MP calls for an hour of free parking in Wilmslow to help high street recover

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MP Esther McVey says introducing an hours free parking in Wilmslow could increase footfall into the town centre and help the high street recover from the pandemic.

The MP surveyed 20 to 22 small businesses in the town and says the results showed parking was a major concern among all respondents who believed parking charges are too high and reinstated too soon after lockdown.

Ms McVey said: "Businesses are telling me parking prices are having a detrimental effect on them. Parking prices in Wilmslow are more expensive than other areas which is deterring people from shopping there. Not only are charges too high for customers, but traders are having to pay large sums every day to park to work.

"One solution could be offering an hour free parking which could increase footfall in the area and it is an issue I will be discussing with Cheshire East Council. Businesses have really suffered throughout the pandemic and we need to be creative in ways to help them and by making a small change it could make a huge difference to the number of people they get through the door each day. As we recover, we all need to support our local shops and businesses to help keep people in jobs and put money back into our local economy."

Ms McVey will now be speaking with local councillors and Cheshire East bosses to see what can be done regarding parking and initiatives to increase footfall in the area.

Wilmslow Councillor Hannan Sarwar said: "Speaking to business it is very clear that the parking charges are impacting footfall. Alarmingly, nearly all businesses felt that the parking charges were too high. This is very concerning.

"In response to the survey, all respondents stated that more needed to be done to increase footfall in the Town Centre. It is clear that more needs to be done. The businesses have set a clear directive about they feel is needed and as the Conservative Group on Wilmslow Town Council, we will be looking into ways in which we can enable this."

The survey from Ms McVey asked businesses their views on how Government supported them throughout the pandemic and what more needs to be done to keep staff in jobs as the country begins its recovery.

Other issues raised by Wilmslow businesses including fixing the gate on Grove Street and ensuring it is closed between 10am and 4pm, tackling business rates and encouraging more shops to set up in the town.

What you do you think about the call for a free hours parking? Would it encourage you to shop more in the town centre? Share your views via the comment box below.

Tags:
Esther McVey, Parking , Parking
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Comments

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

David Pearce
Saturday 24th October 2020 at 3:35 pm
I have observed first hour free parking - pay & display charging concession - being normal practice in nearby Lymm which I always felt to be a good system of support for traders to attract more customer footfall.
Pete Taylor
Saturday 24th October 2020 at 8:31 pm
An hour of free parking for Christmas shopping but no free meals for disadvantaged kids over the half-term holiday? Esther didn't even bother to cast a vote on our behalf; what kind of representation is that?


Tatton's finest hour was when we elected an Independent MP. Since then we have elected Independent Parish, Town and Cheshire East Councillors. That should inform our MP where the mood of the electorate is.
Paul Rowlands
Saturday 24th October 2020 at 10:31 pm
Here's a crazy idea. Zero parking charges for say, six months.
Mark Russell
Sunday 25th October 2020 at 9:07 am
Car parking charges to spend money in our town is just backward. Plus it leads to people parking anti socially.

I agree with Paul, free parking to encourage people to come and help revive our retail sector.
Nick Jones
Sunday 25th October 2020 at 10:57 am
Playing Devil's advocate... If CEC and WTC don't invest in schemes that breath life in our town, then what happens next ?

An hours free parking, [whilst not my gift to give], sounds sensible in the current climate... but with such a sea-change in the dynamics of home working and the decreasing requirement for office space maybe more is needed to encourage visitors and workers to the town.

We are still waiting for the parking review, but I've had no problem parking both here or Alderley Edge since this crisis began... SO whilst that perhaps needs refreshing AR Covid, remember its free parking at Handforth Dean, Stanley Green, Trafford centre etc...
Mark Goldsmith
Sunday 25th October 2020 at 2:32 pm
On 15th September, I wrote to all the Wilmslow Town Councillors with 12 ideas to help the regeneration of our town centre. This included the idea of free parking from 12noon to 2pm to help encourage more lunchtime trade into the town.

However, the Conservative councillors ALL voted against even discussing them. As they run Wilmslow Town Council (WTC), their votes carried the day and the free parking idea along will all the others were completely dismissed.

