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.
Eleven public questions were submitted as follows:-
· Six questions were submitted that related generally to parking issues in the vicinity of Stepping Hill Hospital. The Mayor exercised her discretion under Council Meeting Procedure Rule 10.3 to group together those questions.
The Cabinet Member for Sustainable Stockport (Councillor Sheila Bailey) responded that the Council was very aware of the demand for on-street car parking near Stepping Hiss Hospital which had resulted in the streets around Stepping Hill being very parked up on most days. The Council also appreciated the strength of feeling in the local community and had worked very hard with the hospital and the Stepping Hill Neighbourhood Action Group over the last two years to look at how the Council could, if possible, ensure that local residents were able to park near their homes.
It was stated that the hospital had introduced a number of measures such as reducing car parking costs and promoting flexible working methods to increase the number of staff who worked away from the hospital although it was accepted that these have only made a very small difference.
It was clearly the case that there were more cars in Stockport but road space for parking them was finite. This meant that in some locations residents were unable to park near their home. However, completely stopping car parking on the streets to non-residents would mean there was insufficient car parking in the locality for those using and working at the nearby school, local health centre, shops, businesses and the hospital. The Council was therefore reviewing and would continue to review what options were available to try and deal with this which would create a balance between allowing some street parking for non-residents and also for protecting local residents.
It was stated that the work on this was ongoing and there was at present a consultation ongoing, the results of which would be discussed with officers and if there was a solution, then the Council would try very hard to find one.
However, the problem with parking across Stockport, wherever people lived, was increasingly difficult and consideration needed to be given to the fact that Stockport had largely been developed long before there were so many cars and the incidence of problems that were now being seen by the shortage of car parking was not restricted to the area around Stepping Hill but was in areas across Stockport.
Councillor Bailey further stated that with regard to the issue of the new build at Stepping Hill Hospital, The Council would have discussions with the hospital regarding the arrangements they would put in place to deal with construction traffic and the overspill of parking while the work was being completed. There had to be a specific arrangement that would protect as far as possible residents from any additional problems that may be incurred in connection with this.
It was confirmed that Councillor David Mellor, who was the Council’s representative on the Greater Manchester Transport Committee, would be raising again with Stagecoach the fact that the northbound 192 bus did not enter into the hospital grounds as the southbound 192 did, which had previously been cited as a problem for people with mobility issues
Councillor Bailey also stated that the Council would also look to arrange a meeting with Adrian Belton, the chair of Stockport NHS Foundation Trust, and would write to Adrian Belton and ask him if he would be prepared to meet with residents to discuss the issues that had been raised at the meeting this evening to see whether or not the hospital could do any more than they already had, and what plans they had to deal with the construction work that was imminent.
Councillor Bailey then referred to the issues with street cleansing that had been raised, and agreed that it was extremely difficult for staff to be able to clean road that were parked up with cars. It was stated that there had been attempts to erect notices alerting residents and visitors that the street was due to be clean, but that these had been largely ignored.
However, Councillor Bailey stated that it was nonetheless the case that grids had to be cleaned and gullies had to be swept and that there would have to be a considerable effort made to ensure that, if necessary, roads were closed off while the work was being done.
· Relating to the declaration of a climate emergency by the Council and when the Council would publish an action plan detailing how this would be delivered.
The Cabinet Member for Sustainable Stockport (Councillor Sheila Bailey) responded that she agreed that urgent action was required, and that this matter would be referred to the task and finish group that was being formed as a direct result of the Climate Emergency motion passed by the Council and which was due to meet in October.
· Relating to failure for the application by the Council for funding for the A6 to M60 bypass to make the regional shortlist and whether this should give supporters of the bypass pause for thought.
Councillor Lisa Smart reiterated an invitation previously extended to the questioner for a more detailed discussion on the issues he had raised, and then responded that the campaign to build the A6 to M60 bypass sat alongside a number of other campaigns that were being run, and particularly in relation to improvements to public transport in the area.
Councillor Smart pointed to the ongoing work to address Clean Air that was being undertaken at a Greater Manchester level, and the motion that was due to be considered later in this meeting in relation to the impact of engine idling.
Councillor Smart then stated that while it was the case that the funding bid for the proposed bypass had been rejected at this stage, there remained overwhelming support within the ward she represented for the bypass to be built. This support was the result of the sustained impact that traffic congestion was having on major routes through the area which resulted in stationary traffic and a consequent negative impact on air quality as well as lost productivity.
· Relating to the apparent conflict between the declaration of a Climate Emergency by the Council and its ongoing support for the development and expansion of Manchester Airport.
The Deputy Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Resources, Commissioning & Governance (Councillor Tom McGee) responded that Manchester Airport was a valuable asset for the whole Greater Manchester community with upwards of 20,000 jobs reliant on its continued success. Councillor McGee stated that Manchester Airport saw themselves as one of the leading airports in Britain with regard to reducing emissions including their work to increase travel to the airport by public transport.
· Relating to the number of electric car charging points that were out of service.
The Deputy Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Resources, Commissioning & Governance (Councillor Tom McGee) responded that Transport for Greater Manchester, who were responsible for the electric car charging points, was in the process of renegotiating the current contract for their maintenance. In the interim, Councillor McGee stated that he would take up the issue of any currently out of service charging points with Transport for Greater Manchester if these were brought to his attention.
One further question was submitted where the questioner was not present at the meeting, and in accordance with the Code of Practice, the Chief Executive was requested to respond to the questioners in writing.