OPINION: Stop this dissolution of our parishes... by going online to protest against Cheshire East Council’s 'land grab'

  Posted: 25.11.21 at 11:17 by Lesley Smetham

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THIS is an opinion piece published to Congleton Nub News by Lesley Smetham of Cheshire East Council, former chairman of Gawsworth Parish Council and former Cheshire East Mayor.

The ratepayers of Cheshire East, including many in the Congleton area, have until the end of this week to join the fight to stop what has been described as a “land grab” by Macclesfield Town Council.

Plans to radically change rural parishes and councils would see swathes of countryside and rural villages transferred to Macclesfield and Congleton town councils.

Cheshire East Council is risking Green Belt development and urban sprawl with proposed changes which would:

• SLICE and merge Eaton parish with either North Rode or Marton.

• SLASH Gawsworth in two, making Gawsworth Moss part of Macclesfield.

Conservative Councillor Lesley Smetham, who lives six miles from Congleton, has served Gawsworth as a borough councillor since May 2008, which predates the creation of Cheshire East Council.

• AFFECT many villages around Macclesfield

• ABOLISH rural parishes and double the size of Macclesfield Town Council from 12 councillors to 24.

• INCREASE Congleton Town Council from two wards to five.

• CONGLETON parish Somerford is also under threat

Consultations so far have brought a raft of complaints from parish councils and the plans have been roundly condemned by local residents.

Councillor Lesley Smetham on a litter picking expedition near her home in Gawsworth.

Despite assurances that a full public consultation would be conducted, involving all residents affected by the proposals, Cheshire East Council has failed to contact everyone affected.

They have also failed to consider the community, geography, and public administration implications of their proposals, and to make the case for any changes proposed.

I have lived in Gawsworth for 35 years and I treasure our beautiful village and others nearby. Which is why I have helped to organise a “Save Our Parishes” campaign.

Each is unique with a special community identity and with my husband, David, I work for the people and organisations of our rural area.

I am very lucky to live where I do and to represent our communities as a member of the Conservative opposition on Cheshire East Council.

Parishes range from Henbury in the north of the ward, across to Jodrell Bank and Lower Withington, Siddington and Marton, south to North Rode and Eaton, east to Bosley, and of course my own village of Gawsworth.

It is vital we all have our say in the consultation and make our views heard.

David Rutley MP shares this view and says: “I want to see these parish councils stay just as they are now and I urge everyone to respond to the consultation.”

Congleton MP Fiona Bruce has not provided an official quote, but she joined the five Cheshrie East MPs in opposing the move this week.

Anybody who wants to respond needs to do so by midnight this Sunday (November 28) by visiting the council website containing their proposals.

You can register your view quickly and easily by moving through the “next page” click boxes where you will soon find a final option ranging from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree.”

No prizes for guessing which one of those options I have gone for.

To respond, please click here.

See also: Congleton MP encourages consultation participation to protect Somerford Parish Council

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