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Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Council unveils its Pre-Budget Consultation Report 2018-21


Cheshire East Council has published a budget report that starts a conversation with residents and other stakeholders about its financial plans for the next three years.

Its Pre-Budget Consultation 2018-21 sets out initial proposals for how the council could target resources more effectively and save money – while achieving a balanced budget. 

It includes a proposal to earmark £2m from the New Homes Bonus scheme which communities would decide how to spend, according to their own priorities.

Cheshire East will now invite feedback from residents, businesses, councillors, staff, town and parish councils and other stakeholders to inform decisions. This consultation will be an ongoing process over the next three years.

The consultation takes place against a challenging national background of an overall public sector deficit – which is being partly met by big reductions in government grants to councils – and rising demand for both adult social care and children in care.

For Cheshire East, this means expected reductions of central government grants, inflationary costs and rising demand totalling more than £70m over the next three years.

The council proposes to meet this financial challenge via a mix of tax increases and changing our service offer. The aim is to make the council financially self-sufficient – by reducing its reliance on central government revenue support grant from £40m in 2015/16 to nil in 2020.

It is proposed to increase Council Tax by 4.99 per cent to invest in essential frontline services. This would add up to £1 per week to the average household Council Tax bill.

Importantly, three per cent of the proposed tax rise will boost services for the vulnerable elderly. It follows a similar 4.99 per cent increase in 2017 and a 3.75 per cent increase in 2016, after five years of Council Tax freeze.

Once again, tough choices will have to be made to ensure Cheshire East can target services to people who need them most. Locally funding services puts control back with local people but also comes with the responsibility to fund them in a sustainable way.

Councillor Paul Bates, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for finance and communications, said: “Funding local services is a huge challenge for councils across the UK as revenue budgets continue to come under severe pressure. This is due to the combined effects of rising inflation, increased demand for services – especially those for adult social care and children in care – and reductions in government funding.

“In Cheshire East the number of residents receiving care and support from adult social care is increasing by four per cent a year and the number of children in social care placements has increased by 17 per cent in the last year, in line with other councils.

“This council will always prioritise services for vulnerable people, despite the financial challenges. This means other services will have to deliver savings. Robust action is being taken across the authority to reduce budgetary pressures and ensure balanced finances – as we have successfully done in previous years. And we will be lobbying the government to ensure future financial settlements will continue to allow us to achieve this, while protecting essential frontline services.

“Against this extremely challenging financial climate, however, it is pleasing to report that the council has continued to perform strongly, delivering positive results in each of the six priority areas identified in our Corporate Plan and continuing to provide value for money – delivering more than 500 services for residents.

“Cheshire East is a high-performing authority and a great place to live, work, visit and do business. Our residents enjoy good living standards and, when they need help from the council, we are consistently recognised as providing excellent services.

“We are aware, however, that local areas have differing priorities and, to support this, the pre-budget report contains a proposal to set aside £2m of income from the New Homes Bonus over the next two years. This proposal would allow local communities to determine how this money should be spent and will be very interested to hear the views of local people on whether this proposal should be set in to the final budget.”

Jan Willis, council director of finance and procurement, said: “This council continues to look for innovative ways to make every pound deliver the best outcome for local people.

“We have a responsibility to work with councillors and other key stakeholders to balance the council’s budgets. There is, however, a fine balance between making efficiencies and still enabling quality services to meet residents’ needs.

“This consultation process presents a good opportunity to develop a resilient set of proposals that strike an appropriate balance between service offer and affordability. I encourage everyone to have their say on these proposals and the executive would welcome any new ideas that would help with the financial challenge and achieve the best outcomes for our local residents.”

To view the council’s pre-budget consultation report, visit the council’s website at: www.cheshireeast.gov.uk

Alternatively, pick up a copy from your local council customer service point or library.

If you have any comments or queries please e-mail: shapingourservices@cheshireeast.gov.uk

The deadline for comments to be included in the consultation report is January 12, 2018, although comments submitted after that date will still inform the ongoing consultation.

Cheshire East tops Vibrant Economy Index for the North West


A new report has placed Cheshire East as the top performing area in the North West for ‘economic wellbeing’.

The Vibrant Economy Index also placed Cheshire East highly in the overall national picture as one of the best performing areas outside the South East.

The index has been developed by consultants Grant Thornton as a new way of measuring economic wellbeing, against a backdrop of growing economic and social uncertainty following the Brexit referendum.

The Vibrant Economy Index is based on a ‘basket’ of national statistics broken down into six broad categories of: prosperity; dynamism and opportunity; inclusion and equality; health, wellbeing and happiness; resilience and sustainability; and community, trust and belonging.

Across all but one of the categories, Cheshire East scored either first or second, to gain the top place across the North West and provide fresh insight into a broad range of factors, including skills, educational attainment, health and earnings – alongside more traditional factors such as economic growth and employment rates.

Councillor Don Stockton, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for environment, said: “I am delighted that Cheshire East has been rated as the most vibrant economy in the North West. It is further recognition of our many strengths and comes hot on the heels of other successes, such as the Halifax Quality of Life survey, which previously also ranked us as the best in the North West.”

Councillor George Hayes, chairman of the council’s arms-length Skills and Growth Company, said: “This is great news on many counts – but especially from the perspective of attracting further inward investment, by providing independent assessment of the many benefits we can offer new businesses moving into the borough.”

