Simister Buses – 96 and 495

Posted April 15, 2014

One of the opportunities we get at Council Meetings is to ask questions of the Greater Manchester ‘Joint Authorities’ (Transport, Fire, Waste etc). At the last meeting I asked a question about the timing of the last buses up Heywood Road to Simister.

The current timetable is the last 96 leaving Manchester at 5.46 and the last 495 leaving Heaton Park metro at 5.23. In both cases this is going to be too early for many people’s jobs.

The answer, perhaps not surprisingly, is ‘we’ve no money to do this’ – T4GM have to save money like other people (and has it’s hands tied because it has borrowed £0.9 Billion to pay for the Metrolink extensions).

I would however be interested in hearing from people if there are any alteratives that people would like me to persue. At present we have roughtly three buses an hour going up Heywood Road, but no buses at all after c 6pm.

All ideas appreciated!


Could the Council’s Spokesperson to the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee outline if consideration can be given to providing a later last service to Simister Village. Currently the last 96 leaves Manchester at 5.46 and the last 495 leaves Heaton Park Metrolink at 5.23pm, too early for many journeys from work.

TfGM has previously received requests for a later service between Manchester and Simister Village and officers have looked into the provision of additional journeys in conjunction with the operator of the service.
TfGM is facing significant budgetary pressures and has to reduce expenditure on subsidised bus services by £7.1 million over 2014/15 and 2015/16. As a result of this, many services have to be reduced in frequency or withdrawn and the potential to provide new services or increase existing services is severely constrained.
TfGM will continue to review the services which it supports, including service 96, to ensure that services are provided as cost effectively and efficiently as possible and any opportunities to enhance the level of provision within our available resources are explored.

Answers to Questions: Home Care

Posted April 15, 2014

At the last meeting of Bury’s Full Council I asked a question about whether the Council was willing to sign up to the ‘Ethical Care Charter’ which as been produced by UNISON, the public services Trades Union.

I have raised concern about home care services before, when we were investigating what proportion of Bury Council’s home care visits are ’15 minute care slots’ (the answer was 37% of all home care visits in Bury are 15 minutes). My personal view is that in most cases 15 minutes is too short too short to provide meaningful care for people, especially if people are rushing between clients.

UNISON commissioned a survey of home care staff entitled “Time to Care” to illustrate the reality of homecare work. As a result UNISON have produced an ‘Ethical Care Charter‘ which a number of Local Councils have already signed up to.

Screenshot 2014-04-15 09.51.47

The Charter calls:
- an end to 15 minute care visits, in most instances
- properly paying home care workers, for example the ‘living wage’ and also paying for travel time between clients
- an end to ‘zero hour contracts’ for home care workers.

So will Bury sign up to the Charter? The answer (published in full below) sort of didn’t answer the question, but certainly didn’t say yes.

As far as I can see Bury wouldn’t be able to sign up because:
- it does have 15 minute care slots (37% of all visits are 15 minutes)
- many of its contractors pay less than the ‘living wage’ (I have previously asked for figures on this but didn’t get an answer)
- many of its contractors employ people on zero-hour contracts (I have previously asked for figures on this but didn’t get an answer).

Hope this is useful information. Any views much appreciated.


Question: Councillor Pickstone
Is the Leader aware of the Ethical Care Charter launched by Unison, setting our high standards of local authority care services and seeking to end practices such as zero hour contracts, pay under the living wage and 15 minute care slots. Will Bury be signing up to the Charter?

