News from Sandbach

The 'pinch point' scheme at Junction 17 of the M6 has undoubtedly made it
easier to exit the motorway and has made the junction safer. Unfortunately,
the scheme was NOT built according to the agreed design. Highways England
(who are a government agency responsible for motorways) amended the design
to cut costs and reduced the length of both filter lanes to join the M6 from
the A534. This reduction in the length of the filter lanes has resulted in
increased queues along the A534.

In addition, Highways England have set-up the phasing of the lights so that
the motorway slip roads are kept clear at the expense of queues on the A534.
What is inexcusable is that the phasing of the lights has been rigged to
such an extent that at times the lights are green to let cars off the
southbound slip road even when the slip road is completely clear. It is
frustrating to know that there is this 'wasted green time' on the lights
when there are long queues along Old Mill Road. I have repeatedly raised
this point with Highways England, but I have received little support from
local Conservatives or from Fiona Bruce MP.

A medium term solution to the queues on Old Mill Road would be for the
developers of the Capricorn site to build the enhanced roundabout at
Junction 17 that was a condition of being allowed to build houses on the
Capricorn site. That enhanced roundabout would reduce maximum queue lengths
on the A534 to 200m in the morning rush hour and 42m in the evening rush
hour.

However, the Conservative-controlled Cheshire East Council relaxed the
planning conditions and has now given permission for a different roundabout
to be built. The change in maximum queue lengths is from 200m to 1010m in
the morning rush hour and from 42m to 868m in the evening rush hour. At the
planning committee meeting where this different roundabout was discussed a
Sandbach Conservative councillor said "traffic is bad in Sandbach but that
is just something we will have to accept in today's climate". I have
appealed to Fiona Bruce MP to join me in opposing this 'inferior'
roundabout, but no support has been forthcoming.

Instead the Conservatives are now calling for additional government funding
to 'improve capacity at Junction 17'. In short the Conservatives have let
the developers off the hook and are now proposing government funding to do
what the developers were originally obliged to do!

If the Conservatives were proposing a double bridge roundabout at Junction
17 (similar to Junction 18), then I would support this as a long-term
solution.

Under the Conservatives the future looks bleak with speculative developers
making millions out of building houses on greenfield sites and local
residents having to suffer traffic jams, air quality problems and overloaded
infrastructure.

Changes needed to Junction 17 layout

The 'pinch point' scheme at Junction 17 of the M6 has undoubtedly made iteasier to exit the motorway and has made the junction safer. Unfortunately,the scheme was NOT built according...

At the Sandbach Town Council meeting on 7 December it was agreed to write to
Cheshire East Council asking that meetings to produce an air quality action
plan take place in late January/early February 2018. Meetings were due to be
held in September 2017, but have been postponed by Cheshire East Council
until March/April 2018.

Sam Corcoran, Labour Councillor for Sandbach Heath & East, speaking at the
meeting, said, "Sandbach resident Richard Hamilton raised a Freedom of
Information request in May 2015 about air quality on Middlewich Road. He
received a reply on 2 June 2015 giving a figure of 39.5 for Middlewich Road
The limit for declaring an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) is 40. As soon
as I saw the figure of 39.5 I queried the figures. A meeting with Sandbach
Town Councillors and Cheshire East officers was arranged. At that meeting
Cllr Barry Moran asked officers to confirm that the incorrect figures had
not delayed the declaration of an Air Quality Management Area on Middlewich
Road. In response, one of the officers present said that the incorrect
figures HAD delayed the declaration of an AQMA.

An AQMA should have been declared in 2016 if not earlier. In fact it wasn't
declared until 1 October 2017. Even after the correct figures were known
Cheshire East did not act swiftly to declare an AQMA.

This afternoon a senior Cheshire East Council (CEC) officer denied that the
FoI request had anything to do with the discovery of the deliberate and
systematic manipulation of air quality data and claimed that it was
discovered and addressed internally.
But CEC say they don't know who manipulated the data or why they did it. The
2 officers who attended the meeting with Sandbach Town Councillors were
both, regrettably, named in Private Eye as having been suspended so how he
knows what prompted the discovery is an interesting question!

Once a AQMA is declared an Air Quality Action Plan should be prepared within
1 year saying what you are going to do about the poor air quality.

