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Monday 29 December 2014

Local Boxing Day walk.

Reporter. Jonathan White, Wistaston

Twenty local walkers and dogs enjoyed a gentle stroll on Boxing Day 2014. The event was organised by Helen Gould, one of the Wistaston Community helpers, and the route lasted for ninety minutes over 2.5 miles of the glorious fields in Wistaston.

Beating the bounds of Wistaston will ensure that the public footpaths may be used by the public for another year - this is an old bye-law for all villages and towns.

Helen Gould said, "I re-introduced the walk in memory of Geoff Armitage who passed away this year. Geoff was a stalwart of the local community and organised the Boxing Day walk himself over many years until his health started to deteriorate.

The participants really enjoyed the walk and it added to the local community spirit. We have decided to make this a regular walk each year and all are very welcome, wherever they live".

The Wistaston Community Council also organises the annual Wistaston Fete, Flower and Produce Show, Spring and Christmas Concerts, and the November Fireworks Display. They are keen to attract new helpers to help organise the Wistaston-based events. Please visit for further information if you would like to join.

Boxing Day walk 2014 - some of the walkers and dogs

Wednesday 24 December 2014

Winter Wellbeing – doorstep crime


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 discuss doorstep crime and rogue traders looking to make a ‘quick buck’ this Christmas.

Cheshire East Council is urging people to be wary of rogue traders and doorstep criminals this winter.

Combating doorstep crime is a high priority for the Council and it can affect anyone – but often older and vulnerable adults are more at risk from becoming victims of bogus cold calling and rogue door-to-door sellers.

With the festive season at its height, the temptation to buy last-minute goods on the cheap is strong – but people are urged to avoid these people, who may rip them off.

Cheshire East Council’s Trading Standards investigations team has a ‘nominated neighbour’ scheme to help tackle the problem and is advising residents to take advantage of the initiative.

The project means people can be protected by someone they know and trust, such as a neighbour or relative.

The vulnerable person is given a card that they hold up to a window or door which advises any unidentified or unexpected caller to go to the address of a nominated neighbour. This person will then check the caller’s identity.

If they are genuine, the nominated neighbour will return with them and supervise the visit to make sure that nothing untoward takes place and will remain there until the caller has left.

Councillor Les Gilbert, Cabinet member in charge of communities and regulatory services, said: “People have a right to live safely and independently in their own homes but many find themselves feeling more vulnerable during the winter period.

“Sadly, bogus callers target vulnerable people in our communities and abuse their trust, as not everyone has the confidence to deal robustly with callers at their door.

“However, this scheme sends a clear message that our community is standing together to tackle this type of criminality.”

Councillor Janet Clowes, Cabinet member in charge of health in the community, added: “If you have an elderly or vulnerable neighbour or relative, then please come forward as a nominated neighbour for them.

“A simple phone call to Citizens’ Advice consumer service is all that is needed for an information pack to be sent out.

“This scheme will help limit the opportunity for doorstep callers to con their way into homes. Once they fail to gain access and the community is alerted to their activities it will act as a strong deterrent to stop them returning in the future.”

If you would like a nominated neighbour scheme pack sent to you, or to a vulnerable relative or resident of Cheshire East, contact Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 040506. More information is available at:

For further winter-related advice, please visit:


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.

Winter Wellbeing – loneliness and social isolation


Cheshire East Council and its partners are urging residents to check in on elderly friends and neighbours this festive period.

NHS England warned today (Tuesday) that loneliness and social isolation can increase the risk of emergency hospital admissions, which are expected to rise this weekend.

According to the NHS, a study in South West England showed that 45% of elderly patients admitted to hospital as an emergency said they were socially isolated.

More than half (51%) of all people aged 75 and over live alone, according to the Office for National Statistics, and two fifths of all older people (about 3.9 million) say television is their main form of company.

Research also shows that loneliness and social isolation are harmful to health. It is believed that a lack of social connections creates as much risk of early death as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

In some instances, it is thought to be worse than being obese or physically inactive.

Councillor Janet Clowes, Cabinet member in charge of care and health in the community, said: “It is at times like this, when the nights are drawing in and Christmas gets closer, that we naturally want to be surrounded by families and friends.

“Loneliness is a bigger problem than simply an emotional experience and it can have wider impacts on physical health.

“Please, if you have not yet done so, do check in on your friends, neighbours and family if you believe they could be lonely or vulnerable at this time. Just a simple visit could really make a person’s day.”

Cllr Clowes has also issued a message to Cheshire East residents this winter, at this link:

A spokesperson for NHS Eastern Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “Dropping in on a friend, neighbour or loved one over the festive period will not only show that you care but also help ease pressure on urgent and emergency health services at a critical time of year.

“And we can all play a role in managing demand for services by ensuring we choose the right care at the right time.”

Pamela Cairns, Marketing Manager at Wulvern Housing, added: “Loneliness and isolation amongst our older people is a very real concern.  We can all think about how we could help.

“There are support services around so, if you know someone who is vulnerable, find out what’s available in your area and take the information round to them – the visit and the information could make a genuine difference.”

A new free helpline for elderly people has been launched by the Silver Line charity, which operates 24/7. The line is staffed every day and night and can be reached by calling 0800 4 70 80 90 or 0300 4 70 80 90 from mobiles.

For advice on using the NHS wisely, visit or and search for Choose Well.

For further winter-related advice, please visit: and

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.

Council gets new funding to pay for road repairs


Motorists, cyclists and pedestrians can look forward to an even smoother journey on Cheshire East’s roads in future, thanks to a £54.5m government funding package for highway improvements and potholes over the next six years.

The Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has announced a record £6bn to be spent on tackling potholes across the country between 2015 and 2021.

Councils will get £976m a year to spend and Cheshire East will receive £10.5m for the financial year 2015/16.

The Council has already directed huge resources towards highways maintenance and pothole repairs and the funding will help to replenish the department’s coffers.

Reacting to the news, which was first signalled in the Chancellor’s autumn statement, Councillor David Topping, Cheshire East’s Cabinet member for service commissioning, said: “We welcome this good news, especially at this time of the year.

“This extra funding is to recognise the good work done by Cheshire East and those councils which have addressed the problems of 15 years of poor investment on the roads.

“We are among the councils leading the way on this. We have resurfaced over 200 kilometres of road and repaired over 100,000 potholes using our ‘Tell Dave’ initiative over the past two years.

“Our success is proved by the huge reduction in claims we have received. Our roads have never been safer for residents and visitors to Cheshire East.”

The council has maintained a steady programme of pothole repairs and the number of potholes reported by the public has fallen significantly.

Tuesday 23 December 2014

Cheshire East tops quality of life survey


Cheshire East borough once again heads the list of the best places to live in the North West in the Halifax Quality of Life survey.

The survey, now in its ninth year, is an indicator of life expectancy, family income, employment rate, exam performance, even sunshine and rainfall.

The borough is ranked 100th out of the top 250 boroughs across the country, moving up from 105th  last year.

And it heads the table of the ten North West local authorities which have made it into the final list.

The others are:

· Ribble Valley (121)

· Cheshire West and Chester (135)

· Trafford (140)

· Fylde (155)

· Eden (170)

· South Lakeland (188)

· Warrington (203)

· Stockport (234)

· West Lancashire (238)

Average weekly earnings are highest in Cheshire East at £808 – well above the national average of £629 - and the borough is in third place behind Trafford and Stockport for Broadband connection and in third place for good health.

But when other factors are taken into consideration including life expectancy, personal satisfaction and employment levels, Cheshire East comes out top in the North West.

Cheshire East Council Leader Michael Jones said:

“This is wonderful news and underlines what I have always stated, that Cheshire East is a great place to live and work.

“We have low unemployment and falling, youth unemployment has more than halved, our jobs growth is fantastic and salaries are rising with quality jobs coming into the borough all the time.

“We are also an authority which looks after its older people.”

The research puts Cheshire East in third place in the region for its GCSE results and in fourth place for its 16+ qualifications.

The Borough also compared well nationally with male life expectancy at 80.4 years, just 2.7 years behind Hart in Hampshire, which leads the survey’s findings. Cheshire East’s employment rate is 72.4%.

Councillor Michael Jones, Leader Cheshire East Council


As I reflect on the past year, as always there are highs and lows.

Thankfully the highs outweigh the lows and the best Christmas present I have had has been the news that once again we have balanced our budget and could well find ourselves in financial surplus next year meaning we can again re-invest in our residents a little.

Residents in Cheshire East can rest assured that we are in a strong position going forward due to prudent management of our finances and services and the magnificent hard work of Conservative members and staff.