Rob Turner, director insights and analytics for Grant Thornton, said: “We believe a vibrant economy is one that goes beyond financial returns and takes into account the wellbeing of society and everybody’s ability to thrive.

“With this purpose – and input from the Vibrant Economy Commission – we sought a new way to measure the success of the economy. Our Vibrant Economy Index not only considers prosperity but also dynamism and opportunity; inclusion and equality; health, wellbeing and happiness; resilience and sustainability; and community, trust and belonging.”

The council’s inward investment service is managed by the arms-length Skills and Growth Company. For more facts about Cheshire East see the Skills and Growth website: http://www.skillsandgrowth.co.uk/about-us/publications/

Courage and carers are key themes at the 2017 Local Hero Awards


Acts of courage, outstanding achievements and inspiring individuals were all recognised during last night’s Cheshire Local Hero Awards.

Hosted by Cheshire radio station Silk 106.9 and sponsored by Cheshire East Council, the awards were held at Crewe Hall Hotel, in Crewe, yesterday (Thursday). Local heroes were awarded in 12 categories, with three-year old carer Maxx Whitham receiving the overarching ‘Pride of Cheshire’ award. 

The infant carer from Crewe was recognised for his outstanding life-saving actions when phoning for help on two occasions after his disabled mother had fallen and injured herself in the family home. This is alongside his astonishing commitment to caring for his mother every day, despite his young age.

Maxx’s mother, Kerri-Louise Whitham, said: “I am so proud of Maxx and he continues to amaze and impress me every day. He is a truly inspirational little boy, who has had to grow up so quickly and I just don’t know what I’d do without him.”

Further life-saving actions were recognised during the ceremony with the ‘Act of Courage’ award, which was presented to forty four Norman Belfield. Norman bravely confronted a man who held a woman at gunpoint at Nabb’s Quarry, in Macclesfield, deterring the attacker and risking his own life to save another. 

Alongside life-saving actions, other recurring themes on the night included the selfless motivations of Cheshire East residents, whose fundraising, determination and resilience helped to make 2017 a year with some unforgettable winners.

Councillor Rachel Bailey, Leader of Cheshire East Council, said: “Once again The Local Hero Awards have highlighted how many fantastic and inspirational people there are within Cheshire East.

“The stories we’ve listened to tonight have been incredible and it was an honour to have met some of the nominees and winners this evening.”

Also in attendance on the night was the Mayor of Cheshire East, Councillor Arthur Moran, and Cheshire East Council’s acting deputy chief executive, Frank Jordan, alongside representatives from the selected charity for the awards, the Leighton Hospital Prostate Cancer Support Group. A total of £460 was raised on the night and will go towards supporting those who are suffering with prostate cancer.

David Flavell, station manager at Silk 106.9, said: “We are immensely proud to host the Local Hero Awards, which, due to its success and great investment from the general public, has enabled it to continue into its 20th year. It’s important to be able to pay tribute to some of the thousands of people across Cheshire that are doing such brilliant work in our communities.

“I’d like to thank all our sponsors, not least Cheshire East Council, our overall sponsor, for their continued support in recognising and celebrating Cheshire’s unsung heroes.”

Winter Wellbeing – stay active during the colder months


Cheshire East Council and its partners are offering a range of advice and support to residents on how to keep warm, well and safe this winter.

This week, we urge people to keep active during the winter months.

The dark nights and cold weather can leave us feeling low but regular exercise is great for your physical health and fitness and has also been proven to help your mental wellbeing.

If you can stay active, even moderate exercise can bring health benefits.

Councillor Liz Wardlaw, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for health, said: “As the colder weather sets in, it can be tempting to stay wrapped up indoors. But staying physically active during winter will help you to stay warm and has numerous health benefits.

“Regular, moderate exercise helps to reduce tiredness, anxiety and depression, improves your mood and quality of life, strengthens your muscles, joints and bones and reduces the risk of health problems.

“Another important benefit is that it can help you to make new friends and prevent you from becoming lonely, as there are many groups and classes available across Cheshire East that you can join. Please remember to speak to your GP before starting any exercise plan.”

If possible, you should try and get up and move around at least once an hour. If walking is difficult, chair-based exercises and simply moving your arms and legs are helpful.

Health and wellbeing manager Donna Williamson, of Everybody Sport and Recreation, the trust that manages the council’s leisure centres, said: “To feel the benefits, it’s really important to exercise regularly and an ideal way to start increasing your physical activity is a daily 20-30 minute walk. We also have qualified Nordic walking instructors to lead you on exciting trails as part of a group.

“If the weather won’t allow you to spend too long outside, there are plenty of indoor activities available and numerous classes running at our leisure centres and swimming pools across the borough.

“We have great fitness activities for all ages and abilities. For the over 50s there are aerobics classes and walking football and walking netball sessions, which take place at leisure centres and are a great way to get back into the game.”

For more information about Everybody Sport and Recreation facilities and classes, visit: everybody.org.uk or email: enquiries@everybody.org.uk

Exploring Cheshire East’s landscape and attractions on foot is a great way to keep active and have fun during winter.