I remain very concerned about poor Air Quality, which according to the Royal
College of Physicians, is responsible for 40,000 deaths a year in UK - this
is a serious matter -  and I am also concerned about the way CEC is
continuing to fail to take meaningful action to improve Air Quality.
The particular point highlighted here is that CEC have delayed meetings to
discuss an Air Quality Action Plan from September 2017 to March/April 2018."

Air quality in Sandbach

At the Sandbach Town Council meeting on 7 December it was agreed to write toCheshire East Council asking that meetings to produce an air quality actionplan take place in late...

The Sandbach Town Council Skatepark Working Group was formed in comprising
of councillors Sam Corcoran, Geraint Price-Jones, Martin Forster, Paula
Eaton and youth councillor Mollie Burns. The working group membership has
since expanded to include local skateboarders and others with expertise or
interest in a skatepark/bmx track in Sandbach.

A short consultation has now been launched at
https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/HRYPGPW to gauge the extent of public
demand for a skatepark/bmx track in Sandbach. If there is public demand then
there will be further consultation on possible sites.

The next meeting of the skatepark working group will take place on Wednesday
6th December at 7.15pm in the town council offices in the Sandbach Literary
Institute. All are welcome to attend.

Sam Corcoran said, "I am very pleased to see this working group making
progress. The idea of a skatepark in Sandbach has been under discussion for
many years, with sites previously considered in Sandbach Town Park, Newall
Avenue play area, Church Lane play area, Ettiley Heath playing field and
Wheelock playing fields. At its first meeting the new group decided to look
at possible sites at Belmont Avenue, the corner of Salt Line Way/Moss Lane
and on the Capricorn site. I hope that the new group will make some progress
on this issue and will make recommendations to Sandbach Town Council within
6 months and produce a detailed report within a year."

Sandbach Skatepark/BMX Track Consultation Open

The Sandbach Town Council Skatepark Working Group was formed in comprisingof councillors Sam Corcoran, Geraint Price-Jones, Martin Forster, PaulaEaton and youth councillor Mollie Burns. The working group membership hassince expanded...



At the Sandbach Town Council meeting on 9th February 2017, Cllr Martin
Forster, Labour Councillor for Sandbach Elworth, proposed that the Air
Quality Working Group should present views to Cheshire East Council and
explore ways to improve air quality and reduce traffic congestion in
Sandbach. However, Conservative Councillor Gill Merry proposed amending this
proposal to remove the reference to traffic congestion. Despite support from
her Conservative colleagues, Cllr Merry's amendment was narrowly defeated
and the working group will look into ways of reducing traffic congestion.
This marks a change from a year ago when Cllr Merry was mayor and used her
second casting vote to defeat a proposal to have a Sandbach Cycling
Champion.

Sam Corcoran, Labour Councillor for Sandbach Heath & East, said, "Traffic is
an increasing problem in Sandbach and we should be looking at ways to reduce
congestion - including promoting cycling. It is a shame that my proposal for
a cycling champion for Sandbach was defeated last year on Cllr Gill Merry's
second vote as Mayor. I believe that establishing safe cycle routes,
especially to the 2 secondary schools in Sandbach, could make a significant
difference to traffic congestion in Sandbach."


Martin Forster, Labour Councillor for Sandbach Elworth, said, "The
Conservatives don't want to talk about traffic congestion, because it is
their laissez-faire approach to speculative housing developments that has
caused much of the problem in Sandbach. But we have to face up to the
reality that planning permission has already been granted for 3,200 new
houses in Sandbach. We need to plan ahead to make sure that all the new
houses do not lead to traffic gridlock and further air quality problems in
Sandbach."

Sandbach Council to look at Traffic & Air Quality

At the Sandbach Town Council meeting on 9th February 2017, Cllr MartinForster, Labour Councillor for Sandbach Elworth, proposed that the AirQuality Working Group should present views to Cheshire East Council...

In the by-election held on November 24th 2016 for the Town Ward of Sandbach Town Council, the Labour Party candidate, Karen Ratcliffe, came second. The seat was held by the Conservatives.

Sandbach Town Ward Result

In the by-election held on November 24th 2016 for the Town Ward of Sandbach Town Council, the Labour Party candidate, Karen Ratcliffe, came second. The seat was held by the...

