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THURSDAY, 24th DECEMBER, 2009.
A MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL OUR READERS AND ADVERTISERS
Backbenchers 'gagged': claim
School closure forgotten Readers' Views
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Congleton fi rst on the list to pay parking charges
White wonderland isn’t a dream this Christmas
By Chris Young A temporary reprieve on parking charges is a sign that Cheshire East Council is admitting that it has made a mistake, according to campaigners.
Council leader Wesley Fitzgerald announced on Friday that the implementation of charges would e staggered, rather than all brought in on Monday, 11th January.
The announcement is not much comfort to Congleton residents, as it is fi rst town on the list to have the charges. Holmes Chapel is next, followed by Alsager and then Sandbach “later in the year”. The start dates for any of these areas have not been released.
Motorists will be charged to park on previously free car parks in the former Congleton Borough Council area, with parking meters and traffi c wardens being bought in.
Charging was due to start last summer, but the plans met with various delays, including a decision to bring the matter before a Scrutiny Committee and a delay in the purchasing of parking meters.
A Cheshire East spokesman said that implementation was being staggered to ensure the council had enough time to install the ticket machines.
Coun Fitzgerald said the decision showed that the council was listening to the public’s concerns, and admitted that the charges were “unpopular.”
He added: “We seek to assure residents and businesses that we are listening. We
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recognise that this issue has become very emotive with passions running high and I would ask everyone to try and appreciate why we are taking this action.
“When this authority was formed, we inherited many different ways of working and it was clear that harmonisation of all our services was essential. This included car park management.
“Leaving things as they were would create an unbalanced and unfair system: one area’s car parks would be fully subsidised at the expense of other parts of Cheshire East.
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Staff ‘in limbo’ as care home closes
By Stephanie Barnett Nearly 100 care workers in Congleton have lost their jobs just before Christmas, after Lambs House was closed due to a mountain of debt.
The Buglawton-based centre, which housed autistic children, was forced into administration last week, due to almost fi ve years of growing money problems.
Lack of funds had left the school with few resources, and over the past few months there was not even money to pay for food. Staff, who had not been paid since October, brought in food at their own expense so the children could have a meal.
The administrator was impressed with the way the workers coped, saying they all deserved “a huge pat on the back”.
As reported last week, a removal van was parked outside Lambs House and on Thursday the “Chronicle” was called to the centre, where over 40 members of staff were waiting to be told they were losing their jobs.
Speaking on Thursday, one member of staff, who had worked for the centre for over a decade, said: “At the moment we are essentially still employed, because we haven’t been told that we are redundant. We haven’t been told anything, we just have to wait around until someone feels like talking to us, but we can’t go to the job centre or move forward. We’ve just been left in limbo.”
She added: “Some staff have worked at Lambs House for years and years, and having to watch the children that they cared for leave the place they called home, was just heartbreaking.
“They are all autistic, so change is a really big thing for them and to see them crying and not understanding why they had to leave was horrible.
“All of us brought in food parcels from our homes to feed the children because there was no food left, and we did this despite not being paid.
“We loved those children, we wouldn’t be here if we didn’t and we worked for two months without pay so we could continue to care for them.”
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It was snow worries for the kids of Congleton when they awoke to a blanket of frosty white delight on Sunday morning. Pictured from left are Alexia Lee, Aidan Ling and Imogen Lee enjoying a spot of sledging in between snowball fights. For the snow story and more pictures, turn to page 17. (“Chronicle” photo. 5211a/09).