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Sunday, 28 June 2009

Crewe Count

The recent post about the Crewe blog has reminded me that I didn't finish my story about why the Euro count was delayed in Cheshire East.

(Although I'm guessing that not many people care...I'm going to plod on regardless)

Basically, we finished Counting in Macclesfield not long after 8.30ish. We can't declare until after 9pm (when polls close in other countries) and we have to declare as a single area. This means Macc, Cong and Crewe must all be happy with their totals.

Macc and Cong were, but there were concerns in Crewe. In the end it took another couple of hours to get it straightened out.

It turned out that when the total number of votes were calculated on the Friday, someone had inadvertently put the ballot box seal number in the number of votes column. This was then totaled to give the complete number of votes - which was obviously wrong.

On Sunday, the total number of votes needs to match this figure. Obviously in Crewe this was never going to happen, and the mistake was spotted quite quickly. However, it took a while to get approval from Manchester to declare on the new totals.

So now you know.

Friday, 26 June 2009


I didn't get as far as a blog post today - it was one of those days that didn't really go according to plan.

I'm just off to see Sir Nick Winterton at a Patrons event (contact me if you'd like to know more about the Patrons) and tomorrow I'll be a Broken Cross school fete. Come along and see me there if you'd like to know more about the play area on the Weston Estate.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

More roadworks

There's never an easy way to deliver bad news, so I think I'll just post the message I've been sent:
This message is an update for the ongoing Gas Main Renewal works by Balfour Beatty Utility Solutions on behalf of the Gas Alliance in Macclesfield. Traffic lights have been in operation on Chester Road between Chestergate and Oxford Road. This stage of the works is coming to an end and it is expected that these works will be closed down over the next week and that work will start under two-way traffic signal control on Chester Road moving from Broken Cross towards the town centre. These signals will be manually controlled throughout the peak times and monitored throughout but will obviously cause significant delays.

There will also be three-way traffic signals on Kendal Road at it's junction with Kenilworth Road for approximately two weeks from Wednesday 1st July. Once this work is completed, the three-way signals will move down to the junction of Kendal Road with Ivy Lane/Ivy Road, again for an anticipated duration of approximately two weeks.

Meetings have been held with the Gas Alliance regarding where works should be carried out during the main summer school holiday period and the main routes that are expected to be affected during these times will be Park Lane (gas renewal works in the immediate vicinity of the school/college were carried out during the restrictions last summer), Ryles Park Road, Manchester Road in the vicinity of Tytherington School, Fence Avenue, Ivy Road and Oxford Road. These works will be co-ordinated as far as possible to avoid roadworks on neighbouring roads that may act as relief roads during the works. I will advise further once these works are more specifically programmed.

Let us know what you think

Some of you might be finding this a little boring, but the Weston Playing fields to going to be the biggest thing that's happened on the Weston Estate for the last 20 years.

Therefore it's crucial that you have your say about what you think the area needs, and if you have any concerns about how it effects you.

Once you've taken a lot at the plans for the Weston Playing fields here:


You can complete the survey to tell us your views here:


Thanks very much.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Spending Cuts

I received an email last week from the previous County Councillor for my ward who is a Labour party member. He was terribly excited about some rumours going around that departments in the Council were being asked to find places to make significant spending cuts for next year.

Firstly, I had the delight of referring him to his ward Councillors - as many will know that this chap who thinks he speaks for the people of where I actually live, can't bring himself to actually live here and therefore I'm not his Councillor. I personally think that Councillors and MP's who live in and understand the area in which they live do a much better job than those who believe they can "nurse" from afar.

The next point of interest was that he thought he'd struck some kind of coup because I hadn't also heard the rumours. This could be because there is no truth in them, or it could be because officers do not need to consult with ward Councillors whilst going about their day to day jobs. Either way I don't believe I'd let myself down by not knowing.

Now in this case there probably is some truth in it - and I want to consider two points surrounding this.

1. Why cuts <> reduction in services

Seems pretty obvious to me. Whatever the product or service is that you need to procure, there's nearly always a cheaper way of getting it. More often than not, this doesn't result in a reduction in quality or quantity of what it is you're after. We will have duplication and inefficiencies in Cheshire East as a natural result of the aggregation of boroughs and it's right that we should look to eradicate this.