WTC is sitting on almost £500,000 of reserve funds (about 2 years worth of current spending). This large sum prompted your Resident of Wilmslow councillors to suggest we use some of it to help the town during its biggest crisis since World War 2. The Covid-19 restrictions will end sometime next year, so it is important the council reacts as soon as the opportunity arises. We proposed forming a small committee of councillors that in conjunction with local business, would develop an annual plan of town centre events to be implemented as soon as it is safe to do so.

This idea was also fully supported by our Lib-Dem councillors and I thought it would be universally welcomed. However, the Conservative councillors (including Cllr Sarwar) all voted against it.

Funny how he now thinks it is a good idea though. Four weeks ago he and all his fellow Conservative town councillors utterly rejected the idea but now our Conservative MP has repackaged it, he is suddenly in favour of it.

Frankly, this is typical of the Conservatives at Wilmslow Town Council. Their leaders are blocking all ideas that are not their own. They clearly do not want Resident of Wilmslow councillors to get any credit for their endeavours. If this was not bad enough, the Conservatives are not coming up with any ideas of their own though. Consequently, the town council is doing nothing during this time of crisis, while it sits on a big pile of money that is getting bigger and bigger. We just want to do things that make life better for the town and are happy to work with anyone (almost) that wants the same.

Unfortunately, this case is just another of many, many instances where the Conservatives put their party before the people of Wilmslow. Something that your Resident of Wilmslow councillors will never ever do. We are happy to work with the Conservatives, but they clearly do not want to co-operate with others.

We have now proposed a Christmas event for this year that is Covid-19 friendly, will help our elderly and also bring much needed business into the town centre. Unfortunately our Conservative run council won't even discuss this idea until its next meeting on 19th November, by which time it will probably be too late to organise.

Best regards

Mark

Cllr Mark Goldsmith
Residents of Wilmslow - WTC & Cheshire East
Nick Jones
Sunday 25th October 2020 at 3:37 pm
Thank You for the explanation Mark.. I will be writing to WTC. This is shocking news.

What reason is proffered for holding such a large reserve of 'our cash' and not using it in a time of crisis ?

This is a unique time in all our history .. Its not about party politics..its about doing the right thing now ! working together !.. Perhaps Chair Martin Watkins or an opposing Conservative WT Cllr would like to explain on this forum ?

Or perhaps residents should ask them directly on;
Nick Jones
Monday 26th October 2020 at 9:02 am
Here is my e mail to WTC;

FAO; Martin Watkins @ WTC

Martin
The current Covid crisis is costing lives. Approximately 150 attributed deaths in Cheshire East, with many thousands more suffering infection. The Furlough scheme is available to some, whilst others able to work from home. But people have now lost their income, self-employed, minimum wage earners and families are going without essentials, children scarred by the turbulence of safe return to school missing out on normal education and more importantly food. Local shops, including Jo Spenser at 'Jo's place Café ' Wilmslow Railway Station, are funding their own local initiative to feed those without. If ever there was a need for a 'Grant' volunteered by WTC it is this !

Following on from the fiscal 'carry over' from last year, Surely now sitting on close to £1/2Million cash reserve, WTC as an initiative could coordinate and work with local businesses, who despite their own difficulties, are trying to do more for those without in a time of need. Even Cheshire East Council are providing vouchers to families .

This is a National crisis, with local impact. This is not about party politics, this is about doing the right thing, together. I note the historic £5k donation to St Barts food bank in 2018 and 19, and whilst commendable.. surely more can be done in this current 2020 crisis ?

Whilst we are currently in a Higher 'Tier Two' risk category state of response, more needs to be done. Our town has too many empty shop spaces, The Covid crisis has again realised the diminished need for office space (that we are flooded with), and that again impacts on how business, workers visitors can be encouraged to come to our town . This all impacting on car parking and the need to encourage visitors to travel here and not elsewhere.

I have examined the WTC Website and can see very little recorded to show what initiatives WTC have in place to assist residents in this crisis, and what stimulus is proposed to bring life and vibrancy back to our town.

Irrespective of political grouping the residents of this town can see on the WTC web site a mission statement to; 'support and encourage community initiatives.. encourage a sense of community.. support the economic vibrancy of the town.. get the best advantage for the local area.. Engage with all interested parties regarding current and future shape of life in the local area.

You have a finance committee meeting tonight 26/10/20 and perhaps an opportunity to discuss meaningful solutions that can start to be implemented.

