Attended Stretford Neighbourhood Forum. Long presentation justifying the budget choices as representative of the citizens’ choices in the consultation. It still is a rather contrived argument, given the choices that were presented to the public. The public do not not like the council giving away £21m to the cricket ground and see through the protestation that the money is not the council’s. Given it’s a local authority owned field and it is being handed to Tesco, the money equivalent to the field’s value is most definitely the council’s. We may argue whether without the cricket club, Tesco could build such a large store, but the Conservative led planning committee ruled exactly that; that the Tesco was acceptable on its own merit. The Tories need to decide on one argument and stick to it as currently they’re all over the place on Tesco.
Residents were not happy with the money being spent on the new Town Hall extension – £29m. Again the Tories are all over the place; they’ve commissioned accommodation to meet the needs of 2009 and at the same time, embarking on changes that are radically altering the provision of public services. Ridiculous and in danger of becoming a ‘white elephant’.
My impression talking to residents after the consultation was that they were just bemused. They want the end of the ‘Your Trafford’ but are forced to choose between clean streets and care for the vulnerable.
Attended curiculum meeting at Barton Clough. It feels as though the transition to a new head has happened seamlessly.
I also visited the area around the Bishop’s Blaize as the crowd built up ahead of Man U v Villa. The clamping down on drinking in the street by the police seems to have created a much improved ambience in the area. I know this is difficult for the off-licences but I witnessed Villa fans mingling with Man U fans in a way that was unthinkable before the clamp down. I do make a point of visiting the area ahead of quite a few home games and this was the best I’d seen for behaviour. All the police I spoke to fully supported the clamp down. It may have created a bit of tension at first but now it’s established, things are much better.
Spent pretty much the whole day getting on top of emails. As a councillor I get about 300 emails a week, and although I’d responded to all those needing a response there were loads from the past fortnight still sitting in the in-trays. Now sorted!
Trafford Housing Trust have been running a review in conjunction with the council a review of sheltered housing in the borough. There have been a number of drivers for this review. Firstly, there’s a reduction in Supporting People funds from Government and the removal of any ringfence. Trafford Housing Trust have therefore consulted on the level of service that people require from their Sheltered Scheme and how they can maximise occupation of homes within a scheme. I attended the original consultation in the autumn at Clyne Court (nr Man U on Chester Rd). The residents there had been emphatic that they wanted the retention of the onsite scheme manager; they valued the scheme manager as a support and a vital cog in socialising. So there was a degree of worry that the review would recommend removing scheme managers to be replaced with a greater reliance on telecare. I therefore attended Clyne Court on Thursday to hear the initial conclusions of the review.
I’m pleased to say Trafford Housing Trust have taken account of the residents and they’re committed to keeping scheme managers. They acknowledge that funding is going to have to be addressed and this may ultimately mean higher charges within the schemes, and the review will consider this area. The residents were really pleased about the retention of the scheme manager and there was a clear sense of relief.
I have a particular attachment to Clyne Court. I did my A level politics at Clyne House on the same site when at North Trafford College. The lecturer was Paul Findlow , who for many years was Conservative leader of Cheshire Council. I’m proud to have resisted any attempt to make me a Conservative; actually that’s unfair, I think he was overwhelmingly outnumbered by left wing students. Clyne House was also used for the location for the 1951 film ‘Mandy‘. I digress…
As well as Clyne Court’s sheltered housing review, I attended the tail-end of Lostock Court’s similar meeting
In the evening it was ‘Budget Scrutiny’ in respect of Transformation and Resources, Economic Growth, and Environment. I’m not convinced by the scrutiny process. My overwhelming impression that a lot of the savings are really a matter of faith; renegotiation of contracts, less management. Trafford has been name checked a few times lately by the Conservative minister Grant Shapps. I hope he is not being premature because this is a budget based more on hope than expectation. And we are going to see huge reductions at community level.
Dave Acton, Barry Brotherton and myself met with Ian Duncan, Director of Finance at Trafford Town Hall.
Labour Constituency Meeting in Partington – really good meeting – we’re going to have to find some bigger rooms. We had a report from Partington Councillor John Smith on their horse problem. It’s increasingly a source of distress that horses are being left on playing fields and in one particular shocking case of neglect, simply left where they stand. Apparently, that horse was in a terrible state of health and it was simply left where it was rather than incur vet fees. It is one of those issues that at first seems eccentric but when you learn more, it clearly is a serious issue.
Surgery – no one came
I spent Sunday lobbying/canvassing support for my candidacy as Trafford Labour’s representative on the Greater Manchester Transport Authority.