Roger Hayes

Liberal Democrat Councillor for Smithills


September 19th, 2014 by rogerhayes

Scotland has decided it wishes to remain as part of the United Kingdom by a majority greater than many pundits were predicting.

As somebody who is proud to be part Scottish myself, I am relieved, and applaud the good sense of the Scottish people. I think that the whole of the UK is stronger together than it would have been apart. The very high turnout figure shows that this has been a great night for democracy.

Minds will now be concentrated on what needs to be done to implement the promised further devolution of powers to Scotland in the event of a ‘No’ vote.                                                                                                  Flags

That process must not ignore the implications for the rest of the UK and for the regions of England. 

Promises have been made to preserve the ‘Barnett Formula’ of funding which means that Scotland receives more Government funding per person than England does. We must try to make all parties accept that there needs to be more devolution and fairer funding for regions like North West England and towns like Bolton.

20 mph speed limits

August 28th, 2014 by rogerhayes

There has been a lot of debate recently about whether or not 20 mph limits in areas work.         20 mph zones 5

It depends what you mean by ‘work’. If you mean do all drivers start to drive at 20 mph or less, then of course they don’t. Evidence shows that two things happen:

  1. the general speed in the area reduces; and
  2. less traffic uses it as a ‘cut through’ because drivers believe the route will be slower

The Council has agreed – unanimously – that 20 mph limits will be introduced on all residential roads. Conversations are also being held with the police to try to get better enforcement.

Funding is a problem, but in Smithills so far we have got several 20 mph areas:     20 mph entrance at Doffcocker 2

  • the whole of Johnson Fold;
  • part of Church Road, Doffcocker Lane, Rawlyn Road and Woodsley Road (paid for by the Area Forum – the entrance from Chorley Old Road is pictured above);
  • the area around Lowndes Street, including Stanley Road, Shipton Street, Sofa Street, Lonsdale Road, Jedburgh Avenue and several other roads (paid for by Wainhomes as a condition of building on the former Guide Dog Site;
  • The areas around Smithills Croft Road, Moss Lane and Barrow Bridge Road (paid for by the Area Forum; and
  • Bennetts Lane

We will try to include other areas if residents want them included and if the money is available.

A question of priorities …

August 15th, 2014 by rogerhayes

Several residents have asked me why the Council is spending a lot of money removing perfectly good paving in the town centre to replace it with new, when they cannot to keep roads repaired in outlying areas like Smithills.

First there was the new paving in Deansgate by Marks & Spence and the Natwest Bank – that cost just under £500,000. Now similar work is being done in Hotel Street and Mealhouse Lane (see picture); estimated cost £235,000. Work in Great Moor Street and Blackhorse Street will cost £140,000. Then there is the planned ‘revamp’ of Newport Street – expected to cost £1million.            New paving in Bolton Town Centre small

It is nice to have new paving BUT is it a priority to spend that money when most of the Borough’s roads are in a terrible state?

In the debate on this year’s Council budget, Liberal Democrats proposed a one-off spending on roads of £5million - mainly on residential roads which have been neglected for years. We showed how that could be funded without any increase to Council Tax (you will remember that Labour put Council Tax up above inflation). True to form, Labour voted against that, so we were defeated.

Where do their priorities really lie?

Steps at Barrow Bridge

July 29th, 2014 by rogerhayes

The steps that lead from Bazley Street down to Barrow Bridge Road had got into a very poor state. They were getting overgrown with weeds and slippery. Many people from the village us them.

We have got the Council to clean them several times in the past, but this time they were tackled by Community Payback (organised by the Council) following our requests.

We think that Community Payback have done an excellent job and have asked the Council to pass that on.   Barrow Bridge steps small

Congratulations Bolton At Home

July 26th, 2014 by rogerhayes

I must congratulate officers of Bolton At Home for their swift action in one recent case.

Residents of the bungalows on Moss Bank Way (Johnson Fold) complained to me about the mass of long grass and weeds in front of their homes. This was in the space between a wall and fencing erected several years ago. As well as looking a mess, it was likely that seeds would spread to the mostly very tidy gardens the residents have.

Within a very short time of my raising this problem with Bolton At Home they were making arrangements for the weeds and grass to be treated with weedkiller. When that has had the desired effect, the area will be strimmed.        Weeds Moss Bank Way bungalows 1 small

Longer term, Bolton At Home are planning to move the fencing next to the wall and widen the path in front of the bungalows. As well as preventing the problem arising in future years, this will make it easier for the several residents with mobility scooters to get about.

Well done Bolton At Home!

