My name is Rishi Shori and I was elected Leader of Bury Council in 2016. It is an honour and a privilege to serve the town in which I was born and raised.
I want Bury to be one of the best boroughs in Britain in which to live, work, and study.
My five main priorities:
- Increase the supply of affordable housing
- Make Bury the business / entrepreneurial capital of the North West
- Improve our educational and training offer
- Tackle the steep health inequalities that exist within Bury and improve the population's health and wellbeing
- Protect and promote our local environment.
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6 October 2017: Power to the people
It was a nice surprise, to say the least, when such an august body as The Guardian named me among their 1,000 Most Powerful People in Britain (one of just 36 BME). I hadn't realised, but I'll take their word for it. It proves, if nothing else, that Bury is well and truly on the map. And as a Bury boy born and bred, that makes me proud. I celebrated by having a new picture done, featuring our famous East Lancs Railway (and tons of colour saturation). What do you think - Gone With The Wind?
Onto much more important matters, and - as the GMCA portfolio lead for young people and social cohesion - I was delighted to help launch the new Greater Manchester Youth Combined Authority last week. This will give young people across the region a real say in matters which affect them, and help to draw up policies that will improve their lives, such as on transport and apprenticeships. The forum will also drive forward recommendations made by the Bury Life Chances Commission, which I set up, to better ally the needs of education, skills and business. We're not hanging around - on Tuesday 24 October, the Elizabethan Suite in Bury Town Hall will host a GMCA conference on this, in partnership with Youth Focus North West, and we're expecting more than 100 young people to take part. This is big, positive news - and you can read more about it here: My News Desk - Young people have their say for the future
I was delighted that Bury Council agreed to call on the Government to help women born in the 1950s who have been badly hit by recent changes to their pensions. I hope ministers listen, and introduce proper transitional arrangements to ease the financial worries faced by literally millions of our citizens.
Can I draw your attention to a couple of important health campaigns: firstly, the national smoking cessation initiative Stoptober is now under way. Without sermonising, stopping smoking is the biggest single thing people can do to improve their health and wellbeing; but we all know it's not as easy as that. That's why, at Bury Lifestyle Service, we offer a tailored service to those determined to quit, with personal support and nicotine replacement products. You can contact them here: The Bury Directory - Bury Lifestyle Service
Secondly, Mental Health Awareness Week starts on 8 October. There's a lot of work still to be done on creating parity of physical and mental health, and there is a variety of events taking place in Bury to showcase the support and advice that is available. For more details, see: The Bury Directory - Mental Health Awareness Week 2017
Staying with the health (and enjoyment) agenda, well done to everyone who took part in the recent Asda 10k Run for All in Bury. This is now an important date in the Bury calendar, and next year's race is already in the diary. Yours truly ran the race again, and while (ahem) I didn't exactly trouble the scorers with my time, it was a pleasure to be part of it all. I'm pictured with interim council chief executive Pat Jones-Greenhalgh.
Recycling Week has just finished, and I encourage everyone to keep doing their bit to protect our environment by using their green, brown and blue bins. We all live here, after all. There's lots of advice on our website about how and what to recycle: About your bins
Finally, the health of the economy is also vital to our borough. It was a pleasure to welcome GM Mayor Andy Burnham to our latest Bury Means Business conference, which brought together local companies and educationalists to examine how we can match up-to-date skills and training to the changing needs of employers. That's a crucial priority for me, and will remain so, no matter how powerful The Guardian thinks I am.
In the meantime, Andy has launched a consultation about congestion: which affects both our health and our economy, not to mention driving us nuts. Why not give him your views? Transport for Greater Manchester - Let's talk - our plan to tackle congestion in Greater Manchester.
13 September 2017: Moving on up
As council leader, you'd expect me to fly the flag for this borough. I'm not going to disappoint - there is so much to celebrate here, as you will read below.
Firstly of all, I want to say 'well done' to our pupils and school staff for their results in the Key Stage 2 tests, in which we performed better than the regional and national averages. Bury has long enjoyed a reputation for quality education, giving our young people a solid foundation on which to fulfil their potential in whichever walk of life and career path they choose.
