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Thursday, 28 May 2009

Exclusive on the way: plans for the Weston Playing Fields

I have in my possession the first draft of plans for redevelopment of play facilities on the Weston Playing Fields. Information to be posted here in the next few days.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009


I've been away for a few days, hence the lack of daily posts. A little unfortunate, because I understand that there's been a bit going on locally over the last couple of days.

This means I've spent the last few hours since I've been home devouring news, and there's one thing that's starting to bug me. This concept of Macclesfield being a safe seat, just because Nick has won it for the last 290 years.

Anyone who pays attention to how divisions/wards vote at local elections will know that even with the success the Conservatives have in the rural areas, Macc is not safe for us Conservatives. We managed a swing from Labour to Con in west ward, but it took quite a bit of hard work and lots of leaflets. We'll only hold it by working hard and continuing to communicate with people to tell them just how hard we are working. (In essence...the whole point of this blog).

The Lib Dems have a good amount of support, and we all know of a couple of good independent candidates who probably couldn't win, but probably could sap a good number of our votes.

But it comes down to this: The first time Nick won this seat he only just scraped in. It took him years and years of hard work to build up his personal majority. Anyone who thinks this is going to be an easy win next time may be mistaken.

Anyway...to my delight there's lots of talk of free car parking again at the moment. There's talk of a motion at the next full council. I'm trying to find out the gossip from the leader of the opposition at the moment. Could be good news for the traders in Macclesfield who desperately need a boost.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009


Whatever happens with expenses in Parliament, we all know that it's a drop in the ocean compared to European MEP's expenses, don't we?

At least...that's the reason that many will give for not voting in the upcoming European Elections.

Well it's not the case. Not for Conservative MEP's anyway. All Conservative MEP's elected this June have agreed to sign up to a pledge. David Cameron said:
“This pledge sets out new standards of ethical behaviour and clear rules.

“One – Conservative MEPs will publish online a breakdown of all office costs, signed off by a certified accountant.

“Two – they will publish online details of all travel: to Brussels, to Strasbourg , to any other country.

“Three – they will publish the names of each member of staff they employ.

“Four – they will publish details of all meetings with lobbyists and interest groups.

“And five – all of the above will be subject to examination by a scrutiny panel.

“In Brussels, just as in Westminster, transparency is the first essential step in cleaning up politics and it is the first big change that Conservative MEPs will make.
Again, Cameron has showed that you don't need to hide behind "It's all in the rules" - it's possible for any party to take a stand and be open and honest.

When you see UKIP, Libertas, BNP and Jury Team on the ballot paper - can you be sure that they'll follow this pledge too?

Monday, 25 May 2009

Breaking news: Nicholas and Ann to step down

More news as I get it.

*** Update: Nick's Letter:
Dear David,

Ann and I have been giving considerable thought in recent months to our future plans. While I remain tremendously involved both in the House of Commons and in my Macclesfield Constituency (and Ann is also much involved too) I am aware that we cannot maintain the hectic pace at which we have lived for nearly four decades and we would like a steadier lifestyle which would enable us to see more of our family, including eight grandchildren, not least at weekends.

Also with all the changes taking place in Parliament and in local government we feel that it is an appropriate time to announce that we do not intend to stand as candidates at the next general election and we will be notifying our Association Chairmen accordingly. However, I would ask that you do not make any public announcement about our decision until we have done this.

Parliament and my constituency have been my life for almost 38 years (and politics in general for almost 50 years) and in Ann's case for more than 26 years, but when you feel as we do that maybe the years are taking their toll and perhaps we can no longer represent Macclesfield and Congleton with the some level of energy and enthusiasm as in the past, we have reached the conclusion that we should pass the baton to a younger person because both Congleton and Macclesfield deserve the very best.

I hope that during the remainder of this Parliament I can help others in returning to the House of Commons itself some authority, independence and integrity over the executive of the day because the House is currently virtually impotent. Our support for the Conservative and Unionist Party is total and we will continue to do all we can to ensure a great victory at the next General Election whenever it comes.