Throughout the year, the council’s ranger service team runs a variety of activities and events in the borough’s parks and greenspace. You can find out more by visiting: www.cheshireeast.gov.uk and searching for ‘ranger service’.

If you want to get out and explore on your bike, make sure you wrap up warm and take your bike for a health check to test that the tyres are in good condition. You should always wear reflective clothing and use bike lights and reflectors.

If you need support to live a healthier lifestyle, the One You Cheshire East service is available. This includes information, advice and free services to help residents to eat well, drink less alcohol, move more, lose weight and be smoke free. More information can be found by visiting: www.oneyoucheshireeast.org or calling 0808 1643 202.

For further winter-related advice, visit: www.cheshireeast.gov.uk/livewell and scroll down to the winter wellbeing section. Advice can also be found on the council’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/cheshireeastcouncil and on Twitter: @CheshireEast

Details of events taking place near you, which can help you to keep active, can also be found via www.cheshireeast.gov.uk/livewell and by clicking on the community activities tab.

Residents can help friends and neighbours, who do not have internet access, by downloading and printing off information from the website and giving it to them.

Macclesfield food operator convicted


A Macclesfield food operator has been prosecuted on two charges relating to food hygiene offences.

Abdul Sami Nazari, 37, of Sefton Road, Sale, a food business operator who runs Chicken@Gios and Gio’s Pizza, two neighbouring food business on Sunderland Street, in Macclesfield, was convicted at Crewe Magistrates Court for the offences.

Nazari was fined £670 on each charge for hygiene failures after Cheshire East Council’s environmental health team uncovered a number of breaches during visits made last year.

Nazari pleaded guilty to both charges and was fined £1,340 in total. He was also ordered to pay costs of £1,526 and a victim surcharge of £67.

Cheshire East officers found that Nazari had failed to keep the food premises clean and that the structure was in a bad state of repair. They also observed poor food preparation and storage conditions.

During the inspections, it was also found that equipment that came into contact with food was not being effectively cleaned and that hand wash basins were not used regularly.

Councillor Ainsley Arnold, Cheshire East Council cabinet member with responsibility for regulatory services, said: “Pursuing the conviction of Mr Nazari will send out an important message to anyone who thinks it is acceptable to take short cuts, when it comes to food hygiene.

“Residents and visitors to our borough should never be exposed to unnecessary health risks and I strongly urge all our food operators to take this opportunity to review their procedures and policies.

“I know that this example of poor food hygiene standards is a very rare incident in our borough but rest assured we will never allow unhygienic practices to go unpunished.”

Cheshire East ‘Emotionally Healthy Schools’ project shortlisted for national award


A multi-agency project aimed at improving the mental health of children and young people across Cheshire East has been shortlisted for a top national award.

The ‘Emotionally Healthy Schools’ project has been running for nearly two years and is supported by a number of agencies, including Cheshire East Council, local schools, Cheshire and Wirral Partnership, NHS Eastern Cheshire CCG, NHS South Cheshire CCG and the charities Visyon and Just Drop In.

The project is an innovative response to address the mental health needs of children and young people across the borough. It focuses on improving resilience across all schools and training teaching staff to ensure they meet the mental health and wellbeing needs of the most vulnerable children and young people.

The Local Government Chronicle (LGC) award recognises the success of councils that adopt a strategic approach to meeting the needs of children and young people who need help and protection, including providing early intervention. 

In Cheshire East, nearly 12,500 children and young people (which is 13 per cent of the population aged 0-24) are estimated to have a mental health disorder. It is also estimated that 20 young people injure themselves every day and that five have suicidal thoughts.

An independent evaluation of the first phase of the project – which took place in six schools: Middlewich High School; Ruskin High and Oakfield Lodge in Crewe; Eaton Bank Academy in Congleton; The Macclesfield Academy and Poynton High – was undertaken by Salford University.

It demonstrated that there was a reduction in referrals to specialist mental health services by participating schools.

Councillor Jos Saunders, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for children and families, said: “The mental health and wellbeing of children and young people is vitally important to a good experience of childhood and determining long-term health into adulthood.

“The scale of our ambition in this area knows no bounds and I am so proud of the strength of our relationship with schools, the health service and other key agencies. 

“I am delighted that, through an innovative and collaborative approach with schools, the project has shown tangible improvements in the mental wellbeing of children and young people across the borough.”

Keith Simpson, the strategic lead for the project and headteacher of Middlewich High School, said: “Middlewich High School is proud to be the lead school for this innovative and exciting project. Since its launch, we have already had an excellent impact on transforming the way the education, health and voluntary sectors work collaboratively together. Our vision is for all Cheshire East’s young people to thrive in our increasingly complex society.

“By 2020, the overall aim of the Emotionally Healthy Schools programme is that educational settings from 0-21 are equipped to build character and support the emotional heath of their populations, thereby reducing the number of young people who need help from other services. This work is already receiving national interest and the model is being viewed by other local authorities to replicate its vision.”

One young person, who preferred to remain anonymous, said: “More than anything else in the world, every teenager just wants to feel ‘normal’ so that they can fit in. The Emotionally Healthy Schools project has taught us that there is no such thing as ‘normal’ as everyone is different and we all think and feel in different ways.” 

