Archive for News

Town Centre Masterplan Update

Knutsford Town Council thanks the 658 people who completed questionnaires to provide feedback on the draft traffic and parking proposals for Knutsford Town Centre in our recent consultation. Volunteers on our town centre working group have analysed the data and have prepared an initial draft report which is being reviewed.

A sizeable majority supported the proposals, with 58% saying Yes to the question “Overall do you support this 3-part scheme as a first step towards securing the future of Knutsford town centre?”  Support for each of the three parts was even stronger; such as 77% in favour of fewer cars parked on Top and Bottom streets, and enforcing the ‘no-parking’ regulations.

Clearly, however, the sudden economic and social impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has changed things.  The proposals, therefore, will remain dormant until the pandemic has passed and life settles into some new normality.

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Market Hall Open for Essential Shopping

Three traders in Knutsford Market Hall are continuing to support the Knutsford community, offering an independent alternative to the main supermarkets.

The following stalls, which sell food and household essentials, are open

  • Jonty’s Fruit and Veg
  • The Market Butcher
  • Plastic Free Weigh

Shoppers are required to wash their hands before entering the market hall, with one person being served per server. Only traders touch produce and we are encouraging payment by card. Entrance to the market is limited to ensure social distancing requirements are met.

Town Clerk, Adam Keppel-Green said “These are challenging times for our town centre businesses and markets across the country. With these measures we can ensure the safety of shoppers and traders whilst supporting our hugely valued independent market traders”

The following stalls are closed:

  • Balloons and Greetings of Knutsford
  • The Market Cafe
  • Morgan Edwards Wines
  • Style Loft Boutique
  • Lou Lou Bella
  • Tatton Photography

The Town Council is waiving stall fees for the traders required to close due to the pandemic.

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COVID-19 (Coronavirus): Operations Update

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement yesterday (23/03/20) the Town Council is keen to promote civic responsibility. We urge all residents to obey the new restrictions introduced in the interests of everyone’s safety.

Town Council staff are now working from home; with the exception of maintaining a single officer in Monday to Friday to provide telephone cover and help coordinate the COVID-19 Community Response with We are Knutsford.

We have considered that whilst the work our Town Ranger and Cemetery Groundskeeper do is very important, it is not essential. This is obviously work they cannot do from home but we have sent them home on full pay for the next three weeks; they remain on call to deal with anything urgent that may arise.

The Market Hall remains open in line with government advice. The only stalls trading are the Market Butcher, Jonty’s Fruit and Veg and the Plastic Free Weigh. Distancing measures have been introduced and traders are instructed to have zero tolerance for any customers not obeying these rules. Where traders have been required to close, we are waiving their rent and we encourage other landlords to do the same.

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COVID-19 (Coronavirus): Council Operations

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It’s caused by a virus called coronavirus. Knutsford Town Council is following Government guidance in responding to COVID-19.  We want our residents and staff to be healthy and look after their well being.

Supporting We are Knutsford

The Town Council is manning the support line (0800 118 1692) from Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm. Outside these hours the line is monitored by community volunteers.

We will continue to provide support and assistance to We Are Knutsford.

Events

The council has taken the decision to cancel the planned VE Day street party and service on 8th May. The Bunny Hop and April Makers Market have also been cancelled.

Council Offices

To maximise the safety of our officers, we are restricting visits to the Council Offices and aim to deal with enquiries by telephone where possible (01565 653929). We are not hosting any external meetings or groups and admission to the offices is limited. Some staff are working from home but remain contactable by email.

Council Meetings

We are suspending our meeting calendar for the foreseeable future. On Monday 23rd the council will be discussing a temporary delegation of authority to the Town Clerk to allow decisions which would ordinarily be taken at meetings to be taken during this period.

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COVID-19 (Coronavirus): Knutsford Events

COVID-19 (Coronavirus): Knutsford Events

Knutsford Town Council is continually monitoring the latest government advice concerning the spread of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and following yesterday’s (16th March 2020) announcement by the Prime Minister recommending the public avoid social gatherings to limit the spread of the virus, the council is assessing its events programme.

We are closely monitoring government advice day by day and will continue to follow recommended guidelines, including postponing and cancelling events where necessary. We will prioritise public health and make responsible decisions when planning events to protect the general public, our volunteers and staff.

The Mayor’s Ball planned for Saturday 21st March has been postponed to 18th September.