It would be nice to see some WTC initiatives in place, as good news.

Positive action is very much needed against the current backdrop of hardship and biometric danger and I am certain all WTC Councillors understand the value of leading by example.

I await your response on your website and local media

Thank You
Roger Bagguley
Monday 26th October 2020 at 9:30 am
I await Nick's letter with interest. In the meantime I suggest our local Conservative WTC councillors look to injecting some of the energy and enthusiasm displayed on occasion by their party leader and bring their group up to date. Money to spend and so much to spend it on. Either new energy or a new broom.
Mark Goldsmith
Monday 26th October 2020 at 10:07 am
Nick

The Conservative Chairmen's one and only idea for the town council is to buy the library from Cheshire East and redevelop it into a community hub. It could be great for the town but it will be years away from ever happening, if at all. Our town needs help now though, something he flatly refuses to even acknowledge, let alone act upon.

Instead he sandbags the councils growing cash pile for his own project and I will show how he gives it clear preference too:

NOT HIS PROJECT

The full council was asked last Monday to vote on my suggestion that the Planning Committee should occasionally buy consultation from a planning expert. Normally the council just writes a paragraph of generalised comments to object to even the biggest developments. However, Residents of Wilmslow recently worked with households near to Water Lane as the wanted to object to building 8 houses on stilts behind the Co-op. The residents commissioned a planning consultant to object for them and 3 days after she submitted her report, the developer withdrew their application. Therefore, I thought Wilmslow Town Council should have this powerful tool at their disposal too.

To do this though, the Chairman required the Planning Committee to:

- Alter its Terms of Reference

- Define a written process for how the committee will commission this expert advice

- Provide written evidence to Full Council (including the minutes of the Planning
Committee where the proposal was first discussed).

When proposing this the Conservative Chairman of Planning stated the cost of a single case could be £10,000. However, when I questioned him, he admitted this figure was pure speculation. The above report I mentioned had cost £1,200 and the committee was given full access to it and its cost.

This was approved, so I then suggested the council vote to set an annual budget of £5,000 to more than cover the big, contentious developments. However, the Chairman and his Deputy ignored this, saying it was not possible to set a budget because the Terms of Reference had only just been agreed. Therefore, it will have to wait to the next meeting.

HIS PROJECT

Now compare this to the Chairman's own Library Redevelopment project and how it was treated at the same meeting. I asked the Chairman to present his project as a full agenda item but instead he chose to just talk about it in his monthly report:

- His report was verbal. Nothing written.

- He talked about holding several meetings with CEC about a project that has no name

- Or any Terms of Reference

- Or any Wilmslow town council committee

- Or any affiliation to any council committee

- Or any discussion or approval by Full Council approving the idea

- That has no council minutes for any of the meetings

- But that the Chairman said will now “discuss a joint funding venture with CEC”

- And is already commissioning expert services (artists illustrations)

- With a budget that has never been proposed to Full Council, nor approved.

- But that the Chairman has unilaterally given a £150,000 budget.

- A budget that is not shown on the councils normal 2020/2021 Budget Cost Centre
report, so is “off book”

Obviously, the difference between how he runs the two projects is clear. As are the parallels with this and the Conservative Lyme Green fiasco. That ended up wasting a huge sum of money because it was run in secrecy and beyond the rules. This is why I have written to Cllr Watkins to demand that his project also follows the established rules.

Wilmslow needs help now though, not in three years time. It needs it in an open and transparent way too, which is why I suggested a cross party group (including town centre businesses) be formed to develop a full calendar of events to Save Our Shops. However, the Conservatives ignored this SOS call and voted to reject the idea completely, along with all 12 of our initial ideas (which included free lunchtime parking). We have not run a single event this year and have nothing planned for this Christmas nor 2021 either. So no activity, no plans, no ideas, no urgency, just lots of nothing.

We at Residents of Wilmslow want to provide some help to the town during its hour of greatest need. The Conservatives do not. Therefore, voters should be fully aware of who is acting in their best interests and who is playing party politics at their expense.
Nick Jones
Monday 26th October 2020 at 11:17 am
Mark
Thank you for your update.. In transparency issues ,its already difficult to follow the WTC Financial Audit , and considering their funding comes from a precept loaded onto our council tax, perhaps that is something that needs to be addressed. Ironically I can see 'Transparency code information' for 3rd quarter of 2019/20, and a Chairman's report from July with Cash reserves at £411k+ recorded.
But I can see no record of a Grand Plan to buy the Library from Cheshire East, ( And no reference on CEC document site that it is up for sale / tender). In any event its true commercial value would be a transferred use to residential purposes and not WTC HQ / Hub.

