Welcome to this my 75th electronic news bulletin.
This week has been a turbulent week in politics, but we must not let that to distract us from the challenges we face.
There are three priorities for the Government in the first half of this year... growth, aspiration and modernising public services. Put simply we will work to help more people get a job and get on in life in a Britain that has the best, modern public services. This will not be easy, however I believe that together we can get the job done and in the process make life better for our constituency.
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Member of Parliament for Crewe & Nantwich
- Held a public meeting with residents and concerned parties to discuss the proposed phone mast on Peter Destapleigh Way, in Nantwich
- Met with representatives from Music for Life encouraging children to learn music, in Crewe
- Visited Weston Village Primary School in Crewe, to learn more about their international twinning with a school in the Xi'an Province in China
- Met with representatives from the Cumberland Sports Arena in Crewe. The Crewe and Nantwich Athletics Club based at the Arena swept the board across all age groups in the league
- Held a Constituency Surgery in Crewe
- Met with the South Cheshire local GP consortium to discuss service improvements in our area
- Attended the Eye Health Alliance reception in Parliament
- Attended the launch of a report into financial education for Looked After Children, at the Department for Education in London
- Chaired an evidence session with care leavers for the cross-party inquiry into the education attainment of Looked After Children, in Parliament
- Chaired the All Party Parliamentary Group for Looked After Children and Care Leavers in a discussion on residential care
This weekend I attended the re-enactment of the Battle of Nantwich and the wreath laying ceremony at the Nantwich Holly Holy Day with my family.
- Edward opens HiQ's new MOT facilities, in Crewe
THOUSANDS of visitors baying for blood will descend on Nantwich this weekend for the traditional Holly Holy Day spectacular re-enactment of the Battle of Nantwich.
Organisers of Saturday's event, which commemorates the 1644 Siege, hope it will be bigger and better than ever before.
It was expanded last year to provide a broader appeal and a bigger sense of occasion in the town.
As well as the parade and battle re-enactment on Mill Island, there will be town centre entertainment and attractions throughout the day.
These include stage performances by X Academy and Nantwich Players, and a Living History exhibition and mounted troopers parading through the town.
Further plans include a hog roast, Punch & Judy Show, children's entertainer, and 17thCentury entertainment, including live music and a musketry demonstration.
Holly Holy Day Society chairman Shaun Cafferty said: "The general consensus was the atmosphere and sense of occasion in the town was fantastic.
"Morning activities added to the traditional parade and battle and offered amusement for those who didn't necessarily want to stand in a cold muddy field for their fun!" Four times as many people attended last January's event than in previous years.
Society treasurer Graham Fenton said: "It's a jolly good day, and we hope everyone will come down and see it.
"Certainly last year's event was a lot busier and some of the traders said they were a lost busier than they would normally be on a January Saturday afternoon as well."
Crewe & Nantwich MP Edward Timpson has been patron of the event for several years.
He said: "It really puts Nantwich on the map and provides a much-needed boost for local businesses who may be experiencing a post Christmas slump."
The Holly Holy Day Society has marked the historic battle every year since 1973.
It features soldiers from the Sealed Knot Society re-enacting the CivilWar battle between Cromwell'sParliamentarians as they attempted to hold off King Charles I's Royalists in January 1644.
Parliamentarians took the town of Namptwiche in 1643, but by December, the town was surrounded by Royalists and under siege.
However, help was at hand for the besieged Parliamentarians in the formof a relief force of '3,550 horse and 5,000 foot' which had marched south from Lancashire under the command of Sir Thomas Fairfax.
The army engaged the Royalists in the Henhull area to the west and defeated them in the Battle of Namptwiche.
On January 25, 1644, the siege was lifted and the people wore holly sprigs in their hats in celebration - hence Holly Holy Day.
Mr Cafferty said: "We are hoping even more shops enter into the spirit by doing something special, or wearing period costumes.
