ARAG Feedback – Town Council Meeting and Twyfords

Following our previous post on the Town Council meeting- of 13/11/2013, ARAG has received a tremendous response from residents on two main points.

 Twyfords – Sainsburys Food Retail Store

ARAG’s role is to reflect Residents’ opinion. A significant number of Residents have commented favourably on this proposal. The positive points being made by Residents are:

  • It will attract shoppers into Alsager and keep shoppers in Alsager, particularly for the “big shop” where currently, many people travel some distance to surrounding large stores.
  • Many people in Alsager would be able to walk to this location.
  • It will deliver a petrol station to Alsager with reasonable petrol prices.
  • As more people will be attracted to shop in Alsager, it will be good for the Town Centre and particularly the specialist shops.
  • Competition is a healthy thing.
  • It is situated adjacent to our only main road.
  • It will create new jobs in Alsager.

Highways is an issue which has been raised by a number of residents but we have been given assurances from the Sainsburys design team that this can be overcome and easily resolved.

If you want a Sainsburys in Alsager, it is essential to make your voice heard. The number of people in support of the application is an important consideration which must be taken into account by the Planning Authority. It won’t just happen, people need to make their views known. A simple e-mail saying you are in favour of it is enough to demonstrate support. Don’t leave it to someone else they might be leaving it to you.

E-mail daniel.evans@cheshireeast.gov.uk at the earliest opportunity. Quote the planning reference number 13/4121C and provide your name and address.

Alsager Infrastructure Impact Assessment / Town Council Meeting 13/11/2013

ARAG has received substantial feedback following the recent Council meeting which has also been fully reported in the local newspapers. Councillor Longhurst and Residents requested support from the Town Council for an Infrastructure Impact Assessment, so that our Community would have a sound, professionally produced piece of evidence to fight off speculative development proposals.

The Town Council voted to take no action. Councillor Warren Stevenson stated that he didn’t want to be involved with a “head on attack on Cheshire East Planning Officers” and that he was “of the opinion it would be improper use of public funds”. Councillor Fletcher said that the response of Planning Officers has to be in line with planning guidance from Whitehall.

Our MP Fiona Bruce said after the meeting that she was “appalled by the vote to take no action, especially given the current planning situation, which will impact the Town for decades to come”. Fiona Bruce also said that her job was to fight for the people of Alsager and she will take that fight to Westminster, Westfields and anywhere else but she “can’t fight without ammunition”. “Without the facts, figures and forensic empirical evidence that the infrastructure impact study could provide”, she is “left fighting with one hand tied behind her back”.

Residents have summed this up better than we can. “There appears to a total disconnect between the Community and its Town Council. They are fiddling while Rome burns.”

The specious arguments being presented by our Town Councillors can stand no scrutiny. This is not an attack on Officers, it is a defence of our Town, which is wanted by the Community and our MP. Unlike Alsager, Congleton did support a public meeting which was attended by Michael Jones, leader of Cheshire East. The minutes of that meeting state:

“…When members of the audience commented that CE Officers did not seem to be putting much effort in considering well thought out objections or questioning poor quality evidence in developer applications he advised that a lack of resource was the problem; including developers offering large fees to the best planning consultants, which CE could not afford…”

“…what Cllr Jones seemed to be saying, the CEC planning officers are no match for the Civil Engineers and other professionals working for the big development companies. CEC needs to get these Civil Servants back in place urgently…”

Far from Councillor Stevens suggestion, it seems that in this case, Michael Jones is making the case for professional support.

As for misuse of public money, it might be worthwhile publicising where all of this money is being spent and people can judge for themselves. After all, what is more important to the ratepayers of Alsager: fences on the allotments, hanging baskets, unjustified over-staffing or defending our town from rapacious developers? Mr Fitton objected to this proposal using a figure of £10,000. He said this would mean an increase in the Town Council precept of £2.40 to be levied on each household. We would make 2 points concerning this.

  1. The costings we have received on this are nowhere near £10,000 but regardless of this Mr Fitton did not inform the meeting of the incredible financial Reserves which are included within the Alsager TC budget. We believethe total of these reserves to be in excess of £270,000 with over £60,000 simply identified as General Reserves.
  2. He also made no effort to inform the meeting of the considerable amounts which Alsager has received this year as windfalls
  3. Alsager officers and elected members do seem to suffer from selective memory loss when appropriate to suit their own particular ends.

Dismissing this proposal without even discussing or establishing benefits and costs, demonstrates a clear lack of vision and willingness to support this Infrastructure Assessment which our Community so obviously needs.

Fiona Bruce raised the unacceptable situation facing Alsager Community in the parliamentary debate on housing, following discussions with and contributions from ARAG. Following this, Fiona Bruce, our representative, then made the effort to attend the Alsager Town Council meeting to hear that our Town Council would not even consider supporting a vital piece of empirical evidence which she stated, in addressing the meeting, she could use both at Westminster and with CE Officers and senior members.

This demonstration, in front of our MP, of total lack of any vision and perverse decision making, perhaps gives a clue to why we are the dumping ground for housing in South Cheshire.

It was an embarassment to all of the people who were present.

 

If you feel strongly about this situation, please e-mail us at

contact@alsageraction.org.uk

We will make sure that your concerns are adequately voiced.