointed to the board of the trust from its inception. I later joined him on the board and immediately came to appreciate Steve’s insight and integrity. He was a giant of a man in all senses and he will be truly missed from the board.
He was a brilliant chair of the Lostock Partnership and inspirational in winning Lostock’s share of the Fairshare Grant. Steve always believed that you needed the Lostock community’s views on how the funds should be applied and his chairing was a model of encouraging everyone to take part. He took those skills on to the community panel and he will be irreplaceable there.
It was difficult to return to the business of the meeting but we also discussed the BioMass plant and winning the fight against closure at Lostock College.
Casework, emails and progressing with the marked register upload. I also released the Labour press notice about the ill-conceived consultation on removing the subsidy for care from those who have more than £50,000 in capital. Whilst the initiative might appear to be targetting the better-off, it’s hitting those that have saved or received compensation. It is another vile and heartless cut from Conservatives, the party that sees fit to charge the taxpayer for a cabinet photographer to take flattering snaps for photoshopping into airbrushed propaganda. No surprises there since locally the Tories will make any cut except to their monthly Councillor Coupe gallery (Trafford Today).
Meetings at Town Hall. Firstly with officers from Environment on Air Quality monitoring. As anticipated Trafford’s air quality is less than perfect. The main polluter in terms of NOx and particulates (the biggest concerns in Trafford) is road transport. Our hotspots are along the motorways and there is genuine cause for concern.
Hearing that the only route to reducing our main source of pollution is through a decrease in road use took me back to the congestion charge….
I’m resigned to the fact that congestion charge was resoundingly rejected by the Manchester public. There’s no point in pretending that there’s any possibility it could make a comeback. Locally I was in the minority of my own party in eventually concluding that, although deeply flawed in design, I supported the charge more than I supported the status quo.
But I can’t help wistfully thinking what might have been. Certainly the evidence suggests we will live shorter lives as a consequence of our over reliance on polluting car use. And more than ever, Manchester needs a world class public transport system if it’s going to secure the growth we require of it. My Labour Government failed to deliver anything like the progress we needed. And the Conservatives were the ones who wrecked it in the first place!
Peel’s BioMass plant seems destined to be throwing particulates and NO2 into the air in a locality already subject to concentrations close to permitted levels (around the M60). We will have to see how their dispersion modelling copes with this when the planning application arrives.
The second meeting with officers was in respect of the residential area adjacent to Old Trafford Football ground. The plastic urinals are being used and are helping to divert supporters from using doorways and gardens. It’s sad though that they are needed and I believe United and the council can do more to engender a spirit of respect to this area. As we’ve stated on the website, those houses and United have been together for a century and I believe we should use that fact to make the area part of the United heritage. I’ve suggested that the council look at ways such as street sign branding, endorsement from players and programme promotions to get across the message that what supporters do to the residents’ properties, they are doing to United. Officers seemed open to this suggestion and will look to taking it to the club to look at consulting with residents and others to how they take this forward.
And in the evening I went to the Manchester Derby. If both sides carry on playing like that, there will be no supporters to worry about.
I went to the planning meeting as the United Supporters Club was on the agenda. It looks to be an exciting design and I look forward to seeing it progress. (being a blue will mean I’m probably barred, but it’s still a wonderfully creative piece of architecture in a very demanding setting).
By coincidence, City were also up before Trafford’s planning and were allowed to keep the training developments they’d built without permission but not without 15mins of chastisements. Planning also spent 15 minutes on the survival of a garden hedge. Fair enough, but the bit of the hedge in question was not under threat and nobody had applied for any sort of condition being attached to it.
The planning committee also managed to have a major development at Barton nodded through without any discussion.
Monthly meeting of the Constituency Labour Party which I chaired in the absence of the official chair of the CLP. Good discussion regarding the cuts and Labour’s approach to them. We felt the party was too timid in the message it was putting across and really needed to use the opportunity to take on the inequalities that existed in Britain where the landed gentry still owned most of the country. I put forward the argument that we should give real consideration to the proposals of Professor Philo (see Guardian Summary) who reasoned that since the top 10% of the country possessed nearly 50% of the wealth, we shouldn’t be forcing the bottom half (who possess just 9% ) to make the sacrifices in taxes, benefits and services. A one-off tax of just 20% on the estates of these super-rich could pay off the national debt, never mind the deficit. And we’ve all seen and understood the benefits of a more equal society.
When people like Peter Mandelson can say “Haven’t the rich suffered enough”, you are forced to point out that the 20% tax on super rich estates would leave no Duke cold, no Earl hungry, no Duchess without their luxury holidays and yachts, no billionaire will be unable to buy christmas presents for their children. If we’re all in this together, then that shouldn’t be an empty slogan. But doing it this way also means we can focus on putting growth into the economy and getting the needed investment in our infrastructure that’s so badly needed.
Visit to the Lostock College open day (see previous post)
SundayRemembrance Service at Stretford Cenotaph. Really solid turnout and a moving ceremony. An unexpected bonus was a spur of the moment invite from the acting OC at 207 Field Hospital. These are volunteer medics and doctors from Manchester hospitals who do the most inspiring service with our operational troops, treating servicemen and civilians. Incredible people. Humbling