As 2013 draws to a close it is time to take a look back at the biggest news stories of the past 12 months in Wilmslow and share some statistics with our readers.
During 2013 the wilmslow.co.uk web site has been visited over 400,000 times and generated nearly a million page views!
Over the course of the year we've managed to publish over 800 articles and those articles have received over 2,100 reader comments. Topics which appeared regularly in the news this year included illegal traveller encampments, the future of Wilmslow Artisan Market and Cheshire East's Local Plan which will guide development up to 2030.
2013 saw us welcome a number of new businesses to Wilmslow including luxury travel store Destinology, A Plan Insurance, Northwest Fishmongers of Wilmslow (which unfortunately closed after seven months), Aspect Home Cinema, The Goal Post, Therapy Organics, Lotus Five, Cook & Baker, Zip Yard, COOK and Phanthong opened two Thai restaurants in thwe town whilst Chilli Banana Thai Restaurant relocated to new premises on Water Lane.
We also said goodbye to several businesses including Lola of Wilmslow, Boutique Babylon, Bank, Nevada Bob's and Mulberry Bush Cafe which later reopened as Margarita Lounge.
The year started with the news that Councillor Rod Menlove, Environment Portfolio Holder and ward councillor for Wilmslow East, resigned as a result of the Lyme Green fiasco, which cost taxpayers over £1 million, and Cheshire East Council announced plans to invest in a joint venture with AstraZeneca to build a new BioScience Park at Alderley Park. They agreed to allocate £1m funding, in the form of a repayable loan to the not-for-profit joint venture company, to help establish a BioScience Incubator centre which was expected to create 440 jobs.
At the end of January, Wilmslow Town Council decided to distribute leaflets to every household in Wilmslow to raise awareness of the Local Plan consultation and to emphasise where Cheshire East's proposals for the future development of Wilmslow differ from theirs.
Also at the end of January, the government unveiled proposals for the second phrase of the controversial £32 billion HS2 high-speed rail network which is designed to cut journey times between cities and boost regional business. There had been speculation that the high-speed trains might pass through Wilmslow and Alderley Edge, however it was revealed in January that the nearest station will be at Manchester Airport.
A designer boutique also shut up shop at the beginning of the year, just over 18 months after opening on Water Lane. Lola of Wilmslow was located in the premises previously occupied by Oddbins and stocked a range of contemporary designer labels. Whilst the Citizens Advice Bureau, which returned to Wilmslow last year, expanded its service in the town to operate a second weekly session, thanks to a second grant from Wilmslow Town Council.
Controversial plans to build a gypsy site on Green Belt land to the north west of Moor Lane were refused for the second time, however an appeal against this decision was later lodged and is still outstanding.
February started with the opening of a new fishmongers on Grove Street, in the premises previously occupied by Barnardos. Northwest Fishmongers of Wilmslow was a new venture for brothers-in-law Simon Nolan and Tommy Garbett, however it closed after just 7 months of trading.
George Osborne MP was greeted by the Wilmslow High School Band when he visited the town on February 8th to celebrate extensive improvements at the town's station. The Chancellor unveiled a commemorative plaque before being shown the result of the £500,000 investment which included the installation of a new CCTV, additional seating, refurbished toilets, new Customer Information Screens and new signage, flooring and handrails.
In March Royles decided to close the Grove Street store they opened in December 2010, specialising in cycling, running, swimming and triathlon, and bring their business together under one roof.
In the same month AstraZeneca announced they will close the R&D facility at Alderley Park and relocate 1600 research and development jobs by 2016, with the significant majority going to a new corporate headquarters which AstraZeneca is creating in Cambridge. In addition AstraZeneca confirmed there will be approximately 550 redundancies at the site over the next three years and around 700 non R&D are expected to remain at Alderley Park, the pharmaceutical company currently employs 2,900 people at the site.