This applies to all our young people, which is why I was delighted to attend the launch of the Friendly Aware Bury scheme in which local businesses support people with autism and other hidden disabilities. Bury's historic Two Tubs pub has become the first to be accredited under the scheme, thanks to the tireless work of Jane Lord (who set up the Buddy's support group) and Two Tubs landlady Jacqui Gallagher, who employs people who go to Buddy's, and others helped to redesign the pub's beer garden. They are a real credit to Bury, and I hope that many other local companies will follow suit. It's good for business, and good for people with disabilities; a true win-win situation. I'm pictured at the launch with Jane and Jacqui.
Talking about business - Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, will join me as key speakers at the latest Bury Means Business event on Thursday 14 September. He'll be addressing local firms about how to put employers at the heart of the GM skills and education system. This is exactly what the borough, and its young people, need, so that our economy can thrive and people learn the right skills so they can improve their employment chances and prosper.
One of this borough's strengths is its diversity and the way in which we can all mix, regardless of background or upbringing. It was a pleasure to attend the annual Pakistani Independence Day and Eid Lunch at the Jinnah Centre, and in the same week to have a talk about social cohesion with Sharon Bannister, president of the Jewish Representative Council, at the Nicky Alliance Centre.
The latest full council meeting is tonight (Wednesday 13 September) at the town hall, starting at 7pm. You are very welcome to tune in and watch the debates at New Digital Tree Media - Bury Council meeting - live stream / last meeting.
Two great events for your diary this weekend: firstly, there's the Bury 10k race on Sunday (17 September), when we expect hundreds of people to take part. Not only is it an enjoyable day out, but it complements our aim of helping people to improve their health and wellbeing. It's not too late to take part, and remember that there will be road closures along the route.
And secondly, on a less energetic but more artistic side, there's the Head for the Hills music festival taking place in Ramsbottom over the weekend. These go from strength to strength each year, and a big turnout is expected for a wide range of bands including Beth Orton and the Stranglers.
4 August 2017: Building a better future
Given some of the dreadful events that have happened in Manchester, London and across the world, you might be forgiven for thinking that distrust (if not outright hate) are endemic.
So it was an absolute pleasure to attend the Collabor8 event last week at Bury College, organised by the emergency services, aimed at bringing communities together in a celebration of multi-culturalism and faiths. Heart-warming stuff, and proves once and for all that there is much more that unites us than divides us. I'm pictured with some of the officers and the Mayor of Bury, Councillor Dorothy Gunther.
There has also been a couple of announcements at GMCA level, both of which are very important for our young people. This is professionally, as well as personally, important for me, as GM Mayor Andy Burnham has appointed me to be the regional lead for young people.
The first one was Andy's plans to give half-price public transport to 16-18 year olds - a great idea, giving our young people better access to work opportunities, training, education and skills. This is vital if we are to build a thriving city region for generations to come.
Secondly, the announcement of a £134 million action plan to transform mental health provision, with the lion's share to be spent on supporting children. This is a potentially life-saving initiative which will benefit thousands of people, and you can read more about it here: GMHSC - £134m investment in mental health across Greater Manchester.
Talking about Andy Burnham's appointments - I was delighted to meet the legendary Chris Boardman, who is now the mayor's Cycling and Walking Champion. You may have read the recent articles about moves to tackle air pollution, and persuading people to use foot/pedal power will be an integral part of tackling what is some of the worst air quality in the country.
If I ever needed reminding of the need to create a quality future for our children, I got it on Wednesday when I visited Amber's Attic nursery in my home town of Radcliffe, who are helping to give some of our youngest citizens the best possible start in life. You can read more about them here: Ambers Attic Childcare.
Taking control of our own health is also crucial to the success of our borough, and I congratulate the many local groups who won money - after a public vote - at the two Pitch events to pay for projects which improve the wellbeing of their community. You can see the list of winners, and keep track of their progress, via The Bury Directory - Pitch funding event.
And on a similar subject, why not take part in this year's Asda Foundation Bury 10k, which takes place on 17 September? I tried to show an example by taking part in the first race (even if I didn't exactly trouble the scorers with my time), and now it's your turn. For details, and to book a place for next year's event, go to Run for all - Bury 10k.