I hope we are not about to visit grounds for a future law enforcement investigation, surely the lessons from the last local election had clearly spelt that out Cllrs need the confidence of residents to remain in post .
Meanwhile , I will await a response from Martin Watkins and WTC.
Rick Andrews
Monday 26th October 2020 at 6:45 pm
I am appalled that the Chairman can unilaterally allocate funds to a vanity project with no reference to the council and no auditable process. It is surely a display of arrogance and irresponsibility. An investigation is needed immediately. I doubt that the council has sufficient annual budget to run and manage a building the size of the library, all it would do is reduce CEC spend at the expense of Wilmslow residents. Is this the same council that ignored the opportunity to use the old stable buildings at the leisure centre for the community, preferring to let it become another commercial unit?
Kathryn Blackburn
Monday 26th October 2020 at 7:09 pm
Captain Mainwaring strikes again.
Martin Watkins
Tuesday 27th October 2020 at 11:37 am
The Wilmslow Neighbourhood Plan, passed by public referendum and adopted by Wilmslow Town Council without dissent, says this at page 99:

"Policy KS5.- Library and South Drive Car Park

The comprehensive redevelopment of this site to create a new community hub is supported subject to the following design principles (see map KS5)
* Any development must not result in a net loss of grade level spaces to the existing main car park.
* Existing site access points must be utilised.
* The creation of a new public space linking a community hub with Alderley Road will be supported.
* A high-quality design solution must reflect and respect local landmarks.
* Adaption, alteration or redevelopment of the existing library building will be supported.
* Mature trees within the library courtilage must be preserved.

Explanatory

16.20 The library is an important facility and its convenient central location is appreciated. The Neighbourhood Plan needs to address the possibility of potential changes to the function of the library over the course of the next 10-15 years. Significant support has been given to enhanced community facilities in the heart of the town catering for all ages.

16.21 The Neighbourhood Plan supports the principle of cultural partnerships and proposals that would regenerate the library through the integration of other community uses, encouraging both daytime and evening activity, The adjacent car parking serves the library, local shops and the significant volume of traffic accessing the Sainsbury's store. The future redevelopment of the library site should not lead to a net loss of grade level parking provision in the adjacent car parks.

16.22 This policy aims to protect the library site as an important community focus and encourage cultural partnerships providing a range of community facilities.

16.23 This policy supports the objective of strengthened daytime and evening community activity and the adaptation of the library site to accommodate a wide range of community facilities, including a library, cafe, arts shop, visitor information point, creche, meeting/workshop rooms and small multipurpose auditorium. These facilities could also be available to the High School and the Wilmslow Guild.

16.24 An additional ambition is the creation of a much improved public space linking the new community hub to the activity on Alderley Road. This significant objective resonds to the goal of enhancing Wilmslow's public spaces and generating improved pedestrian links.
Mark Goldsmith
Tuesday 27th October 2020 at 2:06 pm
Cllr Watkins

You are deliberately dodging the issue.

Where does it say the town council Chairman (you) can give a £150,000 budget to a project without asking anyone?

It doesn't.

The Neighbourhood Plan is now finished and its responsibilities have passed to a new Implementation Group. The Terms of Reference for this group says:

Limitations
1. The group is not empowered to make any decisions on behalf of Wilmslow Town Council (WTC) or to express opinions on behalf of WTC.

Therefore, stop hiding behind the Neighbourhood Plan and EXPLAIN YOUR ACTIONS

a) Why did you give this project a £150,000 budget?
b) How did you arrive at this figure?
c) Why did you not ask WTC to approve this budget?
d) Why is this budget not shown in the councils Budget and Expenditure accounts, along with all other council projects?

You could also explain why you and Cllr Sanwar voted last month to stop my idea of discussing free town centre parking with Cheshire East? An idea Cllr Sanwar now thinks is so good, he has issued a press release about it.