This also signals a fifth year in succession of zero tax rise and that is certainly a record to be proud of.

We will have to find economies of £12m and although that is a significant sum, we are confident it will be comfortably absorbed and expect to be able to return more money to our communities through grants to those organisations and voluntary groups who do such fantastic work, especially at Christmas.

As I write, I have also just heard the news that unemployment in the Borough has fallen yet again, Congleton down to 0.8 per cent and Crewe down to 1.4 per cent. We are the best place to live and work.

Looking back on our achievements in 2014, there are many I can list that have made me feel personally proud to be leader of Cheshire East Council.

The news that Crewe is to get the High Speed Rail Northern Hub and the thousands of jobs this will create; the revival of Alderley Park in partnership with AstraZeneca and Manchester Science Partnership; Fairer Power the name of the first local authority service to deliver low cost energy to our residents and tackle fuel poverty; Bentley Motors – 300 jobs and an advanced research and development centre at Pyms Lane; a new University Technical College in Crewe to help us develop a new generation of highly skilled and talented young people – doubling salaries in Crewe over next ten years – these have been our major achievements in 2014. 

Our road infrastructure is improving all the time and our visitor economy is exceptional.

I like to think we are creative, visionary with a business model that many authorities would envy.

So why is it that our political opponents feel the need to make constant vindictive attacks, some of them extremely personal and not just against me but also against my hard-working staff? Is it because they are void of imagination with nothing to offer the residents of Cheshire East? What a blessing it would be if they turned over a new leaf, made a New Year’s Resolution and agreed to be constructive and work for the people rather than against them.

Our aspirations to have a local plan in place, something all local authorities have to do, coupled with the number of planning appeals we have lost has been a big low point in 2014.

We need houses but it is disappointing that planning inspectors have repeatedly approved sites that elected council members rejected. We have a brownfield first policy but developers choose the easy way opting for greenfield sites instead.

The Task force we have set up will expedite the local plan and deal with the clarification the inspector is seeking. But it should be noted that many authorities (around 40%) still do not have a plan in place and some have withdrawn altogether – an important fact our critics conveniently overlook.

But as a party of localism we are putting residents first with neighbourhood plans in place allowing local people to feel more empowered when it comes to decisions that directly affect their communities and sustainable planning development. 

Christmas time is a period when we are reminded of the plight of the homeless and I am pleased to say we have an excellent track record in assisting the homeless. Our teams have carried out hundreds of interventions to make sure no one should be spending Christmas on our streets. They deliver Christmas to homeless individuals each day of the year.

It is also a time when we remember those who are no longer around and this will be a particularly difficult time for my family as my father passed away only recently and my mother is seriously ill. Many families will be thinking of those they have lost or they may be looking after an older relative so that they can enjoy Christmas. I send particular good wishes to them.

I enter 2015 with the intention that we maintain this high performance, deliver more than ever by bringing an end to fuel poverty, no more youth unemployment, greater health, more jobs and a prosperous work force.

A very Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year

Councillor Michael Jones

Leader of Cheshire East Council.

Cheshire East Council aims to freeze Council Tax despite grant cut of 20 per cent


Cheshire East Council is demonstrating how local authorities can cut costs with innovative ways of working and a residents-first approach.

“We care about the pounds, the pennies and the people,” said Council Leader, Councillor Michael Jones.

The Council Leader was speaking after hearing confirmation that the authority had balanced its budget to within £100,000, following the Government’s announcement of its provisional finance settlement for councils in 2015/16.

“We are even closer to being able to confirm that there will be no Council Tax increase for our residents for the fifth consecutive year, despite having our revenue support grant cut by £9.66m or 19.9 per cent,” he said.

“Indeed, there may even be a small surplus to reinvest in the people of the Borough.”

Cheshire East’s £750m revenue budget for next year includes a target net saving of £8.7m.

Cheshire East has bucked the trend by working with unions and staff and by creating a range of wholly-owned operating companies that put residents first.

This has reduced management and staffing costs, enabled people to perform better and saved millions – and all without compulsory redundancies.

“We now do far more with a lot less and that’s the radical way we need to be,” said Councillor Jones.

“We are very confident in Cheshire East that we can cope with our planned reduction in spending next year.

“We are adopting different ways of working. We need to be innovative going forward and that’s what we are doing.

“A higher percentage of our income now comes from Council Tax, which has been frozen for the past four years.  We have also got economic growth and jobs.

“Nothing has closed at Cheshire East Council and there have been no compulsory redundancies among the staff. People are working differently we are saving money by using arm’s-length companies, rather than outsourcing to the private sector.

“This is the right way for a modern council to reduce waste and deal with the pressures of cost reduction. 

“I took a third of our management out and saved £5m, which is the right approach.

“We’ve got a budget to balance in this country and we have all got to work together to achieve that.”

Friday 19 December 2014

Christmas houses this year.

Reporter Jonathan White, Wistaston

I enjoy the Christmas lights in the Crewe and Nantwich town centres, but I also really enjoy the over-the-top Christmas lights and decorations (including the occasional inflatable decoration) that some local homeowners setup each year. Their electricity bills must be sky high, but they never fail to bring a smile to my face.

My favourites so far in Crewe are located in Ravenscroft Road, two houses opposite each other in Carlisle Street, a twenty foot plus lit Christmas tree in the front garden of a house on Jesmond Crescent, Hornbeam Close, two houses opposite each other in Alton Street (Queens Park end), Moreton Road and Vincent Street.

My favourites so far in Wistaston are in Park Drive, Westfield Drive and Lear Drive.

My favourites so far in Nantwich are in Cope Avenue, Davenport Avenue and Barony Road.

My most favourite Christmas house this year is located in Salisbury Avenue in Crewe – near the old police training centre off Nantwich Road. The owner(s) have decorated the frontage and an extended area of their house in a wide selection of lights and Christmas scenes. They’ve clearly spent a lot of time and effort in choosing and setting up their displays.

I must also give a special mention to the ‘Weston Charity Christmas Light Display’, which takes place at Carters Green Farm, Jack Lane, Weston, Crewe every day until Sunday 28th December 2014 (6:15pm to 9:00pm). Graham Witter, who is a BA (Hons) Business Management student at Manchester Metropolitan University (Cheshire Campus), has setup hundreds of lights at Carters Green Farm to raise money for charity. He started to install the lights in mid-October and ninety plugs are required to hook up all the displays to the electricity supply. The display covers farm buildings and their adjacent yard and contains a combination of rope lights, LED lights, animated 3D figures, 3D inflatables, together with background Christmas music. There is even a small wooden Santa’s Grotto with ramp access. For the second year running he is raising money for The Donna Louise Children's Hospice . Last year he raised £1,000 for the charity and the money was used to help refurbish the children’s bedrooms. To visit the display if heading from Crewe turn right off Weston Road (just after Crewe Hall) into Main Road towards Weston, then left into Jack Lane. If heading from Weston go over the A500 bypass bridge on Main Road and turn right in Jack Lane. >From both directions look out for the ‘Charity Christmas Light Display 6.15-9pm’ arrow signs at the end of Jack Lane.

I’ve uploaded all my photos to Flickr:

Crewe - Moreton RoadCrewe - Salisbury AvenueNantwich - Cope AvenueWeston - Charity Christmas Light Display

Talks under way about new home for popular Nantwich luncheon club


Cheshire East Council is working hard to find alternative premises for a popular Nantwich luncheon club.

The Council has explored a number of potential venues and has brokered talks between the Gables Luncheon Club and Nantwich Methodist Church, which may be able to provide the club with a new home.

The Council intends to dispose of The Gables building, on Beam Street, early in 2015. However, the luncheon club’s trustees and members have been reassured that they can continue using The Gables for the time being.

Rev Malcolm Lorimer, Minister in Charge at Nantwich Methodist Church, said; “We have a room in the church building that would be suitable and an excellent, modern kitchen.

“Discussions are well advanced and we are quite happy to welcome the luncheon club once we have resolved a number of practical issues.”

Councillor Les Gilbert, Cabinet member for localism and enforcement, said: “We are very pleased that Nantwich Methodist Church is now in discussions about the future of the luncheon club. 

“From day one, we have been determined to do the very best for the Gables Luncheon Club and we will do everything we can to stand by our commitment to find a suitable venue.

“We hope that the club will be able to grow at its new home and serve more local people.”

Councillor Janet Clowes, Cheshire East’s Cabinet member for care and health in the community, said: “Council officers are visiting the lunch club regularly to keep members and volunteers informed about progress.