A planning application to build 12 dwellings on a field on Church Lane close
to the M6 has been approved on appeal.

The government inspector said, "I appreciate that such a conclusion is
disheartening for the local community who put considerable time and effort
into the production of the Neighbourhood Plan, especially when the plan
received overwhelming support from local people. I also accept the matter of
the 5 year housing land supply in the borough is not one that they have any
control over, and that a significant number of permissions for new housing
in Sandbach have already been approved. Nevertheless, the government's aim
is to significantly boost the supply of housing, and at present the borough
is not delivering that aim."

One of the main grounds for objecting to the application had been the level
of noise from the motorway at the site, but Cheshire East Council withdrew
this grounds for refusal, without consulting with the local councillor, Sam
Corcoran.

To rub salt into the wounds caused by this absurd planning decision,
Cheshire East Council didn't ask for any contributions towards primary
school provision from the developers. So council tax payers will have to
foot the bill for any necessary primary school expansion in Sandbach.

There is widespread agreement that as a nation we need to build more houses.
Labour proposes building more council houses and would let local government
planning determine where the houses should be built (such as brownfield
sites close to employment areas). The Conservatives have let loose private
developers, allowing them to build on sites where they can make the greatest
profit (greenfield sites in Cheshire). The result of this laissez-faire
capitalism can be seen in Sandbach where permission has already been granted
to build over 3,000 new homes - an increase of 40% in the size of the town!

Sam Corcoran, Labour Councillor for Sandbach Heath & East, said, "I am
grateful to all those who attended the planning appeal hearing with me and
for the fantastic community-led effort that resulted in the Sandbach
Neighbourhood Plan. However, the simple truth is that while the
Conservatives continue to win elections, speculative developers will
continue to get their housing applications approved.
"This decision to allow more houses to be built on a green field on the
outskirts of Sandbach is a direct result of deliberate Conservative
government policy and incompetence at Conservative-led Cheshire East
Council."

Cllr Price Jones, Chair of the Sandbach Town Council Planning Committee
comments "It is undoubtedly the withdrawal of the noise grounds for refusal
by Cheshire East Council, combined with government policy, which has left
the inspector with little option but to allow this application to be built.
This application will provide housing that is not fit for habitation and it
is the people who buy these houses who will lose the most."

Government Inspector Overrules Sandbach Neighbourhood Plan

A planning application to build 12 dwellings on a field on Church Lane closeto the M6 has been approved on appeal.The government inspector said, "I appreciate that such a conclusion...

The Sandbach Peace pole was unveiled at a ceremony in Sandbach on Saturday, attended by Fiona Bruce MP, Keith Haines (Mayor of Sandbach), Rev Jeremy Tresise (Churches Together in Sandbach), Councillor Sam Corcoran and Bob Mynett and Val Atkinson who initiated the Sandbach Peace Pole project 3 years ago. Over 50 people attended the ceremony during which packets of jelly babies were handed out by Churches Together in Sandbach.

 

A Peace Pole is a monument that displays the message ‘May Peace Prevail on Earth’. The Sandbach Peace Pole will display this message in English, German, Japanese and Arabic. The languages were chosen to reflect the former adversaries in world wars and the current troubles in Libya, Syria and Iraq.

 

Sam Corcoran, the lead councillor on the project, said, “Thank you all for coming here today for the unveiling of the Sandbach Peace Pole. I am grateful to Sandbach Town Council, Cheshire East Council and Churches Together in Sandbach for helping to make this happen.

This Peace Pole is currently covered by a red cloth. 20 years ago I spent 2 years in Kenya with the Volunteer Missionary Movement in an area close to Maasai country and that is a Maasai warrior cloak. Maasai warriors have a fearsome reputation, but they were the friendliest, smiliest people I know. Times change - fights between tribes in Kenya are now rare and Kenya is a relatively peaceful country. Most of the people here today have never experienced war. That is worth celebrating, BUT peace is something that must be continually supported. We must strive to settle arguments peacefully. We need only look to Syria to see what happens when things go wrong – to see the devastation that war causes. I am delighted that Cheshire East Council has agreed to welcome 3-5 Syrian refugee families.

