In the run up to the local elections on May 2nd I will be publishing brief interviews with each of the candidates - standing for seats on both the Parish Council and Cheshire East Council - that respond to my request, in the order in which they respond.
To read interviews with other candidates you will be able to click on the tags at the bottom of the article. For example, pieces on the other candidates for the Handforth Parish Council election will all be tagged 'Handforth Parish Council 2019 Election'. Candidates representing the same party or group will also be connected via the tags, candidates competing in the same ward will be connected by tags as well and all articles will be tagged '2019 Local Elections'.
Dr Roger Small is an Independent candidate for the South Ward on Handforth Parish Council.
Roger has lived in the south ward of Handforth for over 40 years. He was an undergraduate student of pharmacy at Manchester University becoming a postgraduate student and then a member of University staff. He retired from university service having attained the position of Reader.
Roger is currently the Chair of the Handforth Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group and a committee member within the Friends of Handforth Station. His wife ran the 4th Handforth (St Chad's) Brownie pack for many years and their two daughters were educated at the primary school now called The Wilmslow Academy and at Wilmslow High School.
Why have you decided to stand for election as a parish councillor for Handforth?
I regularly attend meetings of Handforth Parish Council and have been disappointed to observe that the best efforts of the council often have been hindered by disharmony. I am hoping that, following the May elections, a new council will emerge that will work more closely together for the benefit of the parish as a whole. I would like to be a member of such a council.
Have you stood for election before? If so when and for which party?
I have never previously stood for election to Handforth Parish Council but have been co-opted to membership of the council on two previous occasions. On both occasions I described myself, as now, as an Independent. My previous service on the council included chairing the Planning and Environment Committee.
What do you consider to be the important issues facing Handforth?
There is little doubt that the planned building of approximately 2,500 new homes in Handforth, or on its borders, will markedly affect the notion of Handforth being a "village". We will need to ensure that our medical surgeries, schools and public transport systems can cope with the influx of so many new residents. However, I believe that Handforth should welcome its new residents and work to integrate the old with the new.
Under the CEC Local Plan Handforth has lost a great deal of its surrounding greenbelt land. The Handforth Neighbourhood Plan seeks to protect that which remains until the year 2030. However, in the interim, we should continue to guard against the possibility of further unwanted development on our greenfield sites.
What do you hope to achieve and how in the next 4 years?
Handforth Neighbourhood Plan contains a list of infrastructure projects that are of importance to the parish. Ideally I would like to see them all come to fruition. If asked to choose a few of my favoured projects these would include step-free access at the station, an extension to the health centre and a station car park. Given the success of the recent Access for All application and the obligations of CEC as regards the Garden Village at Handforth, there is every chance that these three projects will come to fruition within the next few years. I would like to see an extension to the library that would include public toilets. I would also like to find a solution to the long-running dispute concerning the pavilion in Meriton Road Park.
What experience and personal qualities will you bring to the role?
As a member of the congregation of St Chad's Church I helped to raise funds for improvements to the toilets in the church hall and the footpaths in the churchyard. For a number of years I have acted as the co-ordinator of the Hall Road Homewatch Group. I have also been a governor at Wilmslow Grange Community Primary School. As a trustee of the Handforth Community War Memorial Foundation I helped to raise funding for the memorial and drafted its planning application. I also prepared the Foundation's request for permission to build the memorial on CEC highways land.
Over the past two years I have held the post of Chair of the Handforth Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group. This group of nine local residents worked happily and closely together to ensure that the Handforth Neighbourhood Plan was drafted and adopted by CEC before the introduction of the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL). This means that the parish council will now receive 25% (rather than 15%) of CIL monies arising from development within the parish.
I was also part of the four-man team that met with the independent examiner, winning a CIL levy on the Handforth Garden Village (HGV) of £71 (rather than zero) per sq m. Having played a major role in securing the maximum amount of potential CIL income for the parish council, I am keen that such monies be spent wisely. While the Handforth Neighbourhood Plan lists a number of infrastructure projects that are important for the parish, we should take care that the parish council's CIL income is not spent on projects that are the responsibility of CEC or of private shop-owners. I firmly believe that the new parish council should consult its electorate when deciding the order of priority as regards funding new infrastructure projects.
As a member of the Friends of Handforth Station (FoHS) I arranged an accessibility survey by the Macclesfield-based Disability Information Bureau and helped to conduct an ecological survey of land adjacent to the platforms. I also helped to raise the funds necessary to allow a GRIP 2 study to be performed. This study formed an essential prelude to the submission of a grant application to Access for All for the provision of a pair of lifts to facilitate platform access.
I played a major role in assisting Mike Bishop, the founder of FoHS, with the drafting of the successful application. I have also initiated a project for the planting of flowering shrubs in the embankment adjacent to the southbound platform. This shrub planting should usefully compliment the Rotary garden and other decorative works at the station.
Why should Handforth residents vote for you?
I offer my ability to work as part of a team and my past record of voluntary service to Handforth as a guide. I am also supported by a very able running mate in the form of Andrew Backhouse, the Chair of the Friends of Handforth Station.