In accordance with paragraph 1.19 of the Council Procedure Rules, opportunity is provided for Members of the Council to ask the Mayor or the Chair of a Committee any question about a matter which the Council, or the Committee has powers, duties or responsibilities.
At Council meeting, there will be a maximum question time period of 30 minutes. A period of two minutes will be allowed for each Councillor wishing to ask a question. The Mayor will have the discretion to vary this requirement where they consider it appropriate.
Cllr D Edwardes referred to a comment made by Cllr Gilbert that Crewe and Macclesfield were receiving the lion’s share of highways money and asked if the Chair of the Highways and Transport Committee could clarify where the money was spent. In response Cllr C Browne stated that the level 2 and level 3 programme for highway maintenance was published on the Council’s website and the place that had benefited most from the most level 2 programme work was Congleton.
Cllr N Mannion referred to the access travel schemes introduced on a temporary basis in summer 2020 in his Ward and asked when the evaluation of these schemes would be concluded and whether any schemes would be permanent. Cllr C Browne, Chair of Highways and Transport Committee, responded that the schemes introduced back in summer of 2020 were reviewed on a continuous basis and the on-line consultation remained open. The scheme in Cllr Mannion’s ward saw the introduction of a crossing point near a school plus an experimental 20 mph zone. It was expected that the crossing point would be made permanent and the 20-mph zone would continue to be reviewed in line with the speed management strategy.
Cllr J Clowes referred to a constituent of hers who had learning difficulties and lived in sheltered accommodation and had received an intimidating letter from the Council as part of the financial assessment process, which they had found distressing. She referred this matter to the appropriate Directorate but had not heard anything back and asked if she could have a response to this. The Leader of the Council, Cllr S Corcoran, undertook to a provide a written response.
Cllr R Moreton stated that residents in Congleton were concerned that the police helpdesk is under consideration for closure and encouraged everybody to take part in the consultation. He stated that the people of Congleton did not have much faith in the process and asked for reassurances that feedback from the consultation would be listened to. In response Cllr M Warren, Environment and Communities Committee chair, said that the Council had no influence over the survey as it was a police matter. He reported that the Police Helpdesk Survey 22 ran from 14 February to 27 March on the proposals to reduce 16 helpdesks down to 5, so Congleton, Wilmslow, Knutsford, and Nantwich, were proposed to be closed. He urged all Cheshire East councillors to highlight this survey to their residents.
Cllr J Parry referred to the use of ‘Fix My Street’ to report highways faults and asked what the Council would be doing to raise awareness of this website. Cllr S Corcoran responded that he had been promoting it on social media and encouraged other councillors to do so and agreed to look into what the Council could do through its Communications team to promote ‘Fix my Street’.
Cllr L Wardlaw asked if the Leader of the Council would send a letter to each of public speakers apologising for his belligerent behaviour. The Mayor responded that she did not think it was necessary as she had tried to stop the situation when it occurred.
Cllr B Puddicombe thanked the Leader for joining ward councillors that morning in meeting with the Cheshire Wildlife Trust on the site known as the South Macclesfield Development Area and asked the Leader if he agreed that the best action would be for the Council to review the outline planning permission granted in 2017 to see it was still valid. Cllr R Bailey raised concerns that a planning matter being discussed at Council and that members of the planning committee could be seen to have prejudged the matter. In response, the Monitoring Officer stated that the question had been asked and the matter was how the question would be answered and suggested that a written answer be provided, which the Leader indicated he was willing to do.
Cllr R Bailey referred to the On Street Residential ChargePoint Scheme and asked that the Council complete a bid to this scheme for grant funding to accelerate the roll out of electric charging points. Cllr M Warren, Chair of Environment and Communities Committee, agreed to provide a written response.
Cllr L Anderson asked if the Council could help those fleeing the war in Ukraine. The Leader of the Council responded that he hoped the answer would be yes but as events were happening quickly could not say definitely but the Council had previously welcomed Syrian and Afghan refugees.
Cllr P Williams referred to S106 monies and could there be a mechanism for ward councillors to be notified regularly of the position with S106 monies in their ward. Cllr M Warren, Chair of Environment and Communities Committee, responded that there was review ongoing into the planning service and section 106 monies had been highlighted as part of this and suggested that concerns be reported to the Member Advisory Panel carrying out the review.
Cllr A Gregory referred to the South Macclesfield Development Area and asked what up to date reports have been obtained by the applicant, e.g., an up-to-date environmental impact assessment of the site, and how would the Council satisfy residents’ concerns that the council’s own company, Engine of the North Limited would ensure that it does not breach the Council’s own policy on becoming carbon neutral when its only director was an officer of the council with no councillors on the Board. Cllr S Corcoran undertook to provide a written response.
Cllr H Faddes asked about what the Council was doing to help residents celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Cllr M Warren, Chair of Environment and Communities Committee, responded the Council had been allocated money for charities, residents, and non-profit groups to apply for a grant of up to £120 to hold street parties and local activities throughout the bank holiday. In addition, the road closure fees would be waivered. Further information would be available on the Council’s website from 1 March 2022.
Cllr Gardiner referred to contact he had had with the Council’s Homeless persons team and asked if a review could be carried out into the way the Council delivered services for those people who found themselves homeless. Cllr N Mannion, Chair of Economy and Growth Committee, agreed to look into the matter and asked that Cllr Gardiner provide further information.
Cllr Barber stated that during the Public Speaking item the ward councillor for Pickmere was allowed to respond to comments made by a member of the public and that this opportunity had not been afforded to a ward member from Middlewich and asked if Cllr J Parry would be allowed to respond. The Mayor invited Cllr J Parry to speak. Cllr J Parry stated the ward members for Middlewich took their residents’ concerns seriously and that he was pleased to see the Fiona Bruce MP for Congleton had supported the petition which had requested a number of things of Cheshire East Council, some of which did not come under the remit of the Council. He hoped that Fiona Bruce would help assist in liaising with the Cheshire Police and Crime Commissioner to try and get more community policing in Middlewich. With regards to the request for a swimming pool, Cllr Parry noted that not many local authorities now built swimming pools and that this was mostly done by private businesses.