Archive for News

Help Protect Longridge Playing Field

Knutsford Town Council is calling for the community to support its application to register an area of public open space as an ‘Asset of Community Value’. The application is designed to demonstrate the community’s desire to retain the open space at Longridge/North Downs and help prevent Cheshire East Council from disposing of the space.

Town Clerk, Adam Keppel-Green explained “To get this land registered as an asset of community value we need to demonstrate how the community has used it over a number of years. We’re asking residents who have enjoyed this space to help support our nomination”.

The Town Council is writing to residents living near the open space who signed the KROW petition against its sale but is appealing to any users of the space to give their evidence.

You can submit your evidence by writing to the Town Council by e-mail/letter setting out the activities you have used the public open space for and over what time period. Any photographs showing the community using the space, or posters from events held there would also support the nomination.

The statement should set out how long one has been using the area and what activities one has undertaken there – from walking the dog to playing football and everything in between. The aim is to demonstrate how the area has benefited the social wellbeing of the community.

“The more statements we have the easier we can demonstrate that this open space is truly valued by the community and the more likely it is our application will succeed” Adam added.

Before disposing of a registered Asset of Community Value the seller must provide an opportunity for a community to purchase the land on the open market. It was used in Holmes Chapel to protect the AP Sports Club and saw Holmes Chapel Parish Council purchase the site to create a new community centre.

The Town Council is seeking submissions by Friday 6th April.

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Second Events Forum Planned

Event organisers in Knutsford are being invited to attend the second Events Forum hosted by the Town Council. The Knutsford Events Forum was introduced last October as an opportunity for those organising public events in the town to share information, skills and experience.

Convened by the Chairman of the Town Council’s own Events Committee, Cllr Andrew Malloy, the forum brings together all those who organise events in the town as well as an opportunity for those with ideas for potential new events to come together.  At the last meeting several community organisations were involved such as the Knutsford Lions, Knutsford Heritage Centre, Knutsford Promenades as well as The Courthouse, Sharston House and Willow Boutiques.

Andrew said, “Knutsford’s vibrant events calendar contributes greatly to making the town such a special place to live.”

“The aim of this forum is to make it easier for everyone organising events in the town through sharing of experience and knowledge and providing a networking opportunity for event planners”.

“This second meeting will focus on funding available for community events as well as highlighting the various avenues available to organisers to help promote their events across Cheshire and beyond”

The second meeting of the forum takes place on Wednesday 21st March at 6pm in the Town Council Offices.  To register your attendance please email Sandra Curties, Town Centre Manager, on Sandra.curties@knutsfordtowncouncil.gov.uk

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Candidates for Norbury Booths By-Election

Two candidates have put themselves forward for election in the Norbury Booths By-Election which will take place on Thursday 5th April.

Quentin Abel (11 St John’s Road, Knutsford) is standing as an Independent candidate against Elizabeth Beswick (Woodlea, Manor Lane, Ollerton) who is standing as the Conservative Party candidate.

The by-election was called following the resignation of Cllr Charlotte Greenstein in January.

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Full steam ahead for Neighbourhood Plan

Community volunteers are on track to deliver a Neighbourhood Plan for Knutsford in 2018. The Neighbourhood Plan, led by Knutsford Town Council but driven by community volunteers, held a successful consultation on its emerging policies in November/December and is now moving ‘full steam ahead’ to get the plan submitted to Cheshire East Council this year.

614 residents completed the emerging policies consultation with an additional 200 visiting one of the exhibition events held across Town and at the Christmas Market. Ten consultation respondents were drawn to win one of the £75 cash prizes. The winners were; Val Edwards, Sharon Ilman, Zoe Whittington, Zoe Cooper, Helen Gilbert, Paul Langley, L Carrasco, Beverley Hill and C Moore. Beverley Hill did not provide her adders and the Council is awaiting her to come forward for her prize.

Feedback from the consultation indicated broad support for the emerging policies, with consultants Urban Imprint having issues the Town Council with a series of recommended changes ready for the next stage of developing the plan.

“This consultation was about the ideas we had for policies, the next stage is about adding the meat to the bones”, said Town Clerk, Adam Keppel-Green.

Volunteers working on the plan are currently reviewing these proposed changes and will be agreeing the final emerging policies at the end of February before work producing the full draft policies begins, with a tight target of reaching agreement on the draft policies by April when the community will get a say on the detail.

“Producing a Neighbourhood Plan is a key ambition for the Town Council and we are indebted to the support from both the volunteers directly working on our policies and behind the scenes gathering evidence and the residents who took the time to complete our survey for visit us at the Christmas Market” Adam added.

“The plan really starts to come together now, and it is full steam ahead to developing the first draft of the Neighbourhood Plan for consultation in April/May and hopefully having a referendum on its adoption in late 2018”.

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A Classical Spectacular at Knutsford Music Festival

A classical spectacular is taking place over three days in June as part of the second annual Knutsford Music Festival.