"As well as celebrating Nantwich's rich history, it's all about bringing some fun and colour into the town at an otherwise less colourful time of year.
"If its anything like last year, there will be a real buzz and atmosphere in the town that day, a real splash of colour to brighten up a winter Saturday and well worth visiting Nantwich to experience."
Activities get underway from9.30am in the town centre, with the battle re-enactment commencing at 2pm on Mill Island.
Entry onto the battlefield is £2 adults, £1 children, or £5 for families of up two adults and three children.
In order to ease entry onto Mill Island, this year there will be an entrance on the bridge from the old gasworks site offWelsh Row as well as the usual entry point onWaterlode.
© 2011 Mirror Group Limited
Crewe and Nantwich Chronicle
MP says: ‘We must push the council to revoke permision for Stapeley mast’
CREWE and Nantwich MP Edward Timpson has called on hundreds of families living in Stapeley to get behind the fight against a phone mast next to Pear Tree Primary School.
Mr Timpson led a public meeting attended by dozens of concerned parents at the school on Monday.
He said that the only option left was to urge Cheshire East to revoke the ‘deemed approval’ received by Vodafone for the 14.3m-high mast on Peter DeStapleigh Way.
“One of the concerns parents have is the potential health fall-out. Vodafone will say nothing is proven, but equally if you can’t disprove it, you need to be cautious,” he said.
“We’re dealing with a company who, by hook or by crook, are determined to put this mast up.
“We’ve got nothing to lose so we must push for the council to revoke the planning permission. The alternative is they go right ahead and put it up.
“Cheshire East have their tails between their legs on this, so they should be bending over backwards to work with us.”
Mr Timpson also said residents should write to Mono, acting on behalf of Vodafone, to express their concerns and anger.
Cllr Andrew Martin said: “After all the work that the local residents have put into this campaign, it’s very disappointing that Vodafone seem so intent on pressing ahead.”
Vodafone spokesman Rob Matthews insisted other alternatives had been explored but were not suitable.
He said: “In April 2010 we met with Edward Timpson MP, the local planning authority and residents to discuss the proposed site and we agreed to consider further alternatives as suggested by local residents.
“This did not provide a viable alternative and therefore the only option to provide the improved coverage is the current proposal and we are working on a build plan for the site.
“We note the comment from meeting today that the residents are to seek a revocation order from the council for the existing consent.”
© 2011 Trinity Mirror North West and North Wales Ltd
Crewe and Nantwich Chronicle
FURIOUS Crewe residents have blasted the second-rate postal service in the town as Christmas cards posted in mid December began dropping through letterboxes this week.
Yvonne Pierecy, of Grosvenor Park, described the service as an absolute disgrace after last week receiving a card posted on December 10.
Crewe councillor Chris Thorley received a letter on January 12 informing him of a meeting he should attend on January 5. The letter had been posted on December 23.
And at the Chronicle office, post which had been sent on December 16 finally arrived on January 10.
This comes just a month after Royal Mail’s own report revealed the postal service in the Crewe area was the second worst in mainland Britain.
Cllr Thorley said: “I got the letter saying I was to go to this important meeting on January 5 and it arrived a week afterwards.
“I also had a Christmas card from Winsford posted on December 16 and that’s just arrived. I’ve complained on the number they give but that just transfers you and transfers you and then says try the website.”
Crewe and Nantwich MP Edward Timpson has once again been flooded with complaints.
These range from people missing interviews for jobs because the letter hasn’t arrived in time, to hospital appointments being missed.
Royal Mail last week apologised for the poor service again.
Mr Timpson said: “I’m glad Royal Mail has seen fit to apologise, however what we need is action.
“Royal Mail have promised me fortnightly updates. We want to see Crewe receive a good postal service again as soon as possible.”
Royal Mail last week said it is working hard to improve delivery services in the Crewe area follow disruption to some mail deliveries after changes to local operations.
