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Hello and welcome to my blog! I'm Councillor Mike Connolly and I am the Leader of the Bury Council. Take a look at my latest blog entry to find out more about what I have been doing to help and support local residents.
On this blog I will provide a timely update on my work as Leader, this will include my work with other councils across Greater Manchester as part of AGMA and also details about how we are facing some of the financial challenges ahead.
If you would like to make a comment for consideration on the blog please use the link below.
Keep your comments coming!
9 December 2013: Trying not to enjoy myself, honest
With all the inevitability of Greek tragedy, I've succumbed to Christmas. Firstly, it was a very festive occasion at the Mayor of Bury's Ball, which I'm sure will have raised loads of money for her worthy charities.
Before that, we enjoyed a great meal at the Topping Fold over-50s Christmas party - and to cap it off, I got to meet Santa (courtesy of Ramsbottom Rotary) at the town's festive artisan markets at the weekend. We're pictured here. He's the man in the red suit, in case you were wondering.
Back to serious business, and it's the full meeting of the council on Wednesday (11 December), starting at 7pm in the council chamber. There's loads to discuss, and if you can't come along, why not tune in and watch the meeting live? Digital Tree - Bury Council meeting - live stream / last meeting
This morning I was at the opening of Housing Connect and Direct, a new service based at the town hall for those who need help getting housing. I'm pictured with the mayor and our officers. For all manner of housing related enquiries, look here: Housing
And then it's back to Christmas on Friday, when I'll be queuing up for a go on the Land Train, on The Rock. I'm sure it will be huge hit with shoppers and their families: more details here: The Rock Bury
2 December 2013: 'till the pheasant plucker comes
As it turned out, the enthronement of the new Bishop of Manchester was wonderful. The hymn selection was excellent, so we all had a good sing. And my mate texted to say the rugby league world cup final was rubbish, so I didn't miss much there.
Another splendid chap I had the pleasure of meeting was Scott Quigg, Bury's world champion boxer, who dropped into the town hall for a spot of tea and stickies with the Mayor and me. He's a superb lad, and is really doing Bury proud and putting us on the sporting map. We're pictured here.
I'll be meeting yet another splendid chap on Wednesday - Chief Superintendent Tim Forber, divisional police commander for Bury. PS: Have you noticed that this week's three splendid chaps are people who can either lock me up, knock my block off, or condemn me to eternal damnation? It's all about who you know, you know.
Now that December's arrived, we can mention the C-word, so I'm looking forward to the annual Topping Fold over-50s Christmas lunch on Wednesday. I qualify for admission on grounds of age, and because I Live on the estate. Assuming they let me go, I'll later be visiting Holy Trinity school. I'm also paying a visit to Fairfield Primary today, and to East Ward primary on Thursday.
On Friday, the Christmas fun continues at the Mayor of Bury's fund-raising civic ball, which this year is held at the Longfield Suite in Prestwich. It's time to dig out the dinner jacket and the dancing shoes, and do my best to raise money for her charities.
The Christmas festival at Prestwich this weekend was really good, with lots of entertainment and stalls. I liked one stall, a huge display of turkey and other birds, so much that I took a picture of it. I was reminded of a quaint old folk ditty, which relates the story of a pheasant plucker. But it's far too quaint to quote here. That's what the wonders of the internet are for!
27 November 2013: Made in Bury - thank heavens
It's nice to be back in Bury following my brief sojourn down south. Don't get me wrong, the good people of Thurrock Council made me feel very welcome. But there were times I felt I had stepped into an episode of EastEnders.
On the home front, it was a pleasure to attend the first Made in Bury business awards. It really showed what a fantastic number and variety of business talent we have in our fair borough. More details and a full list of winners is here. Made in Bury business awards
I'm pictured here with one of the winners, Ben Hardacre of Milliken, who won the Outstanding Achievement Award.
The council's cabinet meets tonight (Wednesday 27 November) at Tottington Methodist Church, starting at 6pm. You're very welcome to come along and ask questions.
