Tomorrow is Polling Day … our Positive Vision for Ramsbottom

Cllr Ian Schofield, Cllr Ian Bevan and Cllr Rob Hodkinson

By Councillor Ian Bevan

It seems a long time ago since I was first elected to represent Ramsbottom on Bury Council. In fact, it was 8 years ago – in May 2010.

My first official ‘event’ was ‘cutting the ribbon’ at the opening of Ramsbottom’s new Children’s Centre opposite the Library. An awful lot has happened since then – both in Ramsbottom and on Bury Council.

Cllr Ian Bevan with parents campaigning to save the crèche at Ramsbottom Leisure Centre

I have introduced proposals – adopted by the Council – to improve transparency and accountability – by publishing online council spending to encourage financial responsibility, improve accountability, and be of substantial benefit to Bury and Ramsbottom residents.

I have consistently asked questions about our town in the Council Chamber, helped fight off the planned fourth supermarket in the town centre, and helped fight numerous planning applications to protect our green spaces and green belt.

The most high-profile of these was the two-year fight against the proposed Anaerobic Digestion Waste Plant planned for Fletcher Bank in Ramsbottom with residents group Ramsbottom Against the Waste Site (“RAWS”).  I would like to personally thank all those involved in that battle with Peel Holdings and Marshalls. It was worth all the hard work.

Residents at the Town Hall Planning Committee Meeting

Ian Bevan being interviewed by TV reporters at the AD Planning Meeting at Bury Town Hall

I have worked with local residents groups and volunteer groups who strive to enhance our town and I would like to take the opportunity to express my sincere thanks to all those volunteers who give up their spare time, week after week, to benefit our town and villages.

Cllr Ian Bevan (centre) with residents and members of the Tanners Area Residents Association

I have helped hundreds of people with local casework – housing issues, planning, neighbour disputes, parking etc.

I have thoroughly enjoyed working with everyone in the Ramsbottom Business Group, Ramsbottom Markets and would like to thank them for their hard work and dedication to the town – organising events such as the Chocolate Festival and 1940s weekend.

Cllrs Ian Bevan (l) and Rob Hodkinson (r) at Ramsbottom Chocolate Festival

In my spare time, apart from my full time job and my young family, I have spent as much time as possible undertaking residents’ surveys, street surgeries and knocking on the doors of people in Ramsbottom with my colleagues, Cllr Rob Hodkinson and Cllr Ian Schofield so that we can take your views back to the Council.

We have had tens of thousands of “hits” on our blog, and thank everyone that has taken the time to read it.

Street Surgery in Morrisons

I have tried to listen, to talk and to engage with as many Ramsbottom residents as possible. That is the real reason why I have thoroughly enjoyed being one of your local Councillors for Ramsbottom.   I have been immensely proud to have done so.

Turning to the local elections tomorrow, you will have the chance to decide who is going to replace me as one of your local Councillors here in Ramsbottom, Shuttleworth and Holcombe.

I always encourage people to spend those few minutes putting their “X” in the box on their ballot paper – whoever they choose to vote for.

Jamie Hoyle, your Conservative Candidate, lives here in Ramsbottom, the town that he grew up in.  Jamie is standing for election because he loves this area.

I, along with my fellow Ramsbottom Councillors, and Ian Schofield are proud to endorse him at this election.

Jamie Hoyle with local Councillors

We have always had a positive vision for Ramsbottom, Shuttleworth and Holcombe.  Quite rightly, Ramsbottom has become one of the best places to live in the country.

It really does disappoint me that the Labour Party, and their candidate in this election, try to run down our town.  They say that it needs “regenerating”.  Towns always adapt to change and Ramsbottom has done better than most in attracting new investment into the town centre.  It has built a solid reputation as a food destination of choice. This is down to the hard work and dedication of everyone involved in our town, from residents, retailers and volunteers.

I am fully supporting Jamie Hoyle in this election.  If you elect Jamie Hoyle this Thursday, he pledges to work tirelessly with Cllr Rob Hodkinson and Cllr Ian Schofield to:

Get our crumbling potholed roads repaired.  Residents have said that they have never seen the roads this bad – caused by neglect from our Labour-run Council in Bury;

Protect our Green Belt from development, whilst securing additional homes on our brownfield sites.  The Labour Candidate says that in his opinion, “building on the Green Belt is not the end of the world”.  Our view is that it should be protected at all costs, not just for us, but for future generations;

Promote a long term solution for the Mondi Paper Mill site on Bridge Street, including  a long stay car park.  We have had extensive meetings with the site owners to bring about a mixed development of housing and much needed additional car parking spaces;

Secure a new, state of the art Pool and Leisure Centre in Ramsbottom through the development of a Community Interest Company that can attract investment and re-develop the facilities; and

Promote a vibrant town centre with a long term future.