“We are hopeful that this much-needed and much-loved club will soon find a new home.”

Council Leader hails latest planning appeal victory


Cheshire East Council’s Leader has warmly welcomed a planning inspector’s decision to block plans for a housing development in Congleton.

Councillor Michael Jones said the decision showed that the Council had been right to refuse planning permission for up to 104 homes at Waggs Road on highways grounds.

The appeal victory is the Council’s second in as many weeks, following refusal of planning permission for a housing development at historic Grade II listed Dingle Farm, in Sandbach, on heritage grounds.

After a three-day inquiry in October, inspector Olivia Spencer concluded that Belway Homes’ proposals for Waggs Road would have an adverse effect on highway safety and rejected the appeal against refusal of permission for the new homes.

The previous December, the Council’s strategic planning board had rejected the scheme saying the proposals would have a detrimental effect on Waggs Road.

Ms Spencer said: “The harm I have identified in respect of highway safety ... would be in direct conflict with the objective of the social role of the planning system to support the well-being of the community.”

She also added that, in the absence of appropriate mitigating measures, ‘the detrimental effect of the development on the safety of highway users would, I consider, be severe’.

Councillor Jones said: “I am delighted that the inspector has backed this Council’s decision to refuse planning permission. This is very good news for Congleton and Cheshire East.

“A second appeal victory in as many weeks shows we can stand up to developers and prevent inappropriate and unsustainable development.

“It shows that we are continuing to fight for the interests of Cheshire East’s residents – and having some hard-earned successes.

“People can be assured that we will make every effort to prevent inappropriate development, to preserve our precious heritage and get the right development in the right location.”

Eye health is ‘snow’ joke so winter proof your eyes says Crewe optician


As the icy winter weather sets in, a local optician is advising Crewe residents on how to protect their eyes from the harsh effects of cold winds and central heating which often leave eyes feeling dry, gritty and bloodshot.

At what can be a truly uncomfortable time for many Michael Elleray, store director at Crewe Specsavers in Market Street, is offering a few helpful tips and facts which will help prevent eye soreness.

Reducing the setting on your central heating, avoiding car heaters, especially at face level, and sitting away from direct heat such as gas or electric heaters are just a few ways of reducing the irritation of dry eyes this winter.

The gritty sensation and dryness we sometimes experienced in our eyes during the winter months can also be made worse by dehydration.

Michael Elleray says: ‘While we all enjoy a hot drink at this time of year, cut back on the coffee and drink more water. Additionally, using eye drops can add extra lubrication to dry eyes.’

‘The term ‘dry eye’ is used when the oil content of the tears doesn’t efficiently lubricate the eye. People with dry eyes often have plenty of watery tears so adding eye drops may seem to not make sense but it’s actually a vital contribution to the oil content of the tears.’

Of course, at this time of year many people suffer from the common cold and flu. These are respiratory infections and can inflame your conjunctiva – the clear membrane covering the whites of your eyes, leaving them feeling irritated.

You can help prevent cross infection from bacteria in coughs and sneezes by washing your hands before touching your eyes.

Michael Elleray adds: ‘It may surprise many but, even though it is winter, sunglasses are still handy to have to hand.

‘The sun is low in the sky at this time of year and can be uncomfortably bright for drivers. Sunglasses give the added protection against ultraviolet radiation and can help reduce the risk of developing cataracts and macular degeneration.

‘The snow will be here soon too and will reflect more UV radiation so remember your sunglasses after snowfall or on skiing holidays.’

The winter is an ideal time to get your eyes tested as poor light conditions can make you susceptible to eyestrain and everyone should get their eyes tested once every two years, or sooner if you are experiencing problems.

To book your next appointment at Crewe Specsavers call the store on 01270 250707 or visit

Thursday 18 December 2014



Cheshire East’s Wistaston Ward Councillors Margaret Simon and Jacquie Weatherill have met with Highways Staff and representatives from the local Parish Council, Sustrans and ActiveTravelCrewe at the A534 Crewe/Nantwich Road junction with Broughton Lane to discuss safety concerns, especially for cyclists. Broughton Lane is busy and often has queuing traffic, at peak travel times, whilst vehicles are trying to get out on to Crewe Road. The A534 cycleway passes across the edge of the junction and as vehicles are trying to turn our of Broughton Lane they compromise the cycleway pushing cyclists further out into the road.

Wistaston Parish Councillor Graham Roberts attended the Wistaston Ward A534 Consultation Day that Cllrs Simon and Weatherill recently held at Wells Green Methodist Church. He said:

“This junction has been a concern to me for some time. I’m a keen cyclist, who regularly uses the A534 Crewe/Nantwich Road. The way the cycle lane is marked out is not ideal. I think it needs to be reconsidered and improved. We cyclists have to be very careful that we don’t ride straight into the path of a vehicle trying to turn out on to Crewe Road.”

ActiveTravelCrewe’s Ben Wye raised similar concerns at the Consultation Day.

Cllr Margaret Simon said:

“There was no better way of understanding this problem than going out, during the busy early morning traffic rush, to observe the junction being used. Having the cycling experts on hand to point out why they consider it to be unsafe helped us to understand why they think it is dangerous. Our Highways Team will now take away the comments made and draft a scheme of improvements to bring back to us all to consider and agree a way forward.”

Cllr Jacquie Weatherill said:

“Margaret and I would like to thank everyone for turning out so early on a very cold morning in order to have their say about this junction. This is a really good example of partnership working. If we want to encourage sustainable transport for as many people as possible it is of paramount importance that they feel safe using our local cycleways. Many more issues were raised by residents at the recent Consultation Day, there will be more recommendations coming forward from it in the next few weeks.”

Broughton Lane junction photo

Photograph shows from left to right – Peter Foster from Sustrans, Cllr Jacquie Weatherill, Wistaston Parish Councillor Graham Roberts, Ben Wye from ActiveTravelCrewe and Cllr Margaret Simon at the junction of Broughton Lane with the A534 Crewe/Nantwich Road.

For further information please contact -

Margaret Simon – 01270 651582

Council’s crackdown on benefit cheats sees more than £1m being clawed back for taxpayers


Cheshire East Council’s crackdown on benefit cheats has led to more than £1m being clawed back for taxpayers and more than 50 people being convicted by courts this year.

The landmark figures were revealed as the Council successfully prosecuted six people in the Borough for benefit fraud in its latest court cases.

Since January 1 (2014), the authority’s benefit investigations team has uncovered  more than £1.315m in fraudulently-obtained benefits – which is to be repaid by the offenders –  and achieved 56 convictions.

Cheshire East Council actively pursues the recovery of all fraudulently obtained money to ensure the taxpayer does not lose out.

Councillor Peter Raynes, Cheshire East Council Cabinet member in charge of finance, said: “A figure of £1.315m is a significant amount of money that is successfully being reclaimed for our taxpayers.

“These latest prosecutions, and others like them, send out a very clear message that we are an enforcing Council and will take robust action to protect our communities from those who abuse the rules at the expense of taxpayers.

“Benefit fraud will not be tolerated. In the last financial year, we successfully prosecuted more than 40 benefit cheats and to date this year we have uncovered and cracked down successfully on 56 offenders.

“I congratulate our enforcement teams on their hard work on taxpayers’ behalf. The message is clear: people who cheat the system will be brought to justice.”

On top of the 56 benefit fraud convictions, a further 27 people were handed financial penalties rather than prosecuted and 26 people were issued with cautions.

The latest prosecutions netted fraud totalling more than £72k with offenders ordered to repay the money and pay out more than £3,000 in fines and court costs.

They were also sentenced to a total of six-and-a-half years of community supervision and told to do more than 500 hours of unpaid community work. One offender was sentenced to 12 months in jail suspended for two years:

Linda Morris, Elaine Stanley and Andrew Millican appeared before South and East Cheshire Magistrates’ Court (December 2, 2014) and all pleaded guilty to benefit fraud.

