Gorse Hill Labour

A regular blog and updates from Mike Cordingley, Councillor for Gorse Hill Ward in Trafford – Gtr Manchester.

A councillor’s update from behind the lockdown

Lockdown Blues

I’ve been remiss in not blogging since virus arrived. I wanted to avoid getting in the way of the advice coming from the authorities whether Government, NHS or Council.

There’s been an incredible effort by local people to beat this threat and we all acknowledge the commitment of workers in essential services. As well as health and care workers, I pay particular tribute to our shop workers, our street cleaners, refuse collectors, bus drivers, delivery drivers, those that keep our drains and sewage systems working. In fact I pay tribute to everyone who has worked or volunteered during this period.

Lockdown commenced on 23rd March. Almost everyone agreed we should reduce the transmission of the virus through a massive reduction in social interaction. The UK threw in the towel as far as tracing and containment was concerned and opted for a lesser version of the lockdowns introduced in Spain and Italy.

There’s talk of lockdown now being eased but it’s difficult to see it happening quickly. The death toll in hospital across the three days to Saturday 25th April was over 1,900. This about the level we had at the beginning of April. So we’re nowhere near the levels we had when lockdown started (less than 150 – 3 day rolling). Hopefully we can see the trend of reduced deaths continue. We’re only at the start of this.

So what’s going on during lockdown?

Planning continues – The biggest planning application we’ve been dealing with recently is the nine storey hotel at Lostock Circle. This should have been heard at the April meeting but it’s been deferred to allow an impact assessment on the hotel market locally (known as the sequential test).

Gorse Hill Pub is up for sale. Obviously we’ll keep an eye on this but with lockdown in operation there’s a worry about the whole sector.

Council meetings are suspended. We’ve had a couple of online video conferences but essentially normal democratic scrutiny is unavoidably suspended. We try to do our best by email but it is difficult.

Council Finances – Trafford relies heavily on council tax and business rates. We anticipate the impact this year will be well over £30m. This is stark. It affects all councils and really worries me. I don’t trust the government and I don’t trust their solutions. They invariably make hedge fund holders and asset strippers richer, whilst the rest of us struggle.

Stretford Mutual Aid

Stretford Mutual Aid has been established at Stretford Public Hall as hub to support various local support groups in delivering to individual needs such things as:

  • Food shopping
  • Getting fuel (if you’re on a pre-paid meter)
  • Getting essential medication
  • Looking after pets
  • Someone to talk to

If you live alone, are struggling to make ends meet, are self-isolating or generally in need of advice or support please contact 0300 330 9073 (8.30am to 5.30pm, Monday to Friday).

Select option 4 for Trafford and then ignore the options for ‘goods and services’ or ‘pensions’ – just hold the line and they will signpost you to Stretford Mutual Aid.

Gorgeous Gorse Hill, Lostock Community Partnership, Love Gorse Hill and especially Gorse Hill Studios are all supporting and part of this initiative. It’s no surprise to me that local people initiated this response almost immediately that lockdown was called.

Labour has a new leader

For the first time in years I think, I voted for the leader, deputy leader and NEC candidates who all won. I must be growing ‘on message’ for the first time in my life.

It was always going to be difficult at this time for whoever won the leadership. The challenge is to establish credibility as a potential party of Government. I wish Sir Kier well.

Labour’s leaked dossier

For those not following Labour’s in-house troubles, the dossier reveals a party HQ in which individuals modelled themselves on characters from the Thick of It satire, who were more interested in undermining Jeremy Corbyn’s 2017 General Election campaign and used their position to trip up and embarrass the leadership.

None of this is a shock – to be honest, Labour Party’s HQ had been riven with cliques long before Jeremy Corbyn was chosen as our leader. However, those who were in positions at the top of the bureaucracy, whose wages were being paid by ordinary members, who chose to work against their employers and are still benefiting from the patronage of the party should have the ties with the party removed. We’ve got to put an end to this in-fighting and we can’t have these people like Lord Iain McNicoll still involved in any way.