The Ministry of Defence confirmed that Lance Corporal Webb from Handforth, a former pupil at Wilmslow High School, died in Afghanistan on March 25th. Lance Corporal Jamie Webb, of 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire), died as a result of wounds sustained during an insurgent attack on his patrol base in Helmand. Hundreds of mourners lined the street in Handforth on April 24th to pay their respects at his military funeral.
The following day a Wilmslow man won the 2013 Wilmslow Half Marathon on his first attempt. The 29th Wilmslow Half Marathon, which took place in the freezing cold with a biting wind, was won by Joe Macdonald who grew up in the town and went to school at Ashdene Primary School followed by Manchester Grammar School.
In April Thornton's, which has traded in the town for decades, closed having decided not to renew their lease and Cheshire East Council turned down a licence application for the lap dancing club on Grove Street. The Council refused to renew the twelve month sexual entertainment venue licence for the ST Lounge which opened in 2009 on the grounds that it would be an inappropriate use of the premises given its location on a shopping street like Grove Street.
On April 23rd HRH The Duchess of Cambridge made a flying visit to Wilmslow. Kate Middleton, who was six months pregnant at the time, arrived at Wilmslow Station on route to Wythenshawe where she visited a local school and the following week Wilmslow High School had the honour of welcoming Olympic heptathlete champion Jessica Ennis into the school for a day of question and answer sessions, endless photos and signings.
May started with the tragic death of a 27-year-old motorcyclist who was killed in a crash on the A34 Handforth bypass over the bank holiday weekend. Bradley McLeod from Reddish in Stockport, was riding a black Honda motorcycle when he collided with the central reservation and sadly sustained injuries that proved fatal.
An extremely brave 66-year-old Handforth resident was also praised by police after confronting a man who was attempting to break into the Dilshad restaurant on Wilmslow Road, Handforth. The retired grandfather of two, who was alerted to the incident by his dogs barking, challenged the thug and was attacked as a result.
Luxury travel store Destinology opened for business on Alderley Road in May and went on to win Best Medium Weddings & Honeymoons Holiday Company at the prestigious 2013 British Travel Awards. The Goal Post, a new sports shop specialising in football and rugby, also opened at the top of Church Street, in the premises previously occupied by the clothes shop Boutique Babylon.
Having initially denied all offences, veteran broadcaster Stuart Hall admitted 14 sexual offences against young girls. Stuart Hall, 83, of Prestbury Road, Wilmslow pleaded guilty to the offences of indecent assault when he appeared at Preston Crown Court on Tuesday April 16th, but restrictions meant this could not be reported until May 2nd. In June Stuart Hall was sentenced to 15 months in prison but his sentence was increased to 30 months by the Court of Appeal in July and he was later stripped of his OBE.
The previous day Coronation Street star Bill Roache had been charged with two offences of raping a 15-year-old girl in 1967. The 81-year-old actor, who has played Ken Barlow in the ITV Soap for 53 years, was arrested by Lancashire Police at his home in Wilmslow. The following month he was charged with five offences of indecent assault. He has denied all charges and is due to appear at Preston Crown Court on January 14th.
In June there was an outcry when Wilmslow Town Council decided to spend £12,701 of taxpayer's money on purchasing chains of office for their Chairman and Vice-Chairman, a decision which they revoked the following month, whilst their organisation of the Party on the Carrs proved more popular, with hundreds of people throwing down their blankets to enjoy the fine weather and live entertainment.
Scarecrows of all shapes and sizes descended on the town for the fourth Wilmslow Scarecrow Festival in June and July. 112 straw creations were on display around Wilmslow, bringing colour and fun during the seventeen day event - which culminated in the very visual, loud and entertaining Grand Scarecrow Parade.