We wish you every success.
Yours ever
*** Update: For those on Facebook:


Tesco's Broken Cross

When planning permission was originally given for the Tesco's store at Broken Cross the original conditions specified that:
Deliveries to the site and collection of waste shall be limited to 7.30 to 18.00
hours on Monday to Saturday, excluding school drop off/collection times i.e. 8.30-
9.30 and 15.00 – 16.00 Monday to Friday. No deliveries / collections shall be
made on Sundays and Public Holidays.
Tesco's - never being happy with just owning most of Macclesfield - weren't happy with that, and they asked for deliveries to be possible between 6am and 11pm. I didn't think this was a good idea because there are a fair number of houses behind the site which would get rather riled by deliveries early in the morning or late at night.

I was therefore horrified when I read that permission had been "granted" - although in fact they've just extended the hours slightly. The condition now reads:
Deliveries to the site and collection of waste shall be limited to 7.30 to 20.00
hours on Monday to Saturday, and 10.00 to 16.00 hours on Sundays and
Public Holidays, excluding school drop off/collection times i.e. 8.30-9.30 and
15.00 – 16.00 Monday to Friday.
On balance, a good compromise.

Friday, 22 May 2009

A bit of fun for the weekend...

Below is our proposed Coat of Arms for Cheshire East. Note that this will not be used in place of our logo - which I'm sure you all love.

As with all these arty things that I'm so ignorant of, I need the full description to understand it properly:
Wheat sheaves (or garbs as they are known in heraldry) are the symbols most associated with Cheshire and are a prominent feature of the shields of all three predecessor authorities. The combination of three crowns represents the amalgamation of the three boroughs in the crest; an Eastern crown has been used, referring to the fact that the authority covers the eastern half of the county.

The main feature of the crest is a stag. There are a good many at Tatton Park also two gold stags supported the arms of Macclesfield Borough Council. All four authorities had lions; a lion has therefore been made one of the two supporters in the new design.

Crewe and Nantwich’s supporters were two griffins; hence the other supporter is a griffin. This has additional symbolism because in classical mythology the griffin was the guardian of treasure. It is therefore provides an allusion to the council’s role as custodian of the district’s heritage. Both the lion and the griffin have garlands of laurel round their neck in the same fashion as the stags in Macclesfield’s coat of arms. They are shown standing on a grassy mound, emblematic of the countryside and wavy blue lines suggest rivers and waterways.
Finally, a single garb and an Eastern crown have been combined to form a simple heraldic badge which will also be used as the seal for the authority.

Recession Mitigation Report

I'm just off to meet with some of the traders from Macclesfield Town Centre about (amongst other things) the Recession group report which was passed by Cabinet this week.

If you're interested, you can read the full report here:

Some excellent ideas have come out of this group, and a couple that I'm not so sure are as wise.

For example, spending £60,000 on flashy websites to attract tourists may not be the best use of money. I also hope that all of this money is going to be spent evenly around Cheshire East - considering that 10% has already been earmarked for Knutsford. (For a floral walk, apparently).

However there's one point that could be really worthwhile and I misunderstood the implications when I first read it. It wasn't until I spoke to Jamie Macrae last night that I got to grips with it.

Two measures are suggested that will increase the take up of benefits to those eligible. These two measure will cost us £115,000. It initially didn't make sense to me...why would be want to spend that much (a third of all measures) to encourage benefit claims? (Which will cost us more money, nationally).

Jamie Macrae tells me that there is considered to be upwards of a Million pounds in unclaimed benefits for people in Cheshire East. Evidence shows that if this money is claimed, 80 pence in every pound gets put back into the local economy. Therefore, spending just over £100k now should bring over £800k into the borough.

Sounds like a good deal to me.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Europe Candidates

Like to know who you can vote for in the European Elections?

Then click here for the full list.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Mobile phone mast - Flowerpot Junction

Just wanted to bring your attention to a planning appeal for application 08/1957P.

(Can be found by searching the planning portal on the Cheshire East website).

It was an application for a mobile phone transmitter at the flower pot junction which was rejected. Vodafone are appealing, as they have the right to do - but what really surprises me is that the application is to put a roadside cabinet and transmitter on publicly owned land.

I know that legislation gives them the right to do this, but I would have thought the given the circumstances there may have been scope for a little less bullying and a little more cooperation (given that I believe a more appropriate site was suggested to them).

Safe to say I won't be taking out a contract with Vodafone any time soon...

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Voting UKIP - the protest vote?

Avid readers of the, normally excellent, Guido Fawkes blog will have yesterday read this piece suggesting that they shouldn't vote for the mainstream parties.

