News from Congleton Town
The Women's Forum meets monthly to discuss and debate
issues that affect women locally, nationally and internationally.
Our aim is to reach out into the community offer friendship and
help to other women.
One issue that has come to our attention is the use of food
banks in our area and how women are disproportionately
affected. One area of particular concern to us is that food
banks, homeless hostels, women's refuges etc do not stock
women's hygiene products. Because these items are taxed as luxury items the cost is high which
is problematic for women on low incomes. This has had the knock on effect of women presenting
at GPs with infections and even Toxic Shock Syndrome because they use substitute materials
which are not hygienic. Since 2010, the figures have risen sharply. We would like to address this
problem locally by setting up a scheme called Monthly Gift where local women can drop-in and
receive free hygiene products.
We hope to launch this initiative on 8th March 2017 which is International Women Day. The launch
will be held at The Old Saw Mill, which is a community project in Congleton, and thereafter we will
be testing a one hour drop-in at the Mill every Wednesday morning.
1. Raising the profile of the Labour Party in Congleton Town. At the present we do not
have a single Cheshire East Councillor and only one Town Councillor out of 20 seats.
2. Helping women badly affected by Tory cuts. A Labour Women's Forum should strive to
reach out to women in the community especially those in need.
3. Setting up a weekly drop-in centre where women can pick up free hygiene products
and chat with party members over a coffee. This will enable us to find out the main
issues for women in Congleton allowing us to target them more efficiently and identify
4. A delivery service across the rest of the Constituency.
Although this is very much a women's issue, the whole CLP will benefit from the high
profile we are trying to achieve for the Party locally and we value the help of male party
members in this campaign.
We will be busy fundraising to pay for printing, products and venue and we will be placing
a collecting tin and a collection box at the back of meetings, to enable you to donate
products and/or money.
If you would like to be involved in fundraising activities or have any suggestions contact Susan
Munro - Women's Officer on 07534510841
The Women's Forum meets monthly to discuss and debateissues that affect women locally, nationally and internationally.Our aim is to reach out into the community offer friendship andhelp to other women.One...
Women Working For Women
We have now been in existence for six months and I am very pleased with how things have progressed. I was surprised to find that I had a membership list of 157 women across the constituency and started out by trying to make contact with everyone on the list. Most were contactable by e-mail but there were a few that only had phone numbers and some no contact details at all. This was by choice not bad administration I hasten to add.
Some members replied and some didn't but I have managed to get together a list of e- mails that appear to work and I have had no negative responses to my emails which is a bonus. However, we now find that a small number, around 25 attend the meetings at diﬀerent times, and seek to participate in activities on behalf of the Party. This is a nice, friendly, workable number and I am encouraged to think what we can achieve working together for the good of women across Congleton. We also have a secret Facebook page. If you're not on it and want to be, contact me.
Our first meeting took place at my house in December and we had a really good night of getting to know each other, eating, drinking and feeling festive. We will definitely be repeating that one.
Considering that it was Christmas week and it had been arranged very quickly at virtually the last minute, I was very pleased to have ten guests on that evening. (Better planning needed for this year's Christmas Bash).
Our January meeting was a curry night at Nobannos in Congleton and was attended by just eight people but bad weather and winter illness had caused six other people to call oﬀ at the last minute. It was a good night and we were made to feel very welcome by the excellent staﬀ at Nobannos.
We will return.
February found us at the Beartown Tap in Congleton with Deborah Darnes speaking to us about Palestine. It was an interesting meeting during which Deborah told us all about her work in Palestine, the history of the region and the situation for the people living there. Food for thought, informative and fair reporting from our sister.
In March we were at The Market Tavern Sandbach where thirteen people met to hear Paula Eaton's talk on Fracking. We learned a lot and had a lively discussion about fracking and its implications for Cheshire East.
On April 15th a group of us attended a meeting at Addlington Hall near Macclesfield, which was hosted by the Wirral and Cheshire Badger Group. We listened to several speakers which included a scientist, a vet and Simon King from BBC's Springwatch.
They told us about the applications for licences to cull badgers in Cheshire. We learned about the science and the politics around the badger cull as well as the details of the shooting. We came away committed to finding out more and being active in any protests or actions against this terrible cruelty.
Melanie Lawton has agreed to be our lead woman on this and any other animal issue. Thanks Melanie you are now our Animal Champion.
On April 23rd we hosted a meeting at Congleton Town Hall where we were visited by Julie Ward MEP. After she spoke to women she spoke to all members about Europe and her work there representing us, the
people of the North West. We had in excess of thirty people attend which was very encouraging.
After speaking for well over two hours, Julie did a walkabout in the Town Centre. She was well received and I managed to get coverage in the press helping to get the Forum known in the area.
Julie is an extremely hardworking woman and is totally committed to Europe and our remaining in.
There will be lots of work to do in the run-up to the referendum on 23rd June. All help thankfully received for leafletting and market stalls in all towns. Contact Peter Munro our EU Champion if you would like to volunteer. 01260 279235
We did manage to film her women's talk for those who were unable to attend on the day and it is available to all forum members. (Just ask)
On Wednesday 27th April I joined our Junior Doctors on the picket line in Macclesfield to show the Forum's solidarity with their strike action against the new contracts and creeping privatisation. It was an interesting day as the doctors had decided that rather than picket Macclesfield General they would teach C.P.R. in the Town Centre and get signatures for their petition.
