This is an opportunity for Members of Council to ask the Mayor, Members of the Executive or the Chairs of any Committee or Sub-Committee a question on notice under Procedure Rule 10.2.
The Mayor reported that 6 questions had been received under Procedure Rule 10.2.
(a) Councillor Evans asked the following question, the first of two questions for which he had given notice:
“Could the Executive Member for Environmental and Regulatory Services, as our representative on the Clean Air Committee, advise the Council how much it is costing to change the signage across Greater Manchester to read ‘Under Revue’ on the 1,309 CAZ signs installed across the city-region, including Trafford, so far?”
In response, Councillor Adshead, the Executive Member stated that the figure was £186,000.
As a supplementary question Councillor Evans enquired whether the Executive Member would agree that the scheme should now be scrapped. Councillor Adshead advised that since there was a clear directive from the Government to introduce a Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone, only the Government could decide upon the issue.
(b) Councillor Evans asked the following question, the second of two questions for which he had given notice:
“The December 2021, January 2022 and February 2022 Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) Corporate Issues and Reform Scrutiny Committee meetings were due to consider budgets under Andy Burnham’s and GMCA’s control. Budgets for the people of Greater Manchester worth hundreds of millions of pounds. The GMCA Budget this year is around £246 million, the GM Mayoral Budget over £127 million, the transport budget hundreds of millions more and Andy Burnham’s precept charge was to be part of the discussion tabled.
• The meetings were cancelled, largely due to a lack of attendance from Labour members.
• The Liberal Democrat committee chair exempted the budgets from call in despite a commitment to the contrary.
• The budgets passed without a single question in formal scrutiny.
Does the Leader of the Council think it is acceptable that a multi-million-pound budget affecting every Trafford resident is passed with no regard to the right of councillors to challenge and oversee the authority’s finances?"
In response, Councillor A. Western, the Leader of the Council replied to say that it was not.
Councillor Evans asked as a supplementary question whether the Leader of the Council would agree foster closer relations in the new municipal year in an attempt to find members across Greater Manchester with a real interest in scrutiny. Councillor A. Western reminded Members of the Motion brought by the Conservative Group to Council on 24 November 2021 (Minute 52 refers) and the actions taken arising from it. He advised that there was an ongoing review of scrutiny processes across Greater Manchester and that he was happy to work with anyone willing to improve those processes.
(c) Councillor Boyes asked the following question for which he had given notice:
“It is well known that despite spending a considerable sum on upgrading the junction of Park Road, Timperley with the main A56, Chester Road, the traffic flow south bound has become even worse with tail backs at the busiest times, even post Covid, often exceeding a mile long.
This is not only frustrating to commuters and local residents but is also producing unnecessary increases in pollution levels.
Can Members have a definitive answer to the question often asked by residents, ‘Is it actually possible, even if it means using compulsory purchase powers, to acquire some of the frontages of the shops, to facilitate a left turn filter lane from the A56 into Park Road and thus once and for all resolve what is such a headache for Trafford residents?”
Councillor Adshead, Executive Member for Environmental and Regulatory Services advised that since the A56 was a major route in and out of Trafford many of its junctions, including that at Park Road, unfortunately had queuing traffic in various directions at certain times of the day. Whilst it was possible to look at acquiring an area of shop frontage to potentially look at alleviating this problem it was not something that would be affordable and compulsory purchase of land was a long, complex and costly process which the Council and Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) would not be looking to pursue.
As part of the Active Travel agenda, improving pedestrian and alternative travel options across the Borough was now a key priority across Greater Manchester, therefore, any potential redesign would have to look at also improving cycling and pedestrian movements. Reducing the area for movement of pedestrians at this junction would reduce the current pedestrian capacity in a location that was especially well used by pedestrians.
TfGM had however been asked to look at the traffic signal timings and traffic flows at the junction to see if any changes could be made that would assist in improving the movement of traffic through the junction.
