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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21 September 2018
It's no surprise to Bury residents that there's a lot going on in this borough which makes it such a great place to live.
What's just as important is that large numbers of people from elsewhere are discovering this too, and heading to Bury at a fair rate of knots.
This is doubly heartening; not only because we're happy to welcome visitors and show them what we have to offer, but also because it is increasingly important to our economic wellbeing. Experts say tourism and leisure is worth hundreds of millions of pounds to Bury, and supports thousands of jobs.
It's easy to see why Bury is attractive - here are just a few examples of recent and upcoming events that are proving hugely popular both home and wider afield.
Take our Victoria Wood exhibition, which has just opened at Bury Art Museum. This is a real treasure trove for fans of Bury's most famous 'daughter', boasting artefacts from her illustrious career, and going right back to her childhood days. Millions loved Victoria, and this is certain to become one of the most visited shows the gallery has ever put on.
Thousands more have just enjoyed the Head for the Hills festival at Ramsbottom Cricket Ground, headlined by the Boomtown Rats. This is an excellent (and truly family friendly) festival which appeals to both locals and visitors, and is now a firm fixture in the Bury calendar.
Hundreds managed to combine fun with fitness on Sunday by taking part in the third annual Asda Foundation Bury 10k run. Covering a route through the town centre and onto Radcliffe and back, it supports the Jane Tomlinson Appeal, Bury Hospice, Early Break and Women's Housing Action Group. The shorter Arena Group Family Fun Run gave families a chance to participate and help the partner charity Forget Me Not children's hospice.
Bury has already played host this month to thousands who came to ride on the iconic Flying Scotsman at the East Lancs Railway.
And we've just had the Bury Black Pudding Throwing Championships in Ramsbottom, which was won by a man from the West Midlands. Apparently he's been coming here to compete for five years, and they reckon their black puddings are better than ours. What I say is: we need to get in training for next year's tournament!
Treating perfectly good Bury black puddings with such disdain will be blasphemy to some. But there's good news: three of our restaurants have just been listed in the nation's official Good Food Guide - Ramsbottom eateries Levanter and Baratxuri, plus One Eighty Eight in Whitefield.
Offering visitors and locals good food is also a major reason why the revamped Radcliffe Market hall is doing so well. Have you been to their Friday food nights? They are fabulous evenings, and are really bringing in the crowds.
Let's not forget Bury Market. We all know it's won countless accolades for being a great market, but now it's being recognised nationally for its green credentials. It has just won a Green Apple environmental award for its environmental policies, such as being energy efficient and promoting recycling. The market will be presented with its award in November at Westminster Palace (very grand) and may be chosen to represent the country in the international Green World Awards competition next year.
Here's another date for your diary - the very first Bury Pride autumn benefit is held at the Elizabethan Suite on 28 September. The Pride walks have become a fixture in the local calendar, and this 'black tie' dinner and night of entertainment, featuring Pop Idol's Michelle McManus, is sure to follow suit.
Make a note also of the first Prestwich Arts Festival, which takes place on 29 and 30 September, bringing a wide range of attractions to the village. It's no wonder that Prestwich is recording some of the highest house prices in the country.
Regular highlights - from the Ramsbottom Chocolate Festival to Festwich - show how successful Bury is in providing a range of wonderful occasions that can be enjoyed by residents and visitors of all ages.
We're playing our part too. We've signed a memorandum of understanding with the University of Bolton, a visionary plan to develop state-of-the-art infrastructure in Bury for education and economic regeneration. One of the areas this will focus on in tourism and leisure in today's digital age, and I'm really looking forward to our partnership bearing fruit in the years to come.
All this demonstrates that, in Bury, we're building on our remarkable heritage while focusing on the future. When everyone works together, we can make our borough flourish; for those of us lucky enough to live here, and for the many who will want to.
PS: Huge congratulations to Bury cyclist Simon Yates, who has triumphed in the Vuelta Espana, a magnificent achievement. His success means that British riders have won all of this year's major tournaments. Another good reason to feel proud of Bury!
28 August 2018: Plenty to enjoy in our green and pleasant land
We live in an increasingly digital age, yet the physical environment that surrounds us still shapes who we are.
And in Bury, we are privileged to live and work in a fantastic place. From vast swathes of countryside such as Burrs Country Park, to the Irwell Sculpture Trail - the largest public arts scheme in the North West - and the distinctive Bury town centre cultural quarter, we live in a beautiful borough.
Part of what makes our borough special are its trees. By looking after our woods, we become a more resilient and sustainable place.
