2,193 residents of Bury North completed my first annual residents’ survey between August and December 2017. I have spent some time carefully considering all of the responses.
I have summarised the results of the survey in this report to provide a snapshot of what local people think about a range of local and national issues. I have also provided some context of my work on some of these issues.
I will use the information provided to help focus my priorities for the year ahead.
I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to complete the survey.
James Frith MP
Member of Parliament for Bury North
Health and social care were rated the most important issues by an overwhelming majority of those who completed my survey. These issues have been a key priority for me since I was elected last June. From saving the walk-in centre to lobbying for improvements to mental health services and dealing with casework about social care services, health and social care have been at the forefront of my mind. I have spoken in Parliament on the scandal of mums exposes to Valproate I am currently carrying out a review of hospice care on behalf of Mayor Andy Burnham, exploring ways we can make our hospices more sustainable and use hospices to support social care services and tackle problems with hospital discharges. I recently brought Shadow Minister for Mental Health & Social Care, Barbara Keeley, to Bury to discuss social care and visit a local project and our hospice.
Crime and anti-social behaviour is also a big concern for lots of local people. I meet regularly with senior police officers to raise all the issues which come through my office and discuss the action which is being taken to address them. If you have any concerns, please get in touch and I will raise them with GMP Bury.
Jobs and the economy is a key focus for me. In October I launched a programme of visits to local businesses and have met dozens of the town's employers since then, big and small, including on my Small Business Saturday walkabout. I took the Government to task in the Budget debate on its economic failure and laid a motion in Parliament to protect small businesses put at risk by the collapse of Carillion. I have championed the Living Wage and I am campaigning against rural bank closures which hurt small businesses and the economy in towns like Ramsbottom.
I have championed the environment locally and in Parliament, working to stop environmental vandalism on local land, championing our parks and lobbying ministers on the Government's environmental strategy. On housing, I have spoken in Parliament on the need to protect our green belt and develop a brownfield first housing policy.
Education is another top priority for me and I raise issues of concern to local parents and schools on a weekly basis in my role on the Education Select Committee. I grilled the Minister of funding for local schools in one of my first contributions in Parliament last July, I have challenged cuts to college funding for our 16-18 year olds and I am working with committee colleagues on an inquiry into value for money in higher education. Earlier this month I questioned the head of OFSTED on alternative provision and support for children with special educational needs. I recently carried out a survey of local schools which revealed the damaging impact cuts our having to the education of our children and I am running a campaign against school cuts. Find out more and support my campaign
More people who voted Remain (55%) completed my survey than Leave (41%), although the result of the referendum in Bury was 54% Leave and 46% Remain.
13% of respondents said that controls on immigration was the most important element for any future Brexit deal to include, while a similar number said EU and UK citizens' rights. 19% said protecting jobs and businesses and 26% said securing trade and strengthening the economy.
58% believe the public should have final say over any Brexit deal, while 31% said no.
I have placed securing the best possible deal on Brexit for Bury at the core of my work in Parliament on this issue. Growing our economy, protecting jobs, supporting local businesses and defending the workers', consumer and environmental rights and protections British citizens currently enjoy are crucial post-Brexit. See my speech in Parliament outlining my position on Brexit.
85% of people who completed my survey have used a walk-in centre.
The vast majority of local people agree that walk-in services are important.
Most people either wanted to keep the walk-in centre open or retain walk-in services in any redesign of local health services.
You will probably know by now that our campaign led to Bury Walk-in Centre being saved. It was set to close this month. Instead, it will become a health and social care hub with a walk-in service retained. In addition, Fairfield General Hospital will have a new urgent care centre attached to A&E to help reduce A&E waiting times.
People are split on whether we need to build more houses in Bury, with a small majority in favour.
There was however no split over who should have the power to decide whether we need more houses and how many, with over 90% of people believing that it should be the local council and not central government who determine housing need. The current system imposes top-down targets on local authorities with little ability for councils or communities to object.
60% of respondents do not believe any houses should be built on the green belt, while 35% say it depends how many and where.
I have argued consistently that we need to protect as much of our green belt as possible. I met with Andy Burnham to discuss this in the autumn and he has promised a radical re-write of the GMSF plan which seeks to identify sites for housing as per the government's demands. I spoke in Parliament on the need for a brownfield first policy on housing development. A new report recently showed that one million houses could be built without affecting our green belt. I will continue to campaign on this issue.
LOCAL COUNCIL SERVICES
40% of people also commented on issues related to local council services, particularly fly-tipping and litter, dog fouling and the state of our roads. I am very aware of these issues and my office deals with casework on these topics every day. Bury Council has had £73 million cut from its budget since 2010, with a further £27 million of planned cuts by central government by 2020 - a total of £100 million. £100 million is about the same amount it would cost to bring every road in Bury up to a decent standard. I am working with the council to ensure that they do the best they can with the resources available. Recently, £10 million was committed to road and pothole repairs. I am also joining colleagues in Parliament to fight against cuts to local government funding which impact vital local frontline services and call for criminal justice reforms to more easily prosecute fly-tipping.