Sue and I attended a special service yesterday to mark the installation of the new Minister at Bury Unitarian Church. Rev Kate McKenna who hails from Norwich has been with the church since last November but yesterday was her official installation service. The Mayor and his Consort were also in attendance. Whilst initially I did not recognise the words of the hymns I did recognise the tunes which made singing the hymns much easier! I trust Kate will have a long and happy association with Bury.
I guess it might not receive the national attention that the Parliamentary by-elections in Stoke-on-Trent Central and Copeland received last week but I see the Conservatives won a Council by-election last night. It was in Kersal Ward on Salford Council. I can claim no credit but I know several from Bury Conservatives went along to help in the campaign.
I had a long and useful meeting with representatives from the headteachers of Bury Secondary Schools yesterday when I was able to listen first hand to their concerns. I am very grateful to the Heads for attending and I will be ensuring their views are heard at the highest levels in the Department for Education.
News from Bury Council Conservatives Group today as last night Councillor James Daly was elected as Leader of the Opposition on Bury Council. A couple of weeks ago the Leader for the past five years Councillor Iain Gartside surprised me at least when he announced he was standing down as Leader. Iain has recently moved to a new job and felt it was the right time to step down. He will continue to serve the residents of Tottington Ward. Councillor Daly was previously Deputy Leader and his position as deputy Leader has now been filled by Elton Ward Councillor Mike Hankey. I wish them both well in their new roles.
As The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust continues to make improvements following the very disappointing CQC report last year the new Chief Executive Sir David Dalton has announced a further £20.5 million is to be invested in frontline services from 2017-8. In addition to this £10 million will be spent on capital expenditure to improve North Manchester and Royal Oldham Hospitals.
The additional revenue resources will be used to recruit 35 more doctors and more than 300 more nursing and midwifery staff. There will be more money for IT, staff training and development. Plus more money for medical and clinical equipment. This together with revised governance and management arrangements will I hope mean that we can look forward to a much improved position the next time the CQC report on the Trust
I know from the many letters I have had that the government’s decision to end the enquiries of the costly Iraq Historical Allegations Team will be widely welcomed. Our Armed Forces deserve our support and whilst of course individual allegations of misconduct will and indeed always have been investigated it is good that what has been described as a ‘witch hunt’ is now to be concluded.
Yesterday I had a typically varied day. With Parliament have risen for a half term recess I was back in the constituency. In addition to the usual casework emails and the like I gave an interview to someone who is undertaking the daunting task of trying to interview all MP’s. Then I attended a funeral of a friend who passed away at the end of January. Then, I finished the day by speaking at a dinner at the Asia Lounge marking Kashmir Martyrs Day.
I thought the meeting between our Prime Minister and President Trump went as well as could be expected yesterday. He seemed pleased the Queen had extended an invitation for him to pay an official State Visit to the UK later in the year.
In addition to surgery I visited Bury Hospice yesterday to get the latest news from there. Obviously, as everyone knows there have been some difficulties at the Hospice in recent times but things are definitely improving and we all need to continue to support the brilliant work all the staff and volunteers do at the Hospice.
It is the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch weekend today and tomorrow and I am planning to take part again.
Good news this week for local road-users who will benefit from a dedicated £2.069m pothole fund which is part of a £1.2 billion fund for local roads the Government is allocating to councils to help repair roads and pavement.
This funding has come from the new National Productivity Investment Fund, announced in the 2016 Autumn Statement and the Pothole Action Fund.
I receive lots of complaints about the condition of our local roads and with all the demands on local government spending this latest dedicated funding for roads and pavements should help.