There's an exception to my view - and that's when you try and make these savings at short notice. That is why consulting with departments *now* on how savings could be made *next year* is the right thing to do, so that the heads of service have time to put the cost cutting measures into place rather than finding out at the last minute that they can't do what they had planned.

2. Why cuts are needed

There's one thing common about all areas in my ward - no one makes a huge amount of money. This isn't Prestbuy, Alderley, or even Bollington (where the gentleman in question lives). We work hard to pay our way, and don't mind doing so, but we don't want our money wasted.

I expect good value for money from public services and I expect elected representatives to seek that.

When we look to the national scene we see that Labour are criticising us because we are not afraid to suggest that spending cuts need to be made. Many are not aware that when you lump public debt in with off-balance sheet pensions liabilities and the true cost of the bank bailout the total figure now comes in around £3 trillion. That's getting on for £50k per person, and I think that's rotten.

When you find your own personal debt is high you look where you can save money. It's not fun, and it's not comfortable, but it's what this country needs to do now.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Communications Protocol

I was on Canalside again yesterday afternoon discussing the ins and out of the media relations protocol that has seen quite a bit of interest on this and the Crewe blog. It was a bit embarrasing really because a couple of Councillors were ribbing me in the morning that about my media whoring and I had to admit that I was up to it again in the afternoon.

It was a good segment. Heidi did an interview with Cllr David Brown first which confirmed my initial view on things that it was all a bit of a misunderstanding. Got a chance to make a few good points, and Heidi left me with the challenge that the protocol should be re-drafted. I was careful not to pass comment on that as I've no power to ensure it's the case, but I'll certainly work at it.

Fines and penalties

After realising that I've missed the deadline for my employers PAYE return, I've noticed the following sentence on one of the pieces of information they've sent me:

"Please take extra care to get your returns and documents correct because a new penalty regime for inaccuracies now applies."
If only that applied to Parliament, eh?

School Governors

One unexpected result of "Local Government Reorganisation" (ie, the Cheshire East project) is that there are significantly less Councillors to appoint to outside bodies.

One area that this has been especially felt is in the appointment of Governors to schools. These positions are grouped into different types: Parent Governors, Staff Governors, Community Governors and Local Authority Governors. It's obviously the last category which is giving us problems now as there are not so many Councillors to go around.

As it happens, an LA governor does not have to be a Councillor, and they don't even have to be a Political individual. My understanding is the most important criteria is that they put the priorities of the Council first when they discharge their duties as a Governors - just as the parent governors are expected to consider the views of the parents/pupils first.

Why don't you consider if you could become a governor? It's not as time consuming as one might expect, usually there's only 4 or 5 meetings a year. There is no minimum education or skill requirement, and there are plenty of good reasons.

I'm told the top 5 reasons for becoming a governor are:

1. Helping future generations gain access to the best possible education.

2. Being able to contribute to your local community.

3. Gaining new skills in HR, finance, and management.

4. Accessing business networking opportunities.

5. Utilising your current skills in a new environment.

Visit the website of The School Governors' One Stop Shop to find out more about becoming a governor - or drop me a line at cllr.darryl.beckford@cheshireeast.gov.uk

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Support for East Cheshire Hospice

It was a pretty bad day yesterday - the "media crackdown" wasted an hour or two and I wasn't really firing on all cylinders due to a thumping headache (swine flu, I'm sure of it). I'm going to follow it up by indulging in my least favourite pastime - saying no. I can guess that it won't make me popular, but I hope that I can make my reasons clear.

An idea popped up on the Macclesfield Forum that Cheshire East council should increase council tax to give more support to the East Cheshire Hospice.

It's a popular idea, and I can understand why. It's a very worthy charity and they have to do a huge amount of fundraising to continue to help the number of people that they do. Essentially, the thinking was that somewhere in the region of £15 per household per year would put an end to endless hospice fundraising.

I've been considering this for a while, and after following up a few avenues and thinking hard about the policy implications, the short answer is that it isn't an idea that I can support. I'm sorry if that disappoints you.

The long answer goes like this...

You firstly have to take the Hospice out of the equation. Some of the arguments make sense by themselves but get easily clouded by the context of an excellent and worthy charity such as the Hospice.