We are working in partnership with the Forestry Commission to consider the future management of some additional woodland areas, including Philips Park, Outwood trail and Prestwich Clough. The project aims to create a vast urban forest, 50 per cent bigger than Heaton Park, on a par with New York's Central Park.
Of course, being happy where you live goes beyond green spaces. With the majority of people now living and working in urban areas, the great outdoors can only go some way to enhancing our wellbeing. We need to ensure that our town centres are flourishing places where people want to spend time.
Multi-million pound plans to transform the heart of Prestwich are one step nearer reality following a 'summit meeting' of the main partners alongside Mayor Andy Burnham and myself earlier this month. The vision is Prestwich Village - a modern and lively centre with a focus on living, creativity, shopping and enjoying life. Early design concepts include a hotel, restaurant, shops, a food hall and a number of apartments. A key element is the provision of community facilities to serve the local population. It is envisaged that this hub will provide healthcare, leisure, a library and community space meeting space.
Ramsbottom is another town in our borough which is booming. I was delighted to support the Best of British Retail Awards bid for the town, alongside local business leaders. This would be another feather in the cap of the town, which recently featured in a Guardian article: 'Let's move to Ramsbottom: the town is a delight'.
Better public transport is critical to our environment, not just in terms of future-proofing for the next generation, but creating a lifestyle where local people have the means to walk and cycle. We have filled 1,000 more potholes so far this year. The real difference we can make though, is to encourage alternatives to car travel.
We actually have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to revolutionise the way we all get around. Beelines is an ambitious plan to give people a real choice in how they travel; easing congestion, improving health and creating better places to live.
I'm delighted that we have a first stage allocation of £2.6 million for new or improved road crossings and £1.2 million for improved cycle parking at Metrolink stations. The first Bury scheme includes 16 new and upgraded crossings and junctions, costing in the region of £2.6 million.
The second stage would see new cycle parking provision, including highly visible and accessible locations at Metro stops, with lighting and CCTV.
Renewable energy continues to soar in the UK and Bury is no exception. The world's first grid-scale liquid air energy storage (LAES) plant was launched in Bury in June. The plant is located on project partner, recycling and renewable energy company Viridor's landfill gas generation site. LAES technology makes use of a freely available resource, the air, which is stored as a liquid and then converted back to a gas, involving an expansion process that releases stored energy, and this drives a turbine to generate electricity.
This technology can scale to hundreds of Megawatts in line with the energy demand of urban areas the size of small towns up to large cities. This means that LAES plants could easily store enough clean electricity generated by a local windfarm to power a town like Bury (around 100,000 homes) for many days, not just a few hours. In addition to energy storage the plant also converts waste heat to power using heat from the onsite landfill gas engines.
Long-duration energy storage is critical to enable the broader deployment of renewable energy; overcome the intermittency of solar and wind energy; help smooth peaks and troughs in demand; and provide the UK with a stable and secure source of homegrown energy.
Places are also about communities, local identity and social cohesion. This month I launched 'A Shared Future' alongside the Mayor and Deputy Mayor Bev Hughes. In this Social Cohesion Report, our Greater Manchester collective response to the Manchester Arena attack, we advocate for a whole-society approach to gathering information and tackling extremism.
It is clear that the nature of terrorism has changed and cities need to face up to the consequences of that. It is no longer the case that acts of terror are likely to perpetrated by known terror organisations. Now, it can be individuals or small, localised groups who plan and carry out these atrocities. In return, this development requires a new, more localised response. We are stronger when we work together as a community.
In Bury, we are very well placed to support each other as a community. We may be small, but we pack a punch! And our size can be advantageous in sustaining a strong community spirit. We are the friendliest place in Greater Manchester, with dementia and autism-friendly spaces. This focus on 'locality' or place is also at the heart of health and social care integration. People value local joined-up health and care services, where they live.
Bury is a place to be proud of. I love getting out and about in our wonderful borough, so please invite me to your events, especially those that celebrate Bury as a great place to live, work and play.
29 June 2018: Re>build, Remodel
One of the privileges of doing this job is getting to meet so many people in Bury who are working every day to improve our borough.
It was a pleasure to visit the charity Rebuild who are celebrating their 20th anniversary, after just winning a Queen's Award. Not only that, their town centre base is moving just round the corner onto The Rock. They do tremendous work helping thousands of people each year by providing affordable furniture and skills to disadvantaged people. I'm pictured with Liz Jackson from Re>Build and the mayor, Cllr Jane Black. For more details of Re>Build, see their website: Rebuild Bury
The success of local enterprise is vital to the health of our borough, and I've been having regular discussions with members of Whitefield Business Group on how we can improve that part of our borough. I hope to be able to make an announcement very soon.
