Cllr Mike Houghton outside the Council Offices

Consultation launched on council’s strategic plan

A consultation has been launched on Knutsford Town Council’s draft strategy for the next ten years.

The strategic plan was developed following community consultation in Summer 2022, when the Town Council held a series of workshops and an online survey to hear from residents what they wanted to see the council address in the coming years.

The plan is an overarching strategy and intentionally doesn’t detail the solutions. It details the council’s core aims and objectives – how the council delivers on this will be set out as it progresses through the next decade.

The five strategic aims set out by the council are:

  • Supporting a thriving Town Centre
  • Promoting Active Travel
  • Leading a Strong Community
  • Improving Open Spaces and the Environment
  • Ensuring access to services and facilities

The aims are what the council will work towards in the long term and each is supported by a series of objectives which sets out how they will make these aims a reality. Each year the council will  produce specific action plans detailing what it will be doing to meet our objectives.

“This plan was built on the back of what we were told in our community engagement sessions last year and aims to ensure the council is addressing the needs and ambitions of the community” said Town Mayor, Cllr Mike Houghton. 

“Before the plan is adopted, we want to ensure it has your support. We want to hear from you again to tell us if you agree with our aims and objectives and to suggest what specific actions you believe the council should be undertaking to deliver them.”

The consultation runs until Friday 3rd March. The Town Council will then review all feedback and present a revised plan for adoption to the new council following the May 2023 elections.

The plan can be read online at www.knutsfordtowncouncil.gov.uk/strategicplan and feedback provided by the accompanying feedback form. Comments can also be submitted by email to strategicplan@knutsfordtowncouncil.gov.uk. Paper copies of the plan and questionnaire can be found in Knutsford Library, The Welcome and Knutsford Market Hall. 

The council is also hosting an open forum on the strategy at 7pm on Wednesday 22nd February in Knutsford Methodist Church. At the meeting the council will talk through the development of the plan and answer any questions from the community.

Town Mayor stands outside Evuna, wearing the Mayor's Chain

Town Mayor invites town to dinner

Mayor of Knutsford Cllr Mike Houghton is inviting the town to dinner with his next fundraising event – an evening of tapas and paella.

The latest ‘Dine with the Mayor’ will take place on the evening of Thursday 9th February and is hosted by Evuna. Tickets are just £31 per person and all profits from the evening will go to the Mayor’s chosen Charities: Knutsford Scouts and UK Men’s Shed. 

Opening sales for the event, Mike said ‘I do hope you will be able to join me for this fundraising event.  There will be delicious food, great company, and a chance to win prizes in the fundraising raffle!”

The dinner follows the Mayor’s Annual Pub Quiz which is taking place at The Angel on the 2nd February which is now sold out. If you’ve missed out on the quiz, get in early for the Town Mayor’s Music quiz on Friday 10th March.

Tickets for these events can be booked by emailing laura.phillipson@knutsfordtowncouncil.gov.uk or calling 01565 653 929.

A black and white photo of the Edward VII Coronation bonfire in Knutsford

From the archives: A Coronation Bonfire

The Town Council holds an archive of documents containing a wealth of local history and, thanks to the work of two dedicated volunteers, the archives are being sorted and catalogued for the first time.

Jenny and Mary attend the council offices each week to sift and sort the various files and we are keen to share the information they unearth. This article was prepared by them for the Friends of Knutsford Heritage Centre newsletter when they found an old photo showing men on a stack of hay?

When King Edward VII ascended to the throne after the death of Queen Victoria in 1901 towns and villages began planning extravagant celebrations for his coronation, which was planned for June 1902.

Many towns, including Knutsford, built large bonfires. This photo (which has been skilfully enhanced by Peter Spooner) shows the bonfire on the heath. The men standing on each tier are allegedly the town councillors of the time. You can clearly see a small silver crown near the top and the initials ER.

A black and white photo of the Edward VII Coronation bonfire in Knutsford

Knutsford’s bonfire and celebrations are mentioned in George Payne’s ‘A History of Knutsford’, published in 1904:

“On June 26, 1902, the loyal people of Knutsford, besides having a bonfire which measured 52 yards in circumference and was 44 feet high to the floor of the cabin placed on the top, which was itself 10 feet high, had what was quite appropriate, a sanding competition, in which twenty three cottages and tradespeople entered. Most beautiful and artistic designs adorned the street and pavements in front if the houses, and a number of prizes were awarded, the judges touring the ancient streets in a motor car.”

It was also mentioned in other publications, including the Dundee Evening Post, July 1902, which described different bonfires around the realm, accompanied by this illustration and description: “Of quite a different shape was the bonfire at Knutsford, containing 100 loads of stuff. At the base it was 16 yards in diameter, and the blazing properties were heightened by the addition of many barrels of tar.”