He comments on the mainstream parties that:
...the impotence of voting is exposed, because they are all at it. They treat voters like sheep to be fleeced.
I strongly object to the concept that they are "all at it" - because it's simply not true. But that's not the point I want to pick up on. The point is that he follows it up with this:
if your sympathies are to the right, time to vote UKIP
Love the idea. Seems great, except that UKIP are not really whiter than white. Two of their MEP's had a bit of a rough ride since getting elected, with Ashley Mote being found guilty of fraud and Tom Wise being charged with money laundering (to stand trial later this year, so presently presumed innocent).

The Times reports, with respect of Tom Wise:
Bank documents show that Tom Wise channelled nearly £40,000 of public funds into his personal account after claiming it was for an assistant’s salary. He is now being investigated by a European antifraud watchdog, which has asked to interview him and others in connection with the case.
Perhaps this DOES show that they're all at it? Or perhaps it just goes to show that in all parties there are good and bad eggs, and to suggest that picking UKIP over the Conservatives for this reason is a little daft.

But then what other reasons are there? The truth remains that if you want a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty then there's only one party that promises to give you one...and it's not UKIP.

I know that Heidi discussed this yesterday, but unfortunately I didn't get a chance to listen in. I look forward to finding out from her what the general feeling was.

Monday, 18 May 2009


...to all those who completed the Macclesfield Bikeathon at the weekend.

More importantly, congratulations to those who organised and ran a very successful event.

It was my first Macclesfield Bikeathon - although I'm a seasoned veteran of the "London to Brighton". Regrettably there was no Macclesfield equivalent of L2B's "Ditchling Beacon" - the impossibly steep hill towards the end of the course.

Although perhaps there was for the 52 mile riders, as I wimped out and completed the 26 mile route under the guise of doing it with the 3rd Macc Scouts. The boys seemed to be far less tired than us leaders at the end of the course!

We all had a fun day despite a downpour in the middle of the day, which seemed to coincide with us cycling into the wind.

Sunday was obviously a sporty day, and congrats also go to Hedi Reid of Canalside and St Johns School fame, who completed the Bupa Great Manchester Run yesterday in a time of 58 minutes.

Tough Times for Wimpey Homes?

The Economic Climate must be causing problems for Wimpey Homes - who are having a proposal considered by the strategic planning board on the 27th May to change the Section 106 agreement they have for the development at the Henbury School Site.

Money is tight is seems, and they say that:
In order for George Wimpey to be able to continue with the development in a viable manner they are unable to outlay the level of expenditure currently required by the S106 in advance of commencement/occupation of the residential units. The only way that the development can proceed is subject to committed sales, without this Wimpey cannot progress.
Section 106's are conditions with large planning applications that ensure the developer delivers something for the community. This is how we got cash for the Toddlers play area on the Weston, and it's how the new Macclesfield Skate Park will be built.

Essentially, the revisions means that Wimpey will not deliver the S106 projects as quickly as anticipated, instead having the delivery phased and linked to the number of houses they sell.

For example, the condition:
Wimpey Homes shall pay the County Council £100,000 for the delivery of highway improvements prior to the commencement of development.
Will become...
Wimpey Homes shall pay the Highways department £25,000 on the commencement of the development, thereafter £50,000 upon completion of the 50th open market unit (subject to agreed construction plan) and £25,000 upon commencement of the 100th residential unit, all payments are to be index linked.
It's very difficult for a reasonable person to disagree with this, although I do wonder if it's an indication that they were a little short sighted in the first place?

Friday, 15 May 2009

Crossing the canal

After saying that we should be more forthcoming with information, I've just noticed the following Tweet from your favourite Canalside presenter:
giggling over Cllr's answer to this earlier. Q - "Why does Bollington need this bridge?" A - "To allow access from one side to the other!"

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Access and Information

As many readers of this site will know, I've been having some problems getting hold of the information I wanted from the Council.

Perhaps some of this was due to the changeover of the council, perhaps some was because I didn't know what I was asking for. However - just a little may be to do with the fact that the Council don't like giving out information that much.

And perhaps this is where I show my age, or perhaps my "culture". Because I've never been one for withholding information. I've always found in my work life that you don't prevent others from attacking you or climbing the ladder quicker than you by withholding information from them - you just end up making yourself look like a bit of a prat.