Another superb day was had at Grace's Place, the brand new children's hospice in Radcliffe on the site of the former Bury Hospice. They provide unbelievably good services to people in need, and I'm sure everyone will support them as much as they can. I'm pictured rubbing shoulders with the stars again - in this case Sarah Cox, and of course her worship the mayor, Councillor Sharon Briggs.
I might go to the gym later to get ready for my meeting tomorrow with Scott Quigg, Bury's very own world boxing champ, who is coming in for a chat and a cup of tea at the town hall. As a sports fan, it makes you proud to have another homegrown champ in the town.
All manner of municipal matters will be discussed when I meet the Greater Manchester council leaders at Agma on Friday.
And on Saturday, I'll be at the enthronement of the Right Reverend David Walker as the new Bishop of Manchester. Normally I'd be delighted, but it means I've had to give my tickets for the Rugby League World Cup Final to someone else. Strike a bleeding light, as they probably say in Thurrock. Oh well - what's 80 minutes of rugby compared to an eternity in heaven?
18 November 2013: Wowie, it's TOWIE!
Yes folks, if the only way is Essex, it's time for me to dig out the spray tan and head down south.
For my sins, I've been chosen to conduct a peer review of adult safeguarding at Thurrock Council. I'll be getting off the train at the marvellously named Chafford Hundred (not to be confused with the Chiltern Hundreds, which is something else entirely - look it up). And if I'm feeling particularly sporting, I might pop into the Lakeside for a game of darts.
Back oop north, and as a former teacher it's always a pleasure to visit our local schools. I'm heading for Christ Church, Walshaw later this week, but I thoroughly enjoyed my last visit to greet the staff and pupils at Gorsefield Primary in Radcliffe. I'm pictured here with headteacher Mrs Stroud and pupils Josh and Grace.
It's vital that we help and support local businesses, and I'll be at the Made in Bury business luncheon at the Longfield Suite on Friday, celebrating all that is good about local companies. It was an honour to be one of the judges. Don't worry, I've bought my own ticket.
I've also been to Prestwich Township Forum, explaining the council's latest budget proposals and its Plan for Change 3. As the late darts commentator Sid Waddell once said, it's like trying to pin down a kangaroo on a trampoline. We've just launched a period of public consultation, and you can read all about it here. Plan for Change
We've been working with the local Jewish community to set up an eruv in Whitefield, and I'm delighted to say this has now been officially established. I'm pictured here with the Sechiras Reshus, the symbolic rental of the domain, with Whitefield councillor Michelle Wiseman, Chazan Yossie Muller, Rabbi Jonathan Guttentag, the Mayor Cllr Sharon Briggs, and council chief executive Mike Kelly.
12 November 2013: We will remember them
Remembrance Sunday is always a very moving experience, and I thought it was particularly poignant this year, with the recent funeral of Fusilier Lee Rigby still in our minds, and the future of our beloved Royal Regiment of Fusiliers in question.
You may know that the Fusiliers are having a Homecoming Parade in Bury town centre next Tuesday (19 November). It's to mark the return of the 1st Battalion from their final tour of Afghanistan, and they will be marching from 2.30pm to 3.30pm from Wellington Road, Manchester Road, Knowsley Street, Angouleme Way, Silver Street, Bolton Street, Haymarket Street, and back to Knowsley Street. I'm sure many of you will want to turn out and give our boys (and girls) a warm welcome home. Please remember - there will be some traffic restrictions in place during the march.
It was a glam night at the Manchester Tourism Awards, with two awards to take home and help put Bury on the map. Our own Bury Market was highly commended, while The Met won a gong for its role in the Ramsbottom Music Festival. Incidentally, we've just submitted a planning application to build new public toilets on the open Bury Market, which (if approved) should be much appreciated by the many people who shop there.
On the business front, I recently spoke at a meeting of the Business Hub at the Red Hall, and I'll be meeting the board of Manchester Solutions, as well as members of the Best of Bury business meeting.
Here's some exciting news - we're currently undergoing a corporate peer review challenge. Or in plain English, this is when officers and members from other councils in the country assess how well we're doing here in Bury. Let's hope for good results.
