Barlow's Beef: Cheshire East should tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth


Cheshire East councillors must feel an abused group. They undoubtedly enter local politics because they want to serve the community. New members are usually full of optimism and enthusiasm that time erodes.

Sometimes it's disillusionment with their own party or the mass of bureaucracy taking over their lives but more often they blame the local media. Once-upon-a-time that simply meant the local press but now they have online publishers and social media to contend with making it impossible to stem the tide of negativity.

Town halls like Westminster are self-contained communities where members influence each other and share common opinions. It's a lot more comfortable than embracing public opinion, which they come to regard as malicious criticism.

Sometimes it is, but councillors rarely discern branding all criticism unfair and mischievous. (unless it's made against the opposition.)

Hence the credibility gap where the public are viewed as mischievous and the Council are seen as ineptly arrogant.

Sadly, Cheshire East do not help themselves by making statements sufficiently absurd to deny credibility.

Initially they claimed their plan to turn off street lighting had 'proved' it to be 'safer' in those locations. How any intelligent individual would think that reintroducing a blackout was an act of safety defies explanation.

They have since abandoned that piece of idiocy in favour of 'reducing carbon emissions' a pretence even our dog wouldn't buy.

The commercial extraction of peat from Lindow Moss apparently creates no problems to the local environment at all while keeping runners, cyclists, pedestrians and road users safe at night is too big a threat to the planet. (Obviously it's just a coincidence that one creates revenue while the other is a direct council cost.)

Isn't it just this kind of juvenile spin that destroys council credibility. Instead of treating residents like idiots would it not be better to credit them with a modicum of intelligence and state the truth?

Selling huge redundancy packages as 'savings' and describing a senior councillor disbarred from being a company director in glowing terms just adds fuel to the fire of incredulity.

I'm not even going into the insanity that leads Cheshire East to believe they can run successful commercial ventures on taxpayers' money after the colossal losses sustained to date.

Contrary to town hall opinion the public are not stupid and addressing them as though they are is at the centre of the resentment felt towards the Council.

If Cheshire East want the respect they feel is due they should treat residents with equal respect and not spin ridiculous asinine stories in an attempt to disguise the truth.

It's not big and it's not clever.

The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of

Barlows Beef, Vic Barlow


Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Manuel Golding
Tuesday 29th November 2016 at 5:32 pm
Surely Vic, you are 'avin a laff when you suggest that Cheshire East should treat residents with respect. Since when has this Council ever demeaned itself to do that?

I'm sure most councillors when first elected by their voters believe they can & will make a difference for the better for their electorate..

And then they meet their respective party bosses, who read the party equivalent of the Treason Act when all party councillors are required to adhere to the respective Whip. If you want to get ahead, do as you are told, could well be the mantra.

Hence the loss of real & meaningful accountability of the controlling party's maladministration.

This is why Residents of Wilmslow acts as a non partisan, non- political voice within both CEC and Wilmslow Town Council. What the voters desperately require are voices who will speak for them first not for a particular party.

RoW acts as that lone voice for the people of Wilmslow. We hope more communities across the borough will follow RoW by electing increasing numbers of Independent councillors over the coming years. This is the way accountability will be returned to the electorate, as we have seen with the recent Referendum vote to Leave and with the US election a couple of weeks ago.
Michelle Gray
Wednesday 30th November 2016 at 3:44 pm
Driving back from Handforth Dean on the bypass I was shocked to discover that the lights on the Wilmslow exit roundabout were switched off making driving conditions very tricky and hazardous
When is this false economy approach going to end?
The local authority is now playing a very dangerous game and should be made accountable for these mad-cap notions as they continue to claim that they are 'saving' the planet by cutting emissions from the lighting that they chose to install in the first place
If the lights were erected in the first place they were clearly deemed a necessity, especially at this time of year
Martin Watkins
Wednesday 30th November 2016 at 7:13 pm
@Michelle Gray. Just for the record, all the roundabouts on the A34 from Tesco, to Dean Row, to Wilmslow, to the High School have half their lights unlit. In addition the slip road to the Tesco complex which passes under the A34 is also unlit. All of this, and I mean all of it, is highly dangerous. To the comment that this is a cost saving exercise, we were told that ALL roundabout lights would be maintained. These lights have been out since at least when the clocks went back. As Chairman of WTC I have been at pains to ask Cheshire East why this situation has been allowed to occur. I have been told "there is a fault" and that someone would call back WTC with an update. No such response has been forthcoming which has caused me to again ask the question. I should not need to do that.