We need a reform of the party bureaucracy. I would advocate strengthening the regional democracy. They should hold HQ to account rather than the other way round.

We still have to deal with antisemitism within the party and it was reassuring that the introduction made clear that it continues to be a blight that has to be dealt with.

It will be a test of both Kier Starmer and Angela Rayner. If they get this right, then the whole party can move forward together. I worry that they may simply try to consign it to a different time and leave a festering wound that will come back to hurt them.

Casework Review

Assisted bin collections have been the one area of the refuse service that has troubled me during lockdown. I have had a couple of cases that could have been handled much better.

This doesn’t detract from the praise I bestowed at top of this page. I do think our refuse collectors have done a fantastic job. The green bin collections are something I really didn’t expect to resume before normality returned so it’s been a real bonus.


Business Relief – called in on a small number of cases to try to help resolve. The teams support these have been working round the clock and they’ve been tremendous in getting info back to businesses.


Hospital Visiting for serious cases. Sadly this is one those really awful aspects of social distancing. There’s no easy answer. With such a contagious disease amongst us, hospitals have had to impose really hard restrictions on visits even where the patient’s illness is not covid-19. Patient Liaison have been incredibly understanding and have tried to facilitate electronic communication etc but it’s incredibly hard on the family. One reason we really need to beat this virus.


Surrender of rented property on death of tenant – clearly lockdown creates special problems when surrendering a home and I have had clarification that account will be taken of these difficulties. Definitely get in touch with a councillor or citizens advice if a landlord is making demands to remove belongings etc.


Foster Care Support during Covid – Lockdown is difficult for us all but for the council’s foster parents it brings extra burdens. With schools closed and at the same time having to manage social distancing there’s clearly a need to support foster parents and it’s something that’s been raised locally.


Social Distancing whilst mobile and not in a car – I am particularly engaged in this issue and it’s one that’s deserving of it’s own piece, but the second class status we give to pedestrians and cyclists is one that’s giving problems when it comes to social distancing. Anyone who’s walked, cycled or ran will have found themselves in the middle of the road when passing with the 2m margin.

Public Transport will be an issue too when lockdown eventually eases.


Gorse Hill – Behind the Takeaways – There’s a build up of commercial waste bins and the drains are blocked with congealed gluck. Seriously, what sort of an advert do they think this makes for their produce?

I’m hoping Environmental Enforcement can take action and perhaps even involve Food Standards. I want to support businesses, but not if they fail to look after their premises and surroundings.

I do want to hear your views

Please leave a comment below or join the debate on Facebook if that’s where you find this post.

Lastly…

We will get through this. Stretford is a wonderful town and it’s a place where we look after each other. So don’t suffer alone, do get in touch and don’t don’t forget the Stretford Mutual Aid number 0300 330 9073.

Stay classy.

Elinor Ostrom

This interests me. I’ve never come across Nobel prize winning economist, Elinor Ostrom. I’m going to learn more because this coincides with much that inspires me.

Scale matters. For Ostrom, localism is the only real model of democracy. The current – minimal – view of democracy – where we occasionally vote for a representative at one or another tier of government, maybe pick an option in an occasional referendum – is fine for what it is. But there are deeper kinds of legitimacy when decisions are made closer to home – giving people meaningful control over the institutions, services, and assets that have the biggest impact on our own neighbourhoods.

Council Budget Time

Bit late with this for one reason or another but I wanted to do a write up on Trafford’s Budget for 20/21.

Council Income

Unlike the national Government, councils only have a few ways that they can raise income to spend on our behalf.

  • Council Tax – the obvious one levied in 8 bands. Regressive, the more valuable your property, the less the rate of council tax you pay as a percentage of its value. And we have some very valuable properties.

