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Friday, 25 June 2010

Fishing Competition

Just a quick note to say that Cheshire Police will be running the fishing competition again this year. Entries are free for under 17 year olds, and the competition runs from August 9th to the 16th.

More more info or an application pack call 01244 614 446.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Support our local soldiers

As you will no doubt be aware, the "Cheshires" (1st Battalion Mercian's) are presently serving a six month tour of the Helmand Province. Many of the Battilion's soliders hail from Macclesfield and the surrounding areas.

Whilst the inhospitable environs of Helmand may seem a long way away, it is possible for us to support our local soldiers from the relative comfort of Macclesfield.

A group of parents from Broken Cross school, lead by Nicky Flintham, are collecting everyday items to send to the troops on Helmand and they need the help of the residents of Macclesfield.

The idea is to prepare jiffy bags, up to a weight of 2kg with items to be sent to our soldiers. People can either donate individual items, or put bags together themselves. The Cheshire soldiers really appreciate the gifts that are sent.

Popular items to fill the Jiffy bags include:

● Book/magazine/puzzle book
● Pens/pencils
● Playing cards
● Toothpaste/toothbrush
● Shampoo
● Roll-on deodorant
● Vaseline
● Soap/wet wipes
● Disposable razors
● Tampons/sanitary towels and tissues (for women’s bags)
● Sachet of drinking chocolate
● Super noodles/cuppa soups
● Packets of mints or chewing gum
● Boiled or jelly sweets or Lucozade tablets
● Salted peanuts
● Small ring-pull tins of food (eg. tuna, fruit)
● Powdered milk

Donations need to be made by 5th July, and can be dropped off at Broken Cross Primary school (community room), Parkett Heyes Rd, SK11 8UD. For more details contact the school on 01625 383 029.

Alternatively - drop me a line if you've got any queries:
01625 421903
and I'll help you out.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

How to get a good deal

Perhaps I've missed something here.

At the last council meeting we had to decide how much we thought we could afford to pay for the new contract to deal with our waste. This will be taking over from our landfill sites, and will probably be a company running an energy from waste plant. We're about to enter the last phase of the tendering process, and the council have to decide how much we think we can pay. If the tenders come in over this figure, the matter will have to be referred back to the council.

All good so far.

This subject was discussed in secret, as a "part 2" item of the agenda. This means that the public and press cannot be present. Fair enough I thought - why would be want the people bidding to know how much we could afford. It would rather give the game away.

Then I got up the next day to find out that council have sent out a press release to the papers with the figure we agreed in it. This has now been published in most titles. Therefore the bidders will know what we are expecting to pay them.

I can't imagine either of the tenders will come in much below that figure, do you?

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Have your say...

From Thursday an exhibition is taking place in the Grosvenor Centre for a few days to allow you to have your say on the future of Macclesfield.

I'm going to explain this from the start, because it's prone to confusion.

Cheshire East are carrying out a economic planning exercise for Macclesfield which they are calling the "Masterplan". Many people I speak to, upon hearing about this process, confuse it with the town centre development. Which is understandable, because the town centre development could be one of the small elements within the masterplan. However it's larger than that - and it seeks to decide what we should be doing with other areas of land which could be used for commercial or residential development, such as Lyme Green/Danes Moss, or perhaps areas close to the canal.

This consultation will allow you to feed your views into this. And your views are crucially important. Many of us disagreed with the previous plan for the town centre redevelopment because it didn't deliver what we thought Macclesfield needed. Now is our chance to establish what Macclesfield actually does need, and therefore will set the foundations for schemes to come, such as the Town Centre redevelopment.

A few of us Councillors have fought very hard for this - and specifically to make sure that nothing progresses on the town centre redevelopment until this piece of work is done. We didn't think it was right that such a major part of Macclesfield could be changed without fully understanding the background behind it all.

I know there will be frustration from people who think we've done this already, or that we just need to get on and get something built in the town centre. But I disagree with that. I think we need to ensure we're doing the right thing in the first place, rather than rushing off with some half baked plan.

So, if you've got a view then get down to the Grosvenor Centre:
Thursday 10th June, 10.30am to 5.30 pm
Friday 11th June, 10.30am to 5.30pm
Saturday 12th June, 10.30am to 5.30pm
or alternatively to the Football Club:
Monday 15th June, 3pm to 8pm.
Make sure your voice is heard.

For more info: www.cheshireeast.gov.uk/maccregen

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Winter Learning

Now that it's warmed up a bit (and boy was it hot last weekend) it's easy to forget just how cold it was this winter. That is until you take a look at my garden, where several plants suffered much more than normal in the winters sub -10 conditions. If anyone's got any ideas how I can rejuvinate my Jerusalem sage then I'd love to hear it....

Anyway, the council have been thinking back, and there's a very interesting report been produced entitled Winter Learning. Click the link to read the full report.

What did we learn? It a nutshell, that the council met it's legal obligations, but it didn't meet public expectation. There are many sensible suggestions for improving the service, and even more importantly the communication - especially when it came to rubbish collections.

This raises the question: is it possible to meet public expectation? Most of the complaints and telephone calls I received about roads needing gritting were for minor estate roads. We can't honestly expect the council to be able to hold enough grit to keep these clear, and have sufficient gritters/drivers to do so. It would double council tax.

Interestingly, and the report picks up on this, I had many more complaints when the weather first turned bad than towards the end of the period. Had conditions got better? No, probably the opposite. But people had got more used to them, and learnt to drive in them - hence the end of the "it's not like this in France/canada/norway" comments. Or perhaps it's just because I proof that it was just like this in France....

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Can't see it myself....

