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THURSDAY, 3rd NOVEMBER, 2011.
Council gets a rocket Readers'ViewsPages22-25 Page 56
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Dark days lie ahead, warns council chief
The leader of Cheshire East Council has warned of “difficult times ahead” with “some hard decisions” to be made as his authority already risks a £16m overspend.
And Coun Wesley Fitzgerald warned that council fees for services which are in part subsidised — would have to rise, a move he admitted would be unpopular.
He singled out leisure centres and other public uildings as likely to see rice hikes. But he said that services to cared-for children and the elderly would be protected,
though this would in turn cause more budgetary pressure elsewhere.
Coun Fitzgerald said that in line with local authorities up and down the country Cheshire East was facing a period of harsh austerity.
He warned: “The severity of the economic problems at an international and national level is now beginning to manifest itself in Cheshire East.
“This week the Cabinet reviewed the half-year situation which shows a worse case overspend of £16.2m.
“We have already made £17.8m savings, but we need to make even more.
economy but of the business rates we collect, we receive back only 44%. The wealth we generate is in fact being used to bolster other areas which are not as robust as ours.”
He added: “I am personally lobbying the Government to address some of these issues. However, we are now at a point where we must make some very hard decisions, some of which will not be popular.”
He revealed that a recruitment freeze had been implemented and the council had reviewed the terms and conditions of all employees.
Mileage rates had been reduced for both officers and elected members and the council was reviewing all grants and commissioning activities.
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The president of Gambia has awarded a medal to Congleton charity champion Mae Winterton. The 67-year-old Schools For Gambia founder, pictured here with the charity’s secretary, Ivor Gibson, received the award for her aid work in the African country. For the story, turn to page 27. (“Chronicle” photo. 4418/11).
“Our Government formula funding grant meant that we started the financial year with £11.8m less than the year before. We received £70m while Cheshire West received £96.6m.
“Cheshire East has a healthy Freedom of the town
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honour for Dutch vets
A group of World War Two veterans will travel from the Netherlands to Congleton on Saturday, to become the first people ever presented with the freedom of the town.
Ten members of the Princess Irene Brigade, which was formed here 70 years ago, will be awarded the honour at a reception in the town hall.
It is probably the last time that surviving members of the brigade will visit Congleton.
The brigade was formed by soldiers who had withdrawn from their home country in May 1940 after the German invasion of the Netherlands.
Troops that arrived in this country founded a new brigade, the Royal Dutch Brigade, and many were based in Congleton during the war.
In August 1941 they received their own colours from Dutch Queen Wilhelmina, who was exiled in the UK, and were renamed the Princess Irene Brigade after the queen’s granddaughter.
During May former Congleton Mayor David Brown was presented with a regimental sword to mark the long-standing link while visiting the regiment’s Dutch home of Oosterhout.
But Coun Brown was unable to return with the sword by plane for security reasons, so the brigade is bringing the sword with it.
Congleton Town Council will also present the Princess Irene veterans with a scroll to mark their visit.
Congleton Town Clerk Brian Hogan said: “This is the very first time the council has presented the freedom of the town.
“They contacted us to say they wanted to bring the sword across to give to the council, and we thought we should do something for them in return. We all thought giving them the freedom of the town would be an excellent idea.”
Coun Brown said: “I think it’s right that the brigade are presented with the freedom of Congleton for their long standing relationship with the town. • —Turn to back page.
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