“Such changes were introduced as part of the modernisation of Royal Mail. They are vital to safeguard the future of the business and the highly valued one-price-goes-anywhere service,” said the spokesman.
They are also being undertaken on the basis of a national agreement between Royal Mail and our union last year and endorsed by postal workers through a national ballot.
Royal Mail’s North West ops director Steve Leach said: “I’d like to apologise to customers who have experienced delays in mail deliveries.
“Management and staff are working hard to improve deliveries in the area. Special measures are being implemented including using 25 volunteer managers to help sort mail for delivery and making additional deliveries on Sundays.
“We apologise again and wish to assure our customers the issues will be addressed as soon as possible.”
© 2011 Trinity Mirror North West and North Wales Ltd
Edward Timpson, Crewe and Nantwich Chronicle
I was pleased last week to open the new upgraded MOT and vehicle servicing services at HiQ on Nantwich Road in Crewe.
This sort of investment by a local business in our area is exactly what we need to see replicated across the country as we continue to tackle the nation's deficit through 2011, bring down the astronomical levels of borrowing, and start to pay off the UK's credit card bill.
That massive but essential task is only going to be achievable by the private sector growing, and both the public and private sectors working together more closely and efficiently, so as to help create the right conditions to drive that economic growth.
There have been encouraging signs already. In December we saw the fastest growth in the UK manufacturing sector for 16 years, reflected locally by the continuing resilience at Bentley and elsewhere across our own manufacturing base.
However, from speaking to both employers and the self-employed during my recent visits to small and medium sized businesses in Crewe and Nantwich, I know how vital it is for them that the banks lend more money more frequently so that the much needed credit that businesses need to invest and grow is far more readily available.
I look forward in the coming days to the Government announcing an agreement with the banks that does just that. Bankers must help British business as well as themselves – particularly in the banks that you and I – the taxpayers – own.
As the cross-party "All Change at Crewe" plan demonstrates, Crewe and Nantwich have a big part to play in 2011 and beyond in getting Britain back on its feet.
© 2011 Trinity News North West and North Wales Ltd.
PARENTS are pleading with Vodafone to stop building a mobile phone mast just 50 metres from a school – after a council blunder approved the scheme.
Members of Cheshire East Council's planning committee turned down the mast plan for Peter Destapleigh Way, in Nantwich, in 2009.
But planning officers failed to inform Vodafone of the refusal within the statutory 56 day timescale.
It means Vodafone can build the mast, despite a planning code suggesting masts must be built at least 250 metres away from schools.
Now parents whose children attend Pear Tree Primary School, in Stapeley, near Nantwich, have held a public meeting to try to persuade Vodafone to stop its plans to build the mast.
Crewe and Nantwich MP Edward Timpson, pictured below, had previously suggested 12 alternative sites for Vodafone.
He told the public meeting: "We have called this meeting because we have now reached a point where Vodafone is close to physically starting to put up the mast in Peter Destapleigh Way.
"It's not an easy situation because Vodafone has planning permission.
"Officers at Cheshire East have made the error and have their tails between their legs on this.
"The planning department should be bending over backwards to help us on this.
"The most frustrating thing about this whole episode is that there was a very good local campaign to get the first application turned down.
"It was a shortlived victory, but there is a moral issue."
More than 20 parents attended yesterday's public meeting at the school.
They were told that Vodafone has rejected the alternative sites put forward by the campaigners.
Steve Holland, who has led the residents' campaign, said: "We are between a rock and a hard place.
"We are not against masts, but this throws the code of conduct out of the window.
"These masts are meant to be well away from schools."
Campaigners only became aware of the council blunder after rival 02 applied to build a mast at a later date.
But the residents were too late to force a judicial review by the time they discovered the mistake and hope to come to a compromise with Vodafone.
At the same time the campaigners hope to repeal the 'deemed planning consent' through planning law.
Mum Michelle Kirby, aged 42, who has children aged 10 and seven at the school, said: "The council has the right to revoke the decision and morally it would be the right thing to do."
