Roger Hayes

Liberal Democrat Councillor for Smithills

‘Bedroom Tax’ – room for hope

July 22nd, 2014 by rogerhayes
Comment?

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.

DOFFCOCKER ROUNDABOUT

July 10th, 2014 by rogerhayes
Comment?

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
Comment?

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
Comment?

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
Comment?

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).

 

 

Bolton only Council locally to increase Council Tax

March 4th, 2014 by rogerhayes
Comment?

Bolton’s above inflation Council Tax rise contrasts sharply with what other local Councils have been able to do.     £ symbol

A survey of other local Councils shows the following results:

  • Manchester (Labour)                         Council Tax Frozen
  • Salford (Labour)                                 Council Tax Frozen
  • Bury (Labour)                                      Council Tax Frozen
  • Wigan (Labour)                                   Council Tax Frozen
  • Blackburn with Darwen (Labour)    Council Tax Frozen
  • Rochdale (Labour)                               Council Tax Frozen
  • Oldham (Labour)                                  Council Tax Frozen
  • Stockport (Lib Dem)                            Council Tax Frozen
  • Trafford (Con)                                       Council Tax Frozen

We put forward a fully costed amendment ( see details elsewhere on this site) which would have allowed Bolton  to also freeze its Council Tax while investing £5 million in local roads.

Residents will find it hard to understand why the Labour Council has insisted on putting up Council Tax again when they were offered a £1 million grant to freeze it, and had underspent this year by another £1.5 million.

 

 

 

 

Employment

March 2nd, 2014 by rogerhayes
Comment?

The recovery would not be happening without the Liberal Democrats’ work to build a stronger economy and a fairer society.

The number of people in work has increased by 193,000 in the last quarter and the number of women in work has reached a record high of 14 million. In the last three months unemployment fell by 125,000. The number of young people in work increased by 49,000. The number of young people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance is now 123,100 lower than in May 2010.     key_one_million_jobs small

The Government has worked hard to repair and rebalance the economy, helping to create 1.6 million new private sector jobs since the election.

COUNCIL TAX TO GO UP

February 19th, 2014 by rogerhayes
Comment?

This year’s Council Tax rise proposed by Bolton’s Labour Council is an increase of 1.94% – marginally above the current rate of inflation.

In doing that, the Council will turn down the £1 million on offer from the Government if it had been frozen. At a time when times are hard for everybody due to the aftermath of the financial crash of 2008, most households did not need this extra cost.

I believe that it could have been frozen to help family budgets. Underspending by Council Departments this year has meant a saving of nearly £1 million. Add to that the various ‘reserves’ that are held, the £1 million extra the Government would have given us and the larger than expected receipts Bolton will get from the Manchester Airport and the sale of the Smithills Estate and I believe this increase is unnecessary.                          004

Last year (when there were no elections) Council Tax went up by 3.9%. The two previous years (when there were elections) Council Tax was frozen. Are they related? or am I being too cynical?

Potholes in Gargrave Avenue

February 14th, 2014 by rogerhayes
Comment?

The state of many residential roads is appalling, and I must be reporting some potholes every single day.

Gargrave Avenue is particularly bad with potholes near the kerb for nearly the whole length. What makes it worse is that due to parked cars it is almost impossible not to drive through the potholes.                                                          Gargrave Avenue potholes 1 small

The (relatively) good news is that I have been promised that these will be repaired quite quickly.

Takeaway application refused

February 7th, 2014 by rogerhayes
Comment?

Bolton Council’s Planning Committee has refused an application to allow the disused dry cleaners/laundrette on the corner of Chorley Old Road and Stratford Avenue to become a Hot Food Takeaway. The applicant had wanted to be able to open seven days a week, from 9am to 11 pm.                                                         Launderette small

The application had led to 14 letters of objection and a petition of 109 signatures. Concerns included smells, noise, traffic and parking, litter and the possibility of attracting anti-social behaviour.

Residents would have been happy for the premises to become a retail outlet or financial services premises (which was also applied for), but Councillors were advised that the application had to be dealt with as a whole.

A local resident and I both addressed the Committee to ask for refusal. Planning Officers had recommended that the application should be approved, but I am pleased to say it was refused unanimously.

The applicant can now either appeal to a Government Planning Inspector or submit an application for a more acceptable use.

 

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