The LGC awards will be held in London on March 21, 2018.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Phantom Debt Collectors and Bailiffs Fraud Alert

Subject: Phantom Debt Collectors and Bailiffs Fraud Alert


This is a message sent via Neighbourhood Watch. This information has been sent on behalf of Action Fraud (National Fraud Intelligence Bureau)

(Please do not reply or forward this email directly; please use the Reply, Share buttons at the bottom of this message)

Message sent by

Action Fraud (Action Fraud, Administrator, National)

Phantom Debt Collectors and Bailiffs Fraud Alert

Action Fraud has recently experienced an increase in the number of calls to members of the public by bogus bailiffs requesting payments for a “phantom” debt. The fraud involves being cold-called by someone purporting to be a bailiff working on behalf of a court, attempting to recover funds for a non-existent debt.

The caller will request payment by means of bank transfer and if this is refused, will threaten to visit the premises to recover the debt that is owed. A range of different businesses and individuals are being targeted.

Though this type of fraud can occur throughout the UK, Action Fraud has noted that a significant level of reports are being made from those in the Yorkshire area.

Tips for staying safe:

  • Confirm what the debt is regarding; bailiffs are only used to recover certain debts such as council tax, child support and compensation orders. Bailiffs are not used to recover debts relating to private advertisement; these would be collected by debt collectors. Debt collectors do not have the same legal powers as bailiffs and will not have special court authorisation to act. For more details regarding this, please look at the Citizens Advice website.
  • If you work for a business and receive a call or visit from bailiffs or debt collectors, be sure to speak with your manager or business owner first. Never pay the debts yourself on behalf of the business you work for; some fraudsters have suggested employees do this whilst talking with them, suggesting they can then be reimbursed by their employer, when in reality the debt is non-existent.
  • Double check with the court or originating company to confirm whether the call is legitimate; if you use a landline make sure you hear the dialling tone prior to dialling as the caller could still be on the line and you could potentially speak to the fraudster(s) to confirm the non-existent debt. Also be sure to independently search for a telephone number to call and clarify; never use a number provided by the caller without carrying out your own research.
  • Request details of the debt in writing to confirm its legitimacy.
  • Do not feel rushed or intimidated to make a decision based on a phone call.
  • You can report suspicious calls like these to Action Fraud by visiting www.actionfaud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.

Judge backs council’s prosecution of litter lout ordered to pay out £1,000


A judge has backed Cheshire East Council’s ‘get tough’ approach to littering and fly-tipping and thrown out a litter lout’s appeal against conviction.

Dr James Carey, 63, of Goulden Street, Crewe, was fined £80 with costs of £930 in June for dropping a cigarette in Earle Street in Crewe. He was also ordered to pay a £30 victim surcharge.

Carey had admitted dropping the cigarette but denied leaving it. He pleaded not guilty to the offence of littering but was convicted after a two-hour trial.

A judge sitting at Chester Crown Court has now rejected his appeal against conviction and Cheshire East Council has been awarded a further £120 court costs – taking the total amount Carey has been ordered to pay out to £1,160.

Councillor Janet Clowes, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for adult social care and integration said, “Whilst this may seem like a large fine for dropping a cigarette, the council takes a zero tolerance approach against environmental crimes and we do not accept any level of littering in our towns and countryside.

“There is no financial incentive for the council to prosecute, given that any fine awarded in court goes to central government. The council only keeps the costs awarded and a victim surcharge, which are relatively small amounts compared to the fine. Money from fixed penalty notices (FPNs) is kept locally by the council and is used to help fund environmental services.

“This case was very much about the council saying that we know that the majority of residents want our beautiful borough to be kept as clean as possible and that we take very seriously all levels of environmental crime. There are many unsung heroes helping to keep their own communities clean and tidy and it is only right that we take tough action on those who choose to litter, fly-tip or let their dogs foul our communities.”

Cheshire East Council began its ‘Keep Crewe Clean’ campaign in September 2016, employing a team of enforcement officers to prosecute incidents of fly-tipping, littering and dog fouling.

Fly-tipping, dropping litter and dog fouling are all environmental crimes which can be reported online at: cheshireeast.gov.uk/environment or by ringing 0300 123 5011. The website also contains lots of information to help residents with their waste and recycling.

Council to launch consultation on draft Crewe HS2 Masterplan Vision


Cheshire East Council is to launch a public consultation on its draft Crewe HS2 Masterplan Vision.

The document provides a strategic framework for the town, showing how current regeneration plans for Crewe could be built upon through future development, investment and infrastructure to maximise the transformative economic benefits of an enhanced HS2 hub rail station at Crewe.

If approved, the vision will be used to develop detailed plans and policies for key areas for investment, including from the town centre to the areas around the existing station.

The draft masterplan vision is based on government deciding to deliver both enhanced rail infrastructure and a hub station at Crewe capable of serving up to seven stopping high-speed HS2 trains per hour, with direct services to Manchester, Birmingham and London.

Together with a programme of investments in the town centre, hub station surrounding area and local highways network, the vision shows how Crewe could be truly transformed for the benefit of communities across the borough – creating potential diverse employment, housing, retail, leisure, cultural and educational opportunities.

The draft masterplan vision would support the creation of almost 40,000 new jobs over the next 30 years in Crewe alone and facilitate additional economic growth across the surrounding towns in Cheshire East and its Constellation partners in neighbouring authorities.