Linda Morris, 42, of Primrose Avenue, Haslington, Crewe, was sentenced to a 12-month community order with 100 hours’ unpaid work and ordered to pay £585 costs and a £60 victim surcharge for fraudulently obtaining £10,248 in housing benefit, Council Tax benefit and Council Tax support after failing to advise the Council that she had increased her earnings and her partner had started work;

Elaine Stanley, 45, of Rees Crescent, Holmes Chapel, was sentenced to a 12-month community order with 120 hours’ unpaid work and ordered her to pay £585 costs and a £60 victim surcharge for fraudulently obtaining £15,123 in housing benefit, Council Tax benefit and Council Tax support after failing to declare to the Council that her partner had been living with her for more than two years;

Andrew Millican, 56, of Waggs Road, Congleton, was sentenced to a 12-month community order with 100 hours’ unpaid work and ordered him to pay costs of £585 and a victim surcharge of £60 after fraudulently obtaining £6,480 in Council Tax benefit and Council Tax support after failing to declare he had capital of more than £16,000. Additionally he failed to advise the Council of an increase in his earnings and that his partner had started to receive an occupational pension;

Sharon Bains, 40 of Delamere Road, Bedworth and Kiren Sidhu, 43, of Shawbury Road, Manchester, appeared before Macclesfield Magistrates (December 4, 2014) over a fraud where Sidhu produced false documents for Bains to provide to the Council to make a claim for a property in High Street, Macclesfield, on the basis that she was on a low income.

However, investigators found that these earning certificates were false and Bains was working elsewhere on a higher income and that Bains had also failed to declare that the property she was renting belonged to her sister and brother-in-law.

This fraud led to Bains receiving £8,076 in housing benefit and Council Tax benefit to which she was not entitled. Magistrates sentenced Bains to a 12-month community penalty with a requirement to completed 200 hours’ unpaid work and ordered her to pay £435 costs and a £60 victim surcharge.

For her part in producing the false documents to support Bains’ fraudulent claims, Sidhu was sentenced to a six-month community penalty with six-months’ supervision and a six-week curfew. She was also ordered to pay £200 costs and a £60 victim surcharge;

Sharon Smith, 51, of Glover Street, Crewe, appeared before Judge HHJ Woodward at Warrington Crown Court (on December 4, 2014) for sentencing following an earlier guilty plea to benefit fraud.

Smith had claimant various benefits from the Council and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) on the basis that she lived alone and had no income. However, a joint investigation by the Council and the DWP found Smith had failed to declare that she had started to receive a pension in 2001 and at this time had also received a lump sum payment of £20,000.

Investigators also found that Smith had made false claims for housing benefit and Council Tax benefit in 2009 and that she had a resident partner who was supporting her financially. In failing to declare the pension, the lump sum payment and her partner and his income for a claim covering more than 11 years, Smith fraudulently obtained state benefits totalling £33,308.

Smith was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment suspended for 24 months with a two-year supervision order and a six-month curfew from 6pm to 6am. She was also ordered to pay costs of £896.

Sentencing, Judge Woodward said this was a serious offence committed over 11 years and that state benefits were there to help people in genuine need and that by falsely claiming the benefits Smith had taken a resource ‘from the most vulnerable in society’.

If you think someone is committing benefit fraud, you can ring the confidential freephone fraud hotline on 0800 389 2787. You don’t have to give your name and your call will be treated in the strictest confidence.

Alternatively, you can report suspected fraud via the Council’s website at

Tuesday 16 December 2014

Council Officer £30,000 pay increase

Council Officer in charge of failed Local plan set to get a £30,000 salary increase plus a £10,000 performance bonus.

You could not make it up !!!

The UKIP Group on Cheshire East Council (CEC) have blasted the proposal by the Conservative Group to promote the officer in charge of the failed Local Plan, increasing her salary by up to £30,000 (from £90,000) per year plus a £10,000 performance bonus!!

(See link

UKIP Group Leader Cllr Brian Silvester said," The Conservative Councillors have left leave of their senses. The failed Local Plan has cost £3.7m and has taken over 5 years and the officer in charge is set to be promoted and given a performance bonus !! Far from being promoted she should be sacked. She has left the good people of Cheshire East to the tender mercies of the developers. Precious green fields are being concreted over because of this self inflicted planning fiasco. For years the Council Leader and Council Officers has been saying that CEC has a 5 year supply of housing land but now they are openly admitting that they do not have a 5 year supply, after the Local Plan was rubbished by the Planning Inspector.The consequence of that is developers cannot believe their luck as they get permission after permission on green fields.

The other opposition groups on the Council have not said they are opposed to the proposed promotion and huge pay increase, just that it needed more discussion. The opposition groups are compromised because they have all accepted additional responsibility allowances from Cllr Jones and they are afraid they will lose their extra salaries if they are too critical of the controlling Conservative Group. The UKIP Group do not receive ANY extra responsibility allowances.

UKIP are opposed to bloated Council salaries and will not support increases like this. UKIP believe that it is wrong that the Chief Executive should be paid more than the Prim Minister and we will seek to reduce these huge CEC salaries and use the savings to improve the services for local people."

Deputy UKIP Group Leader Cllr. Andy Barratt said, “Conservative Councillors are stopping the extra weekend payments of Sports Centre staff but its alright to pay senior managers more. Tory Councillors have had over £150000 pay for their involvement in the Alternative Delivery Vehicles and other Responsibility Allowances, just for themselves, lining their pockets before retirement."

Best wishes

Brian Silvester
Cllr Brian Silvester BA (Hons)

Leader of the UK Independence Party Group

Willaston and Rope Ward Councillor

Cheshire East Council

11 Rimsdale Close



Tel/fax 01270 567757

Text     07760147609


Winter Wellbeing – protect yourself from flu


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 there is still time to get their flu jab.

The flu may not seem like a big deal to some – but it can lead to serious complications and illness, particularly in winter.

And this is why Cheshire East Council is urging people to get their flu jab as soon as possible – with GPs and community pharmacies accepting appointments up until Christmas.

Public Health England has identified that the people at increased risk of suffering from flu are people over 65, pregnant women, people with underlying health conditions and parents of two, three and four-year-old children.

Health and social care workers are also urged to protect themselves, as well as their patients and clients by having the jab and many of them have already done so this year.

Councillor Janet Clowes, Cabinet member in charge of health in the community, said: “For most healthy people, flu is an unpleasant but usually self-limiting disease with recovery generally within a week.

“However, older people, the very young, pregnant women and those with underlying disease are at particular risk of severe illness if they catch flu.

“Every year, hundreds of thousands of people may see their GP and tens of thousands may be hospitalised because of flu each winter.

“Symptoms can be very unpleasant and can last for several days – flu can lead to more serious complications like pneumonia and bronchitis, which need hospital treatment.”

Dr Heather Grimbaldeston, director of public health at Cheshire East Council, added: “It is really important that people are immunised every year as the flu bug changes each winter.

“The best way to protect yourself and your family is to get the flu jab, so please contact your GP at the earliest opportunity and make an appointment. Please don’t put it off or think it is not important.”

Groups most at risk of flu are:

· Over 65s and at risk groups, including pregnant women;

· At-risk groups cover those with a long-term health condition, i.e. diabetes, those with a weakened immune system (e.g. HIV or cancer patients), heart disease, chronic respiratory disease (e.g. severe asthma, COPD, bronchitis), kidney disease, liver disease, chronic neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s and people in long stay residential homes;

· Two and three-year-olds;

· Carers;

· People who are in receipt of a carer’s allowance, or those who are the main carer of an older or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if the carer falls ill. By getting the flu jab, carers also reduce the chance of them transmitting flu to the person they care for.

For further winter-related advice, please visit:


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.

Christmas Concert last Saturday evening.

Reporter Jonathan White, Wistaston

Crewe Concert Band - - performed a Christmas Carol concert on the evening of Saturday 13th December 2014 at Wistaston Memorial Hall, Church Lane, Wistaston.

Crewe Concert Band was conducted by Richard Moulton-Mallison.

John White was the Master of Ceremonies.

Community carols sung by the audience were Once in Royal David's City, Good King Wenceslas and Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.

Tim Lloyd spoke two monologues.

Chris White sang Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree whilst playing the ukulele & a kazoo and was dressed as a Christmas tree!

A memorable festive occasion was enjoyed by a large audience.

A total of £303 was raised which will be shared between the Wistaston Memorial Hall and Crewe Concert Band.

Crewe Concert Band - Christmas Carol concert

Christmas Carol concert in Crewe last Saturday afternoon

Reporter Jonathan White, Wistaston

The Wistaston Singers performed a Christmas Carol concert on the afternoon of Saturday 13th December 2014 at St Stephen’s Methodist Church on Gainsborough Road in Crewe.

Phil Houghton was the Musical Director and also introduced each song and soloist. Jane Hale was the accompanist.

There were readings by Jill Oakes (Micah 2, 4, 5), Brian Simpson (St Luke 2 V 1-7), Ann Farrington (St Luke 2 V 8-16), Ann Handley (St Matthew 2 V 1-12) and John Saunders (St John 1 V 1-14).

