Barlow's Beef: Another smack in the face for Wilmslow residents

rectory

Sometimes I wonder if there is any point trying to comprehend any decision Cheshire East make.

'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 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."

Neighbourhood plans were paramount so said Cheshire East encouraging communities to voice their opinions. Localism was the name of the game.

So here we are again with two community groups hoping to transform the derelict Rectory Stables, which is situated adjacent to Wilmslow Leisure Centre Car Park, into a community hub.

Wilmslow Trust and Transition Wilmslow submitted a bid to Cheshire East to convert the stables to provide a meeting room that could seat 30-40 people and exhibition space for information on the town's local heritage.

Instead, Cheshire East Council selected Lyme Design and Build Limited and have agreed to enter into a 10 year lease with the company, which proposes to use the site for an office and storage.

If anyone can see the logic in a council promoting localism snubbing two Wilmslow community groups in favour of a Stockport based building company I have yet to meet them.

This is just another arrogant smack in the face for local residents who pay for a council to represent them not trample over their views. Arrogance and indifference does not cover it.

I actually discussed the topic with a Conservative councillor who expressed astonishment at the council decision.

"Why do they do it?" I asked.

"Because they can," came the reply.

This Tory councillor was as disappointed as I with the total lack of any effective opposition.

Let's cut to the chase as our American friends say: CEC are NOT interested in the opinions of residents and never will be as long as they are certain of re-election.

We need to give some very serious thought to how we cast our vote or (like dog poo) we are going to be talking about it forever.

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

Tags:
Barlow's Beef, Vic Barlow
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Comments

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

Ellie Brooks
Tuesday 14th February 2017 at 10:06 am
Dear Mr Barlow I feel I need to correct you in the sequences of events leading up to the stable block going to a commercial enterprise and not to Transition Wilmslow and Wilmslow Trust. About a year ago I met with Pippa Tyrell from Transition Wilmslow and I agreed to support their bid for the block. I met with the officer in charge from CE and Portfolio Holder Don Stockton and they agreed that as local community groups their bid would have "1st refusal". After some weeks Pippa and I met again and she let me know that they had been unable to raise the sort of funds it would take not just to restore the building but to keep it running. I then suggested we look at the old toilet block by Hoopers as this was to go on the market - we all felt this was a better bet for their needs and I met with both groups to discuss plans and to have a look inside the block.They were very happy, even though this was 2nd choice, and pulled out of the bid for the stable block. I met again with officers and Don Stockton and it was agreed not to put the toilet block on the market and to give the groups time to look at how they could both use the building and raise funds. I'm still waiting a year later and still support their bid.
Please check facts before coming to an opinion.
Cllr Ellie Brooks
Wilmslow West and Chorley
Rod Menlove
Tuesday 14th February 2017 at 11:58 am
Thanks Ellie for putting the record straight.
As the ward councillor I'm more than pleased that this building will now become an attractive feature for Wilmslow. The tenants will fund the renovation of what is currently an unsafe derelict building. The cost to the public purse is modest at 18 months rent free and the freehold is retained.
A satisfactory commercial result and community groups are not disadvantaged having withdrawn in favour of the option of the South Drive old toilets.
Perhaps Vic Barlow would like to accept an open invitation to visit Wilmslow and the local Cheshire East councillors. We could then discuss his list of
criticisms, offer him the facts and hope that in future his opinions will be
based on reality.
Jackie Pass
Tuesday 14th February 2017 at 4:12 pm
Thank - you for some clarity on this. The import seems to be that the Community will be offered first refusal on the toilet block - which is considerably smaller and which will not accommodate a permanent exhibition on Lindow Man, as well as an area to showcase the talents of local artists and craftsmen.

As to Wilmslow not being able to raise the cash needed to renovate the historic Rectory Stables - exactly how much is in the pot of Section 106 payments for Wilmslow? At my last reckoning monies from S106 had been put aside for the same community benefits several times over and none of them had ever materialised. Surely the many thousands of pounds would have renovated the Rectory Stables if Cheshire East had the will to give us back some of this money rather than "sit" on it?

The irony is that the Town Council are dutifully trying to provide toilet facilities in the town. Meanwhile, Cheshire East have closed the public toilets by Sainsbury's - and are prepared to sell/lease it off with Community groups having first refusal. All seems "a bit rum" to me.
Rod Menlove
Tuesday 14th February 2017 at 5:45 pm
There is no general S106 pot but sums within each council ward. There is a legal agreement with the developer that is specific on what the money can be spent and the distance of the project from the original development. The remaining agreements for Wilmslow East are largely for green open space and playgrounds. This is highly frustrating for all concerned particularly in a period of budget constraints. CEC is currently evaluating S106 versus Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) to determine the better option.

The South Drive toilet is probably bigger than it appears and only when there are clear proposals of any exhibition content will it be possible to see if the size is adequate. Transition Wilmslow have been very positive.

