A world-class, well-funded health service here in Worsley & Eccles South

A number of local residents have contacted me to ask for my views on the future of the National Health Service. Let me assure you that if elected as your MP, I am committed to protecting the fundamental principles of the NHS as we know them – I want our NHS to be a world-leading, world-class health service, accountable to the public, benefitting from new and increased investment and free at the point of delivery.

I know how much the local NHS is valued by our community. As a local resident, myself and my family rely on the same health services that you do – whether that’s our local GPs, community services, or the excellent services provided by Salford Royal Hospital.

I was proud to support the campaign to retain our Maternity Unit at Salford Royal Hospital, and I will never forget how the then Secretary of State for Health, Labour MP Alan Johnson, slipped out the decision to close it on the day before the August Bank Holiday weekend in 2007. It is a source of profound regret and disappointment that the current Government felt that the process had moved too far down the line to reverse the decision.

The pressures on our health service have never been so great. As a rule, we are living longer, and as we grow older many of us live with conditions that previous generations would have found difficult or impossible to treat. These life-saving and life-changing advancements are fantastic news, and they mean that the NHS can’t simply stand still. We need to innovate, to invest and to adapt to create a world-class National Health Service that serves the needs of our community today and in the future.

Spending on the health service has increased by £12.9 billion over the course of this Parliament, and I will support plans to continue to increase spending in real terms on the NHS in each year of the next Parliament. This increased spending has meant over 9000 more doctors, 7000 more nurses and 2000 more midwives in the NHS since 2010. It has also funded new treatments like the cancer drugs fund, which has helped more than 60,000 people gain access to pioneering, life enhancing medicines.

These extra staff are working in cleaner, safer hospitals. The safeguards put into place following the Mid Staffordshire tragedy are helping to expose poor care and improve patient safety, mixed-sex wards have almost been eradicated, and hospital infections have almost halved since 2010.

I am also a strong supporter of the Conservative pledge to improve GP access so that by 2020 everyone will be able to see a GP seven days a week. I know that make convenient appointments is a big issue for many local people – as someone who works full-time myself I find it difficult to see the doctor at a time which is convenient. Vulnerable older residents also now have the reassurance of a named GP.

The future of our health service is a vital issue and one of great concern to most local people. I want to have a positive debate about the future of our NHS. Unfortunately it is difficult to have that positive debate when the Labour Party is determined to try to scare people into voting for them with increasingly ridiculous negative tales. This is pure and simple scaremongering to win votes and our political debate is much the worse for it. Private contractors account for a tiny fraction of total NHS spending, and the vast majority of the growth of those private contracts took place under a Labour Government.

A welcome tax cut for Salford residents

budgetnews

This week’s budget contained some extremely welcome news for local residents across Worsley & Eccles South.

I was particularly pleased to see commitment to further tax cuts for those on low and middle incomes. These further rises in the personal tax allowance mean that compared with 2010, the typical taxpayer will be over £900 a year better off – 27 million people nationally including tens of thousands of local residents are keeping more of their hard-earned money.

Alongside that, the budget also froze fuel duty again by cancelling Labour’s planned duty increase. The continuing duty freeze has saved the typical family around £10 each time they fill up at the pump. This is particularly welcome, especially given the increased congestion caused by the misguided busway works across Worsley and Walkden!

The new Personal Savings Allowance is great news for savers – it means that around 95% of people will now not pay any savings tax whatsoever.

The new “Help To Buy” ISA will help local people save for their first home. 495 families in Salford have already benefitted from the Help To Buy scheme and this will provide further support for those seeking to take their first step towards owning their own home.

Following on from the budget, we also saw Friday’s announcement of further investment in the “northern powerhouse” – a huge commitment to improving road and rail infastructure across the north of England including here in Greater Manchester. This has the potential to be truly transformational, providing new jobs and rebalancing the economy in our favour.