Can I draw your attention to our latest Backing Young Bury initiative? If you're aged 15 to 18 and wondering how to improve your job chances, have a look at this website and, by signing up, you stand a chance of winning an iPad. Apprenticeships
Tomorrow (Wednesday 13 November), I'll be at Prestwich Township Forum to talk about the council's latest budget proposals. This is serious, and I would urge residents to come along, hear the news, and have their say. The meeting starts at 6.30pm at the Longfield Suite, and you can read the agenda here. Prestwich Township Forum
Also this week, I'm meeting Rabbi Guttentag to sign the agreement which creates an eruv in Whitefield.
And finally, on Friday I'll be attending a Question and Answer session at our adult learning service with students who speak English as a second language. Quite how I can help them remains to be seen...
5 November 2013: Fair is foul, and foul is fair
Apologies for starting with a line from 'the Scottish play', but events at Gigg Lane on Saturday were truly Shakespearean. The more the game went on, the more the fans roared "oooh!" and "aaah".
Alas, it was nothing to do with events on the pitch, which were nothing to get excited about. The supporters were more gripped by the weather, as the thunder and lightning crashed over the stadium (and indeed a large part of the borough). Despite all this meteorological drama, the referee steadfastly refused to abandon the game. Further proof that the FA, if not the gods, have got it in for the Shakers this season.
The weather caused me no end of grief too. I got up at 5am yesterday to head for London and the Local Government Association's safer communities board. Alas, I ran into trouble on the Metrolink line - frost on the track, apparently - and we needed to wait for another tram to give us a push from Radcliffe to Whitefield. By the time I got to Manchester I had missed my connection, and Virgin wanted £154 to change my train. Not on your nelly, I said - I can't inflict that on the taxpayers of Bury! So it was straight back home.
Later today, I'm going to see the traders on Radcliffe Market. As you may know, we've recently announced plans for investing in the market and Radcliffe town centre as a whole. I'm staying in town for a visit to Gorsefield Primary School.
This week, I'll be at the Jinnah centre in Bury for the Love Where You Live recycling roadshow. We all need to do as much as we can to improve our recycling rates - for more details, see Household waste and kerbside collections
You know that we've now launched Bury's first borough-wide credit union? This is fantastic new scheme, in partnership with Six Town Housing and Manchester Credit Union, and I hope as many of you join up to the scheme and take advantage of this type of banking. All the details are at Credit union. I'm pictured here at the launch.
The council's cabinet meets tomorrow (Wednesday 6 November) at the Longfield Suite in Prestwich, starting at 6pm. You can read the agenda here.Cabinet agenda
I'll also be at the Manchester Tourism Awards ceremony at the Lowry, and I hope we can bring back good news for Bury.
Not exactly looking forward to Friday, when I'm having my seasonal flu jab. But it's a very important health campaign, and people in 'at risk' groups especially need to protect themselves from what can be a very serious illness indeed. More details at Flu vaccine
I'm at the Foster Carers Awards ceremony in the Mayor's parlour - our foster carers do a marvellous and very important job, and we're always keen to hear from people who are willing to give a child a welcoming home. For more details, see Fostering
Then it's a visit to Derby High School to talk about their new sports hall. Don't forget it's Remembrance Sunday this weekend, when we commemorate all those who gave their lives in defence of this country during the First World War and in many conflicts since. I'll be at the service in Bury.
14 October 2013: First among unequals
The Mayor's going to kill me. As the borough's First Lady, she had the honour of presenting the Man of the Match award at Gigg Lane on Saturday. Naturally, she went for the best looking chap.
Alas, the presentation was delayed, meaning that Her Worship had to depart before receiving her customary kiss from the lucky player. It naturally fell to me to present the award to William Edjenguele instead. And no, I didn't get a kiss.
As it turns out, Saturday's match (another loss) has been overtaken by events, with the departure of manager Kevin Blackwell. Let's hope the team can get back on course soon.