The Knutsford Bunny Hop is the next event organised by the Town Council currently scheduled for 11th April; we will monitor the advice over the coming days and make a decision as to whether it is feasible and responsible to continue with this event within the next two weeks.

We have decided to shelve our planned VE Day celebrations scheduled to take place on 8th May. This event was particularly looking to bring the younger and older members of our community together and we have noted the advice that those aged over 70 stay at home for the next 12 weeks. We are hopeful that we will be able to reinstate this event at a later date as a celebratory event on the Moor and we will seek to identify a suitable alternative date for this event as the situation develops.

Our next major event is our annual Knutsford Music Festival. This event is not scheduled to take place until 12th-14th June and as such we are aiming to hold off making a final decision until the end of April. We will continue to monitor the situation as it evolves over the coming weeks. This is a hugely popular event and we will be cautious as we proceed, however do not wish to cancel the event until a clearer picture of the situation emerges. If we are unable to proceed as scheduled, we will seek to re-arrange the festival for later in the year. In the event that the festival is cancelled or re-scheduled and you cannot attend on the new dates, full refunds will be offered to everyone who has purchased tickets. Ticket-holders for cancelled events will be contacted with details of future dates or to process refunds.

We would like to thank everyone for your patience as we work hard to minimise disruption during this tough time and we will continue to keep the public updated with our plans as we proceed.

If you would like more information, you can contact the Events Officer at alex.brown@knutsfordtowncouncil.gov.uk.

Other Event Cancellations

The following non-council events have been cancelled:

  • Knutsford Beer Festival, 23rd – 25th April
  • Knutsford Royal May Day, Saturday 2nd May
  • Knutsford Fair on The Heath, 1st – 11th May

Details as to whether the monthly Makers Markets will continue will follow.

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Town Awards Open for Nominations

The call has gone out for the community to put forward its unsung heroes as part of the annual Town Awards. The awards, now in their seventh year, celebrate the contributions of individuals, businesses and community groups to the wider Knutsford community. 

Nominations to the awards close on 31st March and can be submitted to the Town Council online here: Submit a Nomination.

The awards, which have been sponsored by the Knutsford based Forum of Private Business since inception, will be presented on Monday 27th April at Knutsford Academy.

Ian Cass, managing director of the Forum of Private Business said “The Forum of Private business are delighted to be sponsoring the Knutsford Town Awards again this year, we have been based in Knutsford and part of this wonderful community for over 40 years and it’s a pleasure to be able to give something back to support the wonderful individuals and businesses who contribute so much to the town”

Ian Cass of the Forum of Private Business with Cllr Andrew Malloy.

Seven awards are presented and award organisers Knutsford Town Council urge the community to submit nominations with Town Mayor, Cllr Andrew Malloy saying “The awards are an ideal opportunity to recognise unsung heroes, those who go above and beyond to support our local community, whether an individual, community group or business, young or old, send us your nominations, give us as much information about the nominee as you can, let’s reward those who truly deserve it.”

The Town Council is looking for nominations in the following categories:

Civic Award –presented to individuals who give their time voluntarily to undertake work in the community.

Business Award – recognises a business which has supported or worked with the community.

Youth Award – presented to someone aged 21 or under who is giving their time to support the community

Community Award for a voluntary organisation delivering a service to the community

Nominations to the 2019 awards inspired a new category open for nominations in 2020, the Extra Mile Award which last year went to Knutsford Town Ranger Bob Garner, will be presented to given to someone who as part of their paid job is going above and beyond to the benefit of the community.

Nominations should be accompanied by a short explanation of why an award is deserved which helps the panel decide who the award should go to.

Also new for 2020 will be the Knutsford Schools’ Sustainability Award. Children are encouraging local businesses to make 2020 the year they reduce plastic and boost their green credentials and have launched the sustainability award for businesses which have made a significant contribution to making Knutsford ‘plastic free’. The award will be decided by the new Knutsford and District Youth Council.

Alison Hooper, Head of Egerton Primary School and coordinator of this award said “Our children were amazed by the fact that in weight there is more plastic than fish in the sea, so they decided that the Youth Council number one priority was to try and make Knutsford plastic-free. They believe that together we can make a difference.’ 

Businesses are encouraged to put themselves forward for this award by emailing jill.webb@knutsfordtowncouncil.gov.uk and demonstrate just three things that they have done to reduce plastic use in their business, how it has made an impact, and what their plans are for the future.