There’s still much to do but our economy is back on track. Employment is up and unemployment is down – the number of people in Worsley & Eccles South who are out-of-work and claiming benefit has fallen by 64% since 2010. Living standards are rising, the deficit is falling and the economy is growing. There are still some tough choices ahead, but we are moving in the right direction.

Bus Lane Petition Submitted

Cllr Iain Lindley on Walkden RoadI’m extremely grateful to everyone who has signed my petition and completed my survey regarding the proposals developed by the Council and by Transport for Greater Manchester to introduce bus lanes on the A6 Manchester Road and A575 Walkden Road.

You can view copies of the two photographs I managed to take of the plans via my Flickr account.

My freedom of information request is still pending for the rest of the documentation.

At Wednesday’s Council meeting, I handed in a copy of the petition at this month’s full Council meeting. I was astonished by the response of the Labour Councillors. Cllr Derek Antrobus said my assertions were “fictitious” and Cllr Roger Jones (champion of the busway and the congestion charge) accused me of making things up.

Local people can judge the truth for themselves from the diagrams above. I felt it was in the public interest to release these proposals when both the Council and Transport for Greater Manchester were keeping them behind closed doors.

I do have some good news, however. I have received written notification that the proposals for Walkden Road have been dropped and will not go forward any further. This is welcome news although it still leaves the proposal for the A6 as continuing to the next stage (for which I have had verbal confirmation from TfGM officers). I will continue to fight to get this proposal dropped.

I will leave others to ponder how a proposal that supposedly does not exist can be dropped! Just like with the misguided busway, it seems that local residents are not being listened to or given the full picture.

Walkden traders fun day raises cash for Comic Relief

rednoseIt was great to pop in to see the market traders in Walkden’s town centre on Saturday for their fun day.

It was great to see so many people having fun and all in aid of a great cause in Comic Relief – I can also report that the charity cakes on sale were delicious!

I’m determined to continue to support local shops where I can – our market traders in Walkden, Swinton and Eccles sell some great produce in a competitive market at value prices and they deserve our support.

Exposed: Salford Labour Council plans for even more busways!

Cllr Iain Lindley on Walkden RoadNot content with the chaos caused by Labour’s misguided busway, the Council and Transport for Greater Manchester are now planning to cause even more congestion by introducing additional busways on the A6 between Swinton and Walkden, including most of the length of Manchester Road, and also on Walkden Road near to the junction with the A580.

The misguided busway works have already caused huge disruption in our area, with an unacceptable impact on people trying to get to work or school.

I’m also now receiving a huge number of complaints about rat-running through residential streets, particularly in the Walkden area on roads like Carlton Road, Parr Fold Avenue, Broadway, Kingsway and Edge Fold Road – with heavy vehicles like double-decker buses and plant hire trucks cutting through. This is a big problem but so far the Council have refused to act.

I’m flabbergasted by these new proposals for even more bus lanes and even more disruption, especially when other Councils are reviewing and scrapping their busways to ease congestion (including for bus passengers). We’re also now facing a real risk that community bus services such as the number 12 will be under threat when the busway opens.

I’ve created a short survey and petition to gauge the views of local people on the proposed new bus lanes. Click here to take the survey and to sign the petition.

Extra trains for Walkden station with new franchise

This morning the Government published details of the new Northern rail franchise, and there’s good news for rail users across Salford and particularly for those using Walkden station.

The new franchise will be required to replace outdated “Pacer” trains and introduce new carriages. Background documents also show that from 2017 the number of services to Walkden is set to double, with four trains per hour in the peak and daytime periods, and an improved evening service.

There is more good news at the weekend as the current limited Sunday service to Walkden, Swinton and Moorside (which was introduced in 2010 following a strong campaign led by the Friends of Walkden Station) will be doubled in frequency to half-hourly and expanded much later into the evening, with services running until 10pm.

As a rail commuter from Walkden station myself, I know that the current service does not meet the demand from the local community, with trains that are frequently over capacity. I’m delighted that the Government has recognised this and we are set to see a much improved service when the new franchise starts, even if it means we have to wait a little bit for the new services – great news for commuters and for leisure travellers!