But for many people it's comforting to keep schtum. I disagree, and that's why I have this blog, and why I got the big wigs here for the day, and why I'm so keen on the leaflets.

There is a concept closely linked to this, and that's one about letting people have their say. I've found over recent months that many people in my ward are upset because they feel their previous Councillors* didn't listen to their point of view. At first, these people are quite angry, but once they feel that they've been heard and you talk about the difficulties involved in getting what they want I find that they're a lot happier.

But for many people it's comforting to keep your head down and never chat to someone who might disagree with you. I disagree, and that's why I quite enjoy talking to the slightly weird fellow on the bus. And the Socialists.

So I'm quite upset that I had to speak out at a Council meeting this week to suggest that "listening" should be the attitude that our council took. At the "Children's and families" scrutiny committee we were asked to consider if we should let the public speak to us at the start of the meeting. This isn't about dealing with particular items on the agenda, it's about Joe Bloggs being able to walk in off the street and speak about anything he likes.

I was agast when it was clear that my colleagues didn't like this idea. Their concerns were that it would allow the public to raise anything they wanted....I mean, the cheek of the taxpayer to think they should have their say!

The current way this works is that there is a public speaking time of 10 or 15 minutes, in which each speaker may be limited to a couple of minutes. It's not like you can get stuck with a 2 hour diatribe - and as we're a scruity committee and not part of the executive we don't have to, and in fact can't, give on the spot answers.

But it works. We had a representative in from the Older Peoples Network who had concerns about funding a couple of months ago and we got her problems dealt with. To be honest - although it's 10 minutes of your life which you'll never get back, every now and then it throws up points of view you'd never ever considered.

We voted on it, and my view won, just. 6 votes to 5. Unfortunately, this is being decided by higher powers and this only goes to represent our committes viewpoint, but at least it's a start.

* Edit for clarification:

Some people have contacted to ask why I was singling out my colleagues, Andrew and Liz, who previously represented Ivy Ward for criticism. Of course the truth is I wasn't - the entire ward that I represent was covered by up to 3 of a possible 7 different representatives previously, depending on where you lived. Only 2 of these are from the same party as me.

Previous to getting elected, I contacted one of my ward Councillors named above with regards to an issue that we had. I received a quick response from the Councillor in question, followed by contact from an officer of the Council who dealt with the issue. I was another satisfied customer.

I wasn't specific because I felt that those with "good" Councillors know who they are, and those who had trouble getting their voice heard would similarly know who their Councillors were.

But if it's still not clear: I'm not a Labour supporter.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Steps & Tea.....but even then the best day yet?

Well, as it turned out I managed not to fall up anymore steps - however I did get home from Canalside and poured a mug of tea over the impossibly white rug in the Conservatory. Ho-hum.

Lots of scrubbing later...and I'm ready to fully report on a pretty eventful day.

I now have in my possession a copy of the agreement(s) between MBC, Wilson Boden and Barratt Developments. It looks to be about 400 pages in total - and whilst I'm desperate to put everything on hold and plough through it I'm conscious that there's a few things I need to get done (including the finishing touches for the new Macclesfield Conservatives Website which has gone live a little earlier than I expected, and I need to spell Lesley's name right!)

But the fact remains, getting hold of this agreement is a huge milestone for me. It's probably the biggest battle I've had to fight so far. I have to admit that I was strengthed by random phone calls from people suggesting that I didn't want to upset "them" and that I didn't know what I was getting involved in. Red rag to a bull...

It's not clear at the moment under what terms this has been released to me by the Council. I have requested it under the EIR legislation, which means that I should be free to publish anything about the agreement that I see fit. However, at some points in the process it was suggested that I would get is under Councillor's "right to know" which is more confidential. If that's the case then I will be continuing the fight for EIR as I think that's it's something that should be in the public domain.

I'm sure plenty to follow on this one...

Mixed bag.

Mixed day so far.

Good scrutiny meeting this morning, followed by the unexpected delivery of the Wilson Boden agreement. Woohooo!

Then I fell up the step trying to get in the house...

On Canalside with Heidi in half hour. Keep your fingers crossed that I don't fall up anymore steps....

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Dogs and kennels II

I've recieved the following information regarding the crazy policy of having to collect your mutt from Stoke on Trent if he's lost....
Pre LGR any strays collected in the Crewe area, were taken to kennels in Haslington, where they were kept for up to 3 days, then collected by the City Dogs home in Stoke, and kept for the statutory period.