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Consultation Meetings for Town Centre Masterplan

Knutsford Town Council is launching a consultation on proposals for changes to Town Centre Traffic and Parking arrangements as the first stage of developing a Town Centre Masterplan.

The council’s Town Centre Masterplan Working Group, which comprises local residents, businesses and councillors, has prepared proposals for a limited-vehicle access scheme for the Town Centre. The scheme aims to reduce the volume of traffic on King and Princess Streets whilst maintaining access to all homes, businesses and car parks.

The bold proposals include creating new pedestrian squares at Canute Place and outside Lost and Found on Princess Street as well as the development of well-designed multi-storey car parks to increase parking. The proposals also include creating an access to Princess Street directly from the A50 through the car park behind Waitrose.

Town Clerk, Adam Keppel-Green said, “These proposals form the first part of developing an overall master plan for Knutsford Town Centre with the overriding aim of ensuring we have a town centre which continues to flourish. These proposals focus on the mechanics of the town centre, and future work on the masterplan will look at issues such as pavement and road surfaces”

Public consultation events are being held on Tuesday 4th February (6:30pm) and Wednesday 5th February (2pm) in Knutsford Methodist Church. Town Centre residents and businesses were invited to preview the proposals at events held this week and the Town Council hopes to engage as many stakeholders as possible to garner their views on the proposals.

The consultation commences on Wednesday 5th February when full details will be published on the Town Council website. The consultation runs to March 13th.

You can view the consultation page here: Town Centre Masterplan Consultation

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Town Council Precept Increase

Knutsford Town Council is aware of the recent comments in the Knutsford Guardian concerning the council’s 2020/21 budget and precept (our share of the council tax) and wishes to provide additional clarity on the changes and answer some people’s concerns.

What is the change?

The Town Council sets an annual precept which is collected as part of Council Tax. In 2019 this cost a Band D taxpayer £64 per year and in 2020 this will increase to £88. This is an increase of £24 over 12 months.

This change sees the council collect £511,118 from council tax, a £140,048 increase on the 2019 figure of £371,070.

How did the Belle Epoque affect the budget?

La Belle Epoque Limited was a tenant at 60 King Street, a property owned by the Town Council. Under the lease, which was agreed with the former tenant the council was required to undertake the maintenance of the building which owing to its age and listed-status was significant and on-going.

The former tenant, La Belle Epoque Limited is now in liquidation; the company entered this owing the Town Council just over £67,000, primarily for legal fees incurred by the Town Council in seeking to enforce the lease. Towards the end of the tenancy La Belle Epoque Limited had been failing to pay rent on time for almost three years and had been frustrating the council’s ability to undertake essential maintenance. While the Town Council took no pleasure in terminating the lease with the company we did so in the long-term interests of our taxpayers.

The short term consequence of the termination is that the council has incurred additional costs; including paying for the removal of the rubbish and furniture left by the tenant, additional maintenance of the vacant building as well as the costs involved in obtaining a new tenant. These have been in the region of £19,000. The Town Council had also spent just over £46,000 from its general reserve fund in the 2018 financial year to cover the cost of scheduled maintenance which it planned to cover from the 2019 rent. In total this left our year end position with a combined deficit of £132,000.

The Town Council took the decision to forfeit the lease with a view to securing a new tenant on better terms. The Town Council is currently considering bids from three prospective tenants and under all options the tenant will be responsible for the maintenance of the building; rather than the next five years seeing the council make no surplus on the property (as we would have under the old lease), we anticipate that our 2021 budget will see a surplus that would allow the council to reduce the precept.

In addition, the Town Council’s Finance Committee will be looking at reviewing the council’s reserves policies with a view to ensuring that the council’s reserves can better accommodate any future changes in tenant without needing to rely on a precept increase.

Why increase the staff budget?

The Town Council’s staff budget has increased by around £50,000 for 2020. £20,000 of this is covered by the income from Knutsford Cemetery which the Town Council became responsible for in January and this funds the administration and maintenance of the cemetery.

During 2019 the Town Council undertook a root and branch review of its staffing. This resulted in the creation of a separate Events Officer role (previously combined in other roles) to provide  better management of the organisation of the council’s events programme and an increase in the number of hours for our Town Ranger so he can spend more time out and about tackling the small jobs that matter to residents. The new staffing structure ensures that the council has the staff it needs to deliver the varied services we provide to the Knutsford community.

What does the Town Council do for £88?

