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Friday, 6 September 2013

People power wins day over Crewe’s Lifestyle Centre


A packed meeting of residents broke out into rapturous applause after Cheshire East Council abandoned proposals to build a new lifestyle close to the Cumberland Centre.

The hour long debate at St Peter’s Church concluded with the Leader publicly announcing that Crewe Lifestyle Centre would not be built on the site known locally as the Razzer.

The gathering, organised by the Town Council, heard how no planning permission had not yet been sought and that the purpose of the meeting was to hear public concerns and share the Council’s concerns.

Crewe Lifestyle Centre will feature a 25 metre, 8 lane swimming pool with a large learner pool for children as well as state-of-the-art facilities to ensure older and more vulnerable people have access to facilities to improve their health and wellbeing. The new centre will also benefit the Council’s adult social care and children’s centre services.

The leader was met with around 200 locals, many of whom were angry that the Razzer site was being considered for the ambitious plans that aim to tackle Crewe’s real problems on health and wellbeing.

Several local people spoke out against the proposal saying the site was unsuitable because of flooding and traffic congestion.

Councillor Michael Jones concluded: “I have listened to your concerns. It’s good to see local democracy in action. I have spoken to my officers, who have put a great deal of work into investigating this site, and I am now able to tell them that we will not be considering this site at all.

“I have listened and I am better informed for listening to your local knowledge. I am now saying to you that this will not happen at this site but I remain determined to deliver my vision of first class facilities for the people of Crewe.

“This truly is democracy in action and at no point was this a done deal. We are a listening council and, where there are real risks to the quality of people’s lives, we will listen and, if necessary, take action.”

One young mum stood up and praised the Leader saying the community spirit of the area would now remain intact and, on behalf of the people, she thanked him for listening.

It was also confirmed in the meeting that the local allotments were never at risk and indeed discussions were taking place about transferring them to the town council.

And after hearing concerns about the poor usage of Thomas Street Car Park it was confirmed that the car park would become free to use.

During the meeting Councillor Jones took the opportunity to openly criticise the building of Grand Retail Junction which he said had all but killed the town.

He said: “Crewe deserves better and I know that our vision will create wealth and jobs. The people of Crewe deserve this and I want them to start believing in the regeneration of the town.

“Previous administrations have all but killed the town centre by allowing Grand Retail Junction to be built in the first place.

“I won’t allow Grand Retail Junction to extend but we can’t turn back time and do away with it as I would wish. What we can do is make the town centre the magnet it needs to be to increase footfall and move the wealth around so that the town centre as a whole begins to benefit.”

Cheshire East Council will now consider alternative town centre sites and has promised to continue to consult with local people.

Cabinet member for health and adult social care Councillor Janet Clowes said: “We need to invest in Crewe in this way to tackle the very real health issues facing the people of Crewe.

“The lifestyle concept allows Cheshire East Council to provide new purpose-built social care facilities for our most vulnerable residents, ensuring that they are moved from accommodation around Crewe that is no longer fit for purpose.”

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