July was a big month for wilmslow.co.uk as we launched our new responsive web site which automatically adapts to the screen size of the device you are using - providing a better user experience whether you are visiting via a smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer. With one unified responsive web site all our readers, irrespective of device, now have convenient access to all of the same rich content and functionality available on the desktop wilmslow.co.uk site. This meant for the first time mobile users have convenient access to all articles, past and present, features such as full photo galleries and have the ability to comment - replacing the need to use our App which provides access to less content and functionality.
July also saw the opening of a new beauty salon and fitness studio on Grove Street, in the premises previously occupied by the Royles triathlon store, and the first ever Wilmslow Music Festival was been hailed a big success with over 1500 people gathered in the grounds of Wilmslow High School to see performances from 21 home grown acts. Following last year's cancellation due to heavy rain, the 101st Wilmslow Show took place in glorious sunshine on July 14th when thousands of people gathered to enjoy a great day out for people of all ages.
Plans to expand three Wilmslow schools, at a cost of £3 million, were approved by Cheshire East Council to enable them to meet the growing demand and create over three hundred additional places. The £3 million plan to expand Wilmslow Grange Community Primary and Nursery School, Dean Oaks Primary and Lacey Green Primary Academy will provide an extra 330 places across all year groups and allow the number of reception places to increase by 45 from 360 to 405 by September 2014.
Also in July, we revealed plans for a private hospital to open in Wilmslow town centre. HCA International, who went into partnership with The Christie NHS Foundation Trust to open The Christie Clinic in September 2010, will be opening the new medical facility on Alderley Road.
Our most read article of the year was an appeal we published to help find a missing Wilmslow man. Thankfully Kane O′Brien, aged 22, was found safe and well by police the following morning.
Simon Dunn Chocolatier closed its doors in August, much to the surprise and disappointment of many local customers. Having built his family business over 25 years with the help of his wife Anne, daughter Camilla and son Oliver, Simon took the difficult decision to close his store on Alderley Road because it was not making enough profit.
In the same month 'Free After Three' parking was introduced at the Spring Street Car Park as part of a new initiative by Cheshire East Council designed to encourage more people to visit their local town or village centre and support local businesses.
The Mulberry Bush Café closed its doors in August, having been open for less than 8 months. However, the owners were soon back with their Mexican venture Maragarita Lounge which opened in the Bank Square premises in October.
Next Plc were granted planning permission for a new home and garden store at Handforth Dean. The retail store with a conservatory, garden centre, coffee shop and 209 car parking spaces will be built on land off Earl Road, adjacent to the Handforth Dean retail park.
Following a by-election for a new councillor to represent the Dean Row Ward, Wilmslow Town Council no longer remains 100% Conservative. The Residents of Wilmslow (RoW) candidate Philip Enstone won the August election, with 58% of the vote - making him the first politically independent voice on the council amongst 14 Conservative members.
At the beginning of September, we reported that a number of retailers in Wilmslow were calling for the Artisan Market to be moved to a Sunday because it has been having a negative impact on their business. As a result, Wilmslow Town Council decided to appoint an independent local market research company to look into the impact of Artisan Market on trading patterns in the town and help them determine whether the market should stay on a Saturday or move to a Sunday.
On September 7th, thousands of residents and visitors gathered in Wilmslow town centre to view dozens of high-end luxury vehicles, chat to the dealers and soak up the fantastic atmosphere. The second Wilmslow Motor Show, organised by Steve Kennedy and members of Wilmslow Business Group, proved another huge success.
In September we also reported on the tragic loss of 11-year-old Flynn Morrissey who sadly passed away following an accident on the A34 Alderley Edge Bypass. Flynn was travelling to Wilmslow High School with his mother Nicky Morrissey and older brother Dylan when their Ford Focus collided head on in the Wilmslow bound lane with a Porsche Cayman, shortly after 8am.
In October, Wilmslow Green Room Theatre were refused planning permission to build a first floor extension for the second time. They submitted a second planning application to enable them to construct a dedicated rehearsal studio above the foyer but it was refused on the grounds that the proposed extension would be overbearing and reduce the extent of sunlight to the neighbouring property.
