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S I T TI BI
Registered at the Post Office as a Newspaper Est. 1893
INCORPORATED WITH THE CONGLETON AND MACCLESFIELD MERCURY
THURSDAY, 17th JUNE, 2010.
INSIDE: OUR COMPREHENSIVE PROPERTY GUIDE FEATURING LOCAL ESTATE AGENTS
£215k for footbridge
Cheeky paddlers face rap Readers' Views Pages 22-24
What’s on... What’s gone...
Buildin society saved
CRB checks stall charities’ efforts to recruit volunteers
By Chris Young Legal red tape is putting people off volunteering and costing local charities time and money, according to Congleton’s new MP.
In her first question in the House of Commons since being voted in last month, Fiona Bruce spoke about Criminal Records Bureau checks and mentioned a Congleton based charity’s concerns.
She told the Commons that charities like Crossroads, the carers’ charity based at Overton House on West Road, were suffering due to the drawn out rocess of checking potential staff and volunteers for any criminal history.
Each time someone volunteers or applies for a job dealing with vulnerable people or children they are required to get a check, even if they have already had several made in the past, Mrs Bruce explained.
Her concerns are being highlighted during Carers’ Week, when people are encouraged to volunteer their time to help vulnerable people.
Kate Wilkinson, service improvement manager at Crossroads, told the “Chronicle” that as well as the financial costs of getting potential staff and volunteers checked, the vetting process could last up to eight weeks.
And during Prime Minister’s Question Time last Wednesday, Mrs Bruce called for a change to the process.
She said: “The requirements for people to obtain more than one Criminal Records Bureau check when working or volunteering with different community organisations is causing much duplication and expense, both to individuals and to community groups such as Crossroads Care in my constituency.”
In response to Mrs Bruce’s
Furnishing Company question, Cabinet Office minister Nick Hurd said the point was “extremely important,” adding: “The Government is committed to reviewing the criminal records and vetting and barring regime, and I will make sure that the relevant minister in the Home Office is aware of her concerns.”
Speaking afterwards, Mrs Bruce said: “Community groups and voluntary organisations across Congleton, Alsager, Middlewich, Holmes Chapel, and Sandbach have expressed how inefficient and cumbersome they feel the current system is.
“One volunteer in Sandbach told me that he has had to get four contemporaneous checks to work with four different organisations.
“Crossroads Care Cheshire East told me, as have many other charities and community groups, that obtaining these checks can delay the start of work or volunteering of people who want to do so. In other cases I am aware of volunteers being completely put off getting involved in the very valuable community work which our constituency so needs and enjoys, simply because of the CRB check procedure.
“This has to change and I am pleased to be a part of a Government that wants to do away with unnecessary regulatory burdens on community organisations.” • —Turn to back page.
Children’s services to face £1.5m cash cuts
Congleton taxpayers will soon feel the squeeze of the new coalition government’s austerity measures, as Cheshire East Council has been asked to pay back £1.5m in grants.
Most of the money will be cut from the council’s children’s services department, and the authority has already said its budget for this financial year will have to be re-evaluated “as a matter of urgency”.
Congleton Coun Roland Domleo, deputy leader of Cheshire East, said the Cabinet had discussed the issue, but that it would be several weeks before there would be a “clear picture” of what the cuts will mean for the authority’s spending plans.
The new Lib Con Government had made no secret of its plans to make massive cuts this year to reduce the nation’s deficit.
Last week’s announcement that grants to many councils would have to be returned marked the first time the impact to local services was revealed.
A Cheshire East Council spokesman said: “The coalition government has signalled its intention to secure significant cost savings from the public sector to assist in addressing the deficit in public funding.
“The announcement for a saving of approximately £1.5m from the area based grant in children’s services for Cheshire East, while disappointing, is not unexpected. Work is already underway to identify as a matter of urgency how these savings can be secured mid-year.”
Coun Domleo said the budget was a complicated issue, and it made it difficult to gauge how big an effect the repayment would have.
He said: “The Cabinet had a briefing on Monday of the cuts in the amounts of grant to be paid to Cheshire East and its work is continuing apace to determine the implications.
“It is very complicated with there being revenue budgets for day to day spending, capital budgets for “one off” projects and other grants based on achieving performance targets, some of which are being abolished altogether.
“It is too early to say what the effect will be on services, but we may need to speed up the ‘transformation programme’ to bring already planned efficiency savings forward.
“I think that it will be a couple of weeks before we have a clear picture of the changed budget and the options open to us.”
David Bryant, who was Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Congleton at the General Election, said the council would have a “fight on their hands” if they cut children’s services because of the repayments.
He said: “If some children’s services are cut because of this it will pick on the people who need council services the most.
“If they plan to reduce some services or facilities they will have a fight on their hands. A lot of people need these services. It is not just nice to have them, it is essential.”
As part of the austerity measures, Stoke-on-Trent City Council will have to pay back £3.5m, Staffordshire County Council £4.5m and Newcastle Borough Council £18,000.
Fire at Boalloy
Firefighters were called to a blaze at Boalloy, Congleton, as the “Chronicle” went to press yesterday (Wednesday).
Plumes of smoke could be seen rising from the Radnor Par Industrial Estate, off Back Lane a 5.30pm.
A Cheshire Fire Service spokesman said workers were burning rubbish when the fire got out of han and spread dangerously close to a warehouse.
Two fire engines attended and a 6pm the fire was said to be unde control with no casualties reported.
The spirit of 66 came to Congleton on Saturday as thousands of football supporters flocked to the town’s pubs to watch England’s first World Cup game against the USA. Although we only managed a draw, the good weather kept depression at bay. Here, England supporter Sam Barrett shows his support for the team at the Unicorn on Holmes Chapel Road. For more pics turn to page 27. (“Chronicle” photo. 2411e/10).
A cyclist is in hospital with serious injuries after being thrown through the window of car in a hit and run incident.
The 51-year-old man was cycling along Crewe Road in Alsager, towards Radway Green, just before 7.10am yesterday (Wednesday) when he was struc from behind by a passing Land Rove Defender.
The force of the impact knocked the local man off his bike and he was thrown through the rear window of a parked car, suffering serious facial injuries including a broken jaw, cheekbone, nose and teeth.
Last night he was receiving treatment in Aintree Hospital, Liverpool.
The green Land Rover Defender, which had a white roof and a roof rac fitted, failed to stop. Anyone with information should call PC Don Booth at Crewe Police Station on 0845 458 0000.
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