The writing on the Peace Pole says May Peace Prevail on Earth in English, German and Japanese to remind us of countries who were our enemies in the First and Second World Wars and in Arabic to remind us of current conflicts in Libya, Syria and Iraq.

It is important to remember the horror of war and how important it is to promote peace. I would now like to hand over to Bob Mynett who, with Val Atkinson, instigated the Sandbach Peace Pole project..”

 

Rev Jeremy Tresise spoke about Jelly Babies which were marketed as Peace Babies in 1919 to celebrate the end of the First World War.

 

Councillor Keith Haines, Mayor of Sandbach, said, “I’m honoured to be here on behalf of Sandbach Town Council to mark the establishment of Sandbach’s Peace Pole. Congratulations to all who have worked so hard to bring this about and in particular, I want to thank Bob Mynett and Cllr. Sam Corcoran.

Earlier this year, on 1st July, I attended a ceremony at the War Memorial in the Market Square to mark the exact centenary of the start of the Battle of the Somme. To our generation, that battle, perhaps more than any other, defines the bloody, attritional nature of warfare. In five months of combat from July to November, an estimated one million men from all sides were killed, wounded or went missing.

Despite that carnage, humanity hasn’t learned the lessons of history. The 20th century was the most murderous in recorded history, with the total number of deaths from wars estimated at 187m. Taking 1914 as a start point, it was a century of almost unbroken war, with few and brief periods without organised armed conflict somewhere. Since the end of the cold war, it’s a matter of debate how far actions around the globe constitute a continuation of the era of world war. There’s no doubt that the 1990s were filled with formal and informal military conflict in Europe, Africa and western and central Asia, with the first 16 years of this century continuing the bloodshed. The world as a whole has not been at peace since 1914, and is certainly not at peace now.

On behalf of Sandbach Town Council, I’m proud to see this permanent reminder of the need to work for a civilised free society, liberated from the need for yet more slaughter.

Finally, I’d like to thank the fair organizers Joe White and his team for providing us with a p.a. system and delaying the start of the fair for us. Thank-you to everyone for coming along – the weather’s fine, so let’s all enjoy the delights of the funfair.

Sandbach Peace Pole

The Sandbach Peace pole was unveiled at a ceremony in Sandbach on Saturday, attended by Fiona Bruce MP, Keith Haines (Mayor of Sandbach), Rev Jeremy Tresise (Churches Together in Sandbach),...

Witters Field

The Secretary of State has granted permission to Gladman Developments Ltd to build up to 300 dwellings on Witters Field in Wistaston.

The ruling is bad news for the people of Wistaston village who have been campaigning against this development. The ruling is also bad news for Cheshire East as it raises technical issues about which of their planning policies can be considered up to date in the absence of a 5-year housing land supply. Yet again, Conservative-controlled Cheshire East Council has been criticised for not having a 5-year housing land supply and for not having an approved Local Plan. The deputy leader of the Council recently admitted that the Council might never have a 5-year housing land supply. It is unlikely that the Cheshire East Local Plan will be approved before 2017.

 

The ruling suggests that the ‘green gaps’ between towns and villages in south Cheshire are of little significance in determining planning appeals.

 

Dorothy Flude, Labour Councillor for Crewe South, said, “I am bitterly disappointed for the people of Wistaston village that planning permission has been granted to build houses on Witters Field. It concerns me that, with all the talk of a High Growth City for Crewe, we are not looking at the prospect of a garden city with plenty of green spaces between our small towns and villages. We need to acknowledge the historic nature of some of our towns and villages and work together to retain that historic settlement.”

 

Sam Corcoran, Labour Councillor for Sandbach Heath & East, said, “There is widespread agreement that as a nation we need to build more houses. Labour proposes building more council houses and would let local government planning determine where the houses should be built (such as brownfield sites in Stoke). The Conservatives have let loose private developers, allowing them to build on sites where they can make the greatest profit (greenfield sites in Cheshire).

Tories let private developers pick and choose the sites that make them most money.

Labour would have plan-led development. The Tories rely on the free market and are allowing developer-led planning.

The Witters Field is just the latest in a long line of green fields in Cheshire that are being lost as a result of Tory policy to let private developers have more power in deciding where to build houses.”