Next, consider the concept of giving money to any Charity that's raised by taxation. Essentially this is a collectivist / socialist idea. It's a way of engorging government and making more people reliant upon your hand outs. It means that 51% of politicians who are elected by 51% of the people get to decide where the money goes. And it's an all or nothing thing - if you're supported by the 51% you get 100% of the money, if you're supported by 49% you'll get nothing.

I've said lets take the Hospice out of it - but now I want to bring them back in. But I'm also going to bring in Crossroads, the Carers support organisation. When I visited them a couple of weeks ago I learnt that many of the carers they support are 8-18 yearolds who are caring for parents with drug and alcohol problems. These children have to deal with the emotional stress of caring for a family member in this condition, as well as dealing with angst and growing pains of being a teenager. On top of this we need to them to get an education. Life has dealt these Children a terrible hand.

Crossroads are in a similar position for funding. They can't help all the people that need help because there's not enough money. If we support the Hospice, then we'll need to support them as well.

And where does it end? We could build an endless list of worthy Charities that need more support.

The truth is that fundraising is a market system. Like any market system it is imperfect, but it's the closest to perfection that we'll ever get. By it's very nature it is democratic. It's like spending money in shops - each one of us gets the opportunity to support who we want and ignore others. It means that Charities who are supported by 49% of the population, get 49% of the money.

I appreciate that forcing donations would result in more money overall, but the correct way to solve this is to encourage people to give more. Not to force them to.

I will continue to support the hospice. I hope they can further raise their profile, and I'll try and get a bigger team of Scouts doing the Bikeathon next year. I'm even happy to pursue avenues with the NHS as there's a case for them funding more as beds occupied at the hospice save beds in a hospital or staff doing home visits.

But I don't think forced taxation for Charity is the answer.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Residents Parking

Here's some news that will interest a lot of people.

A cross party group met with the Highways department last week to discuss a review of on-street parking restrictions in Macclesfield and what action needed to be taken. The centre-piece of this discussion was surrounding residents parking and how it could and should be implemented.

As with anything like this, full consultation is needed to get your views on what's required.

Therefore, an exhibition will be held in the Town Hall Foyer from Mon 13th July till Saturday. Reps from the highway department will be there at times to be advised, and I expect that you'll see us Councillors there too.

The intention will be to show the public the options available, and get their views on which streets need action and what action is most preferable. One of the options is a residents parking permit system.

As someone who has always parking legally I get really ticked off by people who complain about getting a ticket. But I do regret the knock-on effect of getting some of these cars out of the town centres, particularly where this has meant them parking on residential streets. Hopefully this will allow us to put this right.

There will be a questionnaire available for residents to complete at the time - but until then I'd be interested to hear your views on what's needed and where.

Wrong again

I had a valiant attempt on Wednesday to talk the Crewe blog off it's high horse about Cheshire East Council's new media relations protocol. That post is here.

I thought I did quite well, until it turned out that the Cabinet's decision to allow and pass an amendment on the report at the last minute made me look like a fool. (Which many will say is quite just...)

I'd suggested that the intention of the protocol was to control spokesmen (ie, people speaking specifically on behalf of the council, rather than an individual member) for the council on the council's policy. However that report has disappeared (try the link on the original post), and an amended version published which removes ambiguity and confirms that my interpretation was wrong.

This report says that the team would like to
"report and monitor ALL interaction with the media" (emphasis from the report)
"If the enquiry is contentious....wider implications....criticism about CEC, the member...should take details...and pass this on to the Media Relations team who will....provide an appropriate response."
So none of us can criticise a decision? And finally, just to be crystal clear:
"This protocol does not preclude any political group or member issuing it's own media information through it's own channels. However all such information should be copied to the Media Team"
I'm surprised and shocked, but I'm withholding comment for the time being - until I hear back from the communications department at any rate.

(I contacted the author of the report on Wednesday...they've not responded yet. Doesn't bode well, does it?)

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Groundwork Website - Playing Fields

Thought you might be interested: Groundwork Cheshire - the organisation that we have been working with to deliver the toddlers play area and the playing fields - have a project page for the latter here:


I'm told that the plans will be available there soon (although they're already available here) - but most importantly they're also going to have a survey available so that you can leave your comments.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Councillors personal safety

It's inappropriate to mock for all manner of reasons, but my eyebrows were raised by the guidance on personal safety that I've just been sent by an officer.

