Sunday, 18 May 2008

Sun, sweat and tears

Manchester City Centre was full of people again today with 31,000 people taking part in the 2008 Great Manchester Run. There were at least three times as many people cheering the runners on with spectators lining the route all the way to Old Trafford and back. The sun shine capital of Britain was back to its best and the image shown on TV will be exactly want we want. £s and £s will have been raised for dozens of good causes and lots of people will have had a lovely day in Manchester. The photographs show evidence of me starting, and if you look carefully at the right of the second photo, finishing. I beat my 50 minute target by miles, finishing in under 44 minutes, and am already being challenged to do even better next year.

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Back to basics

I'm on a bit of a roll now but let's get back to Crumpsall and Blackley Village. Con Keegan and I joined in with two community events today. The first was a litter pick, clean up, and planting session organised with Parkhill and Cleveland Residents' Association and the first picture shows Con apparently doing some work as that's a bag of compost you can just see in his hand. The second event was a community event at St.Peter's Church in the village and Con is seen here in a a slightly more formal pose with the Chair of Blackley Village Residents' Association. These residents groups are part of the life blood of our area and if you live in these neighbourhoods please give them your support. In particular, if yiy live in the parkhill/Cleveland neighbourhood, their next meeting is on Monday night at 7pm at Crumpsall Methodist Church. I'm not in either picture because someone had to work the camera.

The Great Manchester Run

Hopefully I will have a photo to go with this tomorrow after I have completed the 10k of the Great Manchester Run. I'm raising money for St.Anne's Hospice, Cheadle, The JohnEastwood Hospice Trust, and the Christie's Appeal ( cheques please to Richard Leese via the Leader's office at the Town Hall ) and am aiming to finish inside 50 minutes. I have been training reasonably seriously but still please wish me luck!

Big screens and Parades

It would be difficult to get away without mentioning the events of last week. Most of what I would want to say is covered by my blog on the Manchester City Council website and I'm not going to repeat anything from that. What has come up since my last posting there is the row over a victory parade for Manchester United if they win in Moscow on Wednesday which even I as a bitter blue hope they do. So the record is straight, Manchester City Council has not made a decision cancelling a parade and we were not party to a press statement made on this matter yesterday by Greater Manchester Police. The Council did not consent to or approve that statement and we have received an apology from the Acting Head of Communications at GMP.

Thank you Crumpsall and Blackley Village !

This is my first post-election entry, although I am going to do a bit of catching up today, and my first task is to thank the Crumpsall electorate for re-electing me with a really healthy majority. I hope this reflects the work I, Con, and Jon have been doing in conjunction with local commmunities to make Crumpsall and Blackley Village a better place. Of course winning the election is where the work starts and we pledge to continue striving to make sure our area is one we can be proud of.

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Mistakes,strength and weakness

This blog has tended to concentrate on news rather than opinion but I'm going to make an exception for the 10p tax issue. Clearly the government has made a BIG mistake. With over twenty years experience as a City Councillor I know that the only way you can avoid making mistakes is by doing nothing. Indeed to get this city of ours back on the road to greatness has meant taking a few risks and not every one of them has come off.
It's also true that not many people, including Prime Ministers, like owning up to making mistakes- do you - and so it's not surprising that it took a fair bit of pressure to get Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling to accept that they had made a mistake.
The big question for any mistake is what you do about, in this case what government does to make sure nobody on a low income is financially penalised by the abolition of the 10p tax rate. We will all wait with interest to see what proposals the Chancellor comes back with. However, having admitted a mistake, if it is then properly rectified that is a sign of strength, not weakness.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

