Weekly Update 21st March 2011

Of nuclear power, global intervention and the Mayor’s Civic Reception


It happens to the best of us. A diary malfunction led to me missing Friends of Lostock Park AGM. I originally wasn’t going to be able to make it due to a group meeting, but I failed to put it back in the diary when the group meeting was cancelled. Humble apologies and are required. The Friends of Lostock Park have been hugely successful in sprucing up the park and bringing in much needed enhanced facilities. I’m led to believe that winter has been cruel to the hugely successful skateboard bowl and it’s in need of some tender care, I will progrees with Groundforce Officers.

Like most people I’ve been so shocked and saddened by the events in Japan and Libya. It’s impossible not to be in awa of the nuclear workers fighting the potenential meltdown of reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. The amount of radiation they’re knowingly subjecting themselves to is a heroic sacrifice. The disaster has led many to re-evaluate the benefits of nuclear power. This is not an easy time to support it. Nevertheless despite all that’s happened, I do still support the use of nuclear energy generation. As a country we have to meet our energy needs and I’m not convinced we can do this without nuclear power stations contributing to that power generation. We should continue to explore Green Energy generation where we can and I’ve never bought into the idea that windfarms despoil our landscape. No doubt the Dutch intelligentsia protested about windmills ruining the views over Holland in the 17th Century. The landscape changes with time and I for one think windfarms enhance the skyline. And I am much more concerned by the emissions from incinerators and coal fired power stations than I am by nuclear power. Clearly building on a seismic fault line is problematic but we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that our reliance on coal, gas and oil also puts many workers at risk and probably more so.

I’m far less sanguine over Libya and I’m extremely reluctant to put British servicemen into another conflict. If we do have to play a part, it should only to avert immediate slaughter. I am far from optimistic that our intervention will be of long term benefit. It’s far too easy to believe that we can fix every nation’s problems. Too often we make things worse.


Overview and Scrutiny Core Committee

Just two substantial items on the agenda.

  • Update on the Temporary Closure of the Walk-in Centre at Trafford General Hospital
  • Trafford Healthcare Trust’s Acquistion Project

The Walk-in centre is a ‘no appointment necessary’ GP practice based at Trafford General Hospital. In December it proved necessary to close the centre due to the accommodation being insufficient to cope with the huge demand. The Chief Executive of Trafford’s Primary Care Trust, Graham Wallis and Medical Director, Dr George Kissen subjected themselves to the committee’s enquiry into how this happened. Clearly this is not the most glorious episode in the trust’s history and to be fair the third party in this story is the Heathcare Trust as the effective landlord of the Walk-in Centre was not called upon to explain the situation.

It was clear that lessons had been learned. I sensed that the lessons I took from the review were different from my colleagues on the committee. It’s clear to me that there is demand for immediate access to a GP and people are prepared sometimes to travel across Trafford to get that access. But nevertheless the nearer one was to the Walk-in Centre, the more likely one was going to use it. There’s two ways of looking at this, either people further away were being denied the service and were reluctantly choosing to put up with pain or worry and wait for an appointment with their own GP rather than travel to Trafford General, or those close to the service were casually choosing to use it. I tend primarily to the first explanation; and that there’s a real need for better access locally. We still haven’t reached a position where access to a GP is easy, convenient and where necessary, immediate. I believe tha fact that those close to Trafford General Hospital were using the Walk-in Centre in such numbers, suggests that as well as ensuring the accommodation is appropriate, we should be committed to getting better access throughout Trafford

The Acquisition Project continues to be a source of unavoidable concern. We know that the three trusts being looked at to effectively take over Trafford are Central Manchester University Hospitals (which runs the MRI), University Hospital of South Manchester (which runs Wythenshawe) and Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust (Hope Hospital). We did receive assurance that there’s no question of splitting Trafford Healthcare Trust up so Trafford General goes one way and Altrincham General goes another. Trafford describes it as an ‘As is’ package. It’s not ideal and whilst the Trust has gone to great lengths to keep providers and patient groups involved, we’re definitely into uncertain times. I’m reluctant to enter into any ‘Save our Trust’ campaign at this stage as there would be definite advantages in being part of a bigger entity; better quality recruitment plus economies of scale. But we’re into the unknown and we need to keep a close scrutiny of the progress.


Spent all day at a training course designed at helping councillors in their work with the community. I’ve still got four more units to go through so we’ll see how it goes.


Agh!! My computer has died… This is really slowing me down


Computer problems continue… But attended policy Committee of Greater Manchester Transport Authority. The authority members have been inundated with complaints over Metrolink’s decision to provide a crossing with steps for users of the Trans Pennine Trail. The Trail continues from Merseyside to Hull to provide a long distance recreational cycling route and we place a bridge with steps. We’re expecting a report from Metrolink next week but the issue will prove a test of how accountable or not Metrolink is to the authority and users within Greater Manchester. Interestingly, the development is not subject to planning permission as it is of strategic merit. I’m sure it was never the intention of Government that this meant the needs of residents could be completely ignored for the financial good of ‘the project’. It is one thing to say we need to get these large projects delivered without years of delay, it is another to say that means developers can ignore all other considerations.

In the evening I attended the a civic reception hosted by Ken Weston, Mayor of Trafford. Ken has grown into the role. He’s clearly enjoyed the experience and all credit to him. It looks exhausting. I can also think of a thousand other reasons why you’ll never catch me wanting to be mayor. Each to their own. We’re all different; there’s some that love every minute of being mayor but I’d rather avoid it completely.





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