 

Brian Roberts, Labour Councillor for Crewe West, said, “At the planning committees we are trying to refuse applications which are detrimental to the rural aspect of villages. But our hands are tied by this constant referral to the lack of a 5-year housing land supply. We know the planning applications need to be refused but we are constantly advised by the planning officers of the developer’s high success potential at appeal and its subsequent cost to the Council. As a Councillor who represents a dense built up urban ward I am concerned at this further expansion of urban sprawl closing the green gaps.”

300 new houses in Wistaston

Witters Field The Secretary of State has granted permission to Gladman Developments Ltd to build up to 300 dwellings on Witters Field in Wistaston. The ruling is bad news for...

There is widespread agreement that as a nation we need to build more houses. Labour proposes building more council houses and would let local government planning determine where the houses should be built (such as brownfield sites in Stoke). The Conservatives have let loose private developers, allowing them to build on sites where they can make the greatest profit (greenfield sites in Cheshire). The result of this laissez-faire capitalism can be seen in Sandbach where permission has already been granted to build nearly 3,000 new homes – an increase of 37% in the size of the town!

On 24th March the people of Sandbach voted by 96% to support the Sandbach Neighbourhood Plan. There is a great expectation that the fantastic community-led effort to produce a Neighbourhood Plan will bring to an end the flood of speculative housing applications that is engulfing Sandbach. However, Conservative-controlled Cheshire East Council has other ideas. In a report that was due to be presented at a Cheshire East planning committee meeting on 30th March a planning officer argued that an application for 12 more houses should be approved because Cheshire East does not have a 5-year supply of housing land and “the  housing  land  supply  policies  of  the  Sandbach  Neighbourhood  Plan  are  not  up  to date”. So within a week of the referendum, Cheshire East Council were arguing that the Sandbach Neighbourhood Plan housing policies were out of date!

When I read this report, I contacted the planning officers and asked them to reconsider. When they wouldn’t budge, I took the unusual step of asking the department of the Secretary of State to ‘call-in’ the planning application for 12 homes off Church Lane by the M6. The day after I contacted the Secretary of State, Cheshire East Council announced that they were deferring the planning application affected by the Sandbach Neighbourhood Plan. This delay provides a breathing space. Any campaigners against further housing in Sandbach must now join the campaign to get Cheshire East Council to accept that the Sandbach Neighbourhood Plan policies are NOT out of date. Please contact your local councillor and MP and urge them to campaign that the Sandbach Neighbourhood Plan policies relating to the supply of housing are NOT out of date even though Cheshire East Council does not have a 5-year housing land supply.

Labour seeks Secretary of State review on housing plans

There is widespread agreement that as a nation we need to build more houses. Labour proposes building more council houses and would let local government planning determine where the houses...

Last week George Osborne visited Sandbach to laud the amount of new housing being built. When queried over the lack of a Local Plan giving developers too much power over where to build houses, George Osborne said “we’ve got to make sure those homes are being built”. Just one of the problems being caused by the speculative house building allowed and encouraged by government policy is traffic congestion. Sandbach has seen a big rise in traffic delays recently. As a local councillor I will be talking with other Sandbach councillors to see what can be done about lorries parking up on local roads near to housing sites at 7.50am, about refuse collections going on in roadworks during rush hour and other issues that could help traffic flow.

However, as yet more houses are built, traffic problems are likely to get worse. This week the closure of the Crewe-Wilmslow rail line will add to the commuter misery. In January local Labour councillors suggested several contingency measures during the rail closure. Sadly the suggestions that involved privatised rail companies working together in a coherent way have not been adopted. Even the simple suggestion of a fast bus to Manchester Airport (for onward trains to Manchester) has not been implemented.

If we are to tackle traffic congestion (and climate change) then public transport has an important role to play. Can we have back the early service Crewe-Sandbach-Holmes Chapel-Manchester Airport to serve the European business flights which generally need you at check-in around 0600? An additional fast train into Manchester for commuters would also be welcome and would reduce overcrowding.

Such problems can be addressed by proper local and national government planning. However, if we rely on market forces and profit motive, then traffic chaos is inevitable.

Traffic congestion in Sandbach

Last week George Osborne visited Sandbach to laud the amount of new housing being built. When queried over the lack of a Local Plan giving developers too much power over...

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