Cheshire East Council also announced that in order to save money there will be no garden waste collections for four months. Many residents were outraged to learn that their green wheelie bins, which are normally emptied every two weeks, would not be collected between 18th November 2013 and 14th March 2014. Due to "warmer than expected weather in November" CEC later decided that people could deposit any additional green waste in their main black bins for two more collections.
Also in October, a late license was granted for 4-6 Alderley Road, the premises previously occupied by Simon Dunn Chocolatier. Chestiki Ltd were given a license to enable them to open The Tiki Bar, described as an upmarket "fun Polynesian style bar", until 3.30am.
Towards the end of the month, Wilmslow picked up an award at the RHS North West in Bloom awards presentation. In their second year of entry Wilmslow won a silver medal award in the large town category, thanks to all the hard work of the 34 local businesses who took part, community groups, Incredible Edible volunteers, children at Dean Oaks Primary School and Wilmslow Town Council who provided the town centre planters.
The Friends of The Carrs also secured a grant of almost £125,000 towards the creation of a high-quality multi-user path through The Carrs. The 2.5m wide multi-user path will run from the Parish Hall car park, off Chancel Lane, to Carrs Bridge, where it will link to existing paths suitable for cycling.
In November Jones Homes consulted on their plans for a residential development on land to the north of Adlington Road. They are proposing to build houses on land which has been safeguarded for development for over 20 years and has now been identified in the draft Local Plan as a Strategic Site which could deliver 225 homes.
In the same month a new £1.6 million building was officially opened at Wilmslow High School. The new facility is an extension of the pavilion building and will benefit the whole school, but in particular, the new resource will be utilised by the sixth form and students who follow an alternative curriculum.
Hundreds of people, young and old, gathered in Bank Square on November 28th to see the Wilmslow Christmas lights switched on by John Challis (Boycie from Only Fools and Horses) and Jayne Bickerton (from Coronation Street) - marking the official countdown to Christmas in Wilmslow. The following day saw the launch of the Wilmslow Winter Wander Round, which was organised by independent businesses and challenged families to find over 50 little gingerbread men.
As a result of the debate about the impact of the Artisan Market on retailing in the town, the Wilmslow market was moved to take place on a Sunday for the last two months of the year and in December, having considered the results of the market research commissioned by the Town Council, Cheshire East Council decided that in future Wilmslow artisan markets will be held on Sundays.
The year ended with the news that Alan Turing the World War II code breaker who lived in Wilmslow has been granted a posthumous royal pardon. The famous mathematician, who received a criminal conviction for having a sexual relationship with another man, has been granted a pardon by the Queen under the Royal Prerogative of Mercy.
When we launched our new responsive website in July, we set up annual visibility packages for local businesses and organisations enabling them to promote themselves and their events throughout the year across both wilmslow.co.uk and alderleyedge.com.
We would like to publicly thank those local businesses who have booked theses packages and allocated some of their marketing spend to our local media. Without the support of the following businesses it would not have been possible for us to continue to provide this service: Bupa Care Homes, Alderley Edge School for Girls, Alderley Pilates, Smiles Dental, Aldeli, Destinology, Harper & Quinn Hairdressers, Henry D Johnstone Jewellers, Highams, Kimble Roden Architects, Royles Jaguar, Renew Clinic, Stowe Family Law LLP and Terra Nova School - all of which are featured in our advertisers directory.
We were also delighted that Waters Corporation chose to support the service we provide to the community by sponsoring our weekly newsletter. The first members of staff are scheduled to move into the new mass spectrometry headquarters, at the 37-acre Stamford Lodge site on the A538 Altrincham Road, on January 2nd 2014.
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Do share your highs and lows of life in Wilmslow in 2013, and your predictions for the new year in Wilmslow via the comment box below.
Thank you very much for taking the time to read wilmslow.co.uk, we hope you all have a happy, healthy and successful 2014.