£11m for Scooby Doo Mansion

  • Fees and Charges – Some councils make as much from parking charges and fines than they take from council tax. Westminster Council takes in more than £80m from parking alone. Then you have all the bus lane infringement type penalties etc. Westminster Council has the lowest council tax in the country and some of the most expensive properties. Tourists are money!
  • Central Government Funding and Business Rates – Trafford’s business rates are pooled with the other Greater Manchester Authorities before they come back to us, but whilst the rates themselves are set by Government there’s still financial incentive for us to support business growth.

    Government Grants are by nature subject to the vagaries of central government’s priorities. Increasingly we are seeing Government ministers claiming they are putting money into social care when all they’ve really done is to allow councils to increase council tax.
  • Income from investment – Trafford’s asset investment strategy gives a sustainable revenue stream whilst facilitating development and regeneration and also supporting local authority functions.
  • Reserves – Trafford traditionally has held low reserves compared to other councils.

This year’s budget changes

  • Trafford’s net budget is increasing from £169.94m to £175.20m or 3%.
  • Council Tax is increasing by 3.99%

You can see from those two figures above we’re putting more in than we get back. This Tory Government is still not pulling its weight and it’s leaving council tax payers to make up the difference.

I’m particularly pleased we’re taking £3.8m from the budget support reserve to invest in measures which are expected to increase the quality of services and lead to reduced demand on Children’s Services.

  • We’re increasing the amount we’re able to borrow for asset investment. It’s going to be £500m we can take our investment borrowing up to. So far this strategy is working. I would not abandon the strategy, but I do think we need increasing levels of oversight. The fund is now nearly twice the size originally envisaged.
  • Fees and charges are generally going up modestly.

I am really pleased that Labour controlled Trafford (now entering it’s third year) is continuing to soundly manage the council’s finances. I take a little bit of pride in that, as it was something I really wanted to impress on colleagues and officers in that first year. Tom Ross my successor as cabinet member for finance has improved on this and it’s great to see the investment going into children’s services. We saw what happened in Conservative controlled Northamptonshire with the leadership there bankrupting a council. We will not allow that to happen in Trafford.

The levels of council tax rises that all councils are having to impose does worry me. The council tax system is not designed to carry that weight. It is too much of a burden on young families starting out in life where all their income is being directed to mortgage and family. We should not be placing the financial burden of social care so much on the council tax system. That really needs addressing by central government. We won’t be able to shift it all at once but we urgently need to start the transition to a national care service.

Jane Baugh

Labour in Trafford lost a true heroine of its movement today

Labour in Trafford lost a true heroine of its movement today. It’s so sad that Jane Baugh has passed away. She has been an extraordinary citizen of Trafford and a committed socialist throughout her life.

She was terrific in the council chamber and could dish it out like a prize fighter but would remain the model of decorum outside. She took her civic duties incredibly seriously and was a true leading light of the Sale community. She will be incredibly missed.

Jane and I were often on different sides of the debate but we always had time for each other. Our last exchange was lovely:

Mike: Barry has said it all. Fifty percent of the vote in Priory tells you it’s not just your colleagues who love you, the voters do too.

Jane: Thanks so much Mike. Your kind words really appreciated and keep up the the excellent work. You are an excellent councillor. Fondest regards Jane.

Thank you Jane

Councillor Andrew Western, Trafford Leader of the Council said:

I am devastated by this news. Jane was an incredibly committed and passionate Councillor who always fought for what she believed in. She was a linchpin in the Sale community.

Jane was an astonishingly talented politician. A brilliant speaker and a fearless advocate she was at her best in the Council Chamber championing the causes she felt strongly about.

She was a force of nature. I will miss Jane’s friendship, her encouragement and her support. Most of all I will miss one of the most robust and steadfast voices I have ever known railing against poverty, injustice and intolerance. My thoughts are with Peter and all her family. Rest in peace Jane, you have been an inspiration to us all.

Stormy February

A big thank you to all our services who worked through Storm Ciara. We shouldn’t underestimate the task of getting things back to normal after something like this.