The two week diversion for the aforementioned gas works will be:

The alternative route for traffic is via the B5088 Oxford Road and A565 to Congleton then north on the A34 to rejoin the A537 at Monks Heath, or vice versa.
Local traffic under 7.5 tonnes can avoid the works within the town. Through traffic and heavy goods vehicles are advised to avoid the A537 route east or west through Macclesfield and use an alternative route, if possible.
It's a long diversion. I can't see it myself. I can't help but think that those with local knowledge or SatNav may get re-routed via Ivy Lane and Ivy Road, where the weight limit is in place. I think I'm going to have to speak to the police to see if we can get some high visibility presence to avoid this.

** UPDATE **: Highways have confirmed that the No. 19 bus will be diverted via Oxford Road, Ivy Lane and Ivy Road.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010


I know that everyone is still being bothered by Gas works - especially as the ones on Chiltern Ave seem to like blocking the entire road when they're not supposed to - but I'm afraid I've got advance warning of some more.

United Utilities need to carry out some repairs to the sewers on Chester Road, and as a consequence the road will be closed from 01/06/2010 to 14/06/2010.

This is a pain in the backside for our ward, not only because it's a bit difficult for us to get anywhere, but also because a lot of people will be trying to use Ivy Lane/Ivy Road as a diversion.

The interesting thing is that these roads have a 7.5T weight limit, and this is something that the residents are very keen to keep enforced. If this route is to be the primary diversion (which I can only assume it must be, along with Victoria Road?) - then what's going to happen to the HGV's?

I've written to the highways engineers requesting more information. I'll let you know what I hear.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Happy new year....

What does the Council have in common with China?

We both like to have run to our own calendar and have out new year at seemingly inexplicable times.

Yesterday saw the start of a new year for the council (it's the year of the greasy pole climber again, apparently). This manifests itself as a full council meeting which starts at Tatton Park, in adjourned and then is finished at Congleton Town Hall the next day.

Sounds odd, but it makes a bit more sense in practice. The first part of the meeting is to elect a new mayor and is called the "Mayor Making". The election is already a done deal - the council voted last meeting to decide who the mayor should be, but the decision is ratified again at this meeting. Once elected, the new mayor is installed in due pomp and circumstance, and everybody who's anyone gets a chance to say something nice about them. The meeting is then adjourned, and everybody gets a nice buffet lunch at the taxpayer's expense. We then all go home.

The next day we arrive at Congleton Town Hall, get a nice buffet lunch at the taxpayer's expense (Yes, again. I'll come to this part in a minute....) and we hold the rest of the meeting. This is mostly procedural items to appoint a new leader, deputy leader, cabinet and chairman of committees and there isn't much to discuss.

Now, the big news is that two cabinet members have been removed (Cllrs Findlow and Silvester) in favour of two new faces (Cllrs Bailey and Gaddum). The eagle eyed among you will note that this is bringing two women into the cabinet to bring the total number of women to.....two. Although this change gets announced at the full council meeting it is for information only and we cannot debate or vote on the changes, it's completely within the gift of the leader.

I'd just like to point out that I'm not for a moment suggesting the change had been solely to bring balance into the cabinet at all. I don't know Rachel Bailey that well, but most people from Macclesfield will know Hilda Gaddum and will know that she doesn't do anything by half measures and she is there on merit. It is slightly odd that she's been given Children's Services as a portfolio when she doesn't have any experience in this area - but of anyone Hilda will be able to get her teeth into it. She's also tenacious enough to ensure that officers can't slip anything past her. I wish her and Rachel the best of luck.

Just to pop back to the lunches....nice as they were, I'm at a loss to explain why the taxpayer has to pay for lunch for two days running - especially when you consider that the meeting on the 2nd day lasted for less than half an hour. Some of the meetings go on for an age, and perhaps then it's more understandable, but it doesn't seem right when we're out of the building within 30 minutes.

Friday, 19 February 2010


Following on previous budget post, there's another interesting capital project in the works.

The council will be spending £815,000 next year to scrap the existing CCTV control rooms in Crewe and Congleton (Sandbach, actually, but serving the old borough) into Macclesfield.

I've spent time in the CCTV room in Macclesfield and was impressed by what I saw. The CCTV operators know what's going on. They know the virtual "patch". They know where to look, who to look for, and who to contact if there's a problem.

Whilst I guess there's a cost saving argument as we won't need as many staff on the go when it's all being controlled from one place, I can't help think there will be a noticeable drop in the quality of service that's delivered. And even if there is a cost saving, it'll take us 10 years to recoup what we're spending.

Common sense tells me that these operators are never going to be able to deliver the same kind of service as when they were dealing with one town only. A relationship is built between the local shop security chaps, bouncers, coppers, and CCTV operator.

This just won't be sustainable if they're dealing with a much larger area.

Thursday, 18 February 2010


You can always count on Sir Nick to say something courageous or unfortunate.


In this case it's also inaccurate as well when it comes to Councillors traveling first class.

The Council constitution states:
All Rail Travel to be booked centrally through the travel bookings system
wherever possible and second class travel to be used, unless in exceptional
circumstances where a good business case can be made for first class. Where
applicable senior rail cards to be used to reduce cost.
Personally, I've never claimed travel expenses from the Council directly be it payments for mileage or for train travel. The only time the taxpayer has funded my travel was through Connexions, when they sent me down to London to meet Prince Phillip. I traveled standard class and walked the half hour across London.

However if I'm honest I do try and travel first for business and pleasure, always by booking in advance and getting the cheapo tickets. It's nice - free paper, drinks, meal and then there was the time that I bumping into Abigail Clancy. We shared a taxi from the station (true story).

The point really is that we should be asking our public servants, be it local or national, elected or officers, to be more careful about how they book tickets. I don't care if it's first class or not, I'd rather they were all booking in advance to get the good deals.