It would also look to create a new commercial hub around the station housing more than 350,000sq metres of new commercial floor space and deliver an additional 7,000 homes, above existing plans, by 2043.

Cheshire East Council Leader Rachel Bailey said: “The arrival of HS2 at Crewe by 2027 provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to deliver nationally significant transformational economic growth and regeneration – not only to Crewe, but the whole of the sub-region.

“An enhanced Crewe hub station would be the catalyst to deliver this growth, jobs and investment opportunities for Crewe and our partner councils and LEPs in the Constellation Partnership and the wider Midlands and North Wales regions.

“A fully-connected HS2 Crewe hub is a key aim of this council in order to maximise the enormous economic benefits this project will deliver to the whole sub-region and beyond. It reflects a plan-led approach to growth for Cheshire East and our partners.

“But Crewe needs to be HS2 ready. These huge potential benefits can only be delivered with the right masterplan framework in place for Crewe before the arrival of HS2. That is why we have produced this draft masterplan vision document which will undergo full public consultation.

“I would also reiterate that we wish to see the highest standards of mitigation and compensation for those people and businesses affected by the HS2 route.

“We will continue to press for a strategic hub station at Crewe, served by increased HS2 services to and from London, Birmingham and Manchester, that will benefit from the station’s unrivalled 360-degree connectivity. In this way the economic benefits could then reach far beyond the traditional political and regional boundaries.”

The draft masterplan vision seeks to develop two complementary and linked centres, with development around the HS2 hub station focused on employment and Crewe town centre regenerated as the cultural, retail and leisure focus for Crewe and the wider area.

The vision stresses the importance of investing now and in coming years to maximise the positive impact of HS2 on Crewe. This approach has already seen the council decide, in September 2017, to invest in the Royal Arcade project, public realm and Crewe market in the town centre. These investments and others, such as proposals for a state-of-the-art Crewe History Centre, are examples of moves to make Crewe ‘HS2 ready’.

Councillor Ainsley Arnold, cabinet member for housing, planning and regeneration, said: “The draft masterplan vision presents the prospect of a very exciting future for Crewe and builds on the successful town centre regeneration already in action. As a town built on the back of the Victorian investment in the railway, a successful framework for growth through a masterplan vision will ensure the town equally benefits from this next high-speed rail revolution.”

Frank Jordan, executive director for place at Cheshire East Council said: “The draft masterplan vision builds on the council’s extensive track record of delivering significant infrastructure development in Crewe and set the conditions for future growth via a framework that is agile and responsive and that delivers more-integrated connectivity.

“The Crewe hub station needs to have a high-quality design that would set the standard for development in Crewe in the future and promote ‘quality of place’ in the towns and rural areas right across south Cheshire.”

The six-week consultation will be launched later this month, following unanimous approval by Cheshire East Council’s cabinet today (November 7) and will be the first phase of the consultation process. The draft masterplan vision will also be shared with key stakeholder groups for their feedback and comments.

Council cushions impact of bus review after listening to residents’ feedback


More of the borough’s subsidised buses will stay on the road than initially proposed following residents’ feedback to Cheshire East Council’s public consultation.

The council’s cabinet today (Tuesday) approved a proposal to reduce the amount of money it intended to save by around £500,000.

The council has responded to the consultation feedback by retaining bus access to some 99 per cent of residents who currently have access to a bus.

The council had intended to seek savings of £1.57m but has agreed to propose a reduction in savings to just over £1m, meaning more services will be subsidised than originally planned, keeping some essential routes operating.

The council went out to public consultation earlier this year to seek the views of residents on the possible withdrawal of evening and weekend services and the reorganisation of daytime services. 

In total, 3,959 responses to the consultation were received.  The council took into account a number of factors before arriving at its final network of supported services.

The assessment process considered the coverage of services throughout the borough, the needs of the elderly and other concessionary users.

Councillor Paul Bates, cabinet member for finance and communication, said: “We face challenging financial constraints and we recognise that some of our residents will be affected by a reduction in services.

“We have had to make some tough decisions but we feel that we have met many of the concerns expressed in the consultation feedback by re-configuring some routes and retaining the subsidy on routes where the removal of services would have resulted in hardship.

“I want to thank all those people who took the trouble to contribute to the consultation and we would like to see residents making greater use of our buses, where practicable, so that car dependency across the borough is reduced.”

Operators are to be invited to provide costs for evening services on some key routes and the council will award tenders, which offer best value, taking in duration of route-working through the day and evening.

Unfortunately the council will not be able to support Sunday bus services unless they are totally self-sustaining. Withdrawing these services would have less social impact than withdrawing other services.

Also in response to residents’ feedback, the council is to secure additional Monday-to-Friday daytime services connecting Congleton, Leighton Hospital, Alsager, Rode Heath, Scholar Green, Sandbach and Goostrey.

Proposed changes to the borough’s ‘Little Bus’ service will be delayed to ensure that the service is not over-subscribed.

Although savings are estimated at more than £1m – rather than the £1.57m originally planned – an accurate financial position will not be known until the tendering and procurement process has completed.

Full details of routes and adapted services can be found at http://bit.ly/2znQ91j

Winter Wellbeing – stay warm this winter


Cheshire East Council and its partners are offering a range of advice and support to residents on how to keep warm, well and safe this winter.