The reception we have had on the doorstep during this election campaign has been fantastic.  Residents share our positive vision for our town.  On Thursday, you have a clear choice.

Don’t just hope for a better Council. Vote for it on Thursday. Vote for Jamie Hoyle.

Conservative Campaigners on Whittingham Drive

Finally, I would like to thank my ward colleagues and our volunteers for their invaluable help over the last 8 years – for their pounding the streets, delivering newsletters, and obviously for their kind donations to our campaigns; to everyone in Ramsbottom that kindly voted for me and have supported me during my two terms of office, and most importantly to my family for their support.

Thank You.

Ian

 

 

Promoted by Ian Bevan on behalf of Jamie Hoyle, both of 438 Whalley Road, Ramsbottom, BL0 0EG.

Update on Ripon Hall Avenue flooding

Ripon Hall Avenue

Residents living on the Whittingham Drive estate will be aware of the overflowing manhole cover on Ripon Hall Avenue which has been a problem for many years.

During periods of heavy rain, the amount of water flooding the road has made it dangerous for both traffic and pedestrians. One resident has told us that “the water level during one flooding event last year was up to 4 feet deep and impassable”.

Currently the flooding from the manhole is constant even during dry days. It is only the nearby road gullies that are taking away this flood water.

Apart from the flooding the tarmac around the manhole was breaking up making it dangerous for vehicles.

Over the years local residents have made numerous complaints to the Council however the problem has yet to be resolved.

Cllr Rob Hodkinson has worked closely with Bury Council’s Highways Department and kept residents informed of any progress made.

In June 2017 Highways advised that further investigations would be carried out but the issue was considered a ‘low priority’ by the Council as there was no risk of flooding to adjacent properties nor flooding of the highway in such a way that would cause a danger to road users.

However, it was obvious that the flooding was caused by a blockage to the discharge pipe but there were no plans showing the route of the pipe.

Inspections carried out by Highways late 2017 with cameras showed the discharge pipe route was under the adjacent privately-owned land.   The Highways Department asked the landowners for their proposals to clear the blockage.

In February 2018 the owner of the land met with Cllr Hodkinson and the Head of Highways to discuss the issue relating to the flooding where it was explained to the owner that the responsibility for the pipe maintenance under the owners land was that of the owner of the land.

The owner has since received further correspondence from Bury Council giving the statutory time to respond.

We will advise residents of further progress as soon as we have further information.

Ramsbottom Residents Face Council Tax Rise of 5.94%

Ramsbottom residents’ council tax bills are to rise by nearly six per cent.

The 5.94% increase was pushed through at last night’s council budget meeting at the Town Hall by Labour Party Councillors, despite fierce opposition from your local Conservative Councillors.

The plans mean that a Band C property would see an increase of nearly £100 a year on Council Tax Bills.

The Cabinet Member for Finance announced that the Council could not manage its budget and was heading for a £1.8 Million overspend for this financial year, eating into the Council’s emergency reserves.

In opposing the proposed Council Tax rise, the Leader of Bury’s Conservative Councillors, Cllr James Daly, said that the Labour Party’s budget lacked vision and aspiration.

He said: “There’s so much that can be done by a Council to influence the lives of people in this borough with imaginative thinking to increase revenue generation to raise funds for public services.”

He accused Labour of ‘abdicating responsibility’ and ‘managing the Council’s decline’.

He added “Bury Labour’s inability to balance a budget and manage the Council adequately means that front line serves are being cut due to their failures … the limit of their ambition is to manage decline, whereas ours is to transform service delivery, invest millions in front line services and improve the life chances of our residents.”

Alternative proposals put forward by the Conservative Councillors were cynically voted down by Labour.  These included:

  • A Freeze on the basic rate of Council Tax;
  • Inject £8.8 Million into Bury and Ramsbottom’s roads over the next 4 years;
  • Invest £4 Million into the borough’s leisure facilities, including state of the art upgrades for Ramsbottom Pool and Leisure Centre and extra funds for Ramsbottom Library and Ramsbottom Civic Hall;
  • Facilitate the building off 1,000 new homes on brownfield sites owned by the Council over the next 2 to 3 years;
  • Reverse the increase in the Chief Executive’s Salary (£175,000) voted through by Labour and cap it at £130,000;
  • Cap other senior officer pay at £100,000.

