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Local Election 2019

Stuart Anthony Howard-Cofield

Stuart Anthony Howard-Cofield

Green
Littleborough Lakeside Ward

As a growing party, a vote for the Green Party in the local elections on 2nd May is not a wasted vote. With increasing numbers, we can show that there is a thirst for change both locally, and nationally. For too long, our political landscape has been dominated by the same two parties. It is time for real change.

My name is Stuart Howard-Cofield and I am standing for the Green Party in the local elections for Littleborough Lakeside.

I have lived in Littleborough with my wife and two children for 13 years and I am proud to call this beautiful part of the world home.

While the scars of the industrial revolution can still be seen in places, Littleborough residents are lucky to live in a village with a proud and unique local culture. It boasts several striking examples of historical architecture, a fine conservation area, beautiful parklands and a wonderfully restored and repurposed canal. All this with stunning countryside and—the jewel in Rochdale’s crown—Hollingworth Lake on our doorstep. It is not, however, without its issues.

I am keen to see that this unique area is well looked after for our current residents and is handed over to future generations in its best possible state.

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On Boxing Day 2015, we witnessed devastating floods in Littleborough. The floods were said to be a once in a hundred years event. Action is being taken to safeguard against future incidents, however, February this year saw roads closed and houses sandbagged once again on Todmorden Road and its environs due to flooding. The same winter month also saw summer-like temperatures for a few balmy days.

We are in the midst of a Climate Emergency and such incidents are likely to become more frequent. We need our government to take the lead and take action with regards to climate and the environment. But we can also effect change locally and start to pile on the pressure.

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Nationally, Westminster politicians have been tearing themselves apart over Brexit. In the meantime, it feels like the everyday issues which local people face are being ignored or neglected. Austerity continues, policing and services are cut and traffic levels rise as

the rail network continues to frustrate.

As both a cycling and rail commuter, I share the frustrations of many residents with regards to transport infrastructure. Trains are often cramped, delayed, dirty and very old stock. The new platforms being installed at Littleborough and Smithy Bridge stations may well be put in

place to cope with six-carriage trains but most of us would be happy if the four carriages currently promised actually turned up!

Sustainable transport options must be prioritised. Given the current poor infrastructure, many people are put off the idea of walking and cycling around the area to work, or to the shops. Our streets are shaped with the idea of making things easier for cars to get around—often to the detriment of any other road users and local residents.

As an member of ‘Walk Ride GM’ (and its Rochdale sub-group), I am fully behind campaigns across Greater Manchester which look to promote active transportation— trialling bikes being allowed on trams, civilising the school run, traffic-free zones in town centres and ‘pavements for people’. I am very keen that Rochdale council should make the best use of Chris Boardman’s ‘Bee Network’ funds to dramatically improve our streets to enable safe walking and cycling.

Safe and plentiful, but also locally sensitive, solutions must be found to ease traffic and parking levels. Littleborough can often become choked with traffic— particularly on the A58 and Todmorden Rd. Parking, with spaces at a premium, can be a problem both centrally and at Lakeside.

Pavement parking is a concern. It causes difficulties for people with prams or wheelchairs and can be particularly prevalent during the ‘school run’. Meanwhile, the road, kerbside and walkway on Hollingworth Road is deteriorating rapidly due to regular pavement parking by visitors to the Lake.

There should be a priority for traffic wardens and police to keep areas around schools safer for children and others. More efforts must also be made to control speeding and thoughtless driving throughout the area.

I was dismayed to read about proposed cuts to school crossing patrols, with the onus being pushed onto the schools to pay for the service. Removing these crossing patrols increases the danger around schools. Our children have the right to be able to walk or cycle to school safely. They also have the right to be able to breathe clean air.

Having seen elsewhere the success of programmes such as ‘Living Streets’, I firmly believe that the idea of building our streets around people, rather than motor vehicles, is essential to improving physical and mental health.

I join other local people in being worried about a lack of police presence in the area and share concerns about anti-social behaviour, gangs, speeding and the spate of recent incidents of criminal damage and vehicle theft.

The recently announced Greater Manchester Spatial Framework for housing is also a grave concern for local residents. Our local infrastructure is at its limit. School places are limited and medical facilities are already stretched. The aforementioned rail and traffic issues will only get worse and increase the strain.

Much of the proposed housing will also be built on precious green belt land— land which we ought to be safeguarding for future generations. At the same time, little of the housing will be what is deemed ‘affordable housing’. I believe that there needs to be a rethink. There are many derelict brownfield sites across the borough— every effort should be made to check their viability for repurposing but, again, only with the correct infrastructure in place.

The people of Littleborough and Rochdale deserve a council of the highest standard to represent their needs.That council must also include a voice which will speak up to protect our open spaces and the health of future generations. A voice that will push for tangible plans to finally be put in place for toxic and dangerous sites across the borough such as the Turner Brothers Asbestos and former Akzo Nobel factories.

If elected, I would push to tackle all the above issues, to improve police presence and seek to improve infrastructure for our younger people. I will also conduct resident surveys and regular surgeries around the ward to find out what local people want, not what politicians and council officers think they want. I will also aim to ensure that the outlying areas of the ward such Stansfield, Summit, Shore and Calderbrook are not neglected.

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These are local elections, but national Green Party policies are still relevant. The council should clearly and openly oppose fracking. Integrated publicly owned railways and buses are common sense— these should also be electrically powered. Building laws should insist that all new buildings incorporate environmentally sound measures such as solar panels. Policies to improve the environment are of particular concern. It is time to stop choking the planet.

Our policies are vital, and we would encourage mainstream parties to adopt them. We can take credit for the introduction of some policies already, but the most important thing is to get them introduced.

The Green Party stands for the real change that we need. A real change for Littleborough Lakeside and a real change for Rochdale.

On 2nd May, vote Green for the Common Good.

Local Election 2019

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