This included details of what I should do about surgeries (coming up this Sat, Resource Centre on the Weston) and specifically noted that:
2.2.4 Make sure that there are no heavy items in the room that could be used as weapons
I'm not sure a gladiatorial contest was what I signed up for...

Censorship of Councillors?

The Crewe TV blog are getting terribly excited about censorship of Councillors. Reading their posts and Twitter updates (http://twitter.com/crewetv) you'd be forgiven for thinking that Cheshire East is a small pocket of totalitarian authoritism in the free world.

The story is that a report went through cabinet yesterday that would see:
elected councillors forced to consult with the CE media team before any comments are given to the local press.
I must admit, it caught me on the hop. I'd read the report and it didn't raise any alarm bells, and regular readers will know that this is just the kind of issue that would get my blood boiling. I actually thought the report made sense, as communication should be controlled to ensure consistency and quality. As you will know, I've got a big thing about openess and transparency, and paradoxically "managing" the news stories can actually improve this as long as there is a desire to get the important information out there in the public domain.

So...I went back to check and I guess it's this statement that's concerning them:
It is therefore imperative where the view of or a statement from CEC is being sought, no Member or employee engages with the media without contacting the Media Relations Team first.
I can see CTV's point, but it comes down to an issue of semantics and I'd read it a different way. The words "from CEC" meant to me that you were giving the official viewpoint of the Council (therefore the executive) - and this didn't effect the ability for an individual member to make statements about their personal view, a particular political group view, or even a particular political association's view.

As a member for Macclesfield, a charter trustee for Macclesfield, the previous Chairman of the Macclesfield Conservative association and the current Deputy Chairman (with Political responsibility) of the association - I often seek to define policy for this Town.

But I would never dream of doing so on behalf of the whole Council.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Toddlers Play Area

The new play area seems to have been a hit with the residents. It's not even been opened, yet still it was heaving over the weekend and I would guess it has been most afternoons.

It's still fenced off because it hasn't had a safety inspection yet. So keen were the parents of the Weston to use the facilities they've ignored this....and whilst I'm sure it'll give some Health and Safety bod nightmares it's great to see the facilities being used.

Seeing this has cheered me up and spurred me on a bit....playing fields here we come.

Don't forget that you can see the new plans here:


Finally, for the first time since the Winterton resignation, I've managed to get on top of my email backlog.

And I've realised that I've forgotten to advertise something very important.

We're holding a Surgery for all residents of the ward to come and share problems and concerns - or to come and talk about the changes to the Weston playing fields that we have planned. It's this coming Saturday, from 10.30 am. We're holding it at the Resource Centre on Gilchrist Ave*

I don't think we've actually set a finish time but I should imagine I'll be there for an hour or so - depending on how many takers there are.

I hope to see you there.

* That's Gilchrist Ave and not Warwick Road - that road gives me a geographic-dyslexic moment for reasons of polling station complications that don't even make enough sense in my head to explain.

Monday, 15 June 2009

A couple of housekeeping items...

First of all, a note about email updates. There's quite a few people signed up to the list now (you can sign up on the left hand side if you want to get a daily update rather than coming onto the site) - but I'm conscious that you may not want to be bombarded by emails. Therefore, I tend to only send email updates once a day at the most, so this is a quick notification to say that you might be missing out if you don't check the site once in a while.

The second is that I'm now on twitter, and you can follow me here:

I can't really tell you what my official policy on Twitter vs. Blogs is. The blog will continue as normal and I've picked up a nasty habit of tweeting blog urls, but the pro for me is that Twitter is proving very useful for quick, two way communications on ward items.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Unitary Restructuring

I have received a letter from Bob Neill MP on the Conservative Party's view on further Unitary restructuring.

I thought this may be of interest to some of you as we (The Conservatives) often get blamed for the restructuring in Cheshire East. Those who followed the news at the time will know that it wasn't our idea and we didn't want to do it - but when the decision we made we threw ourselves into it and did the best job we could.

(Which for the record, I think was a fantastic job. But then I am biased).