In Congleton a facility in Bosley was used, which fortunately was also a registered Kennelling facility, therefore, dogs could stay for the statutory period of seven days that we are required to undertake, before being re- homed where necessary. However the owners, decided to retire, deciding not to renew their contract with the council.

In Macclesfield, no kennelling facilities were provided, and dogs were taken direct to a dog’s home in Manchester, for the statutory seven day period, before being re homed, if unclaimed.

In April last year, the Police handed over their responsibility for stray dogs, to the local authority; this meant that the council had to provide an out of hours, reception centre, to allow members of the public to take stray animals to. The council does not operate a collection service, out of hours, or at weekends. Crewe continues to use the facility at Haslington, as they are currently tied into a contract, but the owners when asked, did not want to take on any more work.

Therefore, an advert was placed in the local press, asking for expressions of interest to provide this service to the residents of Congleton and Macclesfield. We received one reply, (but they were) not able to keep the dogs for the statutory period and act as a holding centre for up to three days, and are collected by the City dogs home as per Crewe.

As Crewe were already using the City Dogs home, to ensure we could deliver a harmonised service, on day one of Cheshire East, it was decided to send all dogs to this facility.

They collect the animal, which allows us to save on the dog warden’s time, and keep them for the statutory seven day period, for a one off, all inclusive cost.

This contract is for a twelve month period, and towards the end of this period, further expressions of interest will be sought. Hopefully, local providers will show some interest.
So essentially, no one in Cheshire will do it cheap enough. At least now we know.


I've just been sent a list of the upcoming events hosted by our Ranger service (which is quite extensive).

Perhaps it's an indication of my flammable personality that this one caught my eye:
"Could you make a fire using friction? Come along and learn some basic bushcraft skills."
Sounds like fun ;-)

You can view all of the ranger events here:

Macclesfield Express "Surgery"

The Macc Express will, for the foreseeable future, be holding surgeries in Macclesfield Library on Wednesdays and Fridays between 12pm and 5pm.

Moving the 'Express out of the Town after nearly 200 years was a big mistake, but it's excellent to know that they're doing everything they can to remain in touch with the town.

More details from the horses mouth.

Gas Safe

I found a very odd thing in Park Lane People.

Apparently, in June 2008 the HSE announced Capita as the prefered bidder to run a new gas installer registration scheme to take over from Corgi.

The new scheme is called Gas Safe - which seems odd. Because surely everyone knows about Corgi. Why change it? Why spend millions on advertising a new name when there's already one that the public know and trust?

And how on earth do Capita keep getting these contracts? On second thoughts....I don't want to know.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Toddlers Play Area

(Readers of the email update will need to go online to the blog to see the pictures)

Eagle-eyed weather watchers will note that conditions took a turn for the worse last Monday - coincidentally the same day to work started on the Toddlers play area.

On behalf of the workmen I can only apologise for bringing torrential rain to the ward.

The good news is that the work is well underway. The outline of the play area can now be seen, and the work is on schedule to be completed in around 5 weeks time. Photos below.

Door Stops

It seems that West Cheshire Council are propping up (or should that be open?) the local economy with by purchasing plenty of door stops. More info here.

Friday, 1 May 2009

One year on

Knocking Up.

It's a funny term - because it sounds every so slightly dodgy, and it doesn't normally involve any knocking on doors.

But knocking up is what I was doing at this time exactly a year ago. I'd spent all morning outside a polling station asking for electoral roll numbers as people went in to vote, and I then spent the afternoon running round houses putting cards through the doors of those who hadn't voted (and had suggested they might vote for me) asking for their support.

Yes: it's one year on from the Cheshire East elections 2008, although of course I wasn't actually elected until the count (which was the day after.)

Standing for election involves a sine wave of emotion. You swing from positive to negative with tremendous regularity - the frequency increasing the closer you get to the polls closing. Every time you start to think you might be in with a chance, something happens that convinces you otherwise.

I remember collapsing into a chair with a pint at the Blacksmiths after the polls closed completely exhausted - the maths from the turnout telling me I had a strong chance, all the while convincing myself it was all a complete waste of time.

And how do I feel about my first year as a Councillor?

I'll have to have a think about that one...