Soloists were Jay Robinson, Jane Hale, and Chris White who sang Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree whilst playing the ukulele and dressed as a Christmas tree! There was also an organ solo by Phil Houghton who played O Holy Night.

Carols sang were Once in Royal David's City, Away in a Manger, While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks, See Amid the Winter's Snow, O little one sweet, The Shepherds' Farewell, It Came Upon the Midnight Clear, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, O Little Town of Bethlehem, Coventry Carol, Good King Wenceslas, Angels' Carol, O Come, All ye Faithful. The finale was Like a candle flame during which the lights were dimmed with the choir singing it whilst holding candles. Refreshments were served during the interval.

Proceeds will go to St Stephen’s Methodist Church.

The Wistaston Singers were originally formed by members of the choir at St Mary's Parish Church, Wistaston in May 2000 and now number over forty members singing four-part harmony music. The choir perform a variety and eclectic choice of music ranging from choral church music and anthems, Gilbert and Sullivan items, music from the shows, music from modern composers such as John Rutter encompassing from the 15th century to the 20th century. They perform up to five concerts a year at various venues in south Cheshire. The choir is also available to perform at weddings in the area. The choir rehearse weekly in the parish rooms of St Mary's Church, Nantwich on a Wednesday evening from 7:30pm to 9:30pm. New members are welcome and further details may be obtained from Choir Secretary Jill Oakes, Tel: 01270 662940 and

Wistaston Singers perform a Christmas Carol concert at St  Stephens Methodist Church

Monday 15 December 2014

A ‘Christmas Handmade & Vintage Market’

A ‘Christmas Handmade & Vintage Market’ took place on the town square in Nantwich on Saturday 13th December 2014 from 9am to 3pm. The event was organised by Vintage Escapades and featured thirty stalls selling quality vintage clothing and homeware, local artists and contemporary crafters, Christmas decorations, gifts and food. 

Handmade and Vintage Christmas Fair 2014 (2)

Nantwich Lake Frozen

Sub-zero temperatures overnight meant that the majority of Nantwich Lake in Nantwich was frozen on Saturday 13th December 2014. I took the opportunity to photograph the gulls that were resting on the Lake’s ice. I noticed that some gulls stood on one leg at a time to avoid both feet getting cold! Reporter Jonathan White, Wistaston

Nantwich Lake u2013 frozen u2013 13-12-14 (1)

The Nantwich Santa Dash

Reporter Jonathan White, Wistaston.

The Nantwich Santa Dash took place on Sunday 14th December 2014.

Liz Southall from online community radio station RedShift Radio - - compered the event on the town square. She thanked the sponsors, volunteers and participants for making the event possible.

The ‘Rudolph family’ deservedly won the best dressed competition as they consisted of a Father Christmas, Mother Christmas, sleigh and three reindeer.

There was a warm up from an Instructor from Everybody , followed by a reminder of the 2 kilometre route around the town before the participants moved to the start line for the 11am set off. Cool and dry weather provided near perfect conditions and the first runner crossed the finish line in around 9 minutes, with the second placed runner just a few seconds behind.

There were people dressed as Santa Claus, Mrs Claus, elves, a Christmas tree, a two-person reindeer and even a few Santa dogs! Each participant received a medal, chocolate, mince pie and bottle of water. All proceeds from the event will go to Hope House Children's Hospices .

The race was once again generously sponsored by 1st Choice for Homes , with the chocolates kindly supplied by Sugros Cash & Carry, the mince pies by Chatwins and the bottled water by The Co-operative Funeralcare (Mill Street, Crewe). The course was marshalled by the Rotary Club of Crewe & Nantwich Weaver.

I’ve uploaded all my photos to Flickr:

I’ve uploaded a video of the start of the race to YouTube:

Best dressed competition winnersRace start

Sunday 14 December 2014

'The Ultimate Christmas Party: Through The Decades'

Reporter Jonathan White, Crewe

'The Ultimate Christmas Party: Through The Decades' took place at Nantwich Civic Hall on Friday 12th December 2014.

Men on stilts entertained the audience by performing tricks before the music started. ‘U've Been Framed!’ - - provided a photo booth to allow audience members to wear props and strike a pose in front of the camera.

‘The Wolves’ opened the show and warmed up the crowd with the acoustic violin and guitar duo singing several hit records including Stuck in the Middle with You and Hey Brother.

The Wolves then joined ‘Supercharged’ to form a six-piece band and they energetically performed numerous floor-filling classic hits from different decades including I Will Wait for You, Sweet Home Alabama, (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction, Happy, Just Can't Get Enough, Don't You Want Me, Disco 2000, Love Me Again, Should I Stay or Should I Go, I'm a Believer, Happy, All I Want for Christmas Is You, Cars, The Bad Touch, Poison, Go Your Own Way, Waterloo, No Limit, Children, Jump, Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree, One Day Like This and Johnny B. Goode. Balloons were dropped from the ceiling during Slade's Merry Xmas Everybody and the concert reached a crescendo with Kings of Leon’s Sex on Fire.

The event finished with a disco until 12:30am.

Tickets were only £10 and represented excellent value for money.

‘The Ultimate Christmas Party: Through The Decades' was organised by Warble Entertainment - - in partnership with Nantwich Town Council -

I’ve uploaded all my ‘The Ultimate Christmas Party: Through The Decades' photos to Flickr:

Supercharged - Mike Groves on bass guitarThe Wolves

MP,s 156th news bulletin

Edward Timpson MP

Friday, 12 December 2014


Welcome to this, my 156th news bulletin.

Last week, Bentley announced the latest phase in the biggest site development in the company’s history. A further £40 million investment will expand its headquarters in Crewe with a new research and development centre, creating over 300 jobs in the process.

I accompanied the Chancellor of the Exchequer on a visit to the Bentley factory last week so that he could find out all about the project and meet Bentley employees.

Bentley is our largest local employer, and I am unashamed about my support for it.  In 2012 I supported Bentley's successful application for £5million from the Government's Regional Growth Fund for investment in training and new engine development at the Crewe plant. The investment is aiding the company’s expansion into new and existing markets.

In 2013 I lobbied hard with the Prime Minister for Volkswagen, Bentley's owners, to build the new Bentley SUV in Crewe - and not Bratislava! This decision by Volkswagen resulted in £800million of investment in the Crewe site, the creation of a thousand UK jobs, and the safeguarding of many more.

I pushed hard in central government for Bentley to be awarded a University Technical College (UTC) in August this year. This puts Crewe - already a proud railway and automotive town - 'on track' for a future centred around engineering. The Crewe UTC will specialise in advanced engineering to provide workers for the future of companies such as Bentley and OSL Rail.

It will cater for 800 14-19-year-olds who want to pursue careers in engineering and high skill manufacturing, working with major local employers to develop gold-standard vocational  qualifications alongside more traditional qualifications.
And in September, I had the privilege to open a new dedicated Bentley apprenticeship training facility - a workshop and classroom-based institution - home to Bentley’s largest apprentice intake in a decade.

The new facility, based at apprenticeship training provider Total People within South Cheshire College, has been developed as part of Bentley’s new manufacturing apprenticeship scheme, focused on strengthening core skills as Bentley prepares for the introduction of its SUV in 2016, and future growth.

The latest intake includes 52 apprentices, 12 of which will be based permanently at Bentley’s headquarters in Crewe, working in a number of different engineering and commercial fields.

We have created here a clear career path in Crewe for our next generation of highly skilled engineers.

As I have seen at my annual jobs fairs, it's innovative, high-quality approaches like this from not just engineering companies, but many companies in Crewe and Nantwich, that have seen local youth unemployment fall by a whopping 66 per cent since the start of this government.

I am very proud of what we in Crewe and Nantwich have, together, helped achieve for young people in such a short period of time.

So with this optimism for the future in mind, I would like to take the opportunity to wish you a very Happy Christmas, and a prosperous 2015.

Edward Timpson

Edward Timpson MP
Member of Parliament for Crewe and Nantwich and Minister of the Year

Please remember, you can always contact me directly if you have any questions for me, or if there is anything I can do to assist you.

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Locally, I have...