This week, we remind people of the importance of staying warm.

Staying warm can help to prevent you from becoming ill, especially if you are already vulnerable due to your age, poor health or disability.

That’s why it’s important to ensure you keep up to date with the weather and the forecasted temperatures this winter, as well as keep your home at the correct temperature and wear enough clothes to stay warm.

If you can’t heat all the rooms you use at home, heat your living room during the day and your bedroom just before you go to sleep. If it is very cold, set your heating to come on earlier and turn off later rather than turning the thermostat up.

If you have reduced mobility, are aged 65 or over, or have a health condition such as heart or lung disease, the advice from Public Health England is that you should heat your home to at least 18C. It's a good idea to keep your living room at 21C and your bedroom at 18C temperature all night if you can.

If you’re not sure how your heating controls work, ask a friend or neighbour for help. To keep warm while you’re in bed, you can also use a hot water bottle or electric blanket – but not both at the same time.

Other advice includes wearing lots of thin layers – clothes made from cotton, wool or fleecy fibres are particularly good and help to maintain body heat – and wearing shoes with a good grip to help prevent slips and falls when outside.

Before winter sets in, it’s also important to think about how you can cut down on your energy costs.

Of all the things you can do to save energy, improving your home’s insulation will have by far the greatest impact. Here are some easy, quick fixes:

● Fitting cavity wall insulation can cut around £135 off your heating bill each year and loft insulation can save you up to £175 per year;

● Get draught excluders for external doors, windows and letterboxes. It’s also worth tackling gaps between skirting boards and floorboards;

● Double-glazing keeps the heat in and also reduces noise and condensation; and

● Close your curtains as soon as it starts to get dark, to lock in the heat.

The council’s care and repair service provides support to older, disabled and vulnerable people to improve their homes. The service includes accessing urgent works grants for home repairs, such as heating and insulation, and helping to organise the works. For more information, phone 0300 123 5017 (select option four).

To keep up to date with the weather, tune in to the Met Office’s weather forecasts on radio and TV. Severe weather warnings are also issued on the Met Office website, through their Twitter feed (www.twitter.com/metoffice) or you can ring their 24-hour weather desk on 0370 900 0100.

For further winter-related advice, visit: www.cheshireeast.gov.uk/livewell and scroll down to the winter wellbeing section. Advice can also be found on the council’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/cheshireeastcouncil and on Twitter: @CheshireEast

Residents can help friends and neighbours, who do not have internet access, by downloading and printing off information from the website and giving it to them.

Prizes handed out to youngsters for ‘Chalk It Up’ efforts


Youngsters who tried their hands at pavement art during Crewe’s Chalk It Up event have been rewarded for their creative efforts.

Chalk It Up, an international pavement art festival, took place over the August bank holiday weekend and saw award-winning artists transforming Crewe’s Market Square into a riot of colour.

It was organised by Cheshire East Council, in collaboration with Liverpool-based Urban Canvas, with the authority also funding the event in partnership with Crewe Town Council and Whitby Morrison, renowned ice cream van manufacturers.

As part of the festival, youngsters were invited to enter a competition held on Lyceum Square, in which they were given free rein to create their own chalk drawings.

This week, Teigan Bailey, from Crewe, Hester Molyneux, from Worleston, and Kathryn Steele, from Church Lawton, each received prizes for their efforts after being selected as the overall winners of three age categories.

Six-year-old Teigan, a pupil at St Michael’s Community Academy, was named winner of the six years and under category for her mermaid drawing. In the ages 7-11 category, nine-year-old Hester, a St Oswald’s Primary School pupil, won with her picture of a sea turtle.

Finally, 13-year-old Kathryn, who attends Alsager High School, won the ages 12-18 category with her ‘silhouette skyline’ drawing.

In total, 86 youngsters entered the competition, with their artwork judged on composition, use of colour and overall design.

During a prize-giving ceremony held at Crewe’s Municipal Buildings, Cheshire East mayor Councillor Arthur Moran and Crewe mayor Councillor Diane Yates presented each of the winners with a certificate, desk easel, art pad and box of pastels.

Cllr Moran said: “Chalk It Up was a brilliant event for Crewe and one which really captured people’s imaginations.

“Well done to all the youngsters who entered the children’s competition – there were so many excellent entries and the standards were very high. It was a pleasure to meet the competition winners and I hope they’ve been inspired by Chalk It Up.”

Artists travelled from across the globe to take part in Chalk It Up, including from the United States, Mexico, the Netherlands, Italy, France and the UK.

More than 8,000 visitors attended the two-day festival to watch them in action and thousands more visited in the days that followed.

Cllr Diane Yates said: “Chalk It Up was fantastic and we are delighted to have worked with Cheshire East on this flagship event.

“People travelled from far and wide to attend the festival and it was great to see many of them having a go at pavement art themselves, especially all the youngsters who produced some brilliant artwork.”

Friday, 3 November 2017

New council fund to support the borough’s unpaid carers


Residents who act as a carer for a loved one can now access a special fund set up to help them enjoy a reasonable quality of life themselves, including a break from their unpaid caring role.

Cheshire East Council, in partnership with NHS Eastern Cheshire and NHS South Cheshire clinical commissioning groups, is committed to improving the health and wellbeing of the many people with caring responsibilities.

