Alsager Chronicle Article – Thurs 16th June 2016
Many of you will have seen the front page newspaper article entitled “Council criticised in neighbourhood plan consultation” in Thursday’s edition of the Alsager Chronicle and wondered what on earth is going on.
One Councillor is reported to be “quite disappointed that it has been perceived that there is a proxy war over who controls Alsager”… and later said …”there was a lot of time spent on scoring points over ARAG (Alsager Residents Action Group) than looking at the points in the report. I am disappointed there was not more debate on the report as it contained some interesting stuff.” The report being considered was the Community Consultation Report produced by Cheshire Community Action and paid for the Town Council as part of their process for producing a Neigbourhood Plan. The report can be seen in full by clicking here.
The newspaper article goes on to say that “In an original, unaltered version of the report seen by the Chronicle, Cheshire Community Action said that ARAG had “strongly influenced this consultation process and its negative focus will not help encourage people to come forward and support initiatives from the town council.” This ‘unaltered’ copy of the report can be seen here.
Reference to this ‘unaltered’ report will show that Observation 2, on page 17, claims that several attendees at drop-in events had reported that a local group called ARAG had either told them what to write on their survey response or told them not to attend the drop-in events. When contacted by ARAG’s Vice Chairman, the report’s author (John Heselwood) told him that ‘one or two’ people had said this.
You will be aware that ARAG simply put out a single post, entitled ‘Too Little – Too Late’, (still accessible on our web site) which simply recorded the observation and questions put to us by many local residents. No ARAG officer or spokesperson has made any statement of the kind referred to in the ‘unaltered’ report and we await evidence to support such claims.
Finally, only 6% of residents responded to the survey but the Town Council have decided to press on anyway and have budgeted for up to £25,000 in costs.