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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, 21st JANUARY, 2010.
INSIDE: OUR COMPREHENSIVE PROPERTY GUIDE FEATURING LOCAL ESTATE AGENTS
Stand by for budget cuts
Splash cash on canalsReaders' ViewsPages 24-27 & 32-33Page 56
What’s on... What’s gone...
Councillors on the spo
‘Stabbed in the back’ over parking charges
By Chris Young The town has been “stabbed in the back” because only Congleton shoppers and workers will have to pay parking charges next month, councillors have complained.
As reported in the “Chronicle” last week, a U-turn by Cheshire East Council meant that the charges were dropped for the time being in towns that made up the former Congleton borough — apart from Congleton.
Congleton councillors have now called for a delay to charges for at least two years, or until they are introduced in other towns.
Last Wednesday, Cheshire East announced that charges would start in Congleton on Monday, 15th February.
will benefi t trade rather than the opposite. This effect is a known and accepted fact throughout the country.”
The issue was raised as an emergency item at a town council meeting at Congleton Town Hall on Thursday.
Charges will not be considered for Alsager until the implications of the Co-op supermarket development are known. Sandbach will escape charges while legal issues surrounding the ownership of the town’s main car parks are resolved. Parking in Middlewich and Holmes Chapel will stay free.
Congleton town councillors said those delays made a mockery of the idea of “harmonisation” throughout Cheshire East, which has always been the main argument for the charges.
As soon as the announcement was made, Town Council Leader Nigel Bayley wrote to Cheshire East council leader Wesley Fitzgerald, saying: “This will cause tremendous animosity in Congleton, and I feel certain that both traders and the public will now form strong action groups against the charges. “It means Cheshire East looks as if they rushed a policy without thinking it through, and are now making it even less equitable by a further knee jerk reaction. “We feel very let down. We have done everything possible to partner and support Cheshire East, far more than most towns, and to put it bluntly, you have kicked us in the teeth.” Coun Fitzgerald responded: “I am confused as to why you believe traders will be upset, because we are trying to increase the opportunity for shoppers to park rather than all-day ‘bed blockers’. “The action to introduce parking charges in the town centre
Coun Bayley said: “It feels like we have been stabbed in the back. It looks like they just had a policy to bring it into Congleton and leave the other towns out.”
Coun Bob Boston said: “It looks like Cheshire East is a farce. They have just introduced this to keep council tax down.” ●— Turn to page 30.
New potholes after the big freeze are a wheel-whammy
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Residents are being urged to report potholes which have replaced the snow and ice on many of the roads and lanes of east Cheshire after the arctic conditions of recent weeks.
The potential wheel-breakers are formed when water seeps into cracks in the road, freezes and then expands.
To repair the roads, Cheshire East Council is using infrared heat to compact material into the holes, forming a joint-free permanent patch. Temporary repairs are being carried out where the ground is still waterlogged.
The council’s highway asset manager, Gary Mallin, said: “We are encouraging residents to report potholes and other damage caused by the weather so that we can give our urgent attention to them.
“In the meantime, I would urge people to drive carefully on stretches of road where they know potholes have developed until we can get our resources out there to fi x them.”
He said it was the depth of the pothole rather than the speed at which it was hit that did the damage.
Dave Wilcock, driver and owner of Riverside Taxis in Congleton, is fi nding current road conditions tricky but has so far managed to avoid damage. He said: “There are just loads of them about that they haven’t fi xed yet. I’m sure they’ll get round to fi xing some of them but they’ve got a big job.”
“There are some dangerous ones about, on Biddulph Road by the Castle Inn and by Park Lane on the junction — the list is as long as your arm. We’re going out of our way to avoid them as you could do some serious damage.”
Taxi driver Clive Ball, owner of Cabtax in Congleton, said: “There are more potholes about now but they haven’t really been a problem.
“If I saw a dangerous one I’d report it.”
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Staff at Kwik-Fit on West Road, Congleton have been dealing with “quite a lot” of damaged cars and supervisor Ian Lachem said: “It can be quite expensive to repair, especially alloy wheels; you’re talking £150 for tyres and the same again for rims.”
Mr Lachem advised people to try and claim on their insurance.
David Machin, transport manager Biddulph-based Bakerbus, which runs services to Congleton, said: “I’ve had no reports of potholes being a problem or causing damage.”
To report potholes, call Cheshire East Council on 0300 123 5500 or visit cheshireeast.gov.uk
Budding bookworm Jacob Strutt was among a group of surprised toddlers who received special care bears from the Town Mayor after storytime at Congleton Library on Friday. The four-monthold is pictured here with his new gift and mum Rachel Strutt. For the full story and another photo, turn to back page. (“Chronicle” photo. 221b/10).