The council holds its next full meeting on Wednesday (16 October), starting at 7pm. As it's Local Democracy Week, why not watch the meeting live at this link?Live web streaming and video of Full Council meetings
Later this week, I'll be leading by example and swapping my full size grey household waste bin for a 140-litre bin, which is the same height as a full size bin but not quite as wide. If you're thinking of changing your bin, all the details are here. Recycling, rubbish and waste
Thursday, I'll be chairing the governors meeting at East Ward Primary School. I'll also be helping to shortlist entries for the first Made in Bury awards, which take place on Friday 22 November.
Military matters - on Sunday I'll be representing the borough at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, where the Fusiliers are dedicating and unveiling the new regimental memorial. A very proud moment.
On the business front, it was a fascinating visit to Rota Engineering. I'm pictured with the chairman Robert Gething, and you can find out more about the company here. Rota Engineering
Finally, can I draw your attention to the new borough-wide Credit Union, which has just been launched. This is a fantastic initiative, in partnership with Six Town Housing and Manchester Credit Union, and should help thousands of people across Bury. I'm going to sign up next week - would you like to join too? All the details are here. Manchester Credit Union
7 October 2013: Lost inside this lonely game we play
We start with a lyric from the Carpenters' song This Masquerade, which sums up Saturday's match at Gigg Lane against Newport. All I can say is - the referee made a bad game worse.
Happier times were had at the Bury Hospice masquerade dinner, which really was amazing and raised loads of money. I won two tickets to the Liverpool Philharmonic, but what I really wanted was a picture of cycling legend Mark Cavendish. Alas, another chap outbid me - but I racked up the bids and made sure he paid a fortune for it. If you've seen the TV programme Storage Hunters, you'll know what I mean. Here I am pictured with hospice chief executive Jacqui Comber and her sister Diana.
It was another excellent occasion at the Mayor's Lancashire Night at Ainsworth Community Centre, and the celebratory service at St Thomas's Church in Bury was superb - loads of real lung-busting hymns to belt out, such as Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus.
Today I'll be visiting Elton High School, where I hope to hear the latest plans for the complete rebuild of the school. I'll also be going to Woodhey High later this week to meet their new head teacher Brian Roadnight, who I'm sure will be a fabulous leader for the school. I've recently been to Chantlers Primary School - here I am with head teacher Philip Barlow.
Tomorrow will be a sad day, with the funeral of Winston Ramsey, a former councillor and Mayor of Bury, who died last week at the ripe old age of 94. To be honest, I'm dreading having to say a few words - the older I get, the more emotional I get at these occasions. Winston was a lovely man, who taught me a lot when I first joined the council, and he will be greatly missed. My sympathies go to his family and friends.
I'll be welcoming representatives of Kennedy Wilson, the new owners of The Rock, to the town hall. I'm very much looking forward to meeting them and talking about how we can all make Bury a great place to live, work, shop and study.
My business visits take me to Rota Engineering in Bury, and Bury Lions are having an information day on Thursday. Friday, I have a regular meeting with the borough's MPs, and then of course there's Bury Light Night on Friday night. You can download the programme of events here.
Then, as sure as day follows night, it's back to Gigg Lane on Saturday for the council-sponsored match against Morecambe. I'm taking the Mayor - perhaps her presence will bring the Shakers more luck.
30 September 2013: Going from bad to worse
One of the definitions of being an addict is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. So that makes me a football junkie - because despite the Shakers defeat (another one) at the weekend, I'll be back at Gigg Lane on Saturday to see them tackle Newport.
In the meantime, let's concentrate on happier matters. Later today, I'm meeting our latest intake of apprentices under our Backing Young Bury campaign, and I wish them all the best in their endeavours to get a job and training.
My latest business visit took me to Cope Engineering in Dumers Lane, who specialise in the manufacture of rollers and cylinders. I'm pictured here with director Tony Cope, and you can find out more about the company here.
On Wednesday, it's our annual strategic planning conference with our partners from health, police and colleges. It's more exciting than it sounds, honest. And I'm looking forward to visiting a couple of local primary schools, Cams Lane and Chantlers.
