Agenda item

Public Speaking/Open Session

In accordance with paragraph 2.24 of the Council’s Committee Procedure Rules and Appendix on Public Speaking, set out in the Constitution, a total period of 15 minutes is allocated for members of the public to put questions to the committee on any matter relating to this agenda. Each member of the public will be allowed up to two minutes each to speak, and the Chair will have discretion to vary this 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.



Mr Thomas Eccles, Chair of the Save Danes Moss community group, attended the meeting to speak in relation to item 8 (Local Plan Issues Paper) and item 7 (Carbon Neutral Programme Update). Mr Moss was encouraged by some of the documentation associated with the new Local Plan, particularly appendix A which referred to peatland habitats which the Local Plan should aim to protect and encourage their restoration. Mr Eccles felt that currently some of Cheshire East’s environmental policies were in contradiction to their environmental ambitions, for example the previous Local Plan which allocated eight separate peatlands for various forms of development which meant there would be extraction at those sites and contrasted with plans to reduce carbon emissions. On behalf of Save Danes Moss, Mr Eccles asked the committee to introduce a policy to prohibit peat extraction in Cheshire East except for peatland habitat restoration and to remove all peatland sites allocated for housing from the Local Plan.


Mr John Finnan from the Save Longridge Greenbelt community group attended to speak in relation to item 8 (Local Plan Issues Paper) and referred to Longridge LPS 38 which was a local wildlife site and part of it also ancient woodland. Mr Finnan stated that its rich ecology and a covenant preventing access to it did not inform its adoption into the Local Plan and that it should not have been included. The outline planning application had been refused but it was still in the Local Plan. Mr Finnan asked what mechanism were in place, or could be put in place, to expedite its removal from the Local Plan.


In response, the Chair advised that through the Council’s new Local Plan the status of any allocated sites that had not come forward for development would be reviewed. However, such assessments would be made much further into the plan-making process in light of up-to-date evidence and circumstances at that time.


Ms Debbie Jamison attended the meeting to speak in relation to item 5 (Strategic Leisure Review) and asked the following questions:


  1. Why there was no reference to the Council seeking to control its own corporate landlord operating costs, engagement with property services or an understanding of how the contract with external suppliers works


  1. Regarding recommendation 3e asking for officer delegation to negotiate top up funding agreements with Town and Parish Councils, was the committee accepting a double taxation system in Cheshire East with no oversight on the fairness of how these monies may be requested


  1. Free text comments had not been made available in the appendix whereas responses sent via letter or email had been reproduced in full, therefore did the committee understand that some groups did not feel that they had been listened to


  1. Would the committee ensure that the contract amendments with Everybody Health and Leisure contained key performance indicators around utilisation of various facilities, to make sure that all opportunities for public health activity were promoted, specifically regarding hours of use and not just numbers attending


  1. Regarding the Playing Pitch and Outdoor Sports Strategy, did the committee see an overlap with the Strategic Leisure Review where Everybody Health and Leisure had outdoor facilities


The following responses were provided by officers:


  1. The observed cost increases in the main related to the prices of energy and maintenance construction works, which were driven by much higher levels of inflation. This was a trend seen nationally and was not specific to Cheshire East. This cost pressure and the need to assist in protecting local leisure services had already been recognised by Government in the form of the £500k Sport England revenue grant awarded in 2023 which specifically related to offsetting increased energy prices. A working group had been established during 2023/24 involving the leisure commissioning team, Cheshire East Facilities Management, supported by Equans and Everybody Health and Leisure to ensure that, moving forward, corporate landlord costs were considered and managed jointly by all parties


  1. Discussions with Town and Parish Councils around the top up of a variety of services, from libraires where an established model existed, green spaces, community enforcement and leisure were already ongoing. These discussions had, in a number of cases, been initiated by the Town Councils. The figures used were based on prior years’ corporate landlord costs which had been included in the Council’s published accounts.


  1. In developing the proposals presented today all views expressed through the consultation had been considered thematically, whether they appeared in the published report or otherwise.


  1. Officers, including representatives of the Public Health Team, were in the very early stages of developing a suite of new KPIs to build into any modified contract. These would cover themes specific to each leisure site such as usage, membership, public health and driving efficiencies for the corporate landlord.


  1. It was acknowledged that there was an overlap with the Playing Pitch and Outdoor Sports Strategy. All available facilities, regardless of ownership or control interest, had been considered in terms of the demand analysis for each area.