ARAG has recently responded to two letters from Councillor Derek Hough which appeared in consecutive issues of the Alsager Chronicle. We did this because his letters misrepresented what actually happened at the recent Local Plan Hearings, held at Macclesfield Town Hall; in particular he claimed “During the debate I was able to clarify the position regarding Alsager being an ‘area of restraint’. In the old Congleton local plan review of 2005 Alsager was classed as an area of restraint to help the regeneration of the potteries.”

In fact, Councillor Hough played absolutely no part in this ‘debate’ which took place entirely between the Inspector, Cheshire East’s Head of Strategic Planning (Adrian Fisher) and ARAG. Given the high level of formality of these Hearings there is no possibility of any confusion on this matter. Secondly, Councillor Hough implies that he raised a range of concerns about Alsager ‘highways infrastructure’. He did not.

The Alsager Highways Study was focused upon during two sessions on the final day of the Hearings, when two of us were present, but Councillor Hough failed to attend.

You can view our response letters here and here

No one at ARAG has any interest whatever in ‘claiming the credit’ for having clarified the ‘area of restraint ‘ policy, identifying the risks associated with changes to Green Belt policy or for having represented the community’s concern about the highways infrastructure.

We did what we did as a voluntary act of ‘community spirit’. We do not think it is appropriate for Councillor Hough to misinform the community about the role he played or to accuse any of us of lacking community spirit. We regard this whole matter as incredibly childish and lacking in professional integrity.

Over the last three years we have experienced, both individually and collectively, repeated examples of this kind of behaviour from Councillor Hough. This is possibly the worst one.

We will, therefore, play no further part in public exchanges with Councillor Hough.

It is our view that honesty and integrity remain important values in public life, especially from those who are elected to represent the community and receive payment for doing so, and this kind of behaviour is a clear example of failure to meet proper standards.

Alsager residents must be free to make up their own minds about such behaviour but we would suggest that any statements about ARAG or any of us as individuals, from this Councillor, should be treated with a large measure of scepticism.