St.George's Day

St.George's Day today and I'm delighted that Manchester City Council was one of the first councils, if not the first, to give it official recognition
by supporting the community organised St. George's Day parade, now in its 4th increasingly successful year. This year was a rather wet affair and Queen Victoria's [ Thelma - one of the key organisers ] crinolines have only just dried out in time for the St.George's day tea dance being held this afternoon in the Great Hall at Manchester Town Hall. Even in the rain there was a tremendous turn out of floats and of spectators. A great day! The parade is also a great example of Manchester's diverse communities coming together and special mention for the organisers of the St.Patrick's day parade for their assistance . St.George is also the patron saint of Catalonia but we will have to wait and see whether it will be the Mancunion reds of England or the Barcelonans of Catalonia celebrating tonight.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Hospital Radio Offers Big Break to New Talent

Crumpsall Carnival time is rapidly approaching and with it the now regular Northern Air 2008 Talent competition. Top prize is a studio recording session along with topping the bill at the Carnival . Entries are by demos [ cd or tape ] to programme controller Dave Beedie at " Talent Contest ", 51 Crumpsall Lane, Manchester M8 4ED with a closing date of Saturday 31st May. The contest itself is on Saturday 14th June, as always, at the Cleveland Hotel.

For those that were there the photos are a reminder of last years event, and for those who weren't a little taste of the fantastic atmosphere. Nothing to do with me being a judge [ on the left in the Judges Panel picture ].

Monday, 21 April 2008

Chemist Success

A short follow up to the post a couple of weeks ago on the proposed pharmacy for Blackley Village. I said then that a decision was expected in two weeks. It's arrived right on time and it's good news for the village as it has been approved. There are 30 days in which objectors can appeal against the decision but hopefully they won't and if they do I'm sure they won't be successful. There is still a long way to go before we actually get a chemist in the village but at least we're on our way!

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Making Crumpsall Safer !

Yesterday saw the quarterly meeting of the Crumpsall Neighbourhood Partnership Meeting . This used to be called the local action partnership and is when the police, the Council's community safety co-ordinator, ward councillors, other relevant council departments, public agencies, and representatives of tenants and residents associations in the area, get together to get a report back from the police about their performance over the last three months and to discuss what the priorities should be for the next three months. Although it has its moments, Crumpsall is lucky in that it is not a high crime area, but it could still be lot better. One thing that has made a difference is neighbourhood policing, with a designated police constable and designated police community support officers for each part of Crumpsall and Blackley Village. Although things are improving one of my biggest bug bears is people who complain about but don't report crime. The police not surprisingly allocate resources on the basis of the crimes they have on their records so no reports means no resources. I know all the frustrations of trying to get through to GMP's switchboard and the frustrations with what is often seen as a lack of or a poor response. But whatever the frustrations, reporting crime does make a difference, and the police and other agencies do need our help and support if we are going to continue to make Crumpsall and Blackley Village safer.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Eco Store for Crumpsall

Nice for a change to have an entry about a planning application that I am supporting, on this occasion an application from Tesco to turn their store currently under construction on Arlington Street into what they term an Eco Store, indeed their first Eco Store. Now I know Tesco isn't everybody's favourite brand because of their market dominance, but this store is needed even more now given the imminent closure of Somerfield, and it will provide local shopping without the inflated prices other supermarkets have used their monopoly position to impose. The Eco Store has lots of innovative features but the bottom line is that it should consume at least 50% less Carbon than previous stores and will include one-stop recycling facilities for paper, cardboard, carrier bags, glass, plastic and metal.

Monday, 7 April 2008

A Chemist for Blackley Village ?

Not at first glance a very Blackley Village picture taken outside Manchester Primary Care Trust's headquarters in Chorlton but I was there with members of Blackley Village Residents Association to support an application for a new pharmacy in the village. Councillors have been working with BVRA and the City Council's North Manchester Regen officers to bring a village feel back into Blackley Village and a key element of that is bringing back local retailers and local services. Currently, unless you have a car, it is a long, steep uphill walk to get to a chemist , and with a growing population in and adjacent to the village, I believe it can have its own pharmacy without damaging others in nearby areas. We should know whether or not we have been successful in around two weeks, but this could be a major step in the regeneration of Blackley Village.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Glorious Mud in Herristone Park

Delighted to see lots of Friends of Herristone Park out on Sunday working away with the help of Leisure Services staff to further improve the look of the park. The photograph only shows a small sample of the dozens of helpers and yes I did actually use the spade. The planting at the top end of the park was completed but work on a proposed wild flower bank further down had to be abandoned for the day as rain turned the ground we were digging into squelchy mud. Went home for my wellies for that and am lucky they're not still stuck in the mud and clay. Thankyou to all the residents and Council staff who turned out for a great community afternoon.

