Democracy in Macclesfield at last - but not yet
Labour and Independent Councillors strongly supported a motion to strengthen the advisory powers of the Macclesfield Local Service Delivery Committee last Thursday but once again this was voted down by the Cheshire East Tories. Labour Councillor Ken Edwards said, “We want the same democratic right for Macclesfield residents as every other resident has in Cheshire East. That is the right to elect their own Town Council, to provide a body chosen by the people of Macclesfield to govern the town. Cheshire East Conservatives have always opposed this policy, arguing that Macclesfield people are not interested in local democracy and are happy to be governed directly by Cheshire East Borough Council.
The opportunity for strengthening the Local Service Delivery committee came during the debate of the questions to be put to Macclesfield residents on the kind of local governance they would want to see in the future. There are three options being offered:
1) A Town Council for the whole of Macclesfield;
2) a series of 7 smaller Parish councils covering the whole unparished area;
3) no town Council for Macclesfield, but stronger advisory powers for the Macclesfield Local Service Delivery Committee (which exists already).
Councillor Ken Edwards argued vigorously at the meeting that the option of the strengthened Macclesfield Local Service Delivery Committee (MLSD) should be dropped as Cheshire East could implement that at any time without the necessity of a ballot. That was when Cllr. Murphy who is a member of the committee proposed that the strengthened form of the MLSD should be recommended to Council for immediate implementation. Every Conservative voted against that proposal thus denying a stronger voice for Cheshire East Councillors from Macclesfield.
The whole question will be put to the people of Macclesfield in late July.
Cllr Ken Edwards, Labour Councillor for Macclesfield Central, said, 'The issue is very simple - do the people of Macclesfield want to be governed directly totally by Cheshire East Borough Council or do they want a Town Council of their own to share that governance? Wilmslow, Knutsford, Congleton, Crewe and every other Town and Village in Cheshire East have a town or parish council. I strongly believe, as a democrat, that a Town Council for Macclesfield as a whole will give the local community a strong local voice and the ability to support local projects and to improve local services in accordance with what the residents of Macclesfield want. I am not in favour of a number of small parish councils covering Macclesfield because none of them will have the power to work for the Town as a whole. Macclesfield is a proud community in its own right and has had its own governance in the past and should do again. I hope the people of Macclesfield will vote for that option when they are given the chance to do so.
“As for a strengthened local service delivery committee, that too should be introduced as soon as possible. It is complementary NOT an alternative to a proper Macclesfield Town Council.”
Cllr Janet Jackson, Labour Councillor for Macclesfield Central, said, “The people of Macclesfield should be given the opportunity to decide for themselves whether they want a Town Council. To be given a clear choice on the ballot paper, not the confusing option of 7 parish councils, an obvious device to divide and rule by the Conservatives. Macclesfield already has a strong community at its heart and an elected Town Council would help to focus that energy and build a positive future for the Town.”
Labour Group Leader Cllr David Newton, said, “These arguments are similar to the debates over a town council for Crewe. The Conservatives are re-running the campaigns of misinformation and obfuscation. When the people of Crewe were given a clear choice of having a Town Council for Crewe, they gave a clear answer. Crewe now has its own Town Council. Macclesfield should too.”