Councillor Ian Bevan said “The impact of this overspend and the rejection of significant savings by the Labour Party could well be very significant for Ramsbottom taxpayers. It is yet more evidence of the mismanagement of Bury Council’s finances by the Labour Party.”

Councillor Ian Schofield added “We know that budgets are tight at the minute, but our proposal to cut back on wasteful spending on excessive Councillors Allowances, Senior Salaries and cancelling schemes that are not needed are sensible and prudent”.

Councillor Rob Hodkinson said “We are very worried about the impact the overspending and mismanagement will have on services for residents in Ramsbottom. We have already lost our Children’s Centre, Skate Park, reduced hours at Ramsbottom Library and crumbling roads. In addition, our Council Tax is increasing. The Labour Party have no plan to manage and organise the way the Council works.”

Grants available for local Groups and Projects

As your elected representatives, we have grants available up to the sum of £1,500 for local projects, groups or initiatives that can, or are making a difference to the health and wellbeing of those living within Ramsbottom, Holcombe or Shuttleworth.

If you run, or are part of, a local organisation, project or group and are in need of funds, then please contact us, explaining how your organisation and the people that use your organisation or group will benefit from an injection of funds.

As Councillors, we may use these discretionary funds in any of the following ways:

  1. to spend on a community purpose
  2. to allocate for capital works that are for a community purpose
  3. to allocate to a community organisation.

The three Councillors will work together on a single scheme of funding, or split the funds between different groups.  We want to make sure there is a fair and open process that everyone can see is beneficial to our community.

Please contact us using the link below and we will then obtain further details from you to consider your application for funding.

The deadline for applications is 31 March 2018.

Plans to build Retirement Home at Grants Arms, Ramsbottom

Astim Ltd, the company that owns and tried to develop the Grants Arms Bowling Green, has applied for outline planning permission to demolish the rear part of the Grants Arms in Market Place and erect sheltered housing in its place.

The company had previously applied for permission to erection 24 flats on the former bowling green area but this was refused by Bury Council and again refused on appeal.

The company now owns the Grants Arms together with the bowling green and car park.  The company leases some of the car park to Bury Council.

The proposals are to retain the front facade (which is a Grade II listed building) but to build a retirement home at the rear with 28 bedrooms, communal lounges etc.

The site lies within the Ramsbottom Town Centre Conservation Area and the impact of the development on the Conservation Area is a matter of concern to local residents and community groups.

The deadline for objections and comments is Thursday 15 February 2018.

Details and Objections can be filed online here: https://planning.bury.gov.uk/online-applications/simpleSearchResults.do?action=firstPage

Alternatively, you can email:  development.control@bury.gov.uk quoting reference 61827.

You can also write to: Bury Council, Planning Control, 3 Knowsley Place, Duke Street, Bury, BL9 0EJ.  Please quote the reference: 61827.

 

 

Community Engagement in Ramsbottom

Your Councillors recently attended two community engagement events.

The first event, was the ‘Ramsbottom, Tottington and North Manor Neighbourhood Engagement’ event at Ramsbottom Cricket Club.

This was an opportunity for residents, local community groups, local Councillors, businesses and anyone who lives, works or has an interest in the area to get together and help shape our town and villages.

Exhibitors included Bury Council, GM Police, NHS, Friends of Nuttall Park, Friends of Ramsbottom Civic Hall, Incredible Edible Ramsbottom and a host of other local groups.

 

We hope to repeat the event soon.

The second event was a pitch by local community groups for funds from the Council for their local projects.  Bury Council were offering these community groups a chance to secure up to £1,000 each for local projects that actively contribute to the health and wellbeing of residents within our area.

Approximately 200 residents and groups attended the event at Holcombe Brook Tennis Club and many local groups were successful in obtaining funds.

There will be another round of funding available in Spring 2018.

Should you be involved in a local community group or project in or around Ramsbottom, then please do contact us at rammycouncillors@aol.com for details.

Ramsbottom Neighbourhood Engagement Event

Residents are invited to attend the first ‘Ramsbottom, Tottington and North Manor Neighbourhood Engagement’ event.

This is an opportunity for residents, community groups, businesses and anyone who lives, works or has an interest in the area to get together and help shape new ways for us to work together to improve our Neighbourhoods.