Monday, 31 March 2008

More planning problems

A couple of weeks ago I reported on dreadful proposals for housing overdevelopment on Wilton Road. Thankfully those proposals were thrown out by the Planning Committee but at tonight's surgery I was met with a delegation from the other end of Wilton Road, or Bank Road and Cliffdale Drive to be more precise, up in arms at a proposed car wash behind the Cleve. Residents are rightly concerned about increased traffic, noise, lighting in winter, and a business entirely inappropriate for and out of character with this residential location. I will be adding my objection to those of the residents and hopefully we will get the same result as at the other end of the road.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Michael Todd, Chief Constable

Michael Todd
We are all stunned at the tragic news of Mike Todd's death. I do not wish to and will not add to the speculation about the causes of this awful tragedy but rather pay my respects and those of Crumpsall's councillors to a man who served us well, transforming Greater Manchester Police since he arrived in 2002 to a force to be reckoned with, delivering neighbourhood policing and reducing crime. He led with energy and enthusiasm and he led by example. He will be sorely missed by his family and his colleagues and my thoughts are with them as we mourn his passing. The Council's Executive Committee honoured Mike this morning with a minutes silence, a small token for an enormous loss.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Planning threat to Wilton Road

Residents of Wilton Road and Bowker Bank Avenue are up in arms at appalling proposals from developer Wainhomes' proposal to demolish 33 Wilton Road and cover the site with as many poorly designed, out-of-character houses as possible. I'm joined outside the house by local resident Joan Milgate who with other neighbours has helped organise opposition to this dreadful plan and has made sure that local residents not consulted directly by the planners know about it. The house types proposed would not fit in at all with the surrounding area and some local residents would have three storey houses built right up to the back of their properties. I have put in a fierce objection to the city planners and hope that when it comes before the Planning Committee this Thursday it will be roundly rejected.

Monday, 10 March 2008

How daft can you get?

Lovely weather for the St.Patrick's Day parade yesterday, earlier than usual because of early Easter, but as always starting off the growing season of festivals reflecting Manchester's rich diversity. Reckon I deserved the pint of Guinness after walking to Albert Square from Crumpsall, joining the enormous parade on Cheetham Hill Road. The silly hat was courtesy of festival co-chair Esther Dolan. The other co-chair, JohnFlanagan, walked the parade accompanied by a silly dog [ depending on your view of Irish Wolfhounds ] and the parade was led by Lord Mayor Glynn Evans in another silly hat but one that goes with the job. There was a fantastic turn out to watch the parade and Albert Square was heaving, especially the little bit of it I'm standing in for this picture. The next big parade is of course St.George's day and I hope the weather is just as good for that.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Recycling - how can we do it better

What a lovely picture of me with a load of rubbish at the Council's Longley Lane depot. I was there to launch a three month Council consultation on what you think we should do to improve recycling in Manchester. The last few years have already since massive improvements in recycling from a miserable 3% to now over 20% but we could do much better. As I go round the ward talking to people and when I attend residents' meetings, recycling is one of the issues most raised . If we are going to recycle more then we have to have recycling services tailored to residents' requirements and that is what this consultation is all about. You can join in by using freephone number 0800 995 1911 ( and be entered into a £500 prize draw ) or by logging on to the Council's website