Friday, there's the North West Labour Leaders meeting in Manchester. After that, it'll be a a relief to head for the Bury Hospice fund-raising Masquerade Ball. (Don't worry, I've paid for my ticket.)
Once Bury FC have triumphed on Saturday (cough), I'll be at the Mayor of Bury's Lancashire charity night at Ainsworth Community Centre. And on Sunday, I'll be at a special thanksgiving service at St Thomas's Church in Rochdale Old Road, to celebrate the recent renovations that have taken place at the church.
Can I urge you to fill in and return the voter registration forms that are now landing on doormats across the borough? It's important that, even if your politics are 'none of the above', that we all take part in the democratic process.
23 September 2013: Last bus from Titipu
When it comes to Gilbert and Sullivan, I'm very much a traditionalist. So it came as a shock to witness a thoroughly modern production of The Mikado at the Lowry - and I have to say it was absolutely brilliant.
Set in a garment factory, there was no chorus, just the leading characters - among them the finest and most pompous Poo-bah I've ever seen. Well worth seeing, folks. The only downside was the two-hour journey back to reality (i.e. Bury), by the time it took us to find the Metrolink replacement bus service. Mind you, it was worse for one chap I spoke to - he thought he was on the bus to Rochdale.
It was a pleasure to visit the Bury offices of the Ratcliffe Groves Partnership, an architects' practice who also have offices in London and Glasgow and play a major role in retail developments across the country. I'm pictured here with the chairman, Terry Ratcliffe. Read more about the company here:Ratcliffe Groves Partnership
Later this week I'll be at Elton Primary School and also meeting the Bury 3rd Sector Development Agency who are launching a new volunteer scheme, and going to Cope Engineering in Radcliffe and the Jinnah Centre's annual meeting.
I may have to give the next Shakers game a miss, in the hope that results will improve in my absence. The 1-1 draw with Southend at the weekend was not a disaster, but the team isn't quite gelling yet. There's a long way to go, and hope springs eternal. And I had the pleasure of seeing Anton Forrester score the equalising goal - I'm his shirt sponsor.
Also on the business front, I was delighted to meet Microcare Systems in Warth, who provide IT and telecoms services to companies across the UK. I'm pictured here with the managing director, Carl Lowe. Details of the company are here:Microcare Systems
Finally, make a date in your diary for the third annual Bury Light Night, which takes place on Friday 11 October. Download all the details here:
16 September 2013: To lay aloft in a howling breeze
Most people go somewhere warm for their holidays. Me? I head for coastal Wales just as the first storm of the autumn descends. Driving back was like being on the Ghost Train at the fairground.
Still, it was great to meet up with all the family in Beaumaris for my brother's 50th wedding anniversary. And, unlike some family gatherings, there was no fisticuffs. I even took the youngsters crabbing - here's a nice picture of us doing exactly that.
Highlight of the coming week for me is going to the Lowry to watch The Mikado, but there's a lot to do before then, so here's my little list:
I'm meeting Greater Manchester Waste this afternoon, and then on Wednesday we have the Local Strategic Partnership Board at Bury Town Hall, starting at 2pm. You're welcome to attend.
Police matters are up for discussion when I meet the new divisional commander for Bury, Chief Superintendent Tim Forber. Our local economy is vital, and I'll be paying a business visit to the architects' practice Ratcliffe Grovers Partnership in Bury, and to telecoms and IT solutions company Microcare Systems in Warth.
On the topic of business, I'd like to mention the first ever Made in Bury business awards, which take place on 22 November. In the meantime, the BIG Bury Business Expo... Is held on Thursday at the Village Hotel Bury.
The council's cabinet meets on Wednesday, this time at the Elms Centre in Whitefield. It starts at 6pm, and is open to the public.
I'm forsaking my Bury East Township Forum meeting on Thursday and heading for Radcliffe instead, where I'll be announcing good news for the regeneration of the town centre involving a new market hall and plans for the bus station. The forum meets at Radcliffe Civic Suite, from 6pm.