Actually, don't bother. We already know that answer. This is another in a long, long history of examples where the Conservatives put themselves and their party above all else. This was exactly why Residents of Wilmslow was formed, so that local politics would always work to benefit the people of Wilmslow and not for the benefit of a political party.

Therefore, please just answer my questions labelled a, b, c , d

The whole town awaits your reply.
Oliver Romain
Tuesday 27th October 2020 at 7:05 pm
It was a very sad sight to see Tory councillors block voting down the idea of forming a cross-party group to discuss emergency covid-19 recovery measures. I think that some Tory councillors are probably privately ashamed at this decision, but they have to tow the party line.
I thought Cllr Goldsmith's proposal was a good idea to get some ideas flowing and may have had positive results. As councillors, we have a duty to remain open minded. Creating a forum to get some ideas and in-depth discussions growing would have done no harm - other than to the Tories who could not claim the idea as their own. Its disgraceful that the Tories politicised it.
Cllr Watkins made sure that the Wilmslow Town Council annual meeting will not go ahead, so NO VOTE will be held on KEY COUNCIL POSITIONS (including his) and he has also proposed a group to discuss introducing COUNCILLORS EXPENSES. Need I say more?
Pete Taylor
Tuesday 27th October 2020 at 8:05 pm
I’ve actually read the entire Neighbourhood Plan several times; I don’t recall mention of WTC buying the Library from CEC. Of course I may have missed it.
Perhaps Cllr. Watkins could point me to the relevant paragraph(s)?
Nick Jones
Wednesday 28th October 2020 at 9:18 am
This thread started out in response to our local Conservative MP suggesting there should be free parking to encourage footfall in the town. She comprehends the issues and understands the hardship of families, businesses and community, ( whilst not foting on the free school meals in the holiday)But it appears WTC prefer to remain silent and not support this initiative or any others during the crisis.
People are losing their lives, families fractured by isolation, losing their jobs, cant pay their bills, cant buy food. Shops and offices are empty , businesses are struggling to survive. That's the reality here in Wilmslow.

However, There is a lot of goodwill and community spirit occurring from within, struggling business and individuals who want to help those without, I gave the example of Jo Spenser at 'Jo's Place Cafe' .. I'm sure her business isn't doing as well as previous years, but that aside, she has now raised funding from private donations to provide food to people in need. The rather sad fact being, she has now helped many local families ...and whilst that's a sad indictment of reality , it also demonstrates that there are people who care passionately and are prepared to do more.

So do WTC support Esther's proposal ( which aligns with many business's and concerned residents / workers) or not ?

What do WTC intend to do to help those suffering ? as the worst of this crisis is yet to come.. particularly with the 'payback' to National government that will be required.

Whilst I would like to know the details of who at CEC is arranging the sale of their estate outside of tender, and I'm sure Sam Corcoran and others would similarly like those details as well. This is perhaps a matter best referred to The Local Government Ombudsman, and HMRC with regard to the lack of clarity and financial audit . The folly of WTC buying a library that is not for sale , in the middle of this epidemic demonstrates a total disconnect with Wilmslow community, not unlike Nero who played his fiddle whilst Rome burned. What tune are WTC playing under your direction ( or lack of direction).

We now have WTC cllrs on this thread from different parties who want to work together and do something positive for Wilmslow in this crisis That is commendable.. They are passionate and prepared to do more, but they are inhibited from doing so because of the Chairs direction . Why ? .

The bad old days of Michael Jones at CEC, Police Investigations , public disconnect , Tory Councillors frightened suggesting him to be a bully, ultimately led to his exit and their demise for not doing the right thing. I wouldn't like to think history is repeating itself no one likes a bully. Perhaps it is time for the leadership to step aside in order that those who want to improve our town and help those in need can do so. I suspect with the veiled comments on the website there will be more interest in accruing more expenses.

The WTC website content is lacking in detail, and lacking in action in a time of need. My point, was that WTC could be doing more, in fact something other than collecting precept monies... There are minimal grants handed out yet there is a significant revenue held by WTC of at least £411k plus £160k assets ( plus a possible £150k not on the books ?? unclear)

This is a National crisis, with local impact. This is not about party politics, this is about doing the right thing, together . Under the current leadership WTC is failing this community and failing in its mission statement to; 'support and encourage community initiatives.. encourage a sense of community.. support the economic vibrancy of the town.. get the best advantage for the local area.. Engage with all interested parties regarding current and future shape of life in the local area.