Here’s just a few of the things we do for the £88 charged to a Band D property the Town Council:

  • Provides funding support to local charities and community groups
  • Funds the provision of the Citizens Advice service in Knutsford
  • Provides public toilets, allotments, the market hall, a cemetery and Wallwood
  • Will be renovating/creating gardens behind Booths Supermarket and around the Chelford Road Obelisk
  • Will be undertaking reviews of the town Conservation Areas to ensure our heritage is preserved
  • Organises the Bunny Hop, Pumpkin Path, Music Festival, Christmas Lights and Christmas Market to help keep our town thriving
  • Will be organising a street party on the Moor to celebrate the 75th anniversary of VE Day

Statement from the Mayor

Town Mayor, Cllr Andrew Malloy said “As taxpayers ourselves, councillors are of course very conscious of the impact of any rise on our residents. We know that a 37% increase sounds dramatic but encourage residents to consider the pounds and pence – this increase is £24.07 over 12 months, or 46p per week”

“Whilst it is too early to prepare our 2021 budget, I can say that we have the intention to reduce the precept next year and we fully expect we will be able to”

 “As well as seeking to secure increased net income from 60 King Street, the council is looking to reduce the costs of operating its public toilets and looking to secure tenants for new commercial spaces it is creating within the buildings”

“We welcome scrutiny of our budget, which is available on our website, and invite residents with queries about any aspect of the budget to contact our Town Clerk.”

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Town Council takes back Knutsford Cemetery

Cllrs Jan Nicholson and Andrew Malloy

Knutsford Town Council marked the turn of the new year by becoming a burial authority as Knutsford Cemetery returned to local control; this followed a review of options which took place in September 2018 when the council decided to terminate the service agreement with Cheshire East Council.

The five-acre site on Tabley Road opened in January 1902 and whilst it had been managed by Cheshire East Council and the former Macclesfield Borough Council since 1974 the ownership of the site has always been held by Knutsford Town Council.

“Our aim is to have a place of remembrance in which we can all commemorate, remember and spend time with our loved ones, a place which the community can be truly proud of and we believe the town council is best placed to deliver this.”

Cllr Andrew Malloy, Mayor of Knutsford

During 2020 the council will be introducing a number of changes as part of ambitious plans to make the cemetery the best in Cheshire. The council’s plans include:

  • Installation of new bins across the cemetery to make it easier for visitors to dispose of on-site waste
  • Creation of new flower beds at the entrance to the cemetery
  • Installing additional benches to provide a place for visitors to sit and reflect
  • Planting trees to replace those which have been felled in the past
  • Re-standing fallen grave stones
  • Removing the existing ‘road blocks’ made with old grave stones and replacing them with flower planters

A new part-time post of Cemetery Groundskeeper has been created and will start in March with the mission of ensuring the cemetery is continually well cared for. On top of the essential maintenance the groundskeeper will be levelling lawns and tackling areas which have been overtaken by weeds. The groundskeeper will help the council minimise costs and cut carbon emissions by composting all green waste generated at the cemetery, creating compost which will be used on site.

The transfer of the cemetery operation is being delivered at no cost to the Knutsford taxpayer as costs are forecast to be covered by the fees charged for burials.

“We have been exploring the options on how best to manage the cemetery for a number of years and with it now back under direct town council control we are looking forward to making improvements and maintaining a quality cemetery for our residents”

Cllr Jan Nicholson, Deputy Chairman of the council’s Assets and Operations Committee and member of the council’s cemetery working group

The council welcomes feedback on all the services it offers and especially suggestions as to how it can work it make the cemetery as welcoming and pleasant as possible. 

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Millennium Bursary 2019

Second year university students from Knutsford are encouraged to apply for the Millennium Bursary.

Since 2000 the Town Council and Knutsford Lions have offered a £530 bursary to a second-year student from Knutsford to assist with their final year studies. The Knutsford Lions often also provide further smaller awards to runner-up students.

The bursary is open to all second-year university students whose term-time address is in Knutsford or Toft. To apply, students simply need to complete a short form giving a background to their studies and how the bursary will help them achieve more at university.

The deadline for applications is 31st December. The application form can be downloaded at: www.knutsfordtowncouncil.gov.uk/services/millennium-bursary

All applicants will be invited to an interview in early January where the interviewers (Cllr Andrew Malloy, Mayor of Knutsford, Ms Jennifer Holbrook, former Mayor and Mr Michael Goldman, Knutsford Lions) will seek to better understand how the bursary can help studetnts’ studies.

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