Thank you for your question about the adoption of Unison’s Ethical Care Charter.
Safety quality and dignity for both the recipients of care and those that deliver it has to be our top priority. The two are not mutually exclusive and fit hand in glove. Give them enough time to do their job and the quality of care that they deliver will be better. Pay people a fair wage and you’ll keep then in a job and build consistency.
One of the issues that the Charter focuses on is reducing the reliance on 15 minute care visits.
Is last four years we have reduced the numbers of 15 minute visits to a level which is approximately 38% of the total. The vast majority of service users receive 30 minute visits.
I think we should be proud that we are doing the right thing and are moving in the right direction.
In terms of ensuring staff are paid a living wage or close to a living one, that is certainly an aspiration that we want to make a reality sooner rather than later in our role as commissioners.
Signing up to the Ethical Charter
In terms of whether we would sign up to the Charter, Unison make clear in the document that this has to be a partnership between providers – the local authority, the NHS and staff.
The first step in the Charter’s implementation plan is to begin discussions with partners like the NHS – we have regular meetings and this will be on the Agenda.
The second stage in the implementation plan is to review visits under 30 Minutes – which we do regularly. In any event, we have seen a reduction in 15 minute visits which I spoke about earlier.

Happy Passover, Happy Easter!

Posted April 15, 2014

Just to wish all the Jewish members of the local community a very happy and peaceful Passover.

Passover began yesterday evening and and runs through to the evening of 22 April 2014. Nick Clegg has produced a short video message to wish people a happy Passover here.

Could I also wish people a happy Easter for this Sunday. Hope that people have a good extended weekend.

Best wishes


New Planning Application: Cuckoo Lane

Posted April 13, 2014

A new planning applications have been received which is wihtin Holyrood Ward as below:

Application Number: 57409
Registration Date: 09/04/2014
Location: 43 Cuckoo Lane, Whitefield, Manchester, M45 6WD
Proposal: Two storey extension at side/rear (part retrospective)

Plans are available on the Council’s Website here. Please do not hesitate to get in touch if I can be of any help or if you have any queries.


New Planning Applications: Tesco and St Hilda’s

Posted April 12, 2014

Two new planning applications have been received which are within just outside of Holyrood Ward which I’ve included as they might be of interest to local residents:

Application Number: 57434
Registration Date: 01/04/2014
Location: St Hildas C of E Primary School, Whittaker Lane, Prestwich, Manchester, M25 1HA
Proposal: Two no. single storey side extensions

Application Number: 57435
Registration Date: 01/04/2014
Location: Tesco Stores Ltd, Valley Park Road, Prestwich, Manchester, M25 3TG
Proposal: Extension of existing home shopping operation facility and relocation of existing plant

Plans are available on the Council’s Website here. Please do not hesitate to get in touch if I can be of any help or if you have any queries.


Update: Baguley Crescent Waste and Fly-Tipping

Posted April 10, 2014

Just an update for residents in the Baguley Crescent (Heywood Court and Middleton Road) areas on the issues of waste and flytipping. Officers have been working hard on some of the problems that people have been reporting and have given me the following update:

Communal Recycling Bins
At Baguley Crescent additional communal bins have been installed into the Heywood Management Company flats and all recycling bins have been secured and are being well used. There has been a significant increase in the amount and quality of recycling being carried out at these flats and a reduction in the amount of excess waste being produced. Additional collections from the recycling bins were requested due to them being full which was really good and demonstrated the need for the additional bins which were installed. Working with the management Company we are currently developing signage which can be used in these communal bin areas to ensure the right materials are recycled.

Fly Tipping
At flats in the first block (No. 176 – 198) fly tipping was reported and removed. Communal recycling bins which had been contaminated were emptied and secured so that recycling could be carried out by the residents. Information about recycling and collections was provided and displayed on the residents notice board.

A number of residents were provided with recycling information at numbers 40-46 Baguley Crescent.

Currently there is some fly tipping on the garage site adjacent to flats 80 -102 and also at flats 128-150. This has been reported to Environmental Health to action.

After Easter there will be door knocking sessions to speak with residents about recycling and provide any additional assistance where required.

Hope that is helpful and please do not hesitate to get in touch if I can provide further information or feed other issues in.

Best wishes


Answers to Questions: Air Pollution

Posted April 10, 2014

At the recent meeting of Bury’s ‘Full Council’ I asked a question on how the Council will be addressing issues of air pollution.

I asked the question because of a recent World Health Organisation (WHO) Report which indicated nearly 8 million people a year die prematurely as a result of air pollution, including nearly a million in Europe.

