News from Sandbach

At the Cheshire East Council Cabinet meeting on Tuesday 13 March I set out my solution to Junction 17 and queues on A534 Old Mill Road bypass in Sandbach.

LONG TERM - double bridge roundabout (similar to Junction 18)

MEDIUM TERM - 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 business park site.

SHORT TERM - change the phasing of the lights. I have repeatedly raised this point with Highways England, but I have received little support from Conservative councillors or from Fiona Bruce MP.

 

The Conservative response was to ask for a report ….

 

I set out below my full speech:

 

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 other local councillors 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 have reduced maximum queue lengths on the A534 to 200m in the morning rush hour and 42m in the evening rush hour.

However, Cheshire East Council relaxed the planning conditions and has now given permission for a different roundabout to be built. The maximum queue lengths under the new roundabout are 1010m in the morning rush hour and 868m in the evening rush hour. I appealed to other local councillors and Fiona Bruce MP to join me in opposing this ‘inferior’ roundabout, but no support was forthcoming. Indeed Cllr Gill Merry said at the planning committee “traffic is bad in Sandbach but that is just something we will have to accept in today's climate”; I beg to differ.

Instead the Barry Moran & Fiona Bruce are now calling for additional government funding to ‘improve capacity at Junction 17’. In short the developers have been let off the hook and it is now proposed to seek government funding to do what the developers were originally obliged to do!

If the proposals were for a double bridge roundabout at Junction 17 (similar to Junction 18), then I would support this as a long-term solution. But there are no actual solutions suggested in this motion – it’s just a party political attempt to give a pretence of doing something and to cover-up for the avoidable traffic problems caused in Sandbach by failure to enforce planning conditions.

Sadly 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.

Junction 17 Woes

At the Cheshire East Council Cabinet meeting on Tuesday 13 March I set out my solution to Junction 17 and queues on A534 Old Mill Road bypass in Sandbach. LONG...

At the Sandbach Town Council meeting on Thursday 8 March, a report was
received on the flaws in the Cheshire East Local Plan and Sandbach
Neighbourhood Plan exposed by the Marsh Green Road planning application. The
report confirmed that despite having recommended the planning application
for approval, Cheshire East Council planning officers now accept the
decision of the Southern Planning Committee and will contest any appeal.
This is good news, but unless the flaws in Cheshire East's Local Plan are
corrected then there is a risk that the government Planning Inspectorate
will allow the Marsh Green Road application on appeal.

The Marsh Green Road planning application for 30 dwellings (ref 17/3611C)
was recommended for approval by Cheshire East Council (CEC) planning
officers, because it was for affordable housing and therefore according to
CEC was supported by the Sandbach Neighbourhood Plan. The problem arose as
follows:
1.      Sandbach Neighbourhood Plan (SNP) policy PC3 only allowed affordable
housing in open countryside if it was in accordance with Congleton Borough
Council policies which were relevant at the time. Congleton Borough Council
policies clearly defined this category as being specifically to support the
rural economy, (labourers, rural workers etc). Therefore SNP policy PC3 was
sound before the Cheshire East Local Plan was approved.
2.      Cheshire East Local Plan policy SC6 carried over similar controls as
Congleton Borough Council on affordable housing in open countryside - for
Local Service Centres and Other Settlements, but NOT for Key Service
Centres. Sandbach is a 'Key Service Centre', so the failure to reference Key
Service Centres in the Cheshire East Local Plan leaves open a loophole for
affordable housing on any greenfield site around Sandbach.
The obvious answer would be to amend policy SC6 of the Local Plan. However,
Cheshire East Council seem reluctant to do this.

In the report presented to Sandbach Town Council it was confirmed that the
policy to allow unlimited affordable housing on greenfield sites around
Sandbach was not inadvertent. So Cheshire East Council admit to having
deliberately set policies that allow unlimited affordable housing on
greenfield sites around Sandbach. This breaches the intention of the
Sandbach Neighbourhood Plan, but not the wording.