The event, organised by Knutsford Town Council in partnership with local venues, will see performances by Vale Royal String Orchestra, Tatton Singers, Hallé Brass and Royal Northern College of Music’s Zerbina Duo.

The concerts will be held throughout the town centre with Vale Royal String Orchestra playing at St Cross Church on June 22, Tatton Singers on stage at St John’s Church on June 23 and Hallé Brass and the Zerbina Duo at The Courthouse’s new function room on June 24.

It is part of a wider, weekend-long celebration of music in Knutsford between June 22 and 24.

Vale Royal String Orchestra with oboist Debbie Fuller will perform an eclectic programme including Cimarosa’s oboe concerto, a Divertimento by Mozart, Percy Grainger’s Molly on the Shore, Janacek’s Idyll Suite and a selection from Copland’s ballet score, Rodeo.

The orchestra, which formed in 1993 and is conducted by Richard Adamson, brings together experienced amateur and professional musicians who perform regularly throughout the year to support charities and community events.

Tatton Singers formed in 1976 in Knutsford. Their current 78 members perform traditional choral works and lesser known pieces. Under the guidance of musical director John Powell, who has been with the choir since 2005, Tatton Singers have a wide repertoire of works by classical composers.

Formed in 1965, Hallé Brass are one of the foremost brass ensembles in the UK formed primarily from principal members of the internationally renowned Hallé Orchestra.The group is also one of the oldest brass quintets in the world that played a leading role in the development of this format of chamber music. In the early years, Hallé Brass gave premieres by eminent composers such as John McCabe, Joseph Horovitz and Edward Gregson.

They will be joined by harpist Becki McIlroy and violinist Rebecca Howell, who are known as the Zerbina Duo. Becki is a music graduate from The University of Manchester, currently studying for her master’s degree at the Royal Northern College of Music. Recently she performed with the Piccadilly Symphony Orchestra alongside comedians Jason Manford and John Bishop at The Bridgewater Hall. Rebecca is currently a postgraduate student at the Royal Northern College of Music.

In March 2016, Rebecca, who also leads the Florestan String Quartet, was awarded first prize in Durham’s inaugural Soloists Competition and went on to perform Saint-Saëns’ Violin Concerto No 3 with the University Palatine Orchestra on their summer tour to Paris.

Sarah Morgan, Deputy Town Clerk at Knutsford Town Council, said: “We’re really looking forward to presenting this diverse range of classical concerts.

“These performers are among the most respected in the north west and in the case of the Hallé they are internationally acclaimed.

“For many, it will be their first opportunity to see The Courthouse’s beautiful and newly refurbished function room and we’re delighted to once again be working with Knutsford’s churches and their cherished community spaces.

“St Cross and St John’s have been instrumental in helping us put together this programme of classical concerts by organising their own events with local musicians and I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their contribution to the festival.”

Tickets go on sale on Thursday, March 1, and will be priced at £12 with concessions available.

Tickets for the Halle Brass and Tatton Singers will be available through Ticket Tailor and The Tatton Singers tickets can also be purchased from 01565 650641

For all other ticket enquiries, please call Knutsford Town Council on 01565 653929 and follow the Knutsford Music Festival Facebook for ticket and event updates.

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Statement on the Sale of the War Memorial Cottage Hospital

The Knutsford and District War Memorial Cottage Hospital was built by the community as a war memorial following World War I, opening in 1922. The funds to build the hospital were raised by community subscriptions, it was built on land donated by Cuthbert Leicester Warren and was operated as a community hospital. The land was conveyed to the hospital trustees in 1937 with a covenant that it remains a hospital. Following the passage of the National Health Service Act 1946, ownership of the hospital was transferred to the Government. The community continued to support the hospital through the League of Hospital Friends.

In 1994 the health authority declared the hospital was surplus to requirements. Consultation was undertaken and it is understood the community supported the British Red Cross using the hospital for its services. The Town Council supported this on the basis that if the British Red Cross ever vacated the site it would return to the government; such a clause was not included.

The health authority was keen to get rid of the building and loaned the British Red Cross the £275,000 purchase price; creating a charge on the building that if it was sold this would be repaid, like an outstanding mortgage. The land which benefited from the covenant created in 1937 was now owned by Manchester University which agreed to vary the covenant to allow the British Red Cross to sue the hospital. It is now the Crown Estate which holds the benefit of the covenant.

In April 2016, when the proposed disposal of the War Memorial Cottage Hospital by the Red Cross became clear, the Town Council established a working group led by Cllr Stewart Gardiner to investigate matters further. The working group comprised councillors and residents.

The working group researched all documents related to the history, management and disposal of the memorial to compile a background information paper. This included looking at the land registry documents, minutes of the League of Hospital Friends, Town Council minutes, regional/local health authority documents, newspaper archives and records held in the Cheshire Records Office.

