To receive any questions from and provide answers to the public in relation to matters relevant to the Council’s activities.
Members of the public were invited to put questions to the Mayor and Councillors on matters within the powers and duties of the Council.
Eight public questions were submitted as follows:-
· Relating to why the Council was allowing the creation of Stockport Together alongside the selling off of parts of Stepping Hill Hospital which would destroy and privatise the NHS.
The Cabinet Member for Health (Councillor Tom McGee) responded that part of the assumptions in the question were not accurate, such as the claim that beds would be cut by 30%, whereas the aim was to reduce emergency admissions by 30% which was because Stockport was one of the highest admitters in the country. Further, there was no aim to reduce access to emergency services whereas there was a plan to reduce the need for those services.
· Relating to whether the Council would commit to continuing to fully fund fully functional services in Stockport to protect those people who had suffered or who do suffer from domestic violence.
The Cabinet Member for Communities & Housing (Councillor Sheila Bailey) responded that there were no plans to change the budget for these services in Stockport.
· Relating to the traffic modelling used with regard to the A6-M60 Relief Road Business Case and whether this was questionable in the light of such modelling taking place in advance of the opening of the A6 to Manchester Airport Relief Road and in advance of the final proposals in the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework.
The Cabinet Member for Economy & Regeneration (Councillor Kate Butler) responded that traffic modelling was a complex issue and the modelling done to date has been completed in full accordance with government guidance. It was commented that should the scheme be progressed through the development process, then the traffic model would be reviewed and updated where necessary.
· Relating to why the Council denied that the Stockport Together proposals amounted to a Sustainability and Transformation Plan and when the Council would tell the truth and abandon the plan that would eventually leave many residents without healthcare.
The Cabinet Member for Health (Councillor Tom McGee) responded that Stockport Together was not a Sustainability and Transformation Plan, as Stockport Together was a bespoke organisation which predated the introduction of Sustainability and Transformation Plans.
· Relating to the replacement of play equipment in Bean Leach Park, Hazel Grove.
The Cabinet Member for Communities & Housing (Councillor Sheila Bailey) responded that the play improvements at Bean Leach Park had been funded from the Play Builder Fund along with 22 other play areas in Stockport. At that time a grass mat surfacing had been provided which has subsequently not proven to be as robust as was originally thought. Inspections had taken place which had resulted a number of pieces of equipment being removed because of the danger of falling from height onto the surface. A priority list had been drawn up for the replacement of the grass mat surfacing across the Borough and Bean Leach Park was included in the Priority 2 phase, with Priority 1 phase almost being completed.
· Relating to whether the Council would lobby the Mayor of Greater Manchester to implement a comprehensive half price ticketing scheme for 16-18 year olds or the proposals for free bus travel for that age group as promised in advance of the election.
The Cabinet Member for Economy & Regeneration (Councillor Kate Butler) responded that she agreed that there needed to be further progress on this matter, but that this was the start of the Mayor of Greater Manchester’s tenure and he remained committed to cheaper bus travel for young people and the current phase benefited those young people who had no need to travel on a daily basis.
Councillor Taylor further commented that transportation in Greater Manchester was going through a transitional period, and that comparisons with Transport for London was not valid as they currently had a greater range of powers than Transport for Greater Manchester.
· Relating to why the Council was proposing to build a dual carriageway within 150 metres of Dial Park Primary School despite international consensus that schools should not be within such proximity to busy roads.
The Cabinet Member for Economy & Regeneration (Councillor Kate Butler) responded that she shared some of the concerns raised, however the M60 to A6 business case was designed to provide a high level overview of the overall scheme. If the scheme was progressed further the Council would work with all stakeholders as the scheme progressed through the feasibility stage and design stage.
· Relating to whether the planned 27.7% reduction in emergency medical beds in Stockport would not take place until such a time that it had been demonstrated that those beds were not needed.
The Deputy Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care (Councillor Wendy Wild) responded that the Council had no authority in reductions to hospital bed numbers with such service decisions being taken by the NHS.