Cllr Janet Clowes and Edward Timpson.
  • Welcomed Chancellor George Osborne MP to Bentley Motors in Crewe, where the company announced its plans to create 300 jobs and a brand new research facility on site.
  • Held two of my regular constituency advice surgeries and taken my popular 'On Your Street' surgery to Wybunbury Ward, where I spoke to residents with local councillor Janet Clowes (pictured, right).
  • Met planning minister Brandon Lewis, with other East Cheshire MPs, to discuss our concerns about the inspection process of the council's Local Plan.
  • Visited independent shops and traders last weekend, on Small Business Saturday, which highlights the importance of using local shops and tradespeople: small businesses are responsible for half of all job creation in the UK.
  • Taken part in the Childrens Commissioner Takeover Day at MMU Cheshire.  This annual event gives children and young people the opportunity to get involved in decision-making at participating organisations, to encourage them to learn more about the world of work.
  • Visited Crewe CAB to speak to director Ralph Charles, Chief Officer Liz Shaw, and some of the advice service volunteers.
  • Unveiled the official nameplate of DB Schenker's locomotive "Driver Jack Mills", at a ceremony on Platform 12 of Crewe Station.  Jack Mills and his colleague David Whitby are now fittingly commemorated by a plaque on the platform there, as the railwaymen who were victims of the Great Train Robbery.
  • Paid a visit to Royal Mail's Crewe delivery office, to give thanks, on behalf of the whole community, to the postmen and women who are working hard this Christmas to sort and deliver our letters and parcels.

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Westminster Report

Edward Timpson Westminster Report

The latest edition of my Westminster Report has been delivered across Crewe and Nantwich, with the latest news on jobs, apprenticeships and HS2, as well as the positive trends towards less crime and more adoption in our area.

You can click here or on the image to read a copy online.

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Photo News: CAB marks 75 years of service

Photo - Edward Timpson MP











I recently visited Cheshire East Citizens Advice Bureau's office in Crewe to talk to staff and volunteers about the trends in problems for which local people are asking the CAB's support.

2014 is the 75th anniversary of the service, established in 1939.

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Bentley announce 300 new jobs and £40m expansion plan

George Osborne and Edward Timpson at Bentley Motors

Crewe Chronicle: Bentley Motors today announced the creation of 300 new jobs and a £40m investment to expand its Crewe site with a new research and development centre.

The move was welcomed by Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, who visited the Pyms Lane factory with local MP Edward Timpson this morning.

Mr Osborne said: "Bentley is an iconic British Brand that exports around the world. Their decision to create another 300 jobs in research and development on a new site providing close to 1,000 new jobs is fantastic news for Crewe and for Britain.

"These highly skilled jobs in this export industry are exactly the kind of opportunities we want to see created which is why in yesterday's Autumn Statement I provided further incentives for R&D in the UK.

"The investment will not only create jobs at Bentley, but support many more through suppliers across the UK. I want Britain to be a country where companies want to invest and create jobs, as Bentley is doing today."

The new centre, measuring over 45,000m², will include a dedicated styling studio, research and development offices and a technical workshop. The facilities will house 1,300 Bentley engineers and is the latest step in preparing Bentley's infrastructure to bring the world's first ultra-luxury SUV to roads in 2016. Work on the new development is due to begin early next year.

The 300 new jobs will be in engineering, manufacturing, quality, sales and marketing and project management.

Bentley chairman and chief executive Wolfgang Dürheimer, said: "With Bentley's new research and development centre, we will develop a new generation of Bentleys, which will continue our commitment of luxury, performance, quality and engineering excellence.

"Bentley is the number one luxury car manufacturer in the world and driving more investment into our headquarters and attracting talent is key to continuing our success."

Today's news brings the total number of new jobs announced at the Crewe plant over the past 18 months to more than 950.

The luxury car maker has also produced record sales over this period.  Last year, Bentley delivered more cars than ever before - a total of 10,120, and it expects to break that figure in 2014.

The company also committed to an £800 million investment over three years in product and facility development, with this announcement driving the investment to £840 million.

Edward Timpson said he was delighted with the announcement. "This is another real and lasting vote of confidence in Crewe and is great news for local jobs," said the Crewe and Nantwich MP.

"That the Chancellor of the Exchequer chose to come to Crewe the day after the Autumn Statement and see first hand the boost that Bentley is giving to the local economy is firm evidence of the importance of our town to the long term economic recovery of this country.

"Bentley and its employees should be very proud of what they are achieving here."

Bentley says this expansion, the latest in a string of investments, further underlines the company's commitment to Crewe and the UK. Recent investments include a new apprenticeship training facility, where the largest apprentice intake in a decade will learn, a new flagship showroom, an expanded engine production facility and paint shop. Bentley is also playing a pivotal role in bringing the first university technical college to Crewe.

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Victims of great train robbery honoured at Crewe Station

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Crewe Chronicle: Family and friends of the victims of the Great Train Robbery gathered to see their courage and bravery recognised at Crewe Station.

Railway workers Jack Mills and David Whitby never recovered from the ordeal they suffered at the hands of the thugs who held-up the mail train in August 1963.

Today a loco was named Driver Jack Mills and a plaque unveiled at Crewe Station to mark the bravery of the Crewe railway workers who suffered at the hands of Ronnie Biggs and his gang.

As he unveiled the name plate on the loco, Crewe and Nantwich MP Edward Timpson said he was proud to mark the bravery and courage of the two Crewe men.

"Little did Jack and David know on that fateful night of August 8, 1963, what lay in store for them. It was a traumatic event which clearly affected them for the rest of their lives," said Mr Timpson. "That's why it's so important we remember their own part in what has become a very well-known story in the lifetime of this country.

"We talk about the Great Train Robbery – actually the great part of that is the role Jack and David played. It shouldn't be something that's associated with the criminals who put them through that ordeal. It's not something that celebrity should attract. Jack and David are the great people in this story and that's why we're here today to commemorate them, their lives and their contribution."

Mr Timpson said it was a huge delight and privilege to have the families of both men present.

He later presented Mr Mills' grandson Ian with a plaque of the train name.

After naming the train, a plaque in memory of both men was unveiled on platform 12 outside the booking office where they would have signed on for work on that fateful day.

Rail enthusiast Pete Waterman told the assembled crowd: "The important thing is this celebrates two men amongst many men who just turn up every day to go to work and do what they do as part of their living and that, in this case, was to drive a mail train.

"Every day drivers turn up to do their job, not knowing what is round the corner and we all forget that railway men do face adversity every single day of their lives. They do a job that seems easy, it's the circumstances that make it very difficult, so it really is a special occasion when we not only name a loco after a driver but also put a plaque on the station that remembers the importance of what these drivers and firemen did."

Mr Waterman, who had been due to unveil the plaque himself, then turned to David Whitby's sister, Nancy Barkley, and asked her to do the official unveiling, saying: "Why don't you pull the curtain? It's more important."

The unveiling was followed by a short prayer by railway chaplain Richard Cooke who dedicated the plaques.

He said: "We dedicate these plaques to the memory of two very, very special people, our colleagues, our friends, Jack and David."

  • You can read the full article about the recognition of the victims of the Great Train Robbery, including photos, on the Chronicle website.

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Photo News: Small Business Saturday

Photo - Edward Timpson MP











Last Saturday was Small Business Saturday, and I took the opportunity to speak to - and shop from - some of the independent shops and traders in Nantwich. Pictured is Mary of Mary's Wools at Nantwich Market.

Our economy could not function without our small businesses and the hardworking businessmen and women who are behind them. They make an invaluable contribution to our national growth and they are responsible for nearly half the job creation in the UK.

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MP's advice on cutting down heating costs

Ruth Day and Edward Timpson MP

Crewe Chronicle: Crewe and Nantwich MP Edward Timpson has met with representatives from E.ON at its 'Getting ready for winter' event to find out about the support available to help residents and small business customers with their winter energy bills.

The event was held in the House of Commons where representatives from E.ON shared details about:

The energy companies obligation which supports the installation of energy efficiency measures such as cavity wall and loft insulation in low income households and in properties that have cavities that are harder to treat.

Practical debt advice including home visits and information for customers who can't afford to pay their bills;

Smart meters which can help put people in control of their energy use, facilitate easier switching and bring an end to estimated billing;

E.ON's Saving Energy Toolkit which allows customers to see how their home energy use stacks up compared to similar homes in order to see where savings can be made;

Support for smaller to medium sized businesses (SMEs) including the energy Toolkit which offers sector-specific energy saving tools and advice and a dedicated energy efficiency helpline to help small businesses save energy.

Mr Timpson said: "There's a huge amount of help available for people who are worried about their winter energy bills, so it's great that E.ON is running this session to help ensure that anyone who contacts my office will be able to get the best and most up-to-date advice, whether they're an E.ON customer or not. I'd encourage anyone who wants to know more to get in touch with me or with their energy supplier to make sure they're getting all the help they should be."

Ruth Day, head of public affairs at E.ON, said: "We know people are particularly concerned about their energy bills at this time of year.