There is no requirement for a community hub, If you don't act now there will be little or no community left. Community sporting groups and Interest groups are suffering now with several in survival mode. You could be doing a lot more.

In a time of crisis those who 'can do' pull together. Those who 'cant' or prefer not to are in the wrong job and should go.
Kathryn Blackburn
Wednesday 28th October 2020 at 10:43 am
If CEC are selling the library it is because it is making a substantial loss what makes WTC think that they can turn that around. How has the figure of £150,000 been arrived at ? That cannot possibly be an accurate valuation of the asset so it takes the loss into consideration. Something very rotten going on again.
Manuel Golding
Wednesday 28th October 2020 at 1:32 pm
Councillor Mark Goldsmiths comments really get to the nub of Residents of Wilmslow's (RoW) birth, existence and resultant election successes
We were repeatedly ignored, brushed aside, by the controlling Conservative Party elite at CEC, aided and abetted by it's phalanx of all too willing yes-men (& women) councilors (5 in Wilmslow alone but all but 1 seen off by RoW & our voters). RoW battled to save the town's green belt too no avail, the ruling elite had other ideas and they didn't include the betterment of Wilmslow!.Our then CEC councilors stabbed the town in the back, bending over backwards to meet the ruling elite's wishes & demands to satisfy developers' greed
Councillor Mark Goldsmiths comments really get to the nub of Residents of Wilmslow's (RoW) birth, existence and resultant election successes
. We were repeated ignored, brushed aside, by the controlling Conservative Party elite at CEC, aided and abetted by it's phalanx of all too willing yes-men (& women) councilors (5 in Wilmslow alone but all but 1 seen off by RoW & our voters). RoW battled to save the town's green belt to0 no avail There were 5 Conservative Wilmslow councillors, now only 1. RoW has currently 4 CEC councillors who act for the town's best interest not for any party's. The national parties all have their own national agendas, not local priorites, this is why RoW has had great electoral success over the past years. We started with one Councillor on Wilmslow T C, defeating a Conservative; we now have the benefit of 4 WT councilors and hope to increase this number at future elections. We are beginning to feel, see & hear the benefit of the non-aligned representation as Cllr Mark Goldsmith's observations above. RoW can offer the lead in the hope that voters will appreciate the great value of non-aligned representation at local level, at both CEC and WTC.
Thanks to Cllr Goldsmith and the other RoW councilors we are seeing the very same dictatorial control of WTC by the controlling party's leadership.
Is it not time for a root and branch clear out when the next electoral opportunities arise? With the voters' help RoW and Wilmslow residents can do it. Are you able and willing to join us for a better Wilmslow? If yes, call 07930 377778 (in confidence)
Adam Bower
Wednesday 28th October 2020 at 9:02 pm
Genuinely cannot fathom how people think 1 hour free parking is the answer. Wilmslow, fundamentally needs stripping back to its roots and there doesn't seem to be a single person that has the ability to organise this.
Pete Taylor
Wednesday 28th October 2020 at 11:03 pm
@Martin Watkins; you have been asked several questions on this thread. No response.
As you have contributed here you are obviously reading what the electorate are asking. The days when Councillors could rely on silence, until two weeks before an election, are long gone.
Perhaps you could do the decent thing? "For family reasons" seems to be your best exit plan.
Clinging to "power" in these circumstances will do "our" Conservative Party no favours in the coming elections.
Paul Hampton
Thursday 29th October 2020 at 9:24 am
Finger on the pulse as ever from Esther. Footfall is depressed because of public health concerns caused by the ongoing pandemic and not the prospect of having to spend a few pennies on parking.