Some can be very young children caring for a parent or sibling in need of additional support, or a spouse caring for their partner. Those cared for may have mental health needs, elderly care needs or physical health and mobility needs. 

The new Carers’ Living Well Fund will be launched on Wednesday, November 1, and will be available until March 31, 2018.  It will enable people who care for others to access financial help for a range of activities, including a break from their caring role to improve their health and wellbeing. 

There will be exclusions for a number of activities and more personal financial commitments or where social care or health service funding applies.

Councillor Liz Wardlaw, cabinet member for health, said: “Many of us will become carers within our families over our lifetime, perhaps caring for our parents or our spouse. There are many young carers who think nothing of looking after a parent or sibling as part of their family life. 

“These unpaid carers – often referred to as hidden carers – can spend up to 20 hours a week looking after a loved one, sometimes with personal care, shopping, dressing and household chores.

“The Carers’ Living Well Fund is about helping carers to enjoy a good ‘work and home life balance’, avoiding the risk of jeopardising their own health and wellbeing. Supporting carers to enable them to meet their own needs is a key focus for health and social care partners, including Cheshire East Council.

“Often their support goes unpaid and, without help and support for themselves, they can feel a sense of isolation – that life can be a struggle with physical and emotional demands.”

A grant from the Carers’ Living Well Fund is a one-off payment, limited to one payment per household, where the eligibility criteria have been met. It can be made at two levels - £250 or £500.

Families and organisations working with carers – hidden carers especially – are asked to identify them and signpost them towards the financial and help services available to them. This includes carers who have never accessed statutory or voluntary support, in particular carers who are new to their caring role.

As well as agreeing to an informal review, carers will need to meet the following eligibility criteria:

· That they are an unpaid carer or manage a budget for the person they care for;

· That they live in the geographical boundary of Cheshire East Council or are registered with a GP practice in the NHS Eastern Cheshire CCG or NHS South Cheshire CCG areas.

There is a maximum of one grant per household or cared-for person and young carers, under the age of 18, should have a bank or building society account or agree to the grant being held by a parent or guardian.

For more information about the Carers’ Living Well Fund and how to apply visit: carearrangersteameast@cheshireeast.gov.uk

Council beefs up powers to tackle dog fouling and anti-social owners


Cheshire East Council is beefing up its powers to crack down on dog fouling and dog control.

It follows overwhelming public support for tougher controls put forward by the council during its recent borough-wide consultation.

The four-week public consultation, which ended on October 10, was held to seek residents’ views around the introduction of a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) specifically to tackle dog fouling and dog control across Cheshire East.

The authority received more than 1,400 responses and more than 90 per cent of respondents backed the creation of a PSPO to cover all public places and fines for owners who fail to clean up after their dog. 

The creation of a PSPO will help the council identify and enforce against anti-social dog owners and promote the safe and enjoyable use of all our open public spaces – including land previously not covered by enforceable dog control byelaws.

The PSPO came into effect from today, November 1, and will enable the council to more-effectively combat dog fouling and introduce certain dog control requirements. The council recognises that most dog owners are responsible and would like to thank them for their continued support in helping to keep public areas clean.

Councillor Paul Bates, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for finance and communication, said: “This consultation got a tremendous response from the public and, as we are a listening authority, we have responded to what they told us.

“It became apparent, from very early on in the process, that our proposals really struck a chord – and residents overwhelmingly supported plans to beef up enforcement and promote responsible dog ownership.

“It is clear from the responses that this is an important issue for residents and the council wanted to give the whole community the opportunity to have their say in shaping policies that help make Cheshire East such an attractive place to live, work, build a business and visit.”

The main features of the PSPO allow the council to:

● Tackle those that fail to pick up after their dog in all public places within Cheshire East

borough;

● Allow authorised officers to tell a dog owner/walker to put and keep their dog on a lead if

necessary, for example, if their dog was showing aggressive behaviour; and

● Issue a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) of £100. A failure to pay the FPN may lead to prosecution and a potential maximum fine of £1,000, as would more serious breaches of the PSPO.

Why introduce this new PSPO for dog fouling and control?

Cheshire East Council has a statutory duty to keep land clear of litter and refuse (including dog fouling) and a duty of care for dealing with waste.

The authority also has a duty to take action against irresponsible individuals who fail to clear up after their dogs on land which is open to the public. Not only is dog mess highly unpleasant, it is also a hazard to health – particularly to young children. Roundworm eggs found in dog mess (toxocara canis) can easily be picked up by children. This causes stomach upsets, sore throats, asthma and, in some cases, blindness. 

Introducing the PSPO allows the council to replace and extend the existing dog controls and byelaws. This will give a consistent approach across the borough to dog fouling and introduce dog control requirements to encourage responsible dog ownership and ensure that everyone is able to enjoy our publicly-accessible open areas, woodland, heath land, country parks and public spaces safely.

A national survey found 95 per cent of Britons are worried about the amount of dog fouling. The council recognises that most dog owners are responsible and clean up after their pets but a small minority continue to cause problems.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Pebbleart

Reporter Jonathan White, Wistaston

‘Pebbleart’ is making an artistic impact in the Crewe and Nantwich area.