"That's why it's really important we make sure people know about the help they may be entitled to, before the winter sets in. As well as holding this event, we're also working with a number of like-minded organisations to spread the word, and are keen for anyone who's concerned to get in touch and find out how we can help them."

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MP says 'thanks' for posties' effort

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Crewe Chronicle: MP Edward Timpson was shown around Crewe sorting office and was introduced to the postmen and women who are working hard sorting and delivering mail in the run-up to Christmas.

Mr Timpson said: "It was great to meet delivery office manager Carole Brandreth and her team at Royal Mail's Crewe delivery office and see first-hand just how much effort they put into delivering for people at this time of year.

"All our postal workers, like Chris who delivers to my office on Victoria Street, do such an important job at this time of year and help bring Christmas to many people and families in our area.

"On behalf of all residents I would like to thank them for their efforts and wish them all the best over the busy festive period."

Carole said: "Our postmen and women are working extremely hard to deliver Christmas cards, letters and parcels to people across Crewe. We're grateful that Edward visited the office once again to see our operation and to support the team during our busiest time of year.

"We'd like to remind our customers to post early so that friends and family have longer to enjoy their Christmas greetings."

The last recommended posting dates for Christmas are: Second Class – Thursday, December 18; First Class – Saturday December 20. There is a special delivery on Tuesday, December 23.

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5 ways to contact Edward Timpson

Crewe & Nantwich

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First for Council as it signs academic partnership with Keele University


Cheshire East Council has signed a memorandum of understanding with Keele University covering work on renewable energy.

The two organisations have set up a knowledge transfer network to develop commercial advantages in renewables and the low carbon economy.

Together they will work to strengthen research and technological development in innovation to deliver low carbon energy solutions across the Council’s energy framework and geothermal project.

Officers, faculty members and students from the University will work closely together including spending time working on a reciprocal basis from both sets of premises. The Council will support students working on live projects for their MSc and PhDs.

The partnership will help the Council to be at the forefront of emerging energy technology and sustainable energy projects. It will also provide access to research-based funding to further develop the work of the Council to achieve its energy vision and residents-first approach.

Michael Jones, Leader of the Council, said: “This is an important agreement for the Council and demonstrates yet again our flexibility, innovation and teamwork when it comes realising our ambitions.

“I am determined to eradicate fuel poverty within the borough and this comes on the back of our announcement to launch Fairerpower, an energy supply provider.

Professor Peter Styles, Professor of Applied and Environmental Geophysics from Keele University said: “This partnership will provide an exciting, long-term opportunity for developing truly innovative research.  There are significant scientific and commercial benefits to the collaboration and I can see the region being at the forefront of renewable energy research in the very near future”.

Friday 12 December 2014

Cheshire East spearheads move to tackle problems of ‘aggressive’ street fundraiser ‘chuggers’


Cheshire East Council is spearheading moves to tackle the problem of ‘nuisance’ paid street fundraisers – or ‘chuggers’ – in our towns and communities.

Shoppers and visitors have complained about aggressive ‘hard sells’ by some fundraisers and being pestered to provide direct debit details in the street.

Cheshire East is leading the way with its partners to take active steps to manage the behaviour of paid street fundraisers, often referred to as ‘chuggers’ who operate cross the Borough’s towns –  including Macclesfield, Congleton, Wilmslow, Crewe and Nantwich. It follows complaints about some collectors’ behaviour.

Cheshire East Council has been working in partnership with local town councils and the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association (PFRA) to hammer out voluntary agreements as a basis to resolve tensions and improve professional standards of street collectors.

Councillor Les Gilbert, Cabinet member in charge of localism and enforcement, said: “We know there is a problem and we are determined to do the right thing by our residents, local shops and businesses – and reputable charity collectors who run risk of being tarred with the same brush.

“This Council is committed to protect and support our local residents from unacceptable conduct and harassment by some street fundraisers. We also want to ensure that reputable and considerate charity collectors are also protected and supported.

“We are keen to promote the vibrancy of our town centres as great places to shop, visit and do business. This initiative aims to assist retailers who are concerned that shoppers are being put off coming by the activities of ‘chuggers’ on our high street.”

Cllr Gilbert added: “The problem for all towns is that there is no legislation that covers in detail the activities of ‘chuggers’.

“However, a recent meeting with our partners in this area provided a great deal of positive information centred on the role of the PFRA with a voluntary code with sanctions.

“We will now look to create an effective Cheshire East framework, within which each town will specify its own requirements as a basis for discussions, conducted under the guidance of the PFRA. We believe that a co-ordinated approach across our towns is the best way forward.” 

Steve Service, outreach officer at the PRFA, said: “We are pleased to be working with town centres across Cheshire East to get an area wide agreement in place to regulate direct-debit fundraising.

“The right of charities to seek a sustainable form of income must be balanced against the rights of the public not to be put under undue pressure to give money. Following an extremely positive meeting with representatives from local town centres, we are hopeful that an agreement can be reached early in the new year.”

The group is keen to have agreements in place as soon as practicable.

£20m funding to grow Cheshire East and Greater Manchester life science industry confirmed by Chancellor


The Life Science industry in Cheshire East and Greater Manchester will benefit from a £20m Local Growth Fund award confirmed by the Chancellor George Osborne.

It takes the total value of the fund to £42m.

The award is heralded as a sign of confidence by the Government that Cheshire and Greater Manchester can create and deliver a vibrant specialist economy around the bioscience and life science sector.

The Chancellor has been convinced by the business case put forward by Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership.

With a further £7m from the private sector, added to the £15m already pledged through the Alderley Park Investment Fund, Cheshire and Greater Manchester will be able to play a major role in developing a core life science R&D industry in the region.

The fund demonstrates the commitment of both Cheshire and Greater Manchester to support and grow the life science sector, helping to establish the region as a world player in the development of new drugs, pharmaceuticals and healthcare technologies.

It reflects the great working partnership between Cheshire East Council, the Cheshire and Warrington LEP, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership and Manchester Science Partnerships.

The award comes just two months after Cheshire East Council announced a £5m contribution to a £15m fund set up to support start-up businesses at Alderley Park.

Council Leader Michael Jones said: “Cheshire East is re-establishing itself at the forefront of bioscience technology.

“The loss of jobs at Alderley Park due to the relocation of some of AstraZeneca’s operations was a serious blow but we are rapidly re-building and the further news from the Chancellor of a £200m advanced materials institute in Manchester will further enhance the reputation of Cheshire and Greater Manchester in the world of scientific research and discovery.”

“All this will attract highly skilled people and leading scientists to work and live in Cheshire East.  Great news.”

An independent report recently estimated that the Life Science Investment Fund could assist in the region of 60 life science businesses to grow over the next 15 years.

In turn this could create around 370 skilled scientific jobs.

It is a hugely important sector contributing enormous benefits to the local and national economy and will play a strategic role in the region’s aspirations to achieve a £35bn economy by 2030.

Working with colleagues in Manchester, the Cheshire science corridor is the engine for the North West’s growing knowledge economy.

Christine Gaskell from the Cheshire and Warrington LEP said: “We are really delighted that Government has pledged such commitment to the very strong submission made in partnership with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority.

“The Cheshire Science Corridor is one of the sub-region’s strategic priorities and this fund will provide the necessary financial boost to support the undeniable intellectual capital that exists in this area. This is a major growth sector and we want to attract world-class talent to live and work in this area.”

Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council said: “Manchester is already a key location for life sciences and this fund will help us encourage further expansion and strengthen the regional hub here.

“This is good news for Manchester, good news for Cheshire and good news for the North as a whole.”

Mike Blackburn, Chair of the Greater Manchester LEP said: “This is fantastic news for Greater Manchester and a further boost to the city region’s growing status as a major facilitator in science and technology developments.

“It also demonstrates our growing partnership with Cheshire, delivering great mutual benefits.”

“Life sciences in particular is a growth sector for Manchester and this new funding will go some distance in supporting new research and importantly, making valuable business collaborations.”

Andy Allan, Finance Director of Manchester Science Partnerships said: “combining the Alderley Park funds with an LGF-backed regional fund gives us the required greater scale.

“Alderley Park is a world class facility with a highly skilled workforce but there is a recognised gap in the availability of funding for life science businesses.  Our commitment to create a unique funding structure will ensure that the sector realises its full regional growth potential.”

Cheshire East and Ovo sign deal to bring Fairerpower to residents


Cheshire East Council is delighted to have entered into a contractual partnership with a recognised energy supplier to offer competitive energy in the Borough and, potentially, the wider North West region.