Councillor Martin Watkins
Chairman Wilmslow Town Council
Michelle Gray
Wednesday 30th November 2016 at 9:59 pm
@Martin Watkins
Hi Martin, thanks for picking up on this. I walked across the bridge this evening with a friend over the bypass adjacent to the high school this evening and with the glare of the traffic below us we had problems trying to find our way across the bridge as the lights were out
We would have been safer on the ground trying to cross the road at ground level, it was that dangerous
This is a bridge that High School pupils use after school clubs and is not fit for purpose under these circumstances
There is an urgent need to switch on ALL lighting on roundabouts NOW before there are accidents to both motorists and pedestrians
Pete Taylor
Thursday 1st December 2016 at 9:44 am
ALL the lights are out at the "Atlantic Ford" roundabout, the main entrance to Wilmslow from the by-pass. this has been the case for a long time now.
Here is the genius idea which caused this situation:
Thursday 1st December 2016 at 9:47 am
Michelle, - what staggers me is that there have been a number of accidents to this and the two other roundabouts serving Wilmslow off the A34, but they still switch the lights off. Also, that the A34 is a route to link up with Altrincham Road to join the motorway further on, and so you get lots of people who don't know the area. You would expect, under these circumstances, that the lights would be maintained at all times.
Michelle Gray
Thursday 1st December 2016 at 11:23 am
Thanks to everybody for the feedback on this on-going local safety issue
Peter, I was unaware that this issue has been creaking on for 4 years now as I contacted Cllr Menlove personally when my local streetlights were switched off at 10pm
The response to that was the replacement of more eco-friendly lighting in the area after which the lights stayed on
However, this is a much greater problem with far-reaching safety issues especially where pedestrians and cyclists are involved. The local authority has a duty of care to the community they serve to reverse the decision with immediate effect as this is a critical problem that could be resolved at the flick of a switch
Rod Menlove
Thursday 1st December 2016 at 7:40 pm
Two of the four relevant A34 roundabouts are in Wilmslow East so as Ward Cllr I have asked Highways Lighting for clarification. The answer received is-

'All the lighting (with the possible exception of literally 1 or 2 columns) is to remain and should be lit. There have been issues with loss of service and underground cable faults that need to be rectified. The Lighting team is inspecting the faults/issues over the next 2 weeks and will then affect repairs. Some repairs will be provided immediately but others may take several weeks to complete due to location and accessibility etc. Once the inspection reports are completed then timings can be confirmed.'

This is the factual situation but I am concerned about the length of time the repairs will take. So I will press for whatever resource is necessary to shorten the timescale. All roundabouts must as an urgency have some lighting and the WHS roundabout needs priority in the interests of pupil safety.
Alan Brough
Thursday 1st December 2016 at 9:52 pm
A large number of street lights are operating at dangerously low levels, in order to save energy - Knutsford Road Wilmslow is a case in point. The combination of low power and the tall lamps often being within the leaf canopy render them ineffective.

My wife tripped recently on builders debris left on a badly lit section of Knutsford Road and has suffered a great deal of pain and inconvenience as a result.

Could Rod Menlove please advise me who I should contact to make a formal complaint?
Rod Menlove
Thursday 1st December 2016 at 10:42 pm
For any complaint please go to the CEC website and the Highways section. The more specific you can be the better, so quoting the affixed street lamp column number will assist your case.
Simon Worthington
Sunday 4th December 2016 at 9:08 am
If roads are unlit as are most country roads, pavements etc then TAKE EXTRA CARE. As for tripping over something same applies. There are hazards all around.
Jon Armstrong
Sunday 4th December 2016 at 5:06 pm
I agree. No pedestrians walk along the A34. Cars have lights. If you have safety fears then slow down.
Alan Brough
Sunday 4th December 2016 at 8:28 pm
I appreciate your concern Simon Worthington, and will pass your kind words on to my wife.

The fact that faulty streetlights and builders debris on pavements should combine to cause a normally fit and active person to suffer (not insignificant) personal injury, might seem like collateral damage to you, but if CE Council are going to start playing "Logans Run" then I think that the least we should expect is fair warning!
Vic Barlow
Monday 5th December 2016 at 6:04 pm
You don't need a 'report' from anyone to work out that turning off highway lighting considered essential even a decade ago is downright dangerous with increased traffic.

It's common sense something CEC dpi not appear to possess.