In our area we have a particular issue with air pollution from the M60, one of the busiest stretches of motorway in the country. Only last November the Highways Agency admitted this at a consultation meeting on hard-shoulder-running:

“The Agency admitted that nitrogen dioxide air pollution caused by traffic fumes was already 50 percent above the regulated maximum” (source Breathe Clean Air Group).

Two years ago, local authorities took over responsibility for Public Health from the NHS. This means that the (not insignificant) budgets which go with Public Health transferred from the NHS to local council’s like Bury, and they are responsible for spending these budgets to improve the health of the local population.

I asked:
Is the Leader aware of the recent World Health Organisation report which found over 8 million avoidable deaths in one year from air pollution, including many in Europe. How is the Council addressing this, for example in the M60 corridor, given its public health responsibilities?

The answer, which is published in full below, gives a lot of information about the good things that are happening to see if people can reduce car use. But for me, it doesn’t really answer the problem we have in Prestwich and Whitefield (and Simister and Middleton) with air pollution from the M60.

Given that Council’s have a public health responsibiltiy now, I don’t think it is enough to just say that Motorway’s are the ‘Government’s responsibility’.

Here is the answer in full, and I would be interested to hear people’s views.


“We continue to work with neighbouring councils and partners at Transport for Greater Manchester to reduce emissions from motor vehicles by encouraging walking, cycling and the use of public transport. Recent actions and achievements include:-
• Improvement of the National Cycle Route 6 at Outwood and Chamberhall. We now have 64 miles of highway cycle lanes in Bury.
• The Cycle hub at Bury Interchange was opened in late 2012 and cycle parking facilities have been improved at our Metrolink stations.
• Continued expansion of the Metrolink network to take cars off our busy commuter routes
• Planning permission was granted to extend the Park and Ride car parks at Whitefield and Metrolink stations.
• Local Sustainable Transport Fund has awarded funding to Transport for Greater Manchester to promote and increase low carbon commuting.
• Under the Greater Manchester Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Scheme, electric vehicle charging points were installed in 7 of Bury’s council car parks in 2013.
• 109 council drivers will receive Eco Driver training as part of the Driver CPC Training requirements for drivers of vehicles over 3.5 tonnes
• From 2013 to 2016 the council are running a 3 year programme to introduce 20mph zones or speed limits within a majority of residential areas in Bury. This may involve up to 50 separate schemes with priority given to areas around schools or where there are “rat runs”. So far 7 schemes have been introduced on site
• Launch of a Greater Manchester car sharing database
The M60 is a significant source of pollution in our region and assessments by DEFRA have indicated that sections of this motorway along with 16 other areas in the UK will not meet EU targets in the required timescales. Central Government are responsible for meeting these targets and it is Central government’s Highways Agency who has responsibility for the M60. DEFRA have therefore made it clear that they will be working very closely with The Highways Agency with the help of Greater Manchester councils where necessary, to make sure that the EU air quality targets are met by 2020.

Heaton Park and Prestwich Forest Park in ‘Top 5 Parks’

Posted April 10, 2014

Two of our local parkland areas, Heaton Park and Prestwich Forest Park, have been included in the list of ‘Greater Manchester’s ‘Top 5 Parks’ by Visit Manchester (the Tourist Board for Manchester). (More information on the list here.)

Heaton Park, as the regions largest park, we might expect to be included in the list. Visit Manchester describe the park as:

“Unmissable. This huge, beautiful park 4 miles north of Manchester city centre, is easy to reach by road or public transport. It features an historic hall, a farm and animal centre, two excellent large playgrounds, a boating lake, tram museum and three cafes. Extras such as vintage trams and donkey rides are available at weekends and in summer.”

They fail to mention that the Hall is sadly closed which is a real shame, given what a great building it could be.

Great also to see in the list our very own Prestwich Forest Park, which brings together the Clough, Phillips Park and Drinkwater Park. Visit Manchester say:

“Escape from the city in 200 hectares of woodland perfect for hiking, cycling or running. Prestwich Clough, Philips Park and Drinkwater Park are all part of this urban forest whose tranquillity and wildlife might surprise you.”

