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


Susan Munro, Chair of Elizabeth’s Group, stated that Moody Hall was a Grade 2 listed building in the centre of Congleton and was once owned by Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy and housed her pioneering School for Girls. The Hall was of historical interest to the women's movement nationally and internationally, as well as to the Congleton  community. The gardens at the rear of Moody Hall contained a collection of ancient trees, two of which had preservation orders on them. She stated that she had been campaigning and asking questions about the building since early 2018, when it first came to her notice that the building was empty and open at the rear, which meant that vandals and thieves had gained easy access. Several fires had taken place and some squatters lived there for a few months. She asked that Cheshire East Council put a compulsory purchase order on the property as there were several interested people who wanted to turn it into a community hub and asked what was Cheshire East Council going to do to protect Moody Hall?


In response Cllr M Warren, Chair of Environment and Communities Committee, stated that it was sad to see the historic building in such a poor state of repair. The property was not owned by Cheshire East Council and, therefore, the Council was limited in its powers to protect it. The Council had previously taken steps to secure the ground floor of the property, including access from the adjoining car park. Following the recent fire, the Council had served an Urgent Works Notice seeking to make access from Moody Street more secure. These works had yet to be put in place and there had been further discussions with the current owner as to their plans to implement previously approved residential planning permission which would secure the long-term future of the building. There had also been a meeting with the Town Council to explain the current situation and officers were regularly visiting the site. They had also been in discussion with the fire service and Cheshire Police. Officers continued to seek the most effective solution for securing the building.


Andrew Wood stated that his question was about the planning department at Cheshire East. He had wished to try and a sell a farm building and turn it into a house. He had contacted the Council for advice but could not find any help. He asked why the planning department was not helping the public with advice and form completion to help with planning for converting buildings, garages, and redundant farm building into residential properties as there was a need for housing and there would also be income for the Council from council tax.


In response Cllr M Warren, Chair of Environment and Communities Committee stated that Cheshire East had suffered, like many local authorities, with a lack of resources within its planning department which had affected the normal levels of customer service, particularly in providing pre application support which had been suspended for all but the largest schemes. A review of the service had identified a number of areas where improvement could be made, which included how customers’ needs could be best met. A review of the pre-application process was part of the overall review, as was a Service restructure which would seek to include support officer roles which would provide the right level of service for all customers.


Robert Douglas spoke on fly-tipping and referred to the league table published by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs of councils detailing the number of fly-tipping incidents and fixed penalty notices issued for the year to March 2022. He noted that Cheshire East had 4,456 fly-tipping incidents and had issued just 22 fixed penalties - less than one penalty for every two hundred incidents. He noted that whilst the number of fly-tipping incidents in Cheshire East fell by about 9% in the year to March 2023, the average cost of each incident increased by about 14% - meaning that fly-tipping was now annually costing the Council £239,400.  He asked why the Council’s record of issuing fixed penalty notices in respect of fly-tipping was so dismal in the year to March 2022? He asked whether there had been a substantial improvement in the percentage of fixed penalty notices issued in the year to March 2023 compared to that of the previous year? He also asked whether numerous cameras would be installed to catch these criminals, and what other actions were being taken to increase the number of fixed penalties?


In response Cllr M Warren, Chair of Environment and Communities Committee, stated that the Council’s Community Enforcement service consisted of 6 Community Enforcement Officers who covered the entire Cheshire East borough. The team dealt with a variety of environmental enforcement issues, including abandoned vehicles, promoting responsible dog ownership, and fly tipping. Due to the size of the team and competing priorities it was not possible for the team to attend each fly tip incident before it was cleared. The team only formally investigated fly tipping incidents where there was clear evidence of a crime. For those incidents which were attended, it was not uncommon for perpetrators to take measures to ensure there was no traceable evidence contained within the fly tipped material. Cllr Warren reported that the number of Fixed Penalty Notices issued specifically for fly tipping in the year to March 2023 was 23. There were no plans to install cameras as a method of deterring or enforcing against fly tipping at this stage. A further two Community Enforcement officers were being recruited. These extra resources would assist with tackling all environment and waste related issues. Partnership working was also ongoing with two Town Councils - Crewe and Macclesfield, who directly funded a Community Enforcement Officer each to tackle issues within specific geographical areas of concern.


Charlotte Peters Rock asked why the Council had not moved a current employee up the pay scale as a temporary measure to cover for the Chief Executive instead of spending an outlay of a minimum base rate of £1,380 per day for three days a week stand-in? She felt that the proposal to raise the base rate paid to the next Chief Executive by another ten to thirty thousand, up to a total outlay of £250,000, was another cost pulling away vital rights from service users. She stated that the Council’s Adults and Health Committee was letting down service uses by closing the Stanley Centre in Knutsford and instead should be organising viable ways to take extra adult disabled attendees, possibly from Cheshire West and Chester, and of subletting the space during evenings and weekends to keep the facility open, or applying for National Lottery funding to be able to keep the place open for attendees.  She felt the decision to remove the funding for the Stanley Centre was a predetermined decision, which ignored disability rights. The consultation results overwhelmingly showed that the purpose-built Stanley Centre was highly valued by its local attendees, their family and carers and the wider community, who all wished to see that vital provision remain. She felt that the consultations result being ignored was an absolute sham and a mockery of the adult learning disabled and their family carers and the community and that allowing one Committee to make such a closure without reference to the full Council was a disgrace.