His note reads:
A Conservative Government will not support any further unitary restructuring, as we believe it is expensive, time-consuming, unproductive and divisive. The financial case for reorganisation has been comprehensively demolished by the respected academics Professors Chisholm & Leach in their book Botched Business, which is well worth reading.

We will stop the unitary restructuring plans for Norfolk, Suffolk and Devon if they have not been brought into force by the time of the general election.

Fighting Cannabis Cultivation - Cheshire Crimestoppers wants your support.

A press release that I've received on Wednesday...

Cheshire Crimestoppers, the independent charity which allows members of the public to contact them anonymously with information about crime, is joining other local and national agencies to publicise National Tackling Drugs Week which begins on June 8th.

Colin Brown, the Chair of Cheshire Crimestoppers, said ‘Over half of the calls to our 0800 555 111 number during the past 12 months have been related to drug crime. As a result of information received over half a million pounds worth of drugs were seized in Cheshire, Halton and Warrington, much of it at cultivation stage, and over 100 people involved in drug crime were arrested and charged’.

‘During National Tackling Drugs Week we are inviting members of the public to contact us with information on any aspect of drug-related crime, but particularly we are interested in stopping the drug supply-train and would like to identify properties that are known, or suspected, as being used for cannabis cultivation.’

Volunteer Board member, Jim Graham added ‘We guarantee absolute anonymity when people call 0800 555 111. Callers are not asked their name, or for any form of identification and calls are not traceable. Although we pass on information to the Police they never know who contacted us, so calls can be made in the full confidence that no-one will ever know that you rang. Alternatively, we provide an encrypted email facility at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.’


(Email/facebook readers will need to visit the blog for the full effect)

I received an email this morning:
"How much to prevent the attached photo reaching your constituents/macc express/central office?"
Finally, I've been caught out. So here goes...

Yes, I let the party down, I let the constituents of Macclesfield West down, and most importantly I let myself down. I was hoping it wouldn't come out but if it's going to be public knowledge I may as well get my side of the story across.

I was tired, frustrated and concerned by the lack of mobile phone reception. Some say it's because I'm the Tin Man with no heart. Others suggest I was trying to impersonate Jaws. Some even use a word which suggests a phallus on one's skull.

In my defence, I am a serious politician - just not when I'm on Scout Camp...

(Probably the most disturbing thing is that the boys didn't find it half as funny as us leaders did.)

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Not enough time

Need to finish my accounts for the VAT man, and I'd love to tell you what went wrong at the count in Crewe last week.

But the breaking news is that Chester's Dee FM have acquired Silk FM. How much will this effect Macclesfield?

Just off to visit Cheshire Crossroads, then I've got a Chamber of Trade meeting, a meeting about Parking followed finally by the famed "Special" Macclesfield Conservatives meeting which somehow the Macc Express found out about (it wasn't me, and it won't be that special).

Hopefully I'll find time to gossip after that...

Councillor meets the Duke....and I don't mean John Wayne

Had a bit of a "jolly" yesterday - I was invited to go to St James' Palace to watch some of Cheshire's finest get presented with their Gold D of E awards, and got a chance to meet the Duke of Edinburgh.

A lot of the Childrens services in Cheshire East are "outsourced" to a company called Connexions. "Outsourced" deserves the quotes because the company is actually owned by the council (or rather councils, as we share it with West Cheshire and Warrington) so it's a bit unclear if this really counts as outsourcing or not.

But anyway...because we own it a couple of Councillors sit on the board. I am one of them, and take a great interest in what they do as well as trying to help them deliver on targets and on value for money.

They were asked by the DofE to send two "VIP's" down for the ceremony so they asked members of the board. Unfortunately, only one VIP was available so they had to do with me as the other.

Apart from having an awful journey there and back it was a great day. In all I exchanged two sentances with the Duke and met a few notables, but the real highlight was seeing all the gold award holders who had worked so hard to be there.

An inspiration to us all.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Not quite in the ward, but....

Received from Cheshire Constabulary:
At 11.55am on Thurs 4th June 2009 we received a 999 call advising us that a male was walking along Kennedy Ave in Macclesfield brandishing a two foot long sword and threatening local people with it. Local officers were deployed to the scene and the Cheshire Police aeroplane, which was flying nearby, was also deployed. It transpired that the male involved had run off from Kennedy Ave prior to the arrival of the police and the area was searched for the next 90 minutes with no further sightings of the male.