Council officials confirmed Vodafone had turned down the alternative sites
Councillor Jamie Macrae, cabinet member with responsibility for prosperity, said: "I can confirm that the council has received a letter from agents acting for Vodafone, indicating that the company intends proceeding with a mobile phone mast on the northern side of Peter Destableigh Way.
"Over the past 18 months the council has been working with Vodafone to explore alternative locations for a mast.
"But the company has concluded that none of the other sites in the vicinity will give the necessary coverage for the locality."
© 2011 The Sentinel
Crewe and Nantwich Chronicle
ANGRY campaigners are lobbying Cheshire East Council to ‘right the wrong’ and overturn planning permission for a phone mast just yards from a primary school in Stapeley.
Telecom giant Vodafone received ‘deemed approval’ for the 14.3m mast on Peter DeStapleigh Way through an administrative error by Cheshire East planners.
It means children at Pear Tree Primary School could be learning and playing just 50m from the mobile phone antenna.
This has prompted fears of the pupils being exposed to harmful radio waves – although such concerns are scientifically unproven.
A public meeting was held at the school on Monday, led by Crewe and Nantwich MP Edward Timpson, Cheshire East and town councillor Andrew Martin and campaign leader Steve Holland.
The dozens in attendance agreed to demand the council revoke the planning permission.
And parents warned they may take physical action if the council and Vodafone do not listen.
Mum Michelle Kirby said: "The council can revoke this decision and morally it would be the absolutely right thing to do.
"However, I’m not sure the council would do that, so we may have to organise a demonstration."
Fellow mum-of-two Tracey Knight added: "The planners didn’t do their job properly. If they had, we wouldn’t be talking about this."
Vodafone won approval due to a loophole after planners failed to notify the applicant the plan had been rejected within the required 56-day period.
Cllr Jamie Macrae said: "We’ve been exploring alternative locations but the company say none of the other sites will give the necessary coverage for the locality. The council is very disappointed Vodafone has reached this conclusion and will continue to do everything possible to find a more acceptable location."
© 2011 Trinity Mirror North West and North Wales Ltd
Campaigners in Nantwich fighting phone giant Vodafone are being urged to bombard Cheshire East Council and the Local Government Ombudsman in a bid to stop a mobile mast being erected yards from a primary school.
Parents met with local MP Edward Timpson and local councillor Andrew Martin at Pear Tree Primary School to discuss the next stage of their fight.
Vodafone has vowed to press ahead with plans to erect the 14-metre mast close to the Stapeley school, after a council blunder granted them deemed planning approval despite councillors rejecting the original proposal.
Mr Timpson told the meeting yesterday (January 17) that there was a clear ”failure of the council to deal with the issue appropriately.”
Campaigner and Stapeley resident Steve Holland admitted they were now “between a rock and a hard place” because of the deemed approval.
He said the campaign group had submitted 12 alternative sites for Vodafone to erect their mast, but that these were all rejected “even though some offered better coverage.”
The key course of action is to call on Cheshire East Council to repair its “administrative error” by revoking the original decision via the Secretary of State.
Cllr Martin also urged as many people as possible to contact the council’s planning department in writing, although speakers admitted it would be highly unusual for the council to follow that course of action.
Residents are also urged to write individually to the Ombudsman to complain about the council’s handling of the application. Mr Holland has already written in.
Mr Timpson vowed to contact Vodafone again and urge their representatives to attend a public meeting, and said he will continue to raise the issue in London.
Government guidelines say mobile phone masts should not be erected within 250 metres of school grounds, but phone companies argue there is no firm evidence that they damage health.
No one from Cheshire East Council or Vodafone was present at the meeting.
© 2011 Nantwichnews
MP Edward Timpson at Crewe Mailcentre
Nantwich residents will get Sunday mail deliveries in a bid to clear the huge backlog of post across Cheshire.