The coronation day was set for 26th June 1902 and guests were invited from all over the world. However, the King suffered appendicitis a few days beforehand and developed peritonitis: unless he postponed the
coronation and had an operation immediately he would die. The King, though hugely reluctant, finally relented, and 9th August was chosen as the new date. By then he was much recovered and the service proceeded as planned.

The society magazine “The Queen’ reported at length on regional coronation festivities and in the issue
published a week before the delayed coronation in August, Knutsford gets a special mention:

“There will, no doubt, be many places which will repeat the note of joyousness sounded for June 26 last, when Aug. 9 brings, as we all devoutly hope it may bring, the ceremony that was then postponed. Flags are a possession that can be hung at any moment, and bonfires can be reconstructed, but they will not be either the flags or the bonfires that were prepared when the nation was at the height of loyal expectation.

The little Cheshire town of Knutsford was no whit behind others in its demonstrations of joy; all the customary preparations had been made to honour the King, and another form of decoration, which unfortunately does not show in the photographs, was employed to adorn the pavements of the street. This is the old custom of “sanding”; all the shopkeepers ornament the stone pavement in front of their shops with arabesques, crowns, mottoes, etc. in sand. It is done by putting the sand into a funnel and letting it out in a fine stream, rather in the manner in which a cook ices a cake. The skill that some of them attain is wonderful.

I do not know if the gentle ladies [of Cranford] ever went to any such exciting thing as a bonfire; I imagine they would have thought it slightly improper, but if ever there had been a festivity of that description in their days, certainly Peter, the wicked Peter, who owned to having shot a Cherubim, would have assisted at its making. The photograph somewhat spoilt by the iron railings shows how the bonfire looked the day before the expected Coronation; afterwards, when we lit our bonfires in gratitude that the King was out of danger, this one burnt beautifully, though it canted over in a wonderful way before it was finished, immaculate as it looks here in its resemblance to a gigantic cake.”

60 King Street with Bunting

Council to consider the sale of 60 King Street

At its January 9th meeting, the Town Council will consider a recommendation from its Assets and Operations Committee that the freehold for 60 King Street be put on the market.

The property was tenanted until 2019 when, due to insolvency of the tenant the lease was forfeit. Attempts to secure a new commercial tenant were unsuccessful due to the scale of the building and the renovation works that are required to launch a new business from the premises. This has been compounded by the unprecedented economic climate the UK has faced since COVID and prospective tenants have stated that they would not be willing to invest the sums required in a building for which they only hold a lease.

Over the last 18 months, the Town Council has explored the option of seeking heritage lottery funding to renovate and re-imagine the building as a hybrid community/commercial space.  Consultation to support this was undertaken earlier this year and identified potential uses which would be supported by the community. However, moving this forward would now require significant expenditure to develop a comprehensive funding bid with no certainty that the funds would be secured. On balance, the committee felt continuing with this approach presented an unacceptable risk to public finances and that alternative means of providing the facilities and services the community needs would be more sustainable.

The Town Council has received a number of informal expressions of interest for acquiring the freehold over the past three years and local estate agents Savills have advised a guide price for a sale in the region of £1.1m. Should the council resolve to sell the building an agent will be appointed, and a competitive marketing process commenced to secure the best sale for Knutsford.

Town Mayor, Cllr Mike Houghton said “The recommendation from our Assets Committee will be debated by the whole council in January when a formal decision will be made. In the interim we welcome the views of our residents which can be submitted to the Town Clerk or to any councillors”

An old postcard view of Heathfield Square

Residents invited to inform conservation area review

Residents are invited to have their say on a review of two of the town’s conservation arears.

Conservation areas are designated places of ‘special architectural or historic interest where it is desirable to preserve and enhance the character and appearance’ and five of the 77 conservation areas in Cheshire East are in Knutsford: Cross Town (designated in 2006), Heathfield Square (2006), Legh Road (1976), Town Centre (1989) and St John’s (1994). Following the commitment made in the Knutsford Neighbourhood Plan, Knutsford Town Council is leading a review of the five conservation areas in the town.

A key part of conserving a conservation area is having an up-to-date appraisal and management plan which ensures their special qualities are understood and their character and appearance are not compromised by development proposals and small-scale incremental change.

Work on the Legh Road conservation area appraisal and management plan was completed in 2021 and is awaiting formal public consultation from Cheshire East Council.

The Town Council is currently working with Donald Insall Associates to undertake a review of the four remaining conservation areas, starting with Heathfield Square and St John’s.

