Agenda item

Public Speaking Time/Open Session

In accordance with Council Procedure Rule 35 and Appendix 7 to the rules, a total period of 15 minutes is allocated for members of the public to speak at Council meetings. 


Individual members of the public may speak for up to 5 minutes, but the Chairman will decide how the period of time allocated for public speaking will be apportioned, where there are a number of speakers.


Members of the public wishing to ask a question at the meeting should provide at least three clear working days’ notice in writing and should include the question with that notice. This will enable an informed answer to be given. It is not a requirement to give notice of the intention to make use of public speaking provision. However, as a matter of courtesy, a period of 24 hours notice is encouraged.


Mr Stuart Redgard used public speaking time to ask the following question relating to land to the north of Adlington Road, Wilmslow in respect of the recently updated Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment - January 2013. (Formerly Site 3150 in the previous version of the SHLAA -March 2012):-

 "Why is it now considered likely that due to size of site, and mix of uses, a sustainable development can be created?. The previous version of this document stated that this "Site is not considered sustainable". What has materially changed to this site to make it changed?

Cllr David Brown, in response stated:-


"The SHLAA is a technical document which provides evidence for use in planning applications and other planning processes.  As such it does not make policy but rather reflects policy decisions elsewhere.  The Site at Addlington Road has been identified as a housing site as part of the review of the development plan; the changed notation within the SHLAA reflects the status of the site in the draft Local Plan.


As part of the preparation of the Local Plan the merits of the site have been re-appraised - together with an assessment of the facilities that might be provided on the site as part of any development.  Collectively this means that we are now satisfied that sustainable development can be achieved on the site.  The area of land is one of only two areas of land in the north of the Borough that is not green belt but safeguarded for future development or uses.  As these areas are finite and valuable we are duty bound to consider their development very carefully - but the right and proper place to do this is part and parcel of the Local Plan review and that is exactly what we are doing."


Mr Steve Ranger used public speaking time to ask the following question:-

“Given the coalition Government's pressure on all Councils to reduce expenditure, the very least that the residents of Cheshire East have a right to expect is that their Council does not waste money through mismanagement and the pursuit of poorly thought-through policies.

The card being presented to the Council Leader today identifies some of the Council’s costly blunders of the past few years.   The Lyme Green debacle is only the most spectacular of these. The fact that the Council refuses to publish the Lyme Green report, and other indicators such as the comparison that has been made between Lyme Green and the Bewilderwood development, suggest that the Council leadership is not learning from the experience of previous problems caused by mismanagement and inadequate planning.

The Council is now embarking on a massive re-organisation of its management structure and proceeding with an extensive redundancy programme, consequently outsourcing most of the Council's services.  In the light of the Council's recent history, what assurance can the residents of East Cheshire feel that these radical changes will not be marked by further poor planning and financial mismanagement?”

In summary, the Leader of the Council, Cllr Michael Jones stated that he looked forward to receiving the card and took the points very seriously, but felt that they were a political statement. He had listened to Members and residents. He felt that this should be end to comments about Lyme Green. The issue had been dealt with thoroughly and clearly for the betterment of the Council. The Council was in a new process of going forward to deliver to the public. The Council was an aspirational and healthy Council and delivered more services than in the previous year. He gave some examples of where he considered the Council had performed well and stated that Council tax had not been raised. He looked forward to meeting Mr Ranger.


Mrs Mabel Taylor used public speaking time to ask a question and indicated that she would like a written response to her question:-


She stated that despite the growth in population over that period that she had lived in Knutsford, from 1975, she had witnessed a diminution in health services provided locally, culminating in the current proposal to permanently close the intermediate bed services formerly provided at Tatton Ward.


She asked, as Cheshire East Council owned Tatton Ward, since its temporary closure the ECNHS Trust had continued to pay rent to the Council  how much had Cheshire East Council received by way of rental for Tatton Ward since its `temporary` closure in 2011.


Mrs Charlotte Peters Rock used public question time to ask that the Council, via the newly constituting Health and Wellbeing Board, request that East Cheshire NHS Trust should present its conclusions and the reasons for those conclusions in respect of the permanent closure of the Tatton Ward, Knutsford, following what she considered to be the very poorly publicised ‘public consultation’ which had concluded on 24 February 2013. She also requested that, in view of the current needs of the elderly of the Knutsford area and the proposed expansion by 400 properties, that the conclusion should be carefully scrutinised, especially in view of the Trust’s initial claim in September 2010 that the closure was of a temporary nature.


In respect of new plans, across this Council area, she suggested that more adequate, well researched initial planning by Council officers, might save many thousands of Cheshire East residents from fighting angrily for equitable treatment.


Mrs Judie Collins used public speaking time to ask the following question:


“In view of the cuts to the 27 bus service which is the main way Knutsford residents can get to Macclesfield Hospital and with further public transport cuts to essential services pending, what is the Council doing to ameliorate the situation? I understand they were offered £6,000 by the Hospital trust to look at solutions but this offer has not been taken up. Could this decision now be reviewed”.


The Mayor undertook to provide a written response to Mrs Collins.


Mrs Thornber used public speaking time to express concern regarding the possible closure of Mountview Community Support Centre, Congleton. Family members had used the Centre’s services in the past and she currently attended the centre and used respire services on one day per week with her husband, who suffered from dementia  and the day care was very valuable to both of them. There was no other equivalent service available locally and if it was not available they would have to travel to Macclesfield or Crewe for respite services.


The Leader of the Council, in summary stated that a decision to close Mountview Community Support Centre had not been made. He would like to meet with Mrs Thornber to discuss general needs, as he considered it important to get greater needs right for the future. The Council realised how important respite was and that was why it was being reviewed.


Mrs Firkin also addressed Council regarding the proposed closure of Mountview Community Support Centre and expressed concern that there had not been a period of consultation before any decision was made and that staff had already been served with a 90 day notice period and that the budget figures were based on the assumption that it would closed. She called upon the Council to review the notice period issued to staff.


The Leader of the Council stated that it was a review not a decision and that the Council would work with Mrs Firkin, in order to understand her needs.