The Town Council applied to have the memorial registered as an Asset of Community Value in June 2016. This was under the Community Right to Bid legislation which required a strict definition of community use. This application was rejected by Cheshire East Council as they felt the evidence was not strong enough to demonstrate the current use of the building furthered the social wellbeing of the local community as defined by the Localism Act.

In August 2016 the Town Council submitted an application to Historic England for the building to be ‘listed’ as a building of special architectural or historic interest. This was rejected by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport on the grounds that the building is not of sufficient special interest in a national context.

Whilst there is a national campaign to list war memorials (such as the Cross Town War Memorial which was listed at Grade II in 2016) when the memorial is a building it assessed on the historical/architectural interest of the building first and foremost.

From its investigations the Town Council is confident that:

 

  1. The British Red Cross are the lawful owners of the freehold of the War Memorial Cottage Hospital, having bought it from the NHS in 1994
  2. The covenant which restricts the use of the land can be varied by mutual agreement between the British Red Cross and the Crown Estate
  3. The hospital’s designation as a War Memorial does not afford it any protection and no legal definition of a war memorial exists.

 

It was concluded that whilst there remains a strong moral case that the hospital belongs to the community which paid for it there does not appear to be a legal basis for this which could prevent the sale of the building. It is understood that the sale price is around £2,500,000.

As it became apparent that efforts to protect the building were limited the Town Council sought an Article IV Direction by Cheshire East Council which prevents the building from being demolished without planning consent.

The Town Council held meetings with the British Red Cross and sought to secure a share of the proceeds from the sale for the community; either to be placed into a Community Trust to benefit the health and wellbeing of the Knutsford community or to fund new community facilities. This was rejected by the British Red Cross which stated they were duty bound to return the profits to the Charity.

The Town Council, and then MP George Osborne, wrote to the Crown Estate who stand to share in the profits from the sale again to seek a share of the proceeds to be invested into the community. This was rejected by the Crown Estate which stated it was duty bound to return its profits to the Treasury.

The Town Council has written to NHS England, which it understands will also share in the profits from the sale, to seek its proceeds being invested in new health facilities in Knutsford. No response has been received and the Town Council has requested support from Esther McVey MP to press the NHS for a commitment.

The Town Council is aware of rumours that it has sought to profit from the sale of the building; it has only ever sought to get the best possible outcome for the Knutsford community considering that the prevention of its sale is unlikely.

The Town Council was informed in August 2017 that the Red Cross proposed to sell the memorial to McCarthy and Stone and the working group met with them in September and October to understand their plans which, it transpired, involved the demolition of the hospital. McCarthy and Stone attended the Town Council meeting in November 2017 where it formally outlined its plans, stated it was not viable to retain the hospital building and promised the building would not be demolished in 2018.

The working group considered that with the protection of the building highly unlikely it was in the community’s best interests to work with McCarthy and Stone to influence proposals. The working group met with McCarthy and Stone in December 2017 and January 2018 where it was confirmed that the building would not be demolished in 2018, that a memorial garden would be incorporated with the working group providing input into its design and including recognition of the hospital through interpretation boards or similar and that the new building would be named to reflect the former use of the site. The two oak panels which list the fallen will be relocated into public view, potentially in a memorial room in the Town Council offices. The Town Council is disappointed that its request that one of the apartments be placed into a community trust was rejected.

In February 2018 the Town Council considered the planning application submitted to Cheshire East Council. The Town Council raised no objections to the application on the grounds that it could not determine suitable planning grounds to justify a recommendation to refuse the application. Cheshire East Council’s Northern Planning Committee will be considering the application at its March or April meeting. The decision must be taken on planning grounds (as set by Government) and strength of objection from the community or concern over ownership are not planning grounds for refusal.

We set out to prevent a sale and to protect Knutsford’s war memorial, attempting numerous avenues to do so. We investigated the ownership, sought statutory protection and its registration as a community asset.

We are as frustrated as the wider community that it appears that protecting the War Memorial is not possible. We have now, reluctantly, taken an approach that if we cannot stop this from happening, we must do something to ensure the community does not lose out completely and that the history of this site is remembered.

–  Cllr Stewart Gardiner, lead member for the working group

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Radio 2’s Mark Radcliffe joins Knutsford Music Festival

Broadcaster Mark Radcliffe has teamed up with Knutsford Town Council to host a series of gigs in the first wave of announcements for Knutsford Music Festival.

The BBC Radio 2 and 6 Music DJ, who lives in the town, will transform Knutsford Little Theatre into a folk club for three nights from Friday, June 22, to Sunday, June 24.

The event will be called ‘Mark Radcliffe Presents Folk at the Theatre’ and will form part of Knutsford Town Council’s wider celebration of music throughout the town centre.

It will draw on Mark’s experiences and contacts running the Radio 2 Folk Show.

Friday’