The Heathfield Square conservation area was last appraised in 2006 when it was created, this small area comprises Knutsford’s first council houses, built as ‘homes for heroes’ after the first world war. The St John’s conservation area covers the Victorian housing along St John’s Road, St John’s Avenue and County Terrace, as well as some of the houses on Bexton Road. There is currently no appraisal or management plan for this conservation area.

Residents interested in these conservation areas are invited to share their views at engagement sessions taking place on Saturday 19th November at the Town Council Offices. Two drop-in sessions are running from 10:30-12:00 and 12:30-14:00.

Work on the Town Centre and Crosstown conservation areas will commence in early 2023.

A scary clown and two children in skeleton cosutmes

Three weeks until Pumpkin Path returns

Spooky season is upon us and it’s just a few weeks until Knutsford’s favourite Halloween event is back for three hours of spooktacular fun!

Knutsford Pumpkin Path returns this year on Halloween evening, Monday 31st October, from 4pm to 7pm. The event will be held in Knutsford Town Centre, in a closure area of King Street, Minshull Street, Church Hill and Regent Street, which are closed to traffic to facilitate the event.

The event is very kindly sponsored by Redrow and The Mere Nature Kindergarten, whose generous support has helped to make this event possible!

Families can collect an entry form in advance of the event or on the night and follow the hints on the included map to find 11 pumpkins hidden around the closure area. All the pumpkins have a letter carved into them; find all the pumpkins and use the letters to spell the hidden phrase.

You’ll find lots of fun on your way, from themed character actors to live entertainment! Fuschia School of Dance will entertain you on King Steet near Giovannis at 5pm and 6pm, while Knutsford Beats will sing some songs at the bottom of Regent Street at 5.30pm and 6.30pm.

Don’t forget to visit Wallwood (the wooded area at the top of King Street, opposite Tatton Park) for some spooky fun. You can also enter our Pumpkin Carving competition and drop your pumpkin off here in Wallwood from 4pm to 5pm, and the Mayor of Knutsford will judge the best ones at 5.15pm (with prizes up for grabs for the top three!)

Remember to vote for your favourite Halloween window display on your entry form and drop off your completed entry form to one of the post boxes in Wallwood or at 60 King Street (the old Belle Epoque building).

The event is free to enter however an optional donation of £1 per child will be graciously accepted to help cover some of the event costs. Entry forms can be collected on the night from one of four desks on King Street and one on Minshull Street.

To find out more about the event, visit www.knutsfordtowncouncil.gov.uk or email enquiries@knutsfordtowncouncil.gov.uk, or alternatively you can call 01565 653 929.

Two children are ready to plant bulbs - centre is a Knutsford Town Council bag and in the foreground orange leaves fallen from the trees

Big Bulb Plant returns for 2022

Knutsford residents are invited to help the town bloom in Spring 2023 as the Knutsford Big Bulb Plant returns for a second year.

This community-led bulb planting programme puts the bulbs in the hands of residents – inviting them to host a bulb planting event on their neighbourhood green spaces. A resident wanting to see bulbs spring up every year just needs to register the location, date and time of their planned event on the Town Council website.

The council will then prepare a selection of bulbs suitable for the space – from daffodils and tulips to bluebell, winter aconites and wild garlic. The council will also provide some pre-printed leaflets to deliver to neighbours to invite them to come along.

Town Clerk, Adam Keppel-Green said “The Big Bulb Plant aims to see our town bursting with colour every spring whilst brining neighbours together to make a little improvement to the green spaces and verges near them.”

“I’ll be leading a session my neighbours on Manor Park South and events are also already planned for Manor Crescent, Queensway and Green Lane.”

The Big Bulb Plant runs across the whole of October, and last year saw 24 verges and greens planted with bulbs by the local community. Residents are able to re-plant the same greens to add more colour and variety for 2023.

To find out more and register an event head to: www.knutsfordtowncouncil.gov.uk/big-bulb-plant

The Big Bulb Plant is part of the council’s Nature Action Plan through which it aims to increase biodiversity across the town.

Wooden chainsaw carving of King Canute

Notice of Conclusion of External Audit

Annual Governance & Accountability Return for the year ended 31 March 2022
Sections 20(2) and 25 of the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014
Accounts and Audit Regulations 2015 (SI 2015/234)

  1. The audit of accounts for Knutsford Town Council for the year ended 31 March 2022 has been completed and the accounts have been published.
  2. The Annual Governance & Accountability Return is available for inspection by any local government elector of the area of Knutsford Town Council on application to: Adam Keppel-Green, Town Clerk Council Offices, Toft Road, Knutsford, WA16 6TA between 0900-1700 Monday to Friday.
  3. Copies will be provided to any person on payment of nil for each copy of the Annual Governance & Accountability Return.