The event takes place on:

Monday 20th November, 5pm – 7pm

Ramsbottom Cricket Club, Acre Bottom, Ramsbottom BL0 0BS

The event will be an informal ‘drop in’ session providing an opportunity for you to find out more about what is going on in our area and connect with other members of our community.

Exhibitors will include:

  • The Bury Directory
  • Helping Yourself to Wellbeing
  • Street Soccer/Hitz
  • Engagement HQ – online community tool
  • Carers
  • Branding
  • Adult Learning courses
  • Bury Volunteer Rangers
  • Safe Place Scheme
  • Community Help and Information Service
  • GM Police
  • NHS Community Services Bury
  • DCaff
  • Greenmount Village Association
  • Friends of Tottington Library
  • Friends of Nuttall Park
  • Friends of Ramsbottom Civic Hall
  • Incredible Edible Ramsbottom
  • Physical Activity and Sport Development
  • Making Space
  • Speakeasy
  • Home Instead Senior Care Bury
  • Recycling and Waste Management

…and more

There will be an opportunity to talk with service providers and community groups and speak with your local Councillors and Council Officers about how we engage with you and our community – working together addressing the issues that matter most to us all here in our area.

Getting our roads ready for winter

Living here in Ramsbottom, our winters can sometimes be pretty harsh, and this year the forecasters are predicting a period of very cold weather.

That’s why we’re calling on local residents to help make sure that our roads are repaired, our grit bins are re-filled and gullies and drains cleared of any blockages before the winter sets in.

The easiest way to get these reported and sorted is by using Bury Council’s online reporting tool here: http://www.bury.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=10377

It’s quick, easy and means that the Highways Department will know straight away about any issues.

Alternatively, you can use the “Fix My Street” website here: https://www.fixmystreet.com/

The Greater Manchester area receives over £34,000,000 a year from the Government for repairing potholes and maintaining the local highway infrastructure.

If you have any concerns, or have reported issues that have not been dealt with, then contact us here:

 

Planning for Floods …

Cllr Ian Schofield, residents and Club Members cleaning up the Cricket Ground after flooding

A six-week consultation has been launched by Bury Council on a draft “Local Flood Risk Management Strategy”.

The consultation runs from 30 October to 11 December 2017.

Ramsbottom, Shuttleworth, Holcombe Village and Hawkshaw has seen flooding in recent years, so your views are particularly important.

Areas of Ramsbottom are now in the Environment Agency Flood Zone, and include Stubbins Lane, Kenyon Street, Crow Lane, Nuttall Park, Ramsbottom Cricket Ground and Ramsbottom United Football Club, and other areas such as Carr Street, Moor Road, Branch Road, Manchester Road/Whitelow Brow are known for surface water flooding.

The Strategy will complement the Environment Agency’s national flood risk management strategy.  Bury Council also works alongside the other Councils in Greater Manchester to prevent flood risk.

The draft consultation document covers the main sources of flooding as well as focusing on the council’s specific responsibilities for local flood risk from surface water, groundwater and ordinary watercourses.

The rivers that run through the Borough such as the Irwell, Roch and Kirklees Brook are the responsibility of the Environment Agency.

The three main aims of the Bury Local Flood Risk Management Strategy are to:

  • Increase awareness of local flood risk issues
  • Identify how partners such as the Environment Agency and United Utilities are working together to reduce flood risk
  • Provide an overview of ongoing flood risk management within the borough, together with an action plan and a programme of schemes

A number of potential schemes have been identified to help reduce flood risk, and whilst it isn’t possible to prevent all flooding, the Council needs to consider the risks faced and ways in which the risks and potential consequences can be managed.

“This consultation gives people an important opportunity to have their say on the schemes we have identified to help address potential flood risk in our borough.”

To view the consultation document and find out how to comment visit www.bury.gov.uk/floodriskstrategy

For advice on what to do before, during and after a flood visit www.bury.gov.uk/flooding-advice

Fatality leads to calls for urgent pothole inquiry

Cllr Rob Hodkinson and Cllr Ian Bevan with local resident

Ramsbottom Councillors, Ian Bevan, Rob Hodkinson and Ian Schofield, have called on the leaders of Bury Council to address concerns about dangerous potholes in our town and villages.

This follows the recent Inquest into the death of Ramsbottom resident, Roger Hamer, who tragically lost his life last year when his bicycle hit a pothole on Bury New Road in Ramsbottom.