17 July 2017: It's all about the youth, you know
Sound the cliche alarm - today's young people are tomorrow's future. Apologies, but things only become clichés because they're true. And I certainly make no apologies for the work we're doing with young people, both in Bury and across Greater Manchester.
I had the great pleasure of attending an event in Manchester last week, organised by Youth Focus, to discuss the great ideas for a Youth Combined Authority, as announced by Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester. Andy wants this authority to effectively advise him on how policies for the whole region affect young people, which ties in with the work I'm doing as the mayor's lead on young people in GM (and with my Bury Life Chances Commission). It was also good to see Bury's Member of Youth Parliament, Numair Khalid, there, along with representatives of the council.
Linking with this, today we host a #YouthStandTogether meeting at the Elizabethan Suite in Bury. The important thing is that it's not just about having meetings and talking, it's about how young people can genuinely take part in practical actions and positively influence society; about how we turn ambitions into reality, and the support that Andy Burnham's people can give to make this happen.
Talking about Numair - he goes to Parrenthorn High school, and I've got some news about that. There will be a report going to the cabinet next week proposing that the school is expanded to cater for the huge demand for places. I'll have more on that if the proposal is agreed, but it's good news for Bury to know that our schools continue to be so popular and turn out students of the calibre of Numair.
3 July 2017: Normal service resumes
Hello everyone, and welcome back to my blog. Yes, it has been a while! The reason I've not been posting recently is due to rules about using council facilities in the run-up to elections, a period often referred to as purdah. Initially I was meant to be offline only for the GM Mayoral poll, but then the PM called a snap General election and that kept us all off the airwaves for even longer.
Elections aside, there has been no shortage of events since my last blog, and sadly too many of them have been tragedies that have shocked and dismayed us all. Our hearts went out to the families of those killed and injured in the terrorist attacks in Manchester and London, and I offer my deepest sympathies to all those affected.
And then, there was the dreadful Grenfell Tower fire in London. As the inquiries begin in the aftermath, I want to assure residents that, in Bury, the council does not own or manage any properties that are classified as high-rise, and the aluminium composite style of cladding used at Grenfell has not been used on any of our housing. No one can be complacent, however, and we recognise the risks that fire can create in any accommodation. On behalf of the council, Six Town Housing carry out annual fire risk inspections, and we continually invest in improvements to reduce the risk of fire.
You may have read that the new GM mayor Andy Burnham has appointed me as part of his leadership team to lead on a huge range of issues which affect young people. I'm delighted to have this portfolio, which will complement the work I've been doing in setting up the Bury Life Chances Commission. And congratulations to my cabinet colleague Tamoor Tariq, who is the new chair of the GM police and crime panel. It looks like Bury is punching well above its weight, and has a top table seat in these important matters.
My congratulations also go to Rainbow Cosmetics in Whitefield who have just won a Queen's Award for Enterprise (International Trade), which is a tremendous achievement. You can find out more about the company at Rainbow cosmetics.
Congratulations also to the Reverend Dave Thomson, C of E vicar in Ainsworth, following his appointment as the Borough Dean for the whole of Bury. I went to his licensing ceremony along with the mayor Dorothy Gunther (we're all pictured here).
I must also say 'well done' to our own staff. Our planners were shortlisted for a national award after dealing with 100% of applications on time, and our Reablement service has just been given the second top 'good' rating by the Care Quality Commission.
I'm pleased that we've been able to keep open four libraries, rather than three, following a comprehensive review of the service. It means that, wherever you live in the borough, there will be a library within a reasonable distance of your home. We will continue to work with local groups to examine the possibilities of keeping other buildings open, whether as libraries or as community venues. I accept that closing libraries is controversial, but the sad fact of life is that 'austerity' isn't just a political concept, it has real and unavoidable consequences on services that councils provide. It's a disgrace that 'austerity' seems to affect some parts of the UK more than others, yes?
Can I urge you to attend one of two meetings this month (11 July at the Derby High School, or 25 July at the Longfield Suite, Prestwich) called The Pitch, when you can vote for which community groups should be awarded up to £1,000 for local projects?
Finally, the full council meets on Wednesday, starting at 7pm at the town hall. Among other things, we'll be debating plans to implement a deposit return scheme for bottles and cans, which would make us possibly the first in England to do so.