Barlow's Beef: What's the difference between CEC and a dormouse?


'Huge disappointment as town's views have been ignored in Local Plan,' screamed our Wilmslow headline on Dec 21.

Councillor Keith Purdom for the Wilmslow Town Council meeting on Monday, 19th December, stated that the views expressed both in writing and in person to the Inspector have been ignored.

"So after years of consultation, many many meetings, written and verbal input to CEC and the Inspector the bottom line is that the Inspector has increased the number of completions for Wilmslow by 10 - yes really."

Mr Purdom continued: "I (along with many other WTC councillors) started this work with high hopes that we could influence CEC (and subsequently the Inspector) and have a plan that reflected some of the residents opinions. Clearly our work has influenced almost nothing at all."

Pretty depressing reading for both Wilmslow residents and their elected town council I thought until I read the outrage felt by Fiona Bruce MP for Congleton. Ms Bruce was reacting (angrily) to the Government inspector's decision to ignore the neighbourhood plan in Brereton, supported by 96 per cent of voters, by allowing the development of 190 houses plus another application 'coming down the track for 49 houses.

This alone represents a housing expansion in the village of 51 per cent.

Ms Bruce went on to add that communities on other parts of her constituency are now asking whether it is worth the time and effort to complete a neighbourhood plan.

The Congleton MP is a Tory, like her contemporaries in Cheshire East but, unlike them, MS Bruce has the courage to speak out against her own party. More than that she has fire and spirit to leave no doubt where she stands on this Government betrayal of her constituents.

In stark contrast CEC Tories dither, prevaricate and wobble like a bunch of old washerwomen frightened of their own shadow.

Tell me this... what use have CEC been to the residents of Wilmslow in this deplorable debacle? Where was leader Rachel Bailey when they needed her?

"This council believes in supporting grass-roots planning policies," she stated recently.

If that wasn't so stupefyingly lame it would be laughable.

And... before Ms Bailey gets her PR team to complain please tell us what happened to CEC's much lauded Brownfield First policy.

Having botched up the Local Plan CEC have neither the courage nor the bottle to fight for their residents as Fiona Bruce has done risking her career for the people she serves.

The absence of any comment on this site on almost any council topic stands testimony to their timid indifference.

Just like the residents of Brereton the good people of Handforth are now going forward in good faith with their neighbourhood plan.

Cheshire East will, no doubt, invoke their spine chilling call to arms:

"Let us all go forward together sideways so that none of us comes last."

ANS: One is frightened to show itself in daylight... and the other is a mouse.

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.

Nick Jones
Tuesday 3rd January 2017 at 12:37 pm
Evidenced many times on these pages Vic,.. from Lyme Green, Adlington Road, Royal London, Local Plan, etc.. the fact remains that several Cllrs have voted against the views of their electorate over green belt issues. With the track record of some [and their notable absence when asked to explain their action].. well, It really is no surprise !. Rachel Bailey in answering her own question may be .. ‘Disappointed at the negative portrayal of CEC for no good cause.. “ But what will she and her tribal affiliates do to regain public support. When’s the next election?
Terry Roeves
Wednesday 4th January 2017 at 7:32 pm
Vic - please see my comments re Alderley Rd - A34 pinchpoint investment.
We know where we are now with CEC and WTC and where we want to be, but how do we begin the journey?
Toni Fox
Wednesday 4th January 2017 at 9:56 pm
Vic, please see my comments re the Handforth Garden Village.

As a resident of Handforth and as an Independent Cheshire East Councillor for the Dean Row Ward in Wilmslow I have been dismayed and disappointed by the manner in which the Local Plan has been conducted.

A senior officer admitted to me, off the record, that under the previous leader, Cllr Michael Jones, the Local Plan had not been conducted in as open and transparent a manner as it should have been. Perhaps the officer was alluding to the fact that the allocation of sites within the Green Belt were made prior to the Green Belt assessment which should necessarily have informed and "graded" the value of each to assist in this decision, or, that Town and Parish Councils were not fully consulted or perhaps that Ward Councillors were not consulted at all. These are just a few examples.

I was elected in 2015 replacing the Conservative incumbent following the approval of the planning application for Bollin Park being approved, despite public assurances to residents from the then leader, Cllr Jones, that he would not allow it.

I can only hope that at the next elections residents vote for Independent representatives who are free to vote to support residents views and who are not governed by a party whip.

According to Wikipedia: "A whip is an official in a political party whose primary purpose is to ensure discipline in a legislature. Whips are the party's "enforcers", who typically offer inducements and threaten party members to ensure that they participate according to the official party policy."

Conservative CEC councillors could perhaps be considered to be being offered inducements in various forms. There are a number of paid Directorships available to offer to councillors. Conservative councillors who have raised "difficult" or "awkward" questions in their roles on committees relating to openness and transparency have been removed from posts prior to the end of their term. The constitution has recently been amended to allow such changes to be made to committees seemingly at will.

To be fair to Cllr Rachel Bailey representatives from each political party have been invited and attend the devolution working group that has been set up by the Council however there still appears to be a growing unease in some Conservative members who are principled enough to stand up against the lack of democracy and transparency that still exists within the Council.
Roger Bagguley
Thursday 5th January 2017 at 12:10 pm
I try not to get wound up about these things but Toni Fox in both articles makes an observation that people count for little within our democratic system. If I remember rightly from my meetings with Cheshire East the Leader of the council sits below a sign which reads, "People First." Having been present throughout the Local Plan Process representing the people of Cheshire East and in particular of Wilmslow I am left confused as to who this motto is referring to? There are winners and losers in life and there aren't many losers around here. Hence a Conservative Council. Of course urbanisation will bring about political change but we are not there yet so the status quo, clearly under threat, is secure for now. Thus I can only really keep going by falling back upon my favourite TV advert - "For Mash get Smash." Guess this brands me a cynic but that is how my experiences of the Local Plan, democratic system and public consultation have left me. Many people like me too.