Following the three day inquest, the jury concluded that Mr Hamer probably hit a large pothole which caused him to come off his bike in March 2016 and caused a fatal brain injury.  The pothole had been reported to the Council earlier in the year.

Councillor Hodkinson added “I would like to take this opportunity to express, on behalf of the Ramsbottom Councillors, and no doubt the full Council, our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Mr Roger Hamer who tragically lost his life last year when his bicycle hit a pothole on Bury New Road in Ramsbottom.

Roger had lived in Ramsbottom for most of his life and was well known within the local community.  The recent inquest verdict concluded that Mr Hamer probably hit a large pothole which caused him to come off his bike and sustain several skull fractures. The cause of his death was given as severe brain injury.  The inquest into his death did hear that the pothole identified by the police officers on the day of the incident had been reported earlier in the year to the Council by a local resident.

The assistant coroner stated that “The practices set out by the highway authority are not dealt with consistently. For example the use of spray paint and recording tools such as photos and measurements”.

It was stated that lessons could be learned by this Council, and this is the reason for this call for a review into the Council’s Highways maintenance regime.

Bury Council, as a highway authority, has statutory obligations and duties under the Highways Act 1980 to ensure that it takes reasonable care to ensure that the highway is maintained and is not dangerous for pedestrians or vehicular traffic.   The Council should also comply with national Codes of Practice.

If a road or footpath falls into a dangerous condition due to the failure of the Council to maintain or repair the highway, then it can become liable to anyone injured or who suffers financial loss.

One of the largest areas of concern raised to me by residents is damage to vehicles caused by potholes. According to a recent Bury Times article -Bury has more vehicles damaged by potholes than any other borough in Greater Manchester.

A total of 292 claims for damage to vehicles were made to Bury Council during the 2015/2016 period – more than double the previous year.

There are numerous more residents and visitors injured due to tripping in potholes or falling on the highway, including many elderly residents whose confidence is then lost – and who become housebound through fear of falling again.

In my view, that is simply unacceptable.  Bury Council need to ensure that its inspection and repair regime is fit for purpose and has the confidence of local residents and tax payers.  The Council should ensure that reports of potholes from residents are actioned at the earliest opportunity to mitigate the danger they pose to pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.

Far too often, potholes and issues on the highway are reported by Councillors and residents – and nothing happens. Weeks and months can go by without repair.   This is unacceptable.

Our resolution to be heard at the full Council meeting on Wednesday 13 September, if successful, would instruct the Cabinet Member for Environment to carry out a full review of the Council’s highway inspection and maintenance programme to ensure it is delivering an efficient service in tackling the blight of potholes and minimising the risks posed to road users and pedestrians and to report its findings to Councillors at the next Full Council meeting in November.

But what else can we do to improve the situation bearing in mind that it usually tops the list of complaints in local surveys that we undertake?

There should be better communication with residents about pothole filling and maintaining roads, especially after a report by a resident.

There should be greater clarity on decision-making by Highway Officers so that residents having a better understanding of the timescale for repairs and what can, and cannot be repaired.

The increased use of technology should clearly help all this, and it will help Highway Inspectors spend more time assessing and commissioning repairs together with checking the quality of work, and less time dealing with correspondence or complaints.

One of the most important issues is involving and encouraging residents, Council staff and Councillors to report potholes and issues on the highway.

Why can’t the refuse operative, or social worker visiting a property report problems with potholes on a local street?

What about volunteer “street champions”?

Devon County Council have successfully established a “Community Road Warden scheme”.  Each warden is a highways “champion” for their designated area – whether one street or a few streets or village.   They are responsible for reporting potholes and other issues to the Council – and can do it far more frequently that a Highways Inspector can visit.

They could organise volunteers and carry out minor works such as weed control, and sign cleaning, before they become a safety issue.  To ensure they can work safely on the highway Devon County Council provide free training for the volunteers, equipment and third party liability cover for properly completed volunteer work.

Street Champions could be rewarded for their work – with a council tax reduction – for the effort they are making in their community.

We already have a wealth of volunteers – from homewatch, to residents and tenants associations. Why not tap into their potential – to help the Council and improve their communities?

As part of the overall review and as a tribute to Roger Hamer we ask that Bury Council look at the scheme adopted by Devon County Council and consider a pilot scheme in Ramsbottom. It’s three Councillors are more than happy to work with the Council and residents in that respect.”