Lostock High

My workload has been particularly focused on Lostock High School and continuity within the school as the head moves on to new challenges. We want to see the changes that have already taken place become embedded. I am still so thrilled at the standards set by pupils as at the previous week’s Holocaust memorial and that’s exactly where we want the school.

Circle Court Hotel

It’s nine storeys and 197 rooms so it’s bigger than I would like, and it’s creating the need for residents’ parking to be displaced. The main focus is on making sure the residents don’t lose out, that they gain from employment opportunities both within the construction and longer term operation of the hotel.

Labour Party Nomination – Lisa gets 12 points from Stretford and Urmston

I voted to nominate Lisa Nandy for leader and Angela Rayner as her deputy. I think for the first time, my choices coincided with the majority of members in Stretford and Urmston Labour Party. So it’s quite nice that I’m mainstream for once. I think Lisa is the one that’s showing the most insight into the reasons we lost and how we go about regaining trust.

Living Streets

Living Streets is the charity promoting Everyday Walking. Essentially normal urban walking to nip down to the shops or get the kids to school. A small group of us has decided to get a Local Living Streets Group set up for Stretford. We know there’s a lot going on to get Bee Networks developed and we’re keen to see that happen, but we’re also keen to put pressure on to improve existing crossings as a matter of urgency through timings etc. and it’s something we want to pursue. We’ve got the seal of approval from Living Streets HQ, so you should be seeing us spring to life in the coming weeks.

Stretford Memorial Hospital and the lack of Health Infrastructure for Stretford/Old Trafford

I noticed Stretford Memorial Hospital came up on the agenda at Health Scrutiny the previous week. There was no report attached so I ran through the YouTube video to see what it was about.

It’s presence on the agenda was triggered by my colleague Councillor Judith Lloyd. Judith quite rightly wanted to know what was happening following the closure Stretford Memorial. She was making the point that there was a dearth of decent quality health resources in the north of the borough. It’s a point I too have been making. The Conservatives steered everything to Altrincham, we now need to make sure that we get some decent facilities here.

January done, Brexit done

A shorter update this week. Quite a bit of casework but two events dominate everything else. Holocaust Memorial Day and Brexit.

We stand together

Trafford’s Holocaust event was on Wednesday. Incredibly well attended, the event grows every year. The theme this year was Stand Together. The event told the story of Sam Walshaw, born in Poland, he was only 11 when war broke out yet, miraculously, survived the horrors of Buchenwald and Dachau. His parents and four of his siblings were gassed at the Treblinka extermination camp. Only Sam and his sister Rachel survived.

Three students from Lostock High school then told their present-day stories. The stand together theme was so apt. We live in an inter-related, co-dependent world and yet populist leaders in this country and abroad, foment division for political gain to an extent that I hope shocks. We need to be shocked. If we view the collective hatred of (our) faith, politics, nationality, skin colour as part of our daily grind without being shocked, then we have already begun preparing the ground for something poisonous to flourish.

I was incredibly moved by the three Lostock students. They had been through so much but they have come through it as incredible human beings and in that, there is so much hope.

Brexit is Done

I didn’t vote for Brexit. I lost.

I’ll not forgive David Cameron for holding the referendum during a period of severe austerity that imposed a loss of place, sustenance and respect on so many in our communities. I do not begrudge holding the referendum, I just begrudge the timing and the entitled self-confidence with which Cameron went into it.

Nevertheless I lost, we lost; and it should have been clear that we had to carry out the people’s instruction. We had to leave. Labour tried to prevaricate. For three years we prevaricated, neither fish nor fowl. Brexit but not this Brexit; Another referendum. And we got hammered for it, we lost communities that had Labour written through like a stick of rock. And I don’t really want to forgive the architect of that disaster, but it looks like I’m going to have to, as I think we’re about to elect him leader.

So Friday was my gammon day. I was a person to avoid all week if truth be told.

Sunday I did a bit of a solo canvass on one side of Gorse Street.