Your top issues and what we’re doing about them

by Iain Roberts on 10 September, 2017

The Lib Dem team run regular residents’ surveys where we ask what you would like your councillors to be working on. Some of the problems are really big, tough ones. Some are outside our direct control. Others we can act on more easily. But all of them we try and find a way to do something about.

Here are the top issues you raised in our 2017 survey – in order of how many people raised them.

Crime, anti-social behaviour and policing

You’re concerned about crime and the policing issues. Although we don’t directly control the Police, we look to work with them where we can, and to campaign on issues – like the problem getting through on the 101 non-emergency number. Greater Manchester Police is funded by the Government and run by Mayor Andy Burnham.

Our recent work includes

  • Passing on information between residents at the Police to make sure everyone knows what’s going on
  • Passing intelligence to the Police
  • Campaigning against the Conservative cuts to policing that we believe have gone much too far – as we can see from the lack of officers on the ground and the problems getting through on 101
  • Looking for new ways councillors and the local community can work with the Police to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour
  • Publicising the best ways for residents to help the Police catch people on illegal off-road motorbikes
  • Liaising with the council over recent issues where travellers have broken onto public land, and keeping residents informed.

Pavement and road repairs

When most councils around the country were looking at managed decline, the Lib Dems in Stockport created a £100 million investment programme over nine years to properly repair all the bad roads and pavements in the borough. The work is now in its third year so a lot of work has been done, but well over half the repairs are still to come.

“You only have to walk around some of the residential areas in Manchester to see the difference,” said Iain.

Traffic

We live in an area that’s economically successful with low unemployment. But that means lots of people travelling around – to work, to the shops and to leisure activities. There’s only so many roads we can build – there’s little space left to build more. So new roads is one part of the answer to the traffic issues, but getting more people using public transport, walking and cycling has to be part of it too. To do that, we need better bus services, trains, trams, cycle facilities and pavements.

“Just a few days ago I attended a workshop with senior people from Highways England and Network Rail,” says Iain. “We need to ensure they are working with us to get people around Greater Manchester, not just looking at the big projects to move people between the cities.”

Former Tatton cinema

No list would be complete without it! The Tatton has been vacant since 2001. It’s a private site, so there are no easy solutions but we carry on working on it, speaking to the owners and the council about what can be done.

There is a planning application that we are told is near approval to have a Co-op store and 36 apartments on the site. We think that’s a decent use for the site and we want to see it happen. If it stalls for any reason, we’ll be putting pressure on the council to move ahead with the Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) that the Lib Dems got put in place.

“The Tatton has been a blight on Gatley for far too long,” said Iain. “We want to see it sorted and we’re doing all we can to make it happen.”

Parking

You’ve raised a number of issues around parking, including the lack of parking in Gatley village centre, the villages trying to compete against Cheadle Royal and others, pavement parking, inconsiderate parking around schools and the roads around the village centres and Gatley railway station getting jammed with parked cars.

We work to improve the situation where we can. On many roads that means putting down double yellow lines to ensure that parking is safe and people don’t get blocked in. We made long-stay parking in Cheadle more expensive which means there are more spaces for shoppers.

But there’s only so many parking spaces available, so just like with traffic, if we want to improve parking we need to get more people to use bus, train, tram, bike or walking to get around.

Public transport

Public transport is important for everyone. If you want to use a bus, train or tram you want a good service. Public transport needs to improve so that some people who currently drive will find public transport a more convenient option. And if you want to stay in your car, you want other people to use public transport so you have fewer traffic jams and can find a parking space – so it’s still important to you for public transport to be improved.

We continue our long-running campaign to have a tram/train service from Stockport through Cheadle and Gatley (including a Cheadle station/tram stop). We also want a better bus service to connect Cheadle and Gatley to the tram at East Didsbury. There are a whole range of other public transport improvements across the wider area, from Oyster-style travel smart cards to a “Crossrail for the North” connecting our big cities that are also important.

NHS and Social Care

The Liberal Democrats have been leading the way in the campaign to protect our healthcare system. Nationally we are the only party to both promise an increase in funding and spell out how we’ll pay for it. Locally it was the Lib Dems who broke the story of the scandal where KPMG consultants on £1000 a day or more were brought in to tell Stepping Hill Hospital how to save money. They didn’t make the savings but took the cash anyway.

Stockport Lib Dems introduced the Stockport Together plan to make the best use of the money we have – a plan that now has the support of all parties across the council chamber.

Speeding

Speeding traffic remains a big issue here as everywhere else. We always look for ways to reduce speeding, but we admit that there’s no perfect solution.

Flashing speed signs do help, as do more speed limit signs, but there are always people who ignore them and the Police don’t have the resources to monitor smaller roads very often. Physical measures like speed humps and chicanes slow down traffic but people often don’t like them. (Whenever we survey local residents, we nearly always get a majority opposed to having speed humps or chicanes on their road).