Meanwhile, it was a fascinating visit to polystyrene designers Molygran, who can fashion anything for any occasion. I'm not sure my efforts at unveiling a Bury Council sculpture were entirely successful, but you can watch a wonderful video of the company here: YouTube - Molygran Case Study - Export Grant Funds Expansion
Creating a healthy, modern and sustainable environment is crucial for our wellbeing. This is why I'm delighted to support the Beelines masterplan, launched this week by Olympic champion and Greater Manchester's cycling and walking commissioner Chris Boardman. This will create the UK's biggest cycling and walking network across the city region; in Bury, this will feature 64 miles of new cycling and walking routes, five miles of Dutch-style segregated cycling lanes and 71 new or upgraded crossing points. These will better connect every community in the district and make cycling and walking a real alternative to the car. I took the chance, on Clean Air Day, to try out the latest electric bikes on The Rock, courtesy of Leisure Lakes.
Finally, we must never forget the phenomenal contribution that thousands of local people make to looking after the most vulnerable in our society. It was National Carers Week recently, which aimed to raise awareness of caring and highlight the challenges carers face. Did you know there are 280,000 carers across Greater Manchester - and these are only the ones we know about? At the council, we're playing our part in supporting them - I'm pictured signing the Carers Pledge, with deputy leader Andrea Simpson and interim chief executive Pat Jones-Greenhalgh.
2 March 2018: Looking after our most needy
You may by now have read about the budget that the council set last week and the level of council tax.
Frankly, I'm thoroughly fed up with these relentless years of austerity, in which our Government grant is slashed while demand for services from our most vulnerable people inexorably goes up.
Despite our annual struggle to square the circle, we're still putting our most needy people at the heart of what we do. We've ring-fenced some of the council tax rise to protect children's services, prevent homelessness and get young people ready for the world of work.
We're also devolving more power - and £600,000 - to local communities to give them more say in how their neighbourhoods are run. We are determined to continue to regenerate our town centres, help people afford a home, and ensure we get our fair share of health and social care funding which has been devolved at Greater Manchester level. Oh, and we're also bringing forward more money to spend on potholes. You can read more about our plans in my latest column in the Bury Times: Bury Times - Building the best for Bury
Make no mistake, there are still many good news stories here in Bury. Take the reopening of Killelea intermediate care facility, which has been transformed with a £2.1 million renovation. This is a fantastic development which will be hugely popular with residents, helping to keep them out of hospital and get them back to fitness. I'm pictured here at the reopening along with the Mayor, and you can read more about the new Killelea at My News Desk - Our new choices for living well facility at Killelea House.
There's also been the official opening of the new Lidl store in Radcliffe, another piece in the jigsaw which is turning round the town centre. And later this month I'm launching a new Radcliffe Regeneration Task Force to ensure that these improvements continue, in partnership with local people and businesses.
It's not all serious stuff, though. I recently paid a visit to Stay N Play Doggy Daycare to see their plans to encourage responsible dog ownership by working with children in the local community. I'm pictured with Millet - one of my very best selfies, don't you think? You can find out more about the company here: Stay N Play Doggy Daycare.
2 February 2018: The devil makes work for idle hands
It's been a busy few weeks, and the pace is not letting up.
You may have read about our plans, with Homes England, to create 400-plus new homes on the former East Lancs Paper Mill site. This is a major project which will benefit many families who until now have been unable to get onto the housing ladder - and what's more, it's on brownfield land, which is always our first priority when house building. It will also continue the regeneration of Radcliffe, another of our top priorities. You can have your say on the plans - take part in the consultation here: WYG - Consultations - East Lancs Paper Mill.
Speaking of Radcliffe, we have just agreed to bring in an independent operator to run Radcliffe Market Hall. Times have changed, and they will bring lots of new ideas on how best to bring more people into the town centre and enjoy a new-look market with food and drink, plus entertainment and community uses, to the fore.
We're also taking action to get the Kay Street Bridge in Summerseat fully re-opened, following the damage caused by the Boxing Day floods of 2015. We've agreed to use Compulsory Purchase powers, if necessary, to buy land from private owners which we need to carry out the work.
