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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, 7th JANUARY, 2010.
INSIDE: OUR COMPREHENSIVE PROPERTY GUIDE FEATURING LOCAL ESTATE AGENTS
On road to snowhere
Alsager road closuresReaders' Views Pages 37-41Page 11
What’s on... What’s gone...
Residents' true grit
Will charging pay for car parks or not?
Snow good to be home
By Chris Young A Freedom of Information request made y the “Chronicle” reveals confl icting claims about what will happen to the money raised by parking charges, due to be introduced in Congleton on Monday.
It also reveals a claim that other services would suffer if Cheshire East Council’s “general fund” was not topped up by the income from parking fees.
A request was made to the nitary authority to make public all correspondence between critics of the scheme and Coun David Brickhill, the councillor in charge of implementing it.
Cheshire East has always maintained that income from charges would go towards maintaining car parks and roads — not used for general council funds.
As recently as 21st December council leader Wesley Fitzgerald said: “Any surpluses are re-invested in car parks, on street regulation and the maintenance and development of our highways network and road safety improvements.”
However, in one email exchange in August, between Coun Brickhill and a critic whose name was kept anonymous, the councillor was asked where the money raised by charges would go.
The writer was sceptical that the council spent all of its income from pay and display charges on maintaining or building car parks in the area, and questions the cost/ revenue relationship.
Coun Brickhill replied: “We have never hidden the fact that there is a surplus which goes to a general fund for the council.
“If this was removed then either alternative sources of income would have to be found or services cut instead.”
In another email correspondence in July, Coun Brickhill claims that many of his fellow councillors that are opposed to parking charges are only speaking out to get the favour of voters.
The critic slams Coun Brickhill for his claims that free parking does not benefi t town centres, and for dismissing Macclesfi eld councillors’ calls for a trial free period in their town.
He had previously dismissed the request saying it would cost the council money and had no proven positive impact on businesses.
• —Turn to back page.
Why are pavements not gritted? Sliding shoppers demand answer from council
Newborn Theo Wiltshaw was welcomed into the world on New Year’s Day as Congleton’s fi rst baby of 2010, but his journey home the next day became a big battle against mother nature as he and his parents were stranded in the snow for over eight hours. For the full story and another picture, turn to the back page. (“Chronicle” photo. 114/10).
By Stephanie Barnett Cheshire East Council has reassured residents that services will continue as normal this week, despite the severe weather warnings.
In a statement sent to the “Chronicle” on Monday, the council said its 17 gritting vehicles were working “through the night” to combat the snow across the borough.
It said: “All vehicles have been attending priority routes and this should continue over the next 48 hours.”
Although it stated that the major roads would be gritted, the statement continued: “Due to the freezing temperatures and snowfall predicted, it is unlikely that secondary routes will be treated, but grit bins will be refi lled regularly.”
However, some Cheshire East residents were unhappy with the conditions and complaints were made about the lack of grit in the town centre, especially on pavements.
Maureen Bedral, of Mill Green,
Congleton, said staff at the council “need to pull their fi nger out”.
She told the “Chronicle” her 73-year-old husband nearly fell walking into the town because none of the pavements were gritted.
She said: “The so-called local authority is too far removed from the real needs of the residents and its list of priority spots is a load of gobbledy gook.”
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A Congleton shopper who didn’t want to be named said she saw a woman have a bad fall in the ice on Worrall Street on Monday.
She said: “I was walking down Worrall Street towards the leisure centre when I saw a woman lose her footing and land in the road. There was a thud as she hit the pavement and she was screaming in agony. She couldn’t get up and it looked like she’d broken her hip.
“I’m not surprised she fell. The pavements were treacherous. Why are they not being gritted?”
Congleton worker James Jackson said Worrall Street and Park Road pavements were “like an ice rink”. He said he had to hang onto the railings on Park Road for support and added: “It was hairy, to say the least.”
SALENOW ONFantastic Reductions on Swimwear• —Turn to back page.