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Time up for bad landlords

Private landlords are not all bad. There are excellent landlords in Crumpsall providing a first-rate service to their tenants and contributing to making Crumpsall a good place to live.But when landlords are bad the impact they have can be nothing short of disastrous not only for their tenants but also for residents in adjacent properties, and unfortunately Crumpsall also has its share of appalling private landlords. The City Council has campaigned for years for more powers to tackle this problem and has had a small success in gaining powers to introduce selective licensing of private landlords in certain parts of the city. Crumpsall was originally intended to be in phase 3 of selective licensing but today, the City Council's Executive agreed to merge phase 2 with phase 3, put more resources into it, and with a bit of luck have selective licensing in place in Crumpsall by the end of the year. This should cause no problem for the many good landlords but hopefully spell the end for the rogues !

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Don't tar us all with the same brush

Once again the reputations of politicians are being dragged through the mud because of the actions of a small number of MPs abusing the system to favour members of their families. I am sure this is infuriating for the vast majority of MPs who's conduct is entirely proper, but it is even more infuriating for Councillors because our reputations are damaged too for something that just couldn't happen in local government. For one thing, any support staff for Councillors [ and we don't have a lot ] are employed by the Council itself, not by individual Councillors. For a second, Councillors have to publicly declare any close relative employed anywhere in the Council, and would have to exclude themself from any appointment for which a relative or close friend was a candidate. The problem is not with politicians in general, but with parliament which still runs itself like a Victorian gentlemens' club rather than as a modern legislature . No wonder that not only do we get scandal after scandal but whichever party is in power we get poor scrutiny of the Executive and poor scrutiny of legislation. What this country needs is fundamental reform of parliament to give us transparent and democratic government fit for the 21st century.

Monday, 28 January 2008

More Neighbourhood Policing on the way

The creation of 104 Police Officer posts ring fenced to neighbourhood policing in priority neighbourhoods is the big headline out of the budget for Greater Manchester Police I proposed at last Friday's meeting of AGMA [the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities ]. For the last few years I've had the job, with a couple of colleagues from other local authorities, of scrutinising GMP's budget proposals and making recommendations to AGMA.This year I was delighted to get support for a proposal that will not only get more police officers on the streets of Greater Manchester but will also see additional investment in tackling drug dealing, in witness protection, in tackling sales of alcohol to juveniles, and in gathering the forensic evidence to bring more cases successfully to court. Every year our citizens' survey identifies crime and anti-social behaviour as the biggest issue in the city though in most categories of crimes the numbers have been going down over the last few years. Even so, I'm sure that everyone will welcome this extra investment in making our communities safer .

Monday, 21 January 2008

Crumpsall - on the up ?

Long-standing Crumpsall and Blackley Village residents like myself ( 29 years now ) will have seen many changes over that period of time with a fair few ups and downs for the area. We will all have our own opinions but it is useful to get an objective, external measure of what is happening to where we live. Just before Christmas, the government published its Index of Multiple Deprivation. This divides every Council Ward in England into smaller units called super output areas ( SOAs ) and then compares them all to each other looking at income, employment, health, education, housing, crime and the living environment. The previous time when this was done in 2004, half the SOAs in Crumpsall and Blackley were assessed as being in the 5% most deprived in the country. Now, 3 years later, none of our SOAs are in the worst 5%, all of them have improved, and one has risen 2750 places up the national table. So on the things that really count for quality of life, compared to the rest of England, Crumpsall and Blackley Village really are on the up !

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Crumpsall Labour Blog's New Year's Resolutions

Two resolutions from Richard Leese . The first which will be very difficult to deliver on is to get his colleague Con keegan to learn how to do postings and get him to do at least one posting on the blog , although having said that we might also need to send Jon-Leigh Pritchard on a re-training course ! The second and more important resolution is to make sure the blog is used regularly to keep you up to date on your Councillors, the Labour Party and Crumpsall and Blackley Village so log-on to this space and it won't be an empty one !