Labour councillors are pressing for amendments to either the Local Plan or
the Sandbach Neighbourhood Plan to make it clear that simply labelling
housing as 'affordable' does not mean that planning permission on greenfield
sites around Sandbach should be granted.

Kathyn Flavell, Labour Councillor for Sandbach Elworth, said, "We have a
Council that picks and chooses between different policies to suit its own
ends. The lack of consistency between the local plans has caused confusion
and misinterpretation. We need to align the various policies to ensure there
is no longer any ambiguity. I am pleased that CEC will support the decision
to deny planning permission for the Marsh Green Road Development when it
comes to appeal. However, there are other concerns besides the argument over
affordable housing and planning loopholes. The Marsh Green Road site would
have very poor access: a narrow residential street, already in a poor
condition, is completely unsuitable for heavy plant and site traffic, or
indeed the extra residential traffic once the development is finished.
Astonishingly, Cheshire East Highways has made no objection to the plans on
this basis; by putting pressure on them to recognise the unsuitability of
this planned development, we can add an extra line of defence at the
appeal."

Sam Corcoran, Labour Councillor for Sandbach Heath & East, said, "There is a
clear party political difference over planning policies. Labour proposes
building more council houses and would let local government planning
determine the style and location of homes (brownfield sites). 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 deliberate Conservative policy can be seen in
Sandbach where permission has already been granted to build 3,200 new homes
- an increase of 40% in the size of the town! Without proper local
government planning the Conservative policies have let private developers
make millions and have left local communities to try to deal with the
resulting infrastructure overl

Marsh Green Road Planning Fears

At the Sandbach Town Council meeting on Thursday 8 March, a report wasreceived on the flaws in the Cheshire East Local Plan and SandbachNeighbourhood Plan exposed by the Marsh Green...

On Thursday 25 January 2018, Kathryn Flavell (Labour) was elected as the
Sandbach Town Councillor for Elworth with 436 votes. The Conservatives were
110 votes behind with 326 and the independent came third with 150 votes.
This is a big turnaround from the Cheshire East Council elections in 2015;
Con 1236, Lab 656, UKIP 482, LibDem 228.

Recurrent themes during the campaign were bus cuts, 5 police investigations
swirling around Cheshire East Council, child sex offenders at Linden Bank
approved premises/bail hostel, dog mess, the scandal of leasehold property
sales, the failure to stop speculative housing applications on greenfield
sites and the resultant pressure on infrastructure, causing traffic jams and
air quality problems on Middlewich Road.

The winning Labour candidate Kathryn Flavell said, "I am both delighted and
honoured to have been elected onto Sandbach Town Council by the people of
Elworth. I owe a debt of thanks to those who have supported me. Talking to
residents, it is clear that many people have become disillusioned with the
Conservative led Council and want to see a change. I sincerely hope that I
can make a difference by being a strong voice in the community, representing
peoples' views, and addressing their concerns with hard work and integrity.
"

Alan Smith, Labour Councillor for Sandbach Ettiley Heath & Wheelock, said
"During the campaign Kathryn showed herself to be the best candidate,
contacting residents and knocking on doors to follow up issues even when she
knew that the occupants might be supporting other candidates. I look forward
to working with Kathryn on Sandbach Town Council."

Sam Corcoran said, "Many thanks to all who voted and campaigned. It was good
to see that Fiona Bruce MP was out on the streets of Elworth campaigning for
the Conservative candidate. I hope that the Conservatives will now take
stock and work with us to address some of the issues raised, including
closing the loopholes that allow speculative housing applications on
greenfield sites."

Labour Win Elworth election

On Thursday 25 January 2018, Kathryn Flavell (Labour) was elected as theSandbach Town Councillor for Elworth with 436 votes. The Conservatives were110 votes behind with 326 and the independent came...

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),...

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