Statement of intent and priorities from: Cllr David Greenhalgh, Leader of the Conservative Group, Cllr Paul Sanders, Leader of Farnworth and Kearsley First Group, Cllr Marie Brady, Leader of Horwich and Blackrod First Independents Group and Cllr Sean Hornby, UKIP.
Following the outcome of the May 2021 Local Elections, the above-named parties came together to work in the general interests of the Borough including Bolton, Blackrod, Farnworth, Horwich, Kearsley, Little Lever, South Turton, and Westhoughton to commit to work together to offer the Borough continued opportunity for positive change.
This document is an update and refresh of the document signed in 2019, which was described then as "priorities that they (the parties in the agreement)” would like to see delivered over the municipal year 2021-22 and beyond. This ambition remains, as does the charging of the Conservative Group to deliver those cross-party priorities, while recognising and acknowledging the reality of the changing financial context and background in light of the COVID 19 pandemic.
1. A commitment to our staff, as we move forward through the many stages of this pandemic, that we will be a supportive and caring employer, committed to creating a safe workplace environment where everyone feels valued, supported, and able to deliver to their full potential.
2. As an area which has faced challenges due to COVID 19, we will continue to act as a vigilant force in managing and containing the impact of the pandemic in Bolton through our Public Health Directorate, enforcement services and partners across the borough. As an administration we further commit to holding an all-party PDG on how as a council we can support residents and businesses as we begin to recover from the pandemic.
Our commitment to looking after the most vulnerable in our borough remains resolute, with renewed focus on both safe and effective delivery of services, whilst developing more integrated and neighbourhood approaches with partners, enabling vulnerable people to live well at home and remain connected to their communities.
3. We commit to working with Schools, Heads, and Governing Bodies in creating a safe learning environment for children and staff as we come out of lockdown, understanding, and addressing the challenges of the educational gaps and inequalities caused by COVID.
We will continue to work to improve educational outcomes across the Borough through closer partnerships with all schools, and with government to ensure there is sufficient supply of new schools to meet future demand.
4. We reaffirm our commitment to vulnerable and looked after children. The pandemic has led us to working in different ways across the partnership. We will build on strengthening multi agency working and on our collective approach to raising the profile of vulnerable children as part of our corporate parenting role by ensuring vulnerable and looked after children are in the right setting at the right time. Through quality support and interventions, we will work to manage the levels of support needed.
5. Learning from the recent LGA review, we will implement a new Neighbourhood Management model that will change the way we work and support neighbourhoods across the Borough, underpinned by a fairer funding system.
6. The Council remains committed to the Bolton Fund managed independently by Bolton’s CVS, taking the decisions over grant funding out of the political arena. An annual review will take place to measure the effectiveness, outcomes, and flexibility of the process to ensure money is being targeted where it can be most impactful throughout the Borough.
Fair funding to benefit all will continue alongside evidence based targeted interventions that tackle deprivation and other local priorities identified within the Council’s Joint Strategic Needs Assessment.
7. Bolton Council will sign off and agree a Climate Change Strategy with partners that will contribute to delivering zero net carbon emissions by 2030
8. The investment of £10 million into Bolton’s roads and pavements has been an unqualified success. This programme will continue into the new year as we complete any outstanding surfacing contracts. We acknowledge that more work is required to bring our highways up to the standard that residents expect. The new administration will seek funding as and where we can to further this programme of works. Whilst SAMP receipts remain committed for the next municipal year, receipts from the sale of assets could provide one way of accessing more funds for this important work.
9. It remains the ambition of this administration to bring Metrolink to the Borough with the enhanced connectivity that would provide for our residents and businesses and we further commit to the continued progression of talks with Government and our partners to enable this to happen.
10. The effects of Covid-19 will be felt for some time, it will clearly impact on the Borough’s finances, and may impact on investor confidence. The Executive however remains committed to the regeneration of Bolton Town Centre both as a facilitator of schemes such as Central Street and Moor Lane and as a promotor of transformational schemes such as Victoria Square.
The Executive have demonstrated our commitment to Bolton Town Centre by already securing £23 million through the Towns Fund, which will commence in this coming year investment for the creation of new pocket parks in Bolton Town Centre; the upgrade of Bolton Central Library, the Aquarium, Bolton Market; and the establishment of a Digital Hub, at the former Wellsprings. Significant public realm works will also be undertaken.
The Administration will seek an additional £60 million of funding for investment in the Borough from the recently announced Levelling Up Fund.