As a last resort, residential roads can be blocked off to stop rat-running – with bollards in the middle or at one end. That works, but inconveniences local residents so people often don’t want it. We also have to be careful about just moving problems around instead of solving them.

Litter and Street Cleaning

We want to see our streets looking well-kept. You tell us that you think they are OK but could be better. We agree. We’ve worked hard to tackle graffiti with some success. We help out with community litter picks whenever we can. The councillors work to direct the council’s efforts to get specific problems sorted, as we’ve recently done around Massie Street car park.

We’re also very grateful to community groups like Cheadle Civic Society and Gatley Village Partnership, not to mentioned the community-minded individuals who help out.

We are looking for ways we can make the council’s money stretch further.

Our village centres

With the economy weakening post-Brexit, we are very aware of the pressure our village centres are under, and you’ve told us that you’re concerned too.

We work with Cheadle Village Partnership and Gatley Village Partnership on initiatives to help our local centres. We work to promote “shop local” initiatives and independent traders. In Cheadle we changed the parking charges in the car park to free up more parking for shoppers.

We know our villages will change as people’s shopping habits change. But we want to avoid too many hot-food takeaways (something we don’t have the power to do right now) and empty units and that’s an ongoing job.

Kingsway junction

Another perennial problem, the Kingsway junction is used by massively more vehicles than it was ever designed for. We can make small changes, but fundamentally the only long-term fixes are a bigger junction or fewer cars using it.

The Lib Dem approach has been to get improvements made wherever we can. The traffic people tell us that the effect of the improvements are that the queues are about the same as they were ten years ago, even though the traffic using the junction has increased significantly. You can judge whether you think that’s right!

Improvements include:

  • Left-turn filter from Gatley
  • Wider right-turn areas to improve visibility
  • Widening slip road from M60 onto A34 southbound (this has made that section of road much safer)
  • Intelligent traffic lights to vary the cycle to maximise throughput
  • CCTV camera overlooking the junction to allow TfGM staff to make manual adjustments to lights from city centre.
  • Lane changes on A34 Northbound to improve throughput and reduce weaving
  • Resurfacing A34 south of the junction

We’ve done a lot of work on the most common request – a right-turn filter light. The problem we always hit is that even a short right filter  would (according to the modelling that’s been done) significantly increase traffic queues on the A34 and the Highways Agency and TfGM both refuse to allow that.

Stockport is currently reviewing its transport plans for the next 20 years and the Lib Dems are working to ensure that the A34 and the Kingsway Junction feature in that list.

Education and schools

You are concerned about the state of education. We agree. The Conservative policy of taking responsibility for education away from local councils and giving more of it to private companies doesn’t seem to be working very well!

We are glad the Conservative plans to scrap free school meals were seen off, but there are some serious issues for our local area, including Gatley Primary’s expansion (the Government refused them funding) and proposals from the Laurus Trust to build a new primary and secondary school on the Cheadle College site.

Parks and green spaces

We are passionate about the need to preserve our parks and green spaces. We work to support Friends groups wherever possible and there is some amazing work done for Gatley Carrs, Walter Stansby, Hall Street Green, Cheadle Green, Brooklyn Crescent Park and others.

But our green spaces are under pressure from development and from lack of funding. We are very concerned that Labour, who run Stockport Council, turned down our request to make Gatley Carrs a “Field in Trust” which would protect it from future development.

 

 

   16 Comments

16 Responses

  1. John Hartley says:

    Regarding the Kingsway right turn filter, I make the same point as on previous occasions it’s been mentioned – that there has not been comprehensive modelling.

    During the last exercise, the “double right turn filter” (a filter for both directions, which is what folk want) was not modelled. If the filter time is taken from the east/west route, as it should be, then the traffic flow on the A34 is completely unaffected and it is a nonsense for the Highways Authoirty and TfGM to suggets that it would be.

    • Iain Roberts says:

      It’s a good point John, and one we put to them at the time.

      The double-filter option wasn’t done because, they said, it wouldn’t meet safety standards. I didn’t quite understand that, but to be fair I’m not a traffic engineer.

      As for taking the time off the East-West movement there was a better reason for that. That would, of course, result in longer queues backing into Cheadle and Gatley for cars waiting to turn left or go straight on. Those queues would quickly get long enough that they’d stop new cars getting into the right-turn lanes so not only would most Cheadle/Gatley drivers end up queueing longer, it might not even speed things up for right-turners.

  2. John Hartley says:

    Iain

    As you note, it doesnt really make sense that the “double filter” isnt safe. That is, in effect, what we have now – except that the turns are not protected by a filter light.

    As for taking a few seconds off the east/west times, let’s have it properly modelled. I would have thought it would actively aid the right turning cars, hence also speeding up the the straight on and left turning vehicles.

    Please push then to try it for a few weeks and see what actually happens.