Cheshire East is the first local authority in the country to sign up with Ovo Energy, which aims to offer substantial savings against the national average tariff rates charged by the Big Six suppliers.

It means that Cheshire East will be the first council to sell energy in the UK since nationalisation in 1948.

Council Leader, Councillor Michael Jones, said today (Thursday, December 11): “The alleviation of fuel poverty is a key priority for us.

“This is yet another innovation for Cheshire East Council which will have a direct financial benefit for residents.

“We have already frozen council tax for four consecutive years. Now we will ensure that low-income families who are worried about paying their bills can buy energy more cheaply and will not have to choose between heating and eating.

“I want the people of Cheshire East to live well and for longer and not to have to worry about meeting huge energy bills.”

The new deal, branded as Fairerpower, will potentially benefit all of Cheshire East’s 170,000 households and also those living in other parts of the North West region.  Businesses could also take advantage.

An estimated 9.5 per cent of domestic customers in the Borough are in fuel poverty, which is 0.9 per cent below the national average. But the Department for Energy and Climate Change has stated that rural areas are in general harder hit by rising energy prices because more people have to rely on electricity, oil or LPG for heating.

Unusually for any tariff offered by other suppliers, Fairerpower will also be available to those using pre-paid meters, and even those who may have fuel debt may be able to switch on a case by case basis.

Stephen Fitzpatrick, Founder and CEO, Ovo: “We launched OVO Communities because we really believed the UK energy market was ripe for big changes. We want to provide a platform where people can come together, create their own systems, build their own innovations and create genuine partnerships. 

“As our first local council partnership we are really excited to have the opportunity to literally put the power back into the hands of the people in the North West region.”

Cheshire East Council is in negotiations to form a strategic partnership with the Borough’s largest registered housing providers – Plus Dane Group, Peaks & Plains and Wulvern Housing – to offer the deal to their tenants within their prescribed postcode areas, and would encourage any other social and public sector organisations, in and around the North West Region, interested in joining the partnership, to contact the Council.

OVO, as part of their Community Interest Initiative, is currently finalising terms with other like-minded organisations such as Community Energy South and Plymouth Energy Community and has a stated target of signing up as many as 200 local authorities, housing associations, and other community groups.

Before choosing Ovo, the Council carried out a rigorous procurement and evaluation process to ensure that the successful solution, and partner arrangement, is financially sound and can meet the Council’s criteria in terms of stability, customer service, and pricing strategy.

Business watchdog the Competition and Markets Authority is investigating the six energy giants — British Gas, EDF Energy, Eon, Npower, Scottish Power and Scottish and Southern Energy — which control 95 per cent of supplies.

It’s going to be a blooming Spring in Haslington


Haslington near Crewe is one of many areas that will be bursting with colour next Spring thanks to Cheshire East Council’s funding of a million bulbs as part of a commitment to making the borough a great place to live, work and visit.

The Council has joined forces with Ansa Environmental Services, its operating company for parks and grounds maintenance, to plant many different species of bulbs at more than 100 locations in Cheshire East including town centres, highway verges and major parks. 

The majority of the planting has been carried out by a specialist contractor using a purpose-designed planting machine, which can plant up to 500 bulbs per square metre.

Staff from Ansa Environmental Services spent more than three weeks enhancing the beds, which should be full of blooms from the end of February until early May, depending on the weather.

Councillor John Hammond, who represents Haslington Ward and is Chairman of Ansa Environmental Services, said: “This is an excellent example of partnership working and I am delighted that Ansa has been commissioned by the Council to undertake this project and look forward to seeing this area of Haslington in bloom next year.

“This planting will also supplement the excellent work undertaken by Haslington Parish Council in other areas of the parish.”

Councillor David Marren, who represents Haslington Ward, added: “The bulbs will no doubt be greatly enjoyed by the residents in Haslington as they bring lots of bright colour to the village in Spring, but the cumulative effect of tens of thousands of bulbs will also help boost the local economy as it will make the Crewe area as a whole much more enticing for businesses to invest in.”

Cheshire East’s website keeps buyers updated on property searches


Cheshire East Council is providing a ground-breaking new service to take some of the stress out of buying a house.

Prospective buyers often contact the Council seeking information about how their property search is progressing.

To help them, the Council has now developed a web application for customers who request a full local authority search, giving them the option to sign up for automatic updates.

Users can either search by address or zoom into the map to select a particular address. Once they select ‘notify me’, a window will display for them to submit their email address. The system then takes over and provides updates right up until the search information is sent to the buyer’s solicitor.

Councillor Michael Jones, Leader of Cheshire East Council, said: “Transparency is very important to us because it helps to ensure that we put residents and businesses first in everything we do.

“I am proud that Cheshire East is leading the way with this application. We are not aware of any other local authorities that provide this service to keep customers updated about property searches.”

Ian Bunn, Cheshire East Council’s principal building control and planning systems manager, said: “It is hoped that further innovative working practices will be deployed within this area, with proposals for alternative ways in which we deliver our Building Control and Planning support teams being developed soon.”

Council’s £5,000 boost helps get ex-services veterans back on track


Cheshire East Council has given a cash boost to a charity which helps struggling ex-service personnel get their lives back on track.

Councillor David Brown, Deputy Leader of the Council, recently visited LOL Farm in Bosley, which is home to the LOL (Listening Out Loud) Foundation – and presented the organisation with a grant cheque for £5,000 to support the charity’s work.

The money will be used to help fund a new support unit which aims to help veterans overcome mental health problems and get back into work and secure, independent living.

Cllr Brown said: “For me, this all started off back in 2011, with the Mercian Regiment homecoming parade in Congleton. As Town Mayor at the time, I had the honour of presenting the regiment with the freedom of the Borough and back then I was aware that LOL founder Jill Dolman was already working with others on an appeal, which sent thousands of Jiffy bags packed with treats out to soldiers based in Afghanistan.

“She then went on to gain more support from Cheshire East, getting access to some properties to house veterans and now, thanks to local benefactors, on to this magnificent building at LOL Farm.

“The charity has great plans for the future, to set up training and help get people back in to civilian society when they return, having served their country and looked after us all.”

LOL chair of trustees Peter Aston said: “Even though veterans are well trained whilst in the forces, they often leave without with credentials that mean anything in Civvy Street – so we’re going to ensure that our training facilities are fully accredited, enabling us to offer those all-important paper qualifications and get the guys back into the world of work.

“The LOL Foundation has been offering support to homeless veterans for just more than two years now. We treat every person as an individual and we help to improve their health and wellbeing – starting by giving them safe and secure accommodation.

“As soon as they feel ready and able, we get them into volunteering locally with community groups, churches and so on. Then, as their skills and confidence increase, we start looking for return-to-work training and working with local businesses – the whole intention being to transition them from homelessness and despair, back into secure, independent living.”

Mr Aston added: “Cheshire East Council has been very helpful to us right from the beginning. One of the things they’ve already done for us is to give us access to two houses, which are part of the Carter House complex, in Congleton.

“We now have plans approved to turn these two terraced houses into accommodation with a total of nine beds, including a mental health unit, with our own mental health pathway manager, key workers, support therapists and counsellors.

“An organisation called ‘Crash’, which is the construction industry’s own charitable arm, is organising the refurbishment of the properties for us and the money that Cheshire East have given us now will support the development of a bid for something called public health transformation funding, which we hope will provide the money to pay the first year’s wages and overheads for this new unit.

“Everybody who comes to LOL Farm finds this an extraordinary space. Its conference area has already been used by a number of organisations, such as the chamber of commerce, and Cheshire East. The idea is that we will be able to use the space in collaboration with other organisations too, such as Help For Heroes, and another organisation for veterans called the Warrior Programme.

“We also have two large warehouse spaces here on site and the plan is to turn those in to training facilities – one for motor vehicle training and the other for construction skills training, such as plastering and electrics.

“We will also use our fields to train horticultural skills by extending the existing polytunnels to create a teaching space. All our training will be to fully accredited standards and will be geared towards maximising employment opportunities for the people we work with.”

Outreach volunteer leader and former veteran Josh Bithell said: “In order to help people, we’ve got to make contact with them first – so I’m enjoying giving something back by working in a team of five volunteers and actively going out to find those people who need our help. It can range from running a soup kitchen to offering warm clothing and sleeping bags to homeless people.”

LOL founder Jill Dolman said: “One of the real difficulties with supporting people with mental health issues is that these are often hidden – and this is particularly true with ex-service personnel. Our ambition is to reach out to those veterans, and make a permanent improvement to their life chances. We are very grateful to Cheshire East Council for this £5,000 grant to help us do just that.”