‘Bedroom Tax’ – room for hope

July 22nd, 2014 by rogerhayes

Liberal Democrats in Bolton have been opposed to the so called ‘Bedroom Tax’ since its introduction.

We accept a need to reduce the colossal benefits expenditure, but many aspects of this legislation are unfair. In particular, we believe that it is totally unfair to penalise people who would like to move to smaller accommodation, but cannot because none is available.                   images

Together with many other Liberal Democrats in local government, we have put pressure on our party leadership to try to get it changed. Last year’s party conference supported that, and as a result Nick Clegg set up a review of the effects of the policy. That review has now reported and the Party is now committed to changes – specifically that there should be no reduction in benefit if smaller accommodation is not available, and that disabled tenants should be exempt.

I support that, but believe that a complete review of the policy is needed.


July 10th, 2014 by rogerhayes

Last year we got very positive feedback about the attractive planting of wildflowers on the Doffcocker roundabout (junction of Chorley Old Road with Moss Bank Way). This year we decided to repeat that, but using a seed mix with poppies included to mark the anniversary of the start of World War 1. It is beginning to look attractive and we have again had positive comments about it.        Doffcocker Roundabout small 1

Funds permitting, we will do this again next year and hopefully include the roundabout at the Barrow Bridge bus terminus – already cleaned up by local volunteers.

Tremendous Local Election Win

June 15th, 2014 by rogerhayes

On 3rd May I marked the 30th anniversary of my first election as a Liberal Councillor for Smithills Ward. In those days it had been a relatively safe Conservative seat, but we managed to grab it by a close 151 votes. This year one of the ways I marked the anniversary was by casting a postal vote for the Liberal Democrat candidate, Andrew Martin.

The political scene in Smithills has changed a lot since then 1984. Boundary and demographic changes and the formation of the Coalition Government means that the Conservative vote has dwindled and the main challenge now comes from Labour. In the last election (2012) Labour came within 46 votes of their first ever win in Smithills – far too close for comfort.

We went into this year’s election with Smithills having the lowest majority of any ward in Bolton and with a new candidate. Smithills was one of Labour’s main targets for a gain, and they poured massive resources into it.

Despite the ‘UKIP factor’ (they got over 800 votes in Smithills) the Liberal Democrat vote actually went up compared with last time, while Labour, the Conservatives and the Greens all went down.    Vote change Smithills

In the circumstances, this was a fantastic result. I would like to thank everybody in Smithills who voted – once again, Smithills had the highest turnout of any ward in Bolton.

Visit from Chris Davies

April 7th, 2014 by rogerhayes

On Saturday 5th April Bolton Liberal Democrats hosted a visit by Chris Davies, MEP. Two of the events featured campaigns Chris has been involved in at the European Parliament.

Chris has been closely involved in moves to conserve fish stocks, and he had the opportunity to discuss the impacts with stallholders at Bolton Market.        Fish Market 1 small

Later in the day we visited Bolton Mountain Rescue at their headquarters. Unlike the other Emergency Services, Mountain Rescue are not exempt from VAT, and Chris is working to change this.            Mountain Rescue 1 small

Chris also found time to help volunteers with the local election campaign and took part in some canvassing.

Cut the ‘Fat Cats’!

March 11th, 2014 by rogerhayes

Labour talks a lot about cuts.

When last year Liberal Democrats suggested that Councillors should take their fair share of the cuts by reducing the Special Responsibility Allowances (SRAs) paid to some senior Councillors, Labour refused to touch their own, but did reduce those paid to senior opposition Councillors!                                                                                   FatCat4 small

Many residents were amazed to discover that a Council with 6o members considers that 30 SRAs are justified, costing nearly £190,000 a year! Of these, 23 (£161,000 a year) are paid to Labour Councillors, 4 (£25,000) to Conservatives and 1 (£2,800) to a Liberal Democrat – me.

Lib Dems believe that most of these (paid in addition to the Basic Allowance) could be scrapped, and proposed a cut of £60,000 from 1st June. All the SRAs – including mine – would have been considered for removal. Surprise, surprise Labour (and the Conservatives) voted against this.                  FatCat3 small

The Cabinet

All major decisions in Bolton Council are taken by a Cabinet of 14 Councillors (all Labour). Some meetings are held in public, but most are in private. Only 3 of the Councillors (all from central Bolton wards) can take any decisions – the others are just there to ‘advise’

The Council Tax payers pay the Cabinet over £114,000 a year to do that job.                 FatCat9 small

When the Liberal Democrats ran Bolton they managed very well with just 8 – all of whom took decisions.

NOTE FOR THE RECORD As Group Leader I get an SRA of £2,799 a year (the Labour Leader gets £29,750 and the Conservative Leader gets £10,047).