Announcement made by Adam Keppel-Green, Town Clerk and RFO. 30/09/2021

View the completed Annual Governance and Accountability Return.

Great Big Green Week

Climate action coming to Knutsford as part of nationwide campaign. Taking place between 24th  September – 2nd  October, the climate action campaign known as the Great Big Green Week will see thousands of people across the UK organising local festivals and events. The campaign aims to draw attention to climate change, destruction of the natural world, while also making a connection with these issues in communities like Knutsford, at the same time as showcasing actions to tackle climate change.  Creating a better world, for us now and for the next generation.

The main event of the week is a Community Climate Conversation where volunteers from Save our Shropshire are travelling to Knutsford to present on what we can all do to reduce our carbon footprint leading to a discussion on what Knutsford can do as a community to tackle Climate Change. The output of discussions from the event will help shape a community climate action plan which will aim to bring the council, business and wider community together for joint climate action.

The events taking place in Knutsford are:

  • 25th September – Crosstown Community Orchard is holding a work day on Sunday 25th September from 10am to 12pm where they will be planting bulbs and undertaking general maintenance of the town’s orchard.
  • 28th September – Town Ranger Bob is leading a litterpick of Dog Wood from the Moor to Tatton Park. Meet Bob at the Moor entrance to Dog Wood at 1pm.
  • 29th September – Town Ranger Bob will be working with volunteers to create a shady wildflower meadow on Sparrow Lane. Join him at the green space by the path to Higher Downs / Delmar Road at 11am.
  • 30th September – Cheshire Wildlife Trust will be leading volunteers to create Knutsford’s fourth native wildflower meadow along Ladies Mile, with thanks to Tatton Estate for permission.
  • 1st October – Join Joe Godden from Knutsford Allotment Society on a tour of the Warren Avenue allotment site to find out more about allotmenteering. Book your free space here.
  • 1st October – Friends of the Moor are raising the 2022 Green Flag at 2pm followed by a litterpick of the Moor and Barncroft.
  • 2nd October – Friends of the Heath are leading their autumn litterpick of the Heath at 11am
  • 2nd October – The Town Council is hosting a Community Climate Conversation at St John’s Church at 2pm. Led by community leaders from Save our Shropshire.
  • 2nd October – Friends of College Wood are holding a litterpick in the wood time TBC.

The Great Big Green Week also sees the launch of Knutsford’s Big Bulb Plant – a bulb planting programme lasting the whole of October where residents are encouraged to pick a space and lead their neighbours in planting spring flowering bulbs supplied by the Town Council.

The Great Big Green Week is coordinated by The Climate Coalition, the UK’s largest group of people dedicated to action against climate change, whose members include the National Trust, WWF, Women’s Institute, Oxfam, and RSPB. Other organisations supporting the campaign included BT, British Mountaineering Council, and the Manchester United Foundation. Knutsford Town Council received a grant from The Great Big Green Week to bring green activity to Knutsford this year.

The text reads "HM Queen Elizabeth II 21/04/1926 to 08/09/2022"

Death of HM The Queen

Statement from the Mayor of Knutsford

It is with great sadness that the Town Council learned of the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II today, Thursday 8th September 2022.

Speaking following the announcement, the Town Mayor, Cllr Mike Houghton gave the following statement: “I and members of Knutsford Town Council share the nation’s grief at the sad news of our monarch’s passing. Her Majesty the Queen set the standard for public service which we should all strive to achieve. She will be much missed.

God save the King.”

Book of Condolence and Floral Tributes

A book of condolence is open to sign at the Council Offices, the room will be open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm.

Floral tributes to HM Queen Elizabeth II may be laid at the Magnolia ‘Elizabeth’ tree at the front of the Council Offices, which was planted in HM The Queen’s honour as part of the celebrations for this year’s Platinum Jubilee.

We ask that flowers are laid without cellophane/plastic. After the funeral these flowers will be composted and used to plant a tree in memory of HM The Queen in due course.

Proclamation of the accession of HM King Charles III

The union flag at the Council Offices will be raised to full mast at 9am on Saturday 10th September to mark the proclamation of King Charles as King.

On Sunday 11th September, the Town Mayor will read the local proclamation at 4pm from the steps of the Council Offices following which the union flag will return to half mast until 20th September.

We invite the community to join us for the proclamation.

 

Civic Service of Remembrance

A civic service of remembrance will be held on Sunday 18th September at 2pm in St John’s Church.

The service will be led by Rev Nigel Atkinson and the Town Mayor, Cllr Mike Houghton.

8pm National Silence

The Town Mayor will lead a minute silence at 8pm on 18th September, the eve of the funeral, at the Council Offices.

 

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