Alas, the Shakers managed to drag defeat from the jaws of victory once more at the weekend. Hopefully we'll be back to winning ways at Gigg Lane this coming weekend against Southend. I'm going; why not join me? The lads need all the support we can give them. I don't want to be in a glum mood for the Lord High Executioner.
9 September 2013: Look out Wales - the Clampetts are coming
If anyone in Beaumaris is reading this, I should warn you now - the Connolly clan is about to descend on your beautiful town!
It's my brother and sister-in-law's golden wedding next weekend, and we've decided to take over the Bulkley Arms where all the family, scattered as they are across the country, can meet up. I'm really looking forward to it, although I suspect the locals will think the Clampetts have arrived. I've been put in charge of the cakes, and rather than risk poisoning the family by making them myself, I've ordered a couple from Ramsbottom company Cake Craft.
No cake whatsoever at Spotland on Saturday. I had to eat humble pie instead - again - as the Shakers crashed to Rochdale in the big derby match. Least said, soonest mended.
Today (Monday) I'm off to London, having been appointed to the Local Government Association's safer, stronger communities board. Then on Thursday it's Manchester for the inaugural meeting of Manchester Solutions, which brings together a range of bodies who work together to improve the economy of the city region.
Business visits - it was a pleasure to go to Fluid Creative, a print and design company in Bolton Street, Bury. I'm pictured with director Adam Hindle.
I've also been to 02 and discussed developments since the company's takeover by Capita. As 02 is the borough's largest private sector employer, we're all very concerned at recent media reports suggesting that the company could move from its Dumers Lane base. I had a very productive meeting with senior management, and I was very encouraged about their plans to generate new business and pump new investment into the site which includes looking at longer term options, which is very promising news for the many people who work there and the local economy as a whole. I'm pictured with Bob Buiaroski and Mike Barnard.
The full council meets on Wednesday 11 September at 7pm in the town hall - and you can watch the meeting live, courtesy of our friends in local company Digital Tree who will again be streaming the meeting.
2 September 2013: It's just like watching Brazil
Times are good at Gigg Lane right now, following a cracking win for Bury at the weekend. The crunch match this Saturday is of course against Rochdale, where I will be a guest of Colin Lambert, leader of Rochdale Council.
The last time we played Rochdale, all my hubris inevitably turned to nemesis, and he ended up with the bragging rights. We nearly came to blows over the half-time tea and orange slices. Not this time, Colin! I'm supremely confident that the Shakers will do the business.
Today, I've been meeting our latest intake of Backing Young Bury recruits at their induction. This scheme goes from strength to strength, as we do all we can to give our young people a chance in life with employment and training opportunities. Here I am pictured with them.
Tomorrow (Tuesday 3 September) I'll be attending the funeral of Firefighter Stephen Hunt, which takes place at Bury Parish Church. I'm sure many of you will come out and show your respects to an incredibly brave man who tragically died in the course of his duties. Roads in the town centre will be closed for a while in the morning, with diversions and car park restrictions in place; so, if you are coming, please arrive on foot or by public transport and help us keep congestion to a minimum.
I'm looking forward to being at the meeting of Bury's youth cabinet tomorrow, and listening to them take part in the democratic process. I'm also paying a visit to one of our successful local businesses, the print and design company Fluid Creative on Bolton Street in Bury.
It's also a pleasure to be invited to officially open the new sensory garden at Queensbury Place, which provides supported living to people with disabilities in my ward. I'm also talking to a group called Straight Allies, which helps to tackle homophobia, and chairing a meeting of BEAPS, at which local people can choose the best way to tackle alcohol abuse in the town.
It's off to London on Thursday and the Local Government Association, where I've just been appointed to the safer and stronger communities board. Time for a spot of culture at the weekend, at the 75th Manchester Airport anniversary concert at the Bridgewater Hall, including the Halle.
And on Sunday, I'll be in Ramsbottom for the launch of Mid Rossendale Credit Union's extension into Bury North. Plans to create a new credit union for Bury are under way, as it's vital to give people affordable help in these tough times.
See you at Spotland!
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