The Pebbleart project was started in Morecambe by a woman called Jacky Burns with participants encouraged to paint a rock, write Pebbleart on the back and then hide it in the hope of making a stranger smile when they find it.

Pebbles from craft shops or public places are taken home and painted with acrylic paints or permanent pens. The pebbles are then hidden or placed in public places such as next to a path, a park bench or even on a high street.

Anyone who finds a painted pebble can leave it where it is for someone else to find, rehide and take a photo of it for a Facebook group page, or take it home and keep it if they wish.

A national ‘Love on the rocks uk’ Pebbleart Facebook group now has 40,000 members and has resulted in local Facebook groups being started across the United Kingdom in recent months.

Sharon Cattell from Wistaston has setup a ‘Love on the Rocks Wistaston (Crewe & Nantwich)’ Facebook group - https://www.facebook.com/groups/283759602126716/ - for people to post the location and a photo of local Pebbleart.

Sharon said, “I discovered the ‘Love on the rocks uk’ Facebook group and thought that Pebbleart was a great way to entertain my children with combining painting when its wet and walking when its dry. The children love to do arts and crafts and also love walking. We have hidden Pebbleart in Wistaston, Wolstanwood, Delamere Forest and Cat Bells in the Lake District. Plus, we even hid one in a Hobbycraft! I setup the ‘Love on the Rocks Wistaston (Crewe & Nantwich)’ Facebook group to hopefully get the local community involved. We love to see when someone posts where Pebbleart has been found and a photo - hopefully it makes the finder smile as well.”

Pebbleart in Nantwich - photo by  Sarah CattellPebbleart ready for distribution -  photo by Sarah Cattell

New drop-in gentle movement sessions for older adults in Crewe


Cheshire Dance is inviting residents from Crewe and the surrounding area who are living with dementia, those with early onset dementia and those keen on prevention to come and join us with their loved ones or carers to move in a fun and relaxing environment.

The perfect choice for Social Prescribers, dance and movement is a popular physical and social activity; it’s like an elixir, packed full of the things we love about life.  Alongside the more obvious physical and social aspects, Cheshire Dance wants us to know that it’s good for our brains too, they want to encourage the residents of Crewe to dance, which greatly enhances the quality of life; something that dementia can steal from people living with the condition, as well as from their loved ones and their friends too.

According to research, studies indicate that regular dancing once or twice a week lowers the risk of cognitive decline.  A robust 21-year study amongst older people, undertaken by Albert Einstein College of Medicine (AECM) in New York City showed that ‘Of any activity that you do, regular dancing was found to offer the most protection against dementia, offering a 76% risk reduction.’

Further studies too are showing that people living with dementia and their families are seeing benefits to their quality of lives, whether playful moving at home or taking part in an organised class.  In a recent Arts4Dementia project in London the benefits of dancing lasted for a week or more, for some right up until the next session the following week.  Whilst not a guarantee, dancing is clearly a good choice of hobby as we get older. 

In THIS Moment - Dance and Dementia Project (which has been created in partnership with Cheshire East Council (Cultural Services), Leighton Hospital and Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and supported by additional investment from Cheshire East Council Participatory Budgets scheme (Public Health) for Crewe based community sessions) has three main strands:-

  • The first strand launched last November introducing weekly dance sessions on the rehabilitation ward, 21b at Leighton Hospital, facilitated by Lead Dance Artist, Jody Morgan.  Here the patients are generally 70+ and are transitioning out of hospital after illness or surgery. 

  • The second strand has seen the project roll out into the community, with three regular sessions running in and around Crewe with the following aims:- 

  • To contribute to the prevention of the early onset of Dementia 

  • To offer people a way to live well within dementia friendly communities 

  • Finally, Cheshire Dance is designing a movement resource for families to use at home.  With the music on, the resource encourages the whole family to play, move and to enjoy the moment together. 

Teacher of community session Shirley Brocklehurst of Cheshire Dance says "Sheila and Derek have been married for 60 years.  Derek is his wife’s main carer and socialising and keeping active has become difficult and understandably they both feel lonelier.  So how lovely is it to see them waltzing on the dance floor like they used to, enjoying precious time together.  The tea dance is all about reducing social isolation as residents are feeling the joy and excitement from being able to access a community activity welcoming of dementia - there is magic in the medicine of music and dance as it stimulates memory and helps to keep people active.”

“I really enjoyed the gentle exercises, moving muscles, just doing a little bit, getting your shoulders moving. You’re sitting or in bed a lot usually. I think the breathing exercises too are very good at helping you relax.” Participant

“Patients were more engaged than normal, it was interesting to find out different information about each other and see them come out of their shells more. It was a really enjoyable session.” Rebecca, Staff Nurse

Details of all the sessions including the cost and how to book on in is detailed below:-

Chance to Dance:-

Tuesday’s from 3.30-4.30 pm – Belong Village, 20 Brookhouse Dr, Crewe CW2 6NA - £3.50 per session

Thursdays from 10.30 to 11.30 am - The Wishing Well, The Georges, Crewe - £3.50 per session

Pickmere Tea Dance:- 

15th November and 13th December from 1.30 – 3.00 pm - Pickmere Extra Care, Rose Terrace, Crewe CW1 3ET – Session is free refreshments will be provided

For information on all the above sessions call 07760428554 or email shirley@cheshiredance.org

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