The Liberal Democrats have called for people in the North West to be given a say over the final Brexit deal, following today's judgement at the Supreme Court which ruled that Parliament must be given a vote on triggering Article 50.
The ruling comes amid warnings that a hard Brexit could cost the UK economy between £100bn and £200bn by 2030, with a hit to GDP of between 5% to 10%.
In a dramatic Stockport Council meeting that stunned even the most long-standing of councillors, former MP Mark Hunter led the chamber into a vote on plans to save Stockport's greenbelt.
The Labour-run council narrowly avoided an embarrassing hit as Liberal Democrat councillors forced the chamber to take an immediate vote on an amendment that would have halted the Greater Manchester Combined Authorities' (GMCA) potential plan to build 12,100 homes on greenbelt land in Stockport.
The amendment, drawn up by Cheadle's former MP of ten years, Mark Hunter, saw the chamber thrown into disarray as Labour and Conservative councillors were forced to make a snap decision on whether Stockport should pull out of the process that could potentially include plans to build on the borough’s greenbelt land.
After a short break requested by a Conservative councillor, and despite the Liberal Democrats' best efforts, the chamber’s Labour and Conservative councillors joined forces to vote down the amendment with absolutely no debate.
Mark Hunter, who stormed to victory with 60% of the vote in this year's local elections, cited that the 'greenbelt land provisionally allocated and scale of the housing development proposed are unacceptable.'
The GMSF will go ahead as planned following Labour and Conservative councillors' successful teaming up.
Mark Hunter said: "This is a huge disappointment for us, and more importantly for local residents, but it is not the end. This is a Stockport issue and I still believe the decision should be made here in Stockport."
More than 20% of all identified potential sites for development by GMSF were within the Stockport area, which Cllr. Mark Hunter slammed as a result of 'developers and landowners targeting Stockport'.
Cllr. Lisa Smart, who seconded the rejected amendment, said: "This is another example of Liberal Democrats standing up for local residents, and Conservatives' hypocrisy and Labour's complacency towards the people of Stockport'
"This whole process has just been about where is easiest and cheapest to build on, not where is most appropriate for the average family and future generations.
"It means nothing to the residents of Stockport to tell them you're against building on greenbelt, and then not support this amendment today.
"Our amendment today would have brought the decision about where to build these houses back to Stockport, where it belongs, but instead, this Labour-run council with the support of Conservatives in their top pocket have handed it to the super council."
She added: "As Labour and Conservative councillors stand by and watch our children deprived of green spaces to grow and play in, it will continue to be the Liberal Democrats that stand up for local residents.”
Cllr. Mark Hunter added: "What we need, and fully support, is affordable family homes close to existing public transport and shops, and until all other options have been exhausted I can't support destroying any of our green spaces."
The former MP added that there is an 'abundance of brownfield spaces, derelict and disused buildings and existing sites that should be developed first.'
Leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Stockport Council, Cllr. Iain Roberts, added: "Liberal Democrat councillors work exceptionally hard all year round, listening to residents' concerns and taking their voice to the town hall.
"This is another example of just how hard our group works and how much Labour's complacency will continue to damage Stockport."
Jane Brophy, the Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of Greater Manchester added: "This whole backroom saga from the GMCA has been an absolute shambles, highlighting their embarrassing lack of transparency and the desperate need for a more open process.
"The GMCA needs to stop making decisions behind the scenes and involve local authorities in issues that affect their areas."
Stockport's Liberal Democrats have increased the pressure on central government to tackle the funding crisis facing Stepping Hill hospital. Last week councillors Lisa Smart and Mark Hunter presented a petition, containing well over 6,000 names, to number 10 Downing Street to demonstrate local concerns over the future of the NHS. This follows Lib Dem demands a week ago that KPMG, the consultancy appointed to help turn around Stepping Hill's fortunes, return their £2million fee after failing to see any significant improvement.
Stockport Liberal Democrats have reacted with shock and anger at news that Stepping Hill hospital is to slash hundreds of jobs and close a whole ward in an attempt to balance the books.
Local Councillor Lisa Smart was selected unanimously as the Liberal Democrat candidate for Hazel Grove Constituency this week. Local Liberal Democrat members chose Bredbury Green & Romiley Councillor Lisa Smart to fight the next election for them.
The Liberal Democrats are now ready to fight a general election, having selected candidates in key seats across the country.
This follows reports that the new Prime Minister might go to the country early, before the economy goes into a possible recession and to take advantage of Labour in-fighting.
For years everyone has complained about the decline in Merseyway shopping centre, and for years the Council has been unable to act, with the centre in private ownership.
Now, for the first time, we have the opportunity to not only bring Merseyway up to date but to do in a way that doesn’t cost council taxpayers a penny and actually brings money in to the council – meaning that we expect to be able to put more money into council services in future.