Thousands of people have suffered because of the delays in the postal service following the closure of the Crewe delivery office last year and the transfer of operations to Warrington.
Royal Mail has admitted the problems are down to “changes to local operations” which has led to stinging criticism from local MP Edward Timpson among others.
Steve Leach, Royal Mail’s North West regional operations director, told The Sentinel: “I would like to apologise to customers who have experienced delays in some mail deliveries. Management and staff are working hard to improve deliveries in the area.
“Special measures are being implemented including using 25 volunteer managers to help sort mail for delivery and making additional deliveries on Sundays.
“We apologise again and wish to assure our customers these issues will be addressed as soon as possible.”
Mr Timpson unveiled figures recently which showed residents and businesses in Crewe and Nantwich were suffering the second-worst postal service in mainland Britain.
Work from the Weston Road depot in Crewe was transferred to Warrington, along with 600 jobs, after an 18-month fight to keep it open failed.
Local union reps say they haven’t been told about Sunday deliveries yet, but said there was a backlog all over the North West.
© 2011 Nantwichnews
If you’re still waiting for a Christmas present to drop through the door, then perhaps you can take heart from knowing you’re not the only one.
Many families have not yet received gifts and cards sent three weeks ago.
The Royal Mail had promised to clear the backlog blamed on the big freeze by taking on thousands of temporary staff and making extra deliveries.
Waiting game: Many families have not yet received gifts and cards sent three weeks ago
But householders across the country have reported in recent days that cards and parcels sent weeks ago have not arrived – even though letters posted more recently have.
The complaints, from areas including Warwickshire, Norfolk, Berkshire, Cheshire, and North-East Scotland, suggest Royal Mail is sitting on tens of millions of items at sorting offices – which are taking ages to deliver.
The delay may be because official targets for delivering 93 per cent of first-class mail by the next working day are torn up in the run-up to Christmas.
But although there is therefore less pressure on Royal Mail to deliver items posted between December 6 and January 1, it is required to push through items posted after the turn of the year, if the business is to meet official published targets.
Conservative MP Nadhim Zahawi, who sits on the Commons Business Select Committee, said the area round his constituency in Stratford Upon Avon had been badly affected.
Pile up: Royal Mail could be sitting on tens of millions of items at sorting offices
He added: ‘I received an enormous volume of complaints regarding the poor performance of Royal Mail before, during and after Christmas. It appears that the post is still far from back to normal, with what is clearly a very large backlog existing at the sorting office and haphazard deliveries across the area.’
Tory MP for Crewe and Nantwich Edward Timpson has reported similar problems.
Hundreds in the North-West have complained about missing Christmas post. Sarah Devlin, from Chorley, Lancashire, told the BBC that items posted on December 12 have yet to arrive.
‘I expected that with the snow and the bank holidays there would be some delay, but I never expected to be waiting this long,’ she said.
A letter posted in Bury on December 20 arrived at its destination in the same town on Wednesday – a wait of more than three weeks.
And a parcel ordered on December 4 in time for a birthday on December 12 arrived on Wednesday. One Oxford resident said a Christmas card arrived on January 10.
Several cards have turned up at the Norwich home of 70-year-old Pat Dorrington in recent days. ‘I know it has been a hectic time for postmen but it does seem a long time for a Christmas card to reach me,’ she said. Another woman told how a card which had been posted in nearby Suffolk on December 9 reached her only last week.
Royal Mail confirmed problems in Scotland, but denied a more widespread Christmas backlog.
It said: ‘The nation’s Christmas mailbag has been delivered, the overwhelming majority of it by Christmas Eve.
‘There was a huge effort by our postmen and women despite the worst December weather in living memory. We recruited 23,000 additional temporary staff.
‘We have had some reports of individual items of Christmas mail arriving after Christmas but we are confident these are isolated examples.
‘In that small number of places where there has been some disruption, we have already taken measures to deal with the issue.’
© Associated Newspapers Ltd