  3. Jonathan says:

    The Kingsway junction is terrible at the best of times but has got a lot worse in the early hours of the morning, more often than not sounding like a drag race is taking place there. The three lane traffic signals leading to the M60 slip roads has become a playground for reckless. Both directions need to have some sort of deterrent other than the one camera on the lights to prevent amber gamblers.

  4. Sue says:

    Re Village Centres
    Why is it that Bramhall is able to oppose having fast food outlets, yet Cheadle isn’t?

    • Iain Roberts says:

      Hi Sue – the rules are identical for Bramhall, Cheadle and Gatley. There are various grounds that we can oppose fast food outlets on. What we can’t do – in Bramhall or Cheadle – is oppose on *on the grounds that there are already too many*.

      The problem with other mechanisms for opposing them is that if the applicant meets the requirements then you have to allow it. For example, we might oppose a fast food application on the grounds of smells and odours, but if the applicant shows they will install an extraction system to deal with that then it will go through.

      • Sue says:

        So……how have Bramhall managed to avoid having any?
        A couple of friends who live there have told me that they petition against any application for fast food outlets?

        • Iain Roberts says:

          Hi Sue, I’d have to see some examples of specific planning applications to give you a precise answer. The law is very clear: we can’t refuse a planning application just because people don’t like it and we can’t refuse an application for fast-food takeaways just because there are already too many.

        • Alan says:

          Sue, money talks. How do you think the Alderley by pass was built, or the bypass connecting the M56 to the M6? No huge time saving but the rich people don’t have cars going by their expensive houses. Same in Bramhall, it’s not what you know it’s who you know…

  5. Alan says:

    Re traffic. Agree with the posts about taking, say 10 seconds off the east west timing, this would ease the queuing not aggravate it, as at busy times the right turn queue restricts the straight on traffic coming from Cheadle.
    As to train tram, forget it! Just build a blinking station on the TP site and get the trains to stop, it’s not rocket science, it would have happened already in London – or Manchester probably, yet here we are, Stockport, the dead zone…

  6. Iain Roberts says:

    Hi Alan,

    On the East West timing for the lights, we can all have our views but its the modelling that the decision will be based on and that says it will cause problems.

    As for the trains, I’m afraid that it is quite a bit more difficult that that! You say it would have happened in Manchester already, but it hasn’t – there’s been pressure for a stop a Baguley for years, and they don’t have single track like we do through Cheadle.

    We’ll work to get the best solution, and I know we can all look at it and say “this must be so simple, let’s just do it” and I can only say “I wish it was”.

    If you want to check, just look around the country and find out how many new stations have been added for trains to stop at in the last twenty years anywhere in the UK!

    • John Hartley says:

      Iain

      With respect, the modelling does not indicate problems. In fact, modelling done in 2015, showed that the right turn filters would greatly assist. Your post here is the relevent one – https://iainroberts.mycouncillor.org.uk/2015/02/23/presentation-on-kingswaygatley-road-junction/

      You will see that what was modelled, separately , in Scenarios 4 & 5, was a right turn filter from Gatley and Cheadle. Both show significant improvements on traffic flow, although of course each show a worsening from the other direction – understandable as to provide a right turn from only direction means the traffic from the other direction has to be stopped. However, what was not modelled was what people have been asking for – a right turn filter from both directions at the same time. It stands to reason that, if this was actually modelled, it would show the same improvements as the individual models, as the right turning from both directions, would be happening at the same time.

      • Iain Roberts says:

        Hi John – fair point, though I was reporting on discussions I’d had with traffic engineers on this issue. As I say, they didn’t model both at once because they said it doesn’t meet modern safety standards.

  7. David Johnson says:

    So much A34 traffic diverts using St. Ann’s road that ends up (or starts) on the junctions to/from Cheadle/Gatley Road that there is no real gain at the Kingsway junction either for A34 or East/West traffic. Adding bus traffic recently has worsened the situation. The same effects must also apply to other “rat-runs”.

  8. Arthur Lampkin says:

    Re Parking especially in Gatley. I walked through the village a couple of weeks ago and saw hardly any people in the shops but most parking areas were full or nearly full. This made me come to the conclusion that most of the cars must be shop owners or their staff so no wonder people go elsewhere to shop. When I go into the village I walk and feel it is not that far for most people, so why don’t they? I must admit I have to walk as do not drive.

  9. JB says:

    I still believe the most practical solution for a quick journey to Manchester, Stockport and Altrincham is to re-instate the Cheadle railway station using existing trains.

    A tram-train project would cost a fortune for no benefit – in fact journey times would be longer and a change at each end of the journey required if access to main lines is required. The high cost of infrastructure modifications and more expensive rolling stock would be prohibitive for no advantage.

    Please press for the building of a platform(s) at Cheadle so that we can board the Northern trains that regularly race through!

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