At the point where infection rates and hospitalisations begin to surge out of control in our surrounding communities due to a combination of ineffective government policy, we should really be discouraging unnecessary journeys for the immediate future and not incentivising people to congregate inside enclosed, often poorly ventilated indoor spaces.
Keith Chapman
Thursday 29th October 2020 at 9:33 am
As an ex-Wilmslow Town Councillor I would make the following comments. The annual
committed budget of the town council is of the order of £300,000 which covers activities such as support for local voluntary groups, planters, the Wilmslow show, the Christmas lights etc. The council is transparent with regard to its finances which are posted on line (see Audit section on the website). The funds held as at 31st March 2020 totalled £415,666 and in addition there were assets and long term investments of £160,186. Given the level of committed annual expenditure this implies a surplus of approximately £275,000 which is in line with the position when I was a councillor nearly two years ago. There is a legitimate debate to be had concerning how any surplus should be used. It could be utilised to increase current spending as some advocate, it could be kept for a major project, or it could be returned to precept payers. The fact that there is a surplus at all reflects prudent management of public funds since the council was formed in 2011. If only our national finances were in such good shape! Some of the comments made imply that council funds are not transparently reported on, and are not responsibly managed. In my experience this is very wide of the mark. I would advocate calm debate and reasoned outcomes which continue to benefit the people of Wilmslow.
Nick Jones
Thursday 29th October 2020 at 10:29 am
@Keith Chapman Thank you for this explanation. We await WTC return or cessation of
precept or investment in our community at a time of need.
John Stewart
Thursday 29th October 2020 at 11:55 am
You can almost see the gradual decay in Wilmslow.
Whilst Wilmslow 'burns', all we voters have is the ranting partisanship of the above. These pages are not an extension of the facile council offices. We don't want bickering from either our elected leaders or those who would like to lead. We want ideas and implementation. Good ideas win votes rather than ranting but then again, when was the last time that you saw a councillor at the door or in a public meeting (other than at elections)? When was the last time that a public survey was implemented (or not dealt with in some dodgy manner)?
Even something as minor (but helpful) as 1 hour free parking raises the usual rabble.
Look at the big picture!!!
Look at the uneven streets - the old and infirm, those in wheelchairs or with prams staggering and stumbling merely to get access to the shops. Constant flooding and large puddles across pavements. Grove Street - a shopping street in one of the wealthiest towns in the UK - potholed. Repairs done by shovelling concrete into broken drainage gulleys and thereby blocking permanently. All because there is no standard or supervised standard for repair. Repairs are an investment of economy not a put off measure until next year. These streets are Wilmslow's assets. As are the trees, the buildings, the parks. They give the character of Wilmslow. They are the image that makes Wilmslow so desirable.
But, they are not there as of right. Neglect the character and suddenly...Altrincham, or some other town, has more to offer. Then watch your property investment slip as Wilmslow becomes no more than a satellite town to Manchester or such like.
We are (were) a destination town. It has (had) a usp.
Investment? Blighted by the control (on rents and access) of one developer. Does no one else look at the prevalence of a single developer and worry that competition, flair and opportunity has been removed from the infrastructure - as well as the character?
As for positive notes: we are supposed to be delighted by civic planting. In 21st century UK, that is the extent of the offer. Recycled City of London (black and gold planters) with plants best described as 'more than Bramhall' or such like. Where is the Wilmslow identity? The Wilmslow brand. Look along Grove street and survey the bland corporate id.
Of course there is always the following issue: a remote council with senior staff constantly under supervision for dubious behaviour. Are there no flashing warning lights!! Even if accusations are untrue, the facts, fairly or not, suggest otherwise.

Step one: relocate councillors to Wilmslow where they can be seen and accountable. The library could be adapted to accommodate such a civic centre. Planning decisions made locally, where the population can interact. It would be a start.
Ludo McGurk
Thursday 29th October 2020 at 2:08 pm
One item at a time: The dearth of shopper parking in Wilmslow has been great for the out-of-town shops, so Ms.McVey's suggestion can only be a good one for our local retailers. Trouble is, does one hour give you enough time, possibly two would be a great deal better but still stop all-day free parking by office workers etc whose parking should perhaps be found for them by their landlords.
John Stewart
Thursday 29th October 2020 at 6:11 pm
Unfortunately, one item at a time is not practical. Strategy is the overarching direction of travel and pulls together many differing options. There is no point alone (or possible need) offering 2 hours car parking to a dwindling market. Although I agree that it is a valid issue and, I agree 2 hours is likely preferable. A good example is Altrincham - having replaced Knutsford as a 'best place to live'. The council (or whoever) have turned around a dying town to create a hotspot with resultant independent, individual and fresh new architecture. Stockport, on the other hand, appears to have lost its character and continues to wither.

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