We have continued to make enquiries locally and as a result we are now actively looking for a 34 year old local male who we believe will be able to assist us with our enquiries. We have also seized a motor vehicle that we suspect was being used by the male at the time that the offence was reported.
Contact them if you have any info.

Normal service resumed

My most sincere apologies to those who receive this blog via the email list rather than checking via the web.

For reasons that are still not completely known to me, the email system has failed to function for the last few days. This has meant that you didn't get to hear about the progress being made with art in shop windows, my views on ageism, or a small amount of chatter about the BNP. If you want to catch up on this points you can do so by visiting http://darrylbeckford.blogspot.com

Email updates should be working fine from now on.

Apologies again,

Monday, 8 June 2009

BNP Win a seat in the NW

Are we all to blame?

The BNP are now nearly a legitimate party. More press coverage for Griffin - he even looked like a victim because of all the business in Manchester last night.

I mean come on....the BNP as the Victims?!

Friday, 5 June 2009


Seems that the email notification system has stopped working, so if you've signed up for the updates I don't think you've had one since Wednesday.

I will get it working over the weekend - apologies for the disruption.

Exclusive: Purnell Resignation, the real reason

The big news last night was the resignation of James Purnell, perfectly timed to put more pressure on Gordon Brown.

I can exclusively reveal that the reason was that James has been living a double life as a Councillor in Cheshire under the pseudonym "Matthew Davies" and has resigned in order to devote more time to life in Bollington.

I'm amazed no-one has noticed it before, really:

(Apologies for the frivolity, but it is Friday after all)

Parking momentum

Some momentum is now gathering with the free shoppers parking idea:


I've been told that it's been put on the agenda for the next Conservative group meeting, although I know that some (ie, the Cabinet) are worried about the loss of parking revenue.

The stock line I'm being fed is that there is no evidence to prove that it's worth doing (received from officers and cabinet members). The advice that I have received from several people in the industry is that it's very difficult to assess the success of any measure, given that there are so many variables which effect shopper turnout. If you're not going to do anything that doesn't carry proof, then you could rule out many of the items in the recession report.

Regular readers will probably be a bit bored with the parking subject as it's one of my favourites. I covered here how Crewe & Nantwich Council trialled it before Cheshire East went live:

When I was told yesterday that there was no proof that it was successful I was shocked to hear that we'd not had information from this trial considered yet.

One final point with regards to charges. We don't want to remove charges for long term users, and so we'll still gain revenue from that. "Free after three" seems to be the most popular idea at the moment, and walking round the car parks at 3.30 will tell you that there's hardly anyone in them anyway. The same applies to Saturday morning's - there's plenty of spaces that need to be filled. One of the commenters on this blog didn't believe me last time I said this, and I was goaded into popping out with my camera:


Let's hope we can make some progress with this.

Thursday, 4 June 2009


Big smash on the corner of Congleton Road and Thornton Ave.

Rozzers, two and a half Ambulances in attendance. Hope everyone is OK.

I would expect the traffic to be messed up all afternoon. I would imagine it's causing chaos at the flowerpot which tends to gridlock the whole of Macc.

Roger Helmer

Thought I'd post something I was sent by Roger Helmer MEP a while back:
It's only about ten weeks until the euro-elections, and the way the polls are going, we should expect to do quite well. But we can't afford to take anything for granted.

I remember that five years ago I met good, solid Conservatives who'd never have thought of voting anything but Conservative in a General Election, or a local council election. Yet they seemed very relaxed to admit they intended to vote UKIP in the euro elections. I remember asking "Why would you do that? Don't you think I'm eurosceptic enough for you?" And the reply came "Oh we know you're alright, Roger, but we want to send a message to Central Office".

I think I understand where they're coming from. Sometimes I too get frustrated, and wish that the Party would take a tougher line on European issues. But let me explain why no Conservative should vote for a minor party in these elections.