Great that our two areas of parkland have been recognised in this way!

Screenshot 2014-04-10 08.49.48


More information on Prestwich Forest Park and downloadable booklets about Cycling and Walking in the areas can be found here.


Made in Bury Community Awards

Posted April 10, 2014

Nominations are being sought for the 2014 ‘Made in Bury’ Community Awards.

These awards are to recognise the good work of many of our residents and community groups throughout the borough. If you know an individual or community group that is making an outstanding contribution to a community in our borough, please show your appreciation by nominating them for an award.

About the 2014 awards
There will be one winner in each category and the deadline for receipt of entries is 5pm on Friday 9 May 2014. Winners will be notified after 12 May and announced on Tuesday 3 June 2014 at the Annual Full Council meeting which starts at 2pm at Bury Town Hall. Award winners will be invited to attend to collect their awards.

To make a nomination please download and complete the online nomination form.

About the award categories
There are three main categories for the Made in Bury Community Awards. These are as follows.

- Outstanding contribution to a township.
- Young person or young persons’ group – outstanding community contribution.
- Volunteer of the year award.

More information here.

2013 award winners

The winners in each category in 2013 were as follows.

2013-14 Mayor of Bury Cllr Joan Grimshaw with councillors and 2013 winners (Photo Bury Council)

Outstanding contribution to a township – Mr and Mrs D.Moore of Whitefield
Young person or young persons’ group – outstanding community contribution – Young People from Streetwise 2000.
Volunteer of the year award – Linda Freeman of Bury Street Pastors.

Heaton Park Car Parking Charges

Posted April 1, 2014

Just to thank the significant number of people who have given their views on the proposals to charge for parking all year round in Heaton Park. (£1 for the first hour, rising to £2 then £3 for three hours or more.)

(See here for details of the scheme)

We have forwarded all the comments (anonymously) to Manchester Council and also are raising the issue in a formal question to Bury Council.

A formal response to the consultation has also been made which highlights the two main concerns from people:

- the impact on residential streets adjacent to the Park
A number of residents who live on streets adjacent to the Park are worried that the proposed parking charges will mean that more people will be parking in these residential areas.

These areas already suffer significant nuisance from parking during some busy events (this includes ‘medium sized’ events like charity fun-runs etc), and also on sunny weekend and bank holiday days.

People are understandably worried that some people will seek to avoid the charges by parking on residential streets near to the park.

The areas largely affected by this are:
- the St Margaret’s area (including Carver Avenue and the Holyrood Grove area)
- the whole area around Sheepfoot Lane and the roads off it
- the part of Middleton Road which is in Bury and the Baguley Crescent estate off it.
- the areas immediately around Heaton Park Metrolink station
When the park is very busy parking is also an issue in a slightly wider area – e.g. the terraced area across Bury Old Road from the Park (e.g. Heys Road, Milton Road etc).

We are concerned that the proposed parking charges are being introduced without addressing some of the on street parking issues that will surely arise.

- the Impact on regular users of the Park
A larger number of residents are concerned about the impact the charge will have on people who use the park very regularly, perhaps just for very short periods to time.

We are very lucky to have Heaton Park on our doorstep, and I know many people use the park very regularly to exercise, walk with family and friends, play team sports, walk their dogs, fish, star gaze and many other activities.

People are understandably concerned that the charge will have a disproportionate effect on regular users of the park. One resident calculated that she will have to pay over £2000 a year to walk her dog 2 or 3 times a day in the park – obviously for a pensioner this is not going to be happen.

Ultimately we are concerned that this will mean less people use the park which cannot be a good thing for the long term success of the park.

Some suggestions are:
- an ‘initial free period’ – many places do something like a ‘first hour free’ which might address some of these issues as well as addressing the residents parking concerns above
- thinking about the start and finish times, particularly in winter where they actually meant that there is no free period – because the park is closed in the dark.
- thinking about some of the access issues for regular users of the park, for example the garden centre, disabled people, whether there is any sort of regular access scheme.

Please do keep your comments in and help us keep up the pressure on Manchester Council to find a sensible solution to this issue.