WTC are providing toilets primarily for those using the children's play area
in the Carrs. Toilets in all towns in Cheshire East were offered to local councils as part of an assets transfer several years ago. WTC judged that the cost of maintenance was unjustified with so many alternatives available nearby.
David Kendrick
Tuesday 14th February 2017 at 7:12 pm
Why not renovate what is a run down old shed?! A lot of common sense is making it look great again and it being used for everyday business!
Jackie Pass
Tuesday 14th February 2017 at 7:17 pm
I appreciate that S106 is identified for "specific projects" - it was the case with Adlington Road site for example. My point is that the benefits to the community for which these were presumably itemised don't seem to have materialised. Lisa ran an article which contained details of current pots of money in 2015 - to which an additional pot of money Adlington Road has been added.
http://bit.ly/2lecI0S
What has happened to the £51, 074 allocated for the Council's park strategy at the Carrs and "other town centre sites"? Surely the Rectory Stables is a "town centre site"? The Council has given £30,000 towards the new toilet - what has happened to the other £21,000?A further £24, 420 allocated to the Carrs from the Green Lane Development.

Water Development - a staggering sum- and note the "catch all phrase" at the end, "other local recreational projects". The provision of a Community "Hub" at the Rectory stables would also fall within this category.
Alan Brough
Tuesday 14th February 2017 at 8:15 pm
Rod Menlove,

You say that so many alternatives to Public Toilets are available nearby - could you qualify this please?

Is there an informal / formal agreement with local pubs, restaurants, shops etc to provide toilet facilities to the general (non clientele) public or is this just a sly way of devolving another Council responsibility to provide basic services?
Rod Menlove
Wednesday 15th February 2017 at 10:08 am
Jackie Pass

My experience in securing modest sums from S106 to spend within the ward is that it is a legal nightmare. The developer will give permission only if the project meets the strictest interpretation of the wording in the agreement. So to the lawyers wording such as 'parks strategy' is highly restrictive as is 'recreational projects'. Would that it were not so.

Alan Brough

As I said above 'WTC judged' so you are asking the wrong person.
Jackie Pass
Wednesday 15th February 2017 at 12:30 pm
Thanks for that Councillor Menlove.

So let's take an example. A Company with an excellent reputation and which contributes a great deal to the local community is approached by Cheshire East to spend a modest sum of the S106 money they have already given to the Council, to renovate what is an historic building. What is the likelihood of them saying no? On whose initiative is a decision taken to approach Companies to use Section 106 money? Is it the Ward Councillor? Is it the Town Council? Is it Cheshire East? Who knows?

Let's take another example. S106 money given to Cheshire East for Brown's Lane Play Area. At my last reckoning that site has been given over £600,000. How much improvement has there been? Whose responsibility was it to initiate the use of the sum? - to even ask the various Companies legal departments?

Finally, what is the destination of the interest on the S106 monies? Is it simply added to the capital?
Roger Bagguley
Wednesday 15th February 2017 at 3:26 pm
In the meantime developers are homing in on to this area of Wilmslow with the Leisure Centre and cricket field in their sights and with another piece of Wilmslow Heritage being signed away by councillors, the first being Romany's caravan.
Rod Menlove
Wednesday 15th February 2017 at 4:19 pm
Jackie Pass

There are very detailed hypothetical questions and well beyond me as a mere amateur re S106.
If you seriously intend pursuing them, then may I suggest you contact your CEC ward councillor as your first point of call.
Michelle Gray
Wednesday 15th February 2017 at 4:43 pm
I was shocked to discover that the play area at the end of Land Lane has had all of the apparatus removed, with the exception of a few swings
This used to be a lovely area for young children, within walking distance for many and is now a great loss to this particular community
Perhaps a small amount of the S106 pot could go towards replacing items that the council has, for whatever reason seen fit to remove

Instead of trying to attract young families to this area with good amenities like the park, you have managed to produce an aura of dereliction with this badly thought out plan
Rod Menlove
Wednesday 15th February 2017 at 4:54 pm
Michelle

I enquired and was told that the multi-unit was removed as it was rotten and dangerous. The replacement is scheduled to be installed w/c 6 March.
A simple explanatory note on the railings would have helped would it not.
John Yajima
Wednesday 15th February 2017 at 4:57 pm
It is appreciated that Councillors address errors and defend their actions here so firmly. Unlike my letters regarding the new toilets next to the Carrs. The money that could have been saved there would have paid for the renovation of this building.
And, to those Councillors disingenuously suggesting otherwise, yes we did offer a turnkey operation!
Vic Barlow
Wednesday 15th February 2017 at 5:12 pm
"We were clear with CEC that we had no funds but were prepared to work with the community to raise them as a community venture."

Surely a relatively small project like this could have been kept within the community after all the disappointment of the Local Plan that ignored WTC and its residents.

That small gesture would have meant so much.
Jackie Pass
Wednesday 15th February 2017 at 8:38 pm
Vic - agree. It was, and is, a small project. I feel strongly that something as important as Lindow Man should be "showcased" as part of the history of the town. Wilmslow is not simply a town to be plundered for money.
Michelle Gray
Thursday 16th February 2017 at 1:23 pm
Yes Rod
My grandchildren would have appreciated the effort that may have taken from someone local in the know
Bob Bracegirdle
Friday 5th May 2017 at 1:30 pm
I just note that Councillors defend themselves rightly when attacked. I wonder if it occurs to them to publicise their defence in this case in advance of any public comments.

Anyway now back to Macclesfield where the car parks STILL don't take the new £1 coins. Saw two people this morning who had to leave because they had no old ones.

It's our fault. We keep voting for them.