I'd like to invite you all to a public open day at Killelea House in Bury on Wednesday (7 Feb). Our new intermediate care facility is re-opening following a £2.1 million refurbishment, another major investment which will bring benefits to our most needy people for many years to come. You can read more about it here: My News Desk - Come and see the new £2.1 million "Choices for Living Well facility" at Killelea House.
Other matters: it was an honour to attend the Holocaust memorial service in Prestwich last week. This annual remembrance is always very emotional, and reminds us why we must work tirelessly to ensure that such dreadful episodes in our history must never be repeated. Well done to all the young people from our schools and colleges who made it such a moving occasion. I'm pictured at the event with deputy council leader Andrea Simpson, Bury South MP Ivan Lewis, the mayor Cllr Dorothy Gunther, and the council's interim chief executive Pat Jones-Greenhalgh.
I'm also very pleased that the council has moved up ten places to be Number 41 in Stonewall's list of the country's top 'equal' employers, the third best council in the land. And many congratulations to one of our staff, Natasha Franklin, who they chose as their National Lesbian Role Model of the Year for all the work she does on LGBT issues.
We've just made some changes to our new online car parking permits, after some people said they did not have internet access. I'm pleased to say that we've amended the system, and we will allow them to continue using their traditional paper permits. We do listen, you know.
Condolences to the family and loved ones of Mark E. Smith, visionary leader of The Fall, who recently passed away. Mark lived in Prestwich for much of his life, and cut a unique and highly influential figure in the world of music over the last four decades.
Finally, the environment is another of our top priorities, and I've got quite a bit to say about that in my latest monthly column in the Bury Times. You can read all about it, as newspaper vendors used to say, by clicking on the BT's website here: Bury Times - Looking after where we live.
6 December 2017: Praxis makes perfect
Before I get on to the council's business, I want to thank Steve and Sharon Goodman, who invited me to the launch of Liv's Trust at the Elizabethan Suite.
Steve is the step-grandad of Olivia Campbell-Hardy, who died in the Manchester Arena bombing, and Liv's Trust aims to remember her by providing support for under-25s who want to pursue a career in music and dance. The launch night was both emotional and heart-warming, and when Olivia's school friend performed to a recording of Olivia singing a Kate Bush song, there was not a dry eye in the house. I wish the family the very best with the trust.
One of our most important priorities is the health of the local economy. Judging by the turnout at the Made in Bury Business Awards, it would see that it is in rude health indeed. It was a pleasure to present the Outstanding Achievement award to Andrew Roberts of Pennine (we're pictured here with Pat Jones-Greenhalgh, the council's interim council chief executive, and Debi and Phil Fellone of The Best of Bury). A full list of all winners, highly commended and commended businesses can be found at Made in Bury - Business awards.
On a related subject, I had a very productive meeting recently with Vodaphone, who are looking to bring in improved connectivity for our local businesses and residents. Also important for the local economy and tourism is the success of Bury Market, which has just welcomed its 1,500 coach trip this year. I'm pictured presenting a bottle of champagne to coach driver Mark Higginbotham of East Yorkshire Coaches.
Looking after our environment is also a key council priority. There's good news here too. Once again, all 12 of our main parks have been awarded Green Flag status by Keep Britain Tidy. And, for the 14th year, Bury has won North West in Bloom - this is a tremendous achievement, and congratulations must go to the many local groups, volunteers and sponsors who work to ensure that our surroundings are welcoming and pleasant. We also won a silver gilt in the national In Bloom contest too, representing the region.
We're spending an extra £10 million looking after our road network, and more details of particular schemes will be announced in the new year. In the meantime, our crews were carrying out precautionary repairs on Longsight Road last week - and I had some fun getting behind the wheel of a roller. Not sure how much my presence contributed to the work, but it's indicative of our intention to invest where we can in areas which are important to our residents.
With winter now under way, can I draw your attention to the appeal by Porch Boxes for donations of food and drop-off facilities? This is a superb project, and one which I and my family have supported for many years. For more details, and how you can help, go to My News Desk - Bury council backs porch boxes appeal for donations and drop off points.
Safe and secure communities is another priority, and I urge everyone - especially men - to sign up to the global White Ribbon campaign and help bring an end to violence against women and girls.
Finally, better communication with the public is also important. I'm delighted that the Bury Times are helping me to do that, by granting me a monthly column. I'll be addressing a range of issues in these columns, so don't be scared to give me your views - I'm sure you won't! Constructive comments and suggestions are even better! After all, the best way to build a better Bury is through teamwork. You can read my first column on the BT's website, here: Bury Times - Rishi Shori column: Building a better Bury it's down to team work.
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.
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.