I mingled amongst the crowd to recruit people for the C.P.R. training and to gauge the mood of the general public. Most were supportive of the doctors but there were a few nasty remarks, someone called them "murderers" and apparently I'm "disgraceful" for supporting them!!
I got an unexpected opportunity to see the doctors at work when a real life accident occurred; a lady fell and broke her shoulder. She was surrounded in seconds by more doctors than you could shake a stick at. They stayed with her until an ambulance arrived and then administered morphine and a sling, before sending her oﬀ to A&E; they're never really oﬀ duty or on strike.
I approached a young man on the street to ask him to sign the petition and learn C.P.R. He said he would but his head was everywhere as his wife had given birth to their first baby the previous night. "I know" said one young doctor, "I delivered her". The young man did a double take and said "Oh yes, so you did". It was a fantastic moment and a small insight into the life of one of our junior doctors; they were brilliant and deserve our full support. I had a really good day and sharpened up my resuscitation skills.
A couple of things that have come up at meetings.
People interested in standing for Cheshire East or any of the Town Councils in 2019, please contact me as I am in the process of trying to organise some training, which is available through Labour Women's Network. It would be fabulous if we could field some well-trained, able women to stand for Labour in 2019, so thinking ahead, even if you only think you might be interested, come along, learn more and do the training.
Your Party Needs You
Monthly Gift Campaign
This is an idea I had back at North West Conference where some Young Labour women were taking a collection of women's hygiene products for homeless women in Manchester and Liverpool. Apparently hostels for the homeless supply food, shampoo and soap, shaving supplies and even condoms but they don't supply tampons and towels for the women. This means that women have real diﬃculty each month.
I did a bit of research and found that food banks are the same. Young mothers using food banks are having the same problem. So I came up with the idea of making a little pack containing a packet of tampons or towels and perhaps a little treat (bit of chocolate or a small bubblebath) and calling it Monthly Gift. It would also have a little card in identifying the Forum and our work.
For the Forum this would be a good outreach, women to women, and would help get our heads above the parapet and show our concern and solidarity with women in the community who are suﬀering under the austerity policies imposed by the Tories.
I have been mulling this over since last October and dithering whether to go ahead or not. I don't want to start something and be unable to continue with it. The constraints are the usual, money and willing helpers and also the diﬃculty of getting into the food banks or women's hostels. I have made tentative enquiries but the hostility to the Labour Party is a massive barrier in Congleton. If anyone is interested in fundraising for this campaign and/or has some ideas for fundraising or accessing food banks, hostels etc then please contact me. Otherwise I will ditch the idea as a non-starter.
Our next meeting is Thursday 26th May at 7:30 at Market Tavern Sandbach and we have a speaker from the Women's Refuge coming to tell us about their work.
A.G.M. This is 7:30, Monday 6th June at Market Tavern, Sandbach. I am up for re- election so please, please, pretty please, come along and vote for me to stay as your Women's Oﬃcer.
Susan Munro Women's Oﬃcer M: 07534510841
Women Working For Women We have now been in existence for six months and I am very pleased with how things have progressed. I was surprised to find that I...
Local Councillor Slams Planning Process
An application to build up to 250 houses on Tall Ash Farm in Congleton is symptomatic of the failures of Conservative policies according to local Congleton Town Councillor Robert Boston.
There is a national shortage of housing, but the Conservatives ideologically reject any form of government planning to solve this problem and instead have let loose private developers, hoping that free enterprise will solve the housing shortage. The flaw in Conservative ideology is that private developers will build houses where they can make most money and not necessarily where the need is. As a result, planning is currently out of control in Cheshire East, with speculative housing applications being granted approval on Greenfield sites.
The counter-balance to the government’s new legislation (NPPF) is supposed to be a Local Plan saying where development should and should not take place. Cheshire East Council does not have a Local Plan and, under the Conservatives, the Plan process has been repeatedly delayed and the Local Plan will not be in place until the end of 2016 at the earliest. Congleton East Conservative Councillor David Brown was in charge of the preparation of the Cheshire East Local Plan and he gave assurances to many local residents. Then when the Local Plan hearings were suspended at the end of 2014 David Brown said, “Because I’ve had so many sessions with residents right across the borough and they’ve had confidence in me and we’ve agreed a Plan, if we’ve got to change it I think it should be somebody else that changes it and not me.”
Now we can see the implications of those failures, but David Brown continues as Deputy Leader of Cheshire East Council and leaves somebody else to face the music.
To make matters worse the Cheshire East Council planning department is short staffed. This has led to failures in properly assessing the impact on local infrastructure. In the case of the Tall Ash Farm application the Council has not modelled the impact of the extra traffic on the A54 and has just asked for its usual amount of £3,000 per dwelling for improvements to the A34 or to the promised Link Road.
Robert Boston, said “The Conservative MP blames the Conservative Council who blame the Conservative government. A Labour win in the Congleton East by-election on 29 October will force the Conservatives to stop passing the buck and actually address the problem. The Labour Party would give more power to local communities and would provide government assistance to councils that were struggling to produce a Local Plan.”
The Council report on the Tall Ash Farm application recommends approval saying “it will assist the Council’s 5 year housing land supply position”.
Local Councillor Slams Planning Process An application to build up to 250 houses on Tall Ash Farm in Congleton is symptomatic of the failures of Conservative policies according to...