Stockport Council has bought the Merseyway shopping centre, and plans to spend nearly £40m upgrading it to a modern centre that the town can be proud of. It’s a plan the Lib Dem Executive have been working on for some time, and to see the deal goes through we’ve had to keep it under wraps.
The purchase – including the improvements – is an investment for the people of Stockport. The numbers have been crunched and we’re confident it will provide a good return. It will make money for Stockport in future years, helping offset the cuts we have to make.
But it’s much more than that. When Merseyway first opened it was cutting edge – people came from all over to marvel at it. But decades of under-investment in the hands of private owners have seen it fall behind. The opportunity for the Council to buy the centre came up and, had we not taken it, we believe there was a big risk that the decline would continue.
The Council now – for the first time – has the ability to shape the town centre. The Redrock cinema complex, improvements in Princes Street, Debenhams freehold, Mersey Square, Merseyway, Stockport Exchange and large parts of the Old Town (Marketplace and Underbanks) are now in the control of the council. We want to get them working together to improve Stockport, and provide that return on investment to council taxpayers.
It also gives us more opportunities to review the proposals for the marketplace and see if the council’s ownership of Merseyway along with the marketplace can help.
We know we can’t fix the town centre overnight, but we now have the tools to really make a major difference over the next few years.
Whenever the Council makes a large investment of this sort, people – quite reasonably – ask where the money is coming from and why it’s not being spent to stop the cuts.
The answer is:
- The money comes from borrowing (which the council can do cheaply) and reserves. By law, the council can’t borrow to fund day-to-day costs but it can borrow to fund this sort of investment.
- As we face more and more cuts from the Government, the Council needs to find new ways to raise revenue. Making investments in property that generate a return is one way to bring in extra money that we can use to avoid making so many cuts in our day-to-day spending. Our aim is to follow this strategy – it allows the Council to bring in more money. We want more money from property investments and less money from tax rises.
Stockport Lib Dems have stopped an attempt by council officers to prevent market traders handing out red roses on St George’s Day.
“When I was told about this on Friday, I thought the idea was completely daft and I asked it to be sorted out right away. Senior council officers agreed and, within an hour, the record had been put straight and the issue resolved.” said Cllr Iain Roberts, who has responsibility for the market.
The issue came about when junior council officers misinterpreted election law. The law says that councils can’t campaign for political parties. Going by an old legal ruling, the junior officials told market traders that handing out red roses during the local elections could be interpreted as campaigning for Labour, as Labour’s symbol is the red rose.
“It was completely ludicrous,” said Iain. “There was no political campaigning, just market traders doing something special for St George’s Day at Stockport’s historic market hall. Senior council officers agreed and the whole thing was quickly sorted out, but it should never have been an issue in the first place. I’m proud to mark England’s national day and I’m proud of Stockport’s historic market.”
The local Liberal Democrats have won the fight to gain funding for a speed monitor to be used on the roads of Bredbury, Bredbury Green, Romiley and Woodley.
Local Liberal Democrats are pleased to report that after receiving hundreds of suggestions for speeding hotspots across our area, Lisa Smart and Cllr Christine Corris have won funding for a speed monitor.
Lisa Smart says, ”This is a local victory that will help local residents. Evidence shows these monitors both decrease speed and provide evidence for further action.”
Cllr Christine Corris says, “I am so pleased we have been able to find funding for this. It will have a big impact on the many streets in our communities who experience problems with speeding. Thank you to all of those who have got in contact with us to let us know where there are problems.”
“We all know there are speeding hotspots across our area and these must be the priority for action,” says Lisa Smart.
Lisa Smart and the Liberal Democrat Team are delighted to report that they have been succesful in their campaign to change the route of the 380 and 381 buses so that they stop at Morrisons again from next Monday, 3rd of April.
After huge local support for Lisa and the Liberal Democrats’ campaign across Romiley and Bredbury, the route has been changed back to serve shoppers as well as protecting those users who use the route to get to other services.
Lisa Smart says, “this is fantastic news, I am really pleased that Transport for Greater Manchester and Stagecoach have listened to our campaign and made this change. Bus users will no longer need to walk so far with heavy shopping - a victory for local people.”
Cllr Hazel Lees says, “We are very grateful for all of the support shown by local people with hundreds of signatures on our petition, it just goes to show what changes we can achieve when we work together".
Irene, a regular bus user commented, "I am so pleased that Lisa Smart has won the fight to change the route of the 380 / 381 bus to serve Morrisons. I knew that the removal of it last year was creating problems for me and other passengers so asked Lisa if anything could be done. Her hard work on this means that the service has been restored to the supermarket for many residents who cannot get here any other way. Thank you Lisa for doing what you do so well - standing up for local people!”