11. Investment in Farnworth Town Centre remains a priority for the Council. It will be continued in close consultation with the lead member of F&KF who continues to Chair the Farnworth Town Centre Masterplan Steering Group. The masterplan has led to a successful bid for a £13.2 million grant from the Governments Future High Streets Fund. Discussions on the future provision and use of Rock Hall at Moses Gate are advanced and will continue as a priority.
The commitment to plan for health services to be at the centre of a new community hub based in Farnworth Town Centre is proceeding and will form the centrepiece of the new masterplan for Farnworth.
12. The regeneration of Westhoughton, Little Lever, Horwich, and Farnworth are now well advanced, and projects are expected to start in the new municipal year. These projects will be led and continue to be signed off by the appropriate Chair of the steering groups, which will be in the case of Horwich, H&BFI, Little Lever, UKIP, Farnworth, F&K First, Westhoughton, the Conservatives. We are committed where appropriate to engage local Town Councils in the regeneration process and ask Chairs where appropriate to consult with Town Councils on future plans. Town Councils are an important link with local communities the towns they represent, and we are committed to engaging with them to widen the democratic process.
In consultation with the Executive Member, steering groups in Farnworth and Horwich will continue to develop and carry out improvement schemes within Kearsley and Blackrod.
The Council remains committed to work with partners to deliver a health hub in Horwich. The Executive Member for regeneration will continue to facilitate this process and offer support to Local Steering Groups.
13. Bolton Council will continue to support the Borough’s submission to the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework, now known as ‘Places for Everyone’ This is the best way to protect the Boroughs’ Greenbelt land from housing development and supports the administration’s commitment to a ‘Brown Field Site First’ policy. Furthermore, we are committed to producing local neighbourhood plans for Westhoughton and Horwich, where we know those parts of the Borough are under significant pressure from developers.
14. The administration is committed to working with all agencies, partners, and neighbouring authorities on a collective vision for the upgrade of the Manchester-Bolton-Bury canal.
15. The administration is committed to the smarter use and rationalisation of its estate through the SAMP process, freeing up resources to invest in our town centres, in improving our existing estate, in widening our environmental offer and in investing in our highways network. The administration will produce regular and transparent updates on future.
SAMP disposals as well as progress and sales reports through the Deputy Leader’s portfolio meetings.
16. A commitment to implementing an agreed digital approach across the whole council which will transform the way services are delivered, improve our efficiency, establish uniformity, and best practise supporting staff in their roles and change the way we engage with our residents, whilst still providing viable communication pathways for those in our communities unable to digitally engage.
We offer a further commitment, where possible and when resources allow, to the establishment of local drop-in centres throughout the Borough to offer advice on council services.
17. The Covid pandemic has accelerated the shift in employment patterns that digitalisation was already bringing to the workplace as more activities are carried out online. This is having a significant impact on employment as jobs within sectors such as retail disappear. The administration is committed to ensure that the council along with our partners and government are able to provide the appropriate training to allow people to make the transition to new areas of opportunity brought about by digitalisation.
18. We will continue to be strong on the enforcement of litter and fly tipping, and we will commit to using what extra powers exist or are given to us, to give increased fines to those who continue to blight our landscape and environment, and we give a firm commitment to work with and assist volunteers who play such a vital role in the fight against litter in the Borough.
Unsolicited and aggressive begging remains a concern to this administration and the public.
We commit to working with the police on this issue. Where there is genuine need and a person is homeless, we will offer complete support from all relevant agencies, but where we find illegal begging, supported by organised crime, we will seek to use every power we have, working in partnership with other agencies, to take that illegal begging off our streets.
19. The Administration is committed to invest in our waste services with an upgrade of the waste fleet, resulting in a more efficient frontline bin collection for our residents.
20.The council remains committed to the improvements that continue to be made to the organisational culture of the Council. It is our focus that change is being delivered, and that the Council is held in high esteem by residents, staff and elected members.
We give a commitment to agreeing a locally set legal budget and will continue to set the council finances by maximising value for money, to continue to lobby central government for a better settlement for local government and taking the difficult decisions that sometimes need to be taken in the best interests of the Borough.
We believe this remains a comprehensive programme for a Conservative led administration to implement on behalf of the parties to this agreement.
It represents the views of parties that want to establish lasting change. We, the Group Leaders of the parties listed below are committed to this Statement of Intent and give a commitment to support the appointment of the Conservative Council Leader and agree to pre-budget talks to enable a legal Budget to be set.
Cllr David Greenhalgh, Leader of the Conservative Group
Cllr Paul Sanders, Leader of Farnworth and Kearsley First Group
Cllr Marie Brady, Leader of Horwich & Blackrod Independents First
Cllr Sean Hornby, Leader of UKIP
Tony Oakman, Chief Executive, Bolton Council