Agenda item

Public Speaking Time/Open Session

In accordance the Council Procedural Rules, a total period of 30 minutes is allocated for members of the public to speak at Council meetings. Individual members of the public may speak for up to 2 minutes, but the Chair will have discretion to vary this requirement where they consider it appropriate. 


Members of the public wishing to speak are required to provide notice of this at least three clear working days’ in advance of the meeting and should include the question with that notice.  Questions should be submitted to: or


Mr Colin Townend spoke in relation to the provision of residential charging points for electric vehicles, which allowed owners to charge their vehicle from their solar panels, or charge overnight on half-price off-peak electricity. However, if the owner did not have off-street parking and had to park on the street outside, the charge cable would be a trip hazard. He referred to a Macclesfield company which sold a product for £35 that would solve this problem and stated that councils in Bath and Somerset were arranging a trial of this and similar products and asked if this could be done in Cheshire East.


In response Cllr C Browne, Chair of Highways and Transport Committee, stated that the Council had published a draft EV Charging Strategy and was close to finalising this following recent public consultation and market engagement. The Council had secured £150k from the Government’s On-Street residential EV Charge point Scheme to install a number of charges in places where residents have no option for off-street charging on driveways. The Council intended to use the national Low Emission Vehicle Infrastructure fund to create a boroughwide network of EV charges, by working with the commercial sector. Guidelines were expected to be published on the standards for “cable channels” such as that proposed by Mr Townend. The Council’s Highways Service was aware of the product referred to and they were looking to identify trial sites for this and alternative solutions. The Council would be interested in the outcomes of trials elsewhere, including Bath and Northeast Somerset Council.


Mr Robert Douglas spoke in support of Councillor Williams’ proposed Notice of Motion to implement a buffer zone of 1,000 metres between new and extensions to existing silica sand quarries and residential areas.


Mr Paul Buttrick, President of Knutsford & District Lions Club, spoke in objection to the proposal to close the Stanley Centre in Knutsford. He referred to the closing of Bexton Court, which he said was becoming a derelict building, and stated he did not wish to see the Stanley Centre in the same situation. He stated it was time to have a joined-up vision for the health and wellbeing of the area with the medical practice, a dementia unit, convalescence unit and social care facility built on the current site before the facility was decommissioned.


Ms Charlotte Peters Rock spoke in relation to the Stanley Centre, Knutsford, and the potential impact that the closure of the Centre would have on the community, and particularly disabled residents.


Cllr J Rhodes, Chair of Adults and Health Committee, responded and stated that the Stanley Centre provided day services for people with learning disabilities, with 20 people currently using the service routinely, and that all of those people would continue to receive services to meet their needs if Council agreed the proposal. In November 2021, the Adults and Health Committee had agreed a new Day Opportunities Strategy, which had been developed with people who use services. Based on what people had experienced during the pandemic the Council had been told there was a need to redesign the Council’s Day Services to move away from a predominantly traditional, building based service, to a more community-based approach, to future proof services. This approach would also allow the development of more cost-effective models of provision for the future, that better match the needs of a wide range of individuals, promote independence, quality of life, wellbeing, community engagement and inclusion. If a decision was made to proceed with the proposal a further consultation on the Stanley Centre would take place with all key stakeholders to gather people’s views and determine what people would like to see in terms for future day opportunities in the local area for individuals who attend now and those people that may need support in the future.


Ms Sue Helliwell referred to a recent newspaper article quoting that more than £20 million of Council Tax had not been collected by the Council in the past few years, and asked if this money had been collected, would there have been no cuts to services. She also asked if the Council could guarantee that NHS workers, patients and visitors would still be able to get to Leighton Hospital on the 317 bus and that there would be no amalgamated bus services. Ms Helliwell then asked if was correct that the Environment Act 2021 states that recyclable household waste, which was food waste, must be collected at least once a week and  asked how did this affect the proposals to charge for garden waste.


In response Cllr A Stott, Chair of the Finance Sub Committee, stated that the total quoted arrears of £20.8m had to be set against the total amount billed over the same period which was £854m. The Council budgeted for a level of none or late payments for council tax each year and these figures were within the expected levels that are included within the budget. The collection of arrears continued over several years so that, over time, any impact is reduced. Last year's figures showed that the Council’s collection rate was at 97.4 per cent, which was higher than the average for councils in England at 95.7 per cent; and for all unitary councils 95.8 per cent. The Council followed best practice in terms of collection of local taxes by applying a firm but fair process to those who avoid payment, whilst supporting those residents who find themselves in genuine difficulty.


Cllr C Browne, Chair of Highways and Transport Committee responded that the Council recognised the importance of access to Leighton and other hospitals by local buses. The bus network faced unprecedented pressures due to a fall in the passenger numbers and cost inflation and all bus operators were reviewing their networks. The Council aimed to retain key services for passengers, as far as local funding allowed, but it was impossible to guarantee that there would be no changes to bus services at this time.


Cllr M Warren, Chair of Environment and Communities Committee, responded that as part of the Environment Act, the Government had consulted on mandating a weekly food waste collection to all properties along with other changes to recycling collections. The final form of the legislation and outcome of the consultation had yet to be published by DEFRA.  However, there was no certainty at this point if this aspect would be required. Should a weekly separate food waste collection be mandated, and sufficient funding made available for central government to initiate and operate it as the consultation proposed, it was believed that it would work well alongside the proposed chargeable garden waste service.


Congleton Town Councillor Kay Wesley spoke on the potential loss of another recycling facility in Congleton with the proposal to charge for the collection of garden and food waste, which for many Congleton families would mean their garden and food waste would no longer be collected because they could not afford to pay.


In response Cllr M Warren, Chair of Environment and Communities Committee, stated that the proposal to introduce an annual subscription charge for the service was necessary to assist the authority in the cost of operating the waste recycling service. The authority was experiencing a significant increase in its contract costs associated with recycling and waste and in addition to making efficiencies needed to look for additional income streams to continue to cover its costs. Similar authorities and surrounding authorities already charged for garden recycling and nationally, according to 2019 figures, 65% of Local Authorities charged for garden waste collections.


Mr Ken Edwards referred to the number of responses received to the budget consultation, which was less than 1000, and compared it to the number of electors in the Borough - around 310,000 and asked that this fact be taken into consideration when deciding on the Budget. He also wished to bring to the Council’s attention the process of devolution, which when the Council came into being in 2009 had seen a rush to get a policy and devolve services to town and parish councils but not a lot had happened and asked if the Council would take forward this devolution policy.


Alsager Town Councillor Michael Unett asked if the Council would work with Alsager Town Council and local residents to find solutions to multiple issues on the Crewe Road and Station Road junction in Alsager. He also asked if the Council would revisit a previous decision and give permission to Alsager Town Council to deploy a portable Speed Indicator Device in Alsager.