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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.