First, the euros are the last national electoral test of opinion before a General Election, which must come within twelve months of the euros. It is critical that we build momentum towards the General Election. Even if you'd like the Conservative policy on the EU to be tougher, remember that only a government in Westminster can make a real difference. UKIP isn't going to form a government. They probably won't get a single MP in the General Election. The Conservative Party has committed to some key steps towards breaking the momentum of EU integration, and bringing back powers to the UK, in Human Rights law, and in employment law. We must do everything we can to ensure we get a Conservative government with a good working majority -- and that includes getting the best possible result in the euros.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009


Much amusement on page 6 of the Express this week, where there's wild speculation about this Councillor's position in the future.

Full story here.

Anyway, someone called me to say that I should complain that Frank is ageist, and that if I were to claim someone was too old to do a job that I'd be lynched (and probably rightly so). But the truth is that given my receding hairline I actually found being called young quite a compliment.

I'm more entertained by his sudden promotion. Last time I checked, he failed to get himself elected as deputy leader - pipped to the post by Cllr Brian Silvester. I've not heard from Brian in a couple of days, I hope Frank hasn't disposed of him somewhere?!

Art in shop windows

It's turning into a good week.

Hot on the heels of the Weston Playing fields is another project that's been bubbling for a while.

Back on the 6th March I wrote a list of things that I would like to do to brighten up the town centre, which included:
4) Get rid of closed shops. Easy said than done....although through a tip off from Eric, and some conversations with a council in Gloustershire, I'm going to try and get art displayed in the windows of otherwise closed up shops. At least it'll brighten the place up.
I then rabbited on about it on the radio a bit.

Well it's going to happen. I've been speaking to a couple of officers at the council about it since then and one of them told me today they're pushing ahead with it.

So watch this space. Or rather, watch that space - the ones on Mill Street.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Weston Playing Fields

(Note to email subscribers - you'll need to visit the blog to see the pics and get the links)

Big story this one.

We've got the first draft of the plans for sorting out the Weston Playing Fields - a project that all residents know is well and truly overdue.

To re-iterate - this is the first draft. There's nothing compulsory in here, it's all up for discussion, and the truth is we might not be able to afford everything anyway. However, my view is that endless chitchat about what we'd like to see will go on forever unless you've got something solid to base your discussions around, and that's what this is.

I'm looking for your views on everything, from what facilities should be provided, to how we keep them (the children and the facilities) safe. I'm especially concerned about the impact this will have on the houses that back onto the park.

If you've got comments and views then you can either email me (cllr.darryl.beckford@cheshireeast.gov.uk), or leave them here. I will ensure that any comments I received through whatever channel are feed into the next stage.

This is the outline "zone" plan which shows how we propose to break up the site:


The key features are:
* New play area at the portland walk end
* Football pitch will be retained by with better drainage
* Present basketball court will be turned into a multi-use games area with a wheeled sports (bmx, skate) area next to it.
* The present hill at the Kendal Road end will be landscaped as a wildlife area.

The play area at the Portland walk end will be focused on "natural" or "free" play, with an older audience in mind.


The intention is that they are features which are a little more indestructable than normal play equipment, and stimulate the imagination more.

I look forward to your views.


** Update: the documents are rather big. Let me know if you have problems downloading them and I might be able to send you smaller versions.

Sad news....

I've just heard that Button and Skein has closed down.

Alas, no more stitch and bitch.

Remember chaps, they're your local shops. Use them or lose them.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Listening to Canalside FM

Heidi's got Cllr Murray on, and he's just referred to me as "Sweet".

I'm not so sure that's a good endorsement?


My feet haven't really touched the ground since a week last Friday...on Saturday you may have seen us in the Town Centre campaigning for the Euros, after Cricket (we lost) I whizzed down to London for a long weekend with Family before whizzing back up to the Lakes for Scout camp. Then another game of Cricket (we drew) it was time for a long and hot Sunday digging the garden.

I've got thousands of leaflets to deliver this week for the Euro's, and of course, Sir Nick has announced he will not be standing next time around which has created a considerable amount of correspondence.

The consequence of all this information that you probably don't care about? I'm impossibly behind with everything, and I've been neglecting the blog over the last week. Sorry.

If I can get on top of things that hopefully I'll be back later on this afternoon to tell you all about Love Local Life, and why you should really be getting a card and support our local shops.

Sorry again,