As a supplementary question Councillor Boyes asked that the works regarding the phasing of the traffic lights took place in an expedite manner and perhaps the Council could have a report back no later than the October 2022 Council Meeting. Councillor Adshead advised that a significant number of utilities at the location further complicated the matter, however, acknowledging that timescales were dependant on joint working with TFGM, he would supply Councillor Boyes with the details as soon as the information became available.
(d) Councillor Morgan asked the following question for which he had given notice:
“In the 2017/18 financial year, the last year Trafford was under a Conservative administration, Trafford MBC was 16th in the National Recycling League tables according to letsrecycle.com. Could the Executive Member for Environmental and Regulatory Services please give the latest publicly available position in the league?”
Councillor Adshead, Executive Member for Environment and Regulatory Services reported that the latest publically available data was from 2020/21 and that Trafford was 53rd out of 338 Local Authorities in the league table.
In addition, the Executive Member considered it was worth noting that the 2020/21 pandemic and work from home mandate saw the amount of types of waste collected change significantly. The amount of waste collected for recycling from households in 2020/21 increased however the amount on non-recyclable waste increased more than the waste for recycling. In early 2020 the Council also continued to see a significant reject rate for paper and cardboard but a significant campaign reduced the amount of contamination later in the year.
Overall in England the official ‘waste from households’ recycling rate was 44.0% in 2020, down 1.5 percentage points from 45.5% in 2019. Trafford was still significantly higher than the average recycling rate at 53.3%
As a supplementary question, Councillor Morgan sought confirmation of the total cost of the increased charges Trafford has had to pay as a result of the 6% reduction in recycling rates. Cllr Adshead agreed to provide Cllr Morgan with the figures and added that the Green Bin Tax at the time significantly impacted upon recycling rates for that year and once scrapped there was evidence of the rates rising before the pandemic took effect.
(e) Councillor Holden asked the following question for which he had given notice:
“In a recent press release celebrating the Secondary Schools Offer Day, the Council confirmed the offering of one of their three preferences to 91% of Trafford children.
Could the Lead Member for Education tell us how many of these young people were offered a place at their first preference school?”
Councillor K. Carter, the Lead Member for Education confirmed that of the 3340 on time applications received 2542 children were allocated their first preference which equated to 76%. The Lead Member explained, however, that Trafford had a high proportion of illegible applications, nearly 400 in the past year, where Grammar School preferences are selected and then the entrance exam was not passed which meant that a high school selected counted as their first preference. Taking those into account the figure was 82% which was in line with the national average of 81.1%.
Referring to children that receive schools outside of their community, Councillor Holden asked as a supplementary question whether the Lead Member could share the plan that exists to maintain community cohesion by increasing the possibility of children going onto secondary school with their friends and colleagues from their primary school. Sharing Councillor Holden’s concerns, Councillor K. Carter acknowledged the dilemma that on paper Trafford appeared to have enough school places, however, they were not where there were pressures. There was a School Place Board and regards the plan, the Lead Member agreed to ask the Board for the information.
(f) Councillor Miss Blackburn asked the following question for which she had given notice:
“Would the Executive Member inform me why money is being spent on white road markings being repainted whilst there are hundreds of pot holes that require filling?”
In response, the Executive Member for Environment and Regulatory Services, Councillor Adshead advised that as the Highway Authority, Trafford had a statutory duty to maintain all of the highway asset other than just the road surface, including road markings which provided road users with guidance on how to use the road and were an important contributory factor for improving road safety particularly at junctions.
White line replacement was often undertaken in large areas or on entire roads as the major cost was in mobilisation of the equipment, whilst the relative costs of replacing white lines was small in comparison to repair of potholes. Included in replacement markings were lane demarcations, left and right turn lanes, give way and stop lines, which if were faded beyond recognition and there was a subsequent accident, the Council could be liable for any claim. Therefore highway maintenance budgets were spent on a number of different repairs including potholes, signage and road markings to keep road users safe when using the roads.
Councillor Miss Blackburn asked as a supplementary question how much the Council had paid out in compensation to road users for damage caused to their vehicles coming into contact with pot holes in the current municipal year. Councillor Adshead asked Councillor Miss Blackburn to liaise with him further and he would provide that information.