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THURSDAY, 9th JUNE, 2011.
Care homes concern
Bear with sore head Readers'ViewsPages22-25 Page 56
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Details of bus services cuts discussed in secret
By Tom Byrne Details of £500,000 cuts to bus services for Congleton and the rest of east Cheshire are being kept from the public because the information is “commercially sensitive”.
The information was due to be revealed on Tuesday at a Cheshire East Council committee meeting, but transport manager Chris Williams advised members the commercially sensitive information was best discussed in private “at this stage” as bus companies had not been fully consulted.
This comes a week after council plans were announced to increase the cost of school transport and eventually scrap it for the over-16s and faith schools.
The revised public transport support criteria report discussed in private at Tuesday’s Environment and Prosperity Scrutiny Committee meeting, indicated a £500,000 saving target to council supported public transport.
Despite some reservations from councillors, the proposal to exclude the Press and public, by moving the item to part two on the agenda, was passed unanimously.
Couns Rod Fletcher and Ken Edwards asked for assurances that the report would be discussed in public at some stage. Both expressed the view that a topic such as public transport cuts should be discussed in open committee. Chairman Les Gilbert noted their concerns.
Coun Fletcher said: “This document is a moving target. With rising fuel costs some bus operators may decide to hand services to us. I’d like to think this will come back to the scrutiny committee after the bus companies have been talked to.
“It’s something that needs to be discussed in the open.”
Coun Edwards said: “I appreciate that the information is commercially sensitive but I hope we have the opportunity to discuss this in public, not just in private. Local transport concerns affect the whole borough and it’s important that the public know about it.”
Some of the information was briefly summarised on the meeting’s agenda. It related to the council’s target of slashing £500,000 from its subsidised bus scheme, which account for around 20% of services.
It currently spends £2.8m on subsidies on services not considered commercially viable but are “socially necessary”, according to Mr Williams.
The new criteria that could help decide which services remain council-funded include travel time, cost per passenger journey, number of passengers, impact on carbon emissions and ability to attract external funding.
The report on public transport is part of the council’s new local transport plan, which will overhaul the old 2001-2011 model. The level of services the council currently provides is governed by historical arrangements inherited from previous Cheshire local transport plans.
Tunnel vision: Emmy Burgess enjoys the play equipment at the new Lower Heath Community space which opened last week, just in time for the brief spell of good weather. For the full story and more pictures turn to page 26. (“Chronicle” photo. 2307e/11).
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Megan’s impromptu piano performance was key to success
By Kayleigh Williams A young singer from Somerford can this week be heard regularly on prime-time television.
she played a group of tourists gathered in the gallery around her and applauded when she finished.
The friend uploaded the video to YouTube, and the clip — called “Megan USA 2011 piano” — has been viewed over 850 times since.
Megan Dixon-Hood, of Holmes Chapel Road, had little idea that an impromptu performance of Adele’s “Rolling in the deep” would lead to her recording the soundtrack to an advert for jewellery firm Prestons of Bolton.
The 16-year-old Eaton Bank School pupil was on an art history school trip at the Museum of Modern Art in New York when she spotted a piano in the foyer.
She said: “I’d never sung in public before and I wasn’t sure if it was an exhibit or not but I was just missing my piano at home.”
Group managing director of Prestons of Bolton, Karl Massey, was one of the viewers, after he was tipped off by his daughter. He immediately set about trying to contact Megan.
Miss Dixon-Hood said: “I was asked to go for an interview, which I did. Then they asked me to work on a Judy Garland ‘Over the rainbow’ piece for a couple of weeks to make it really original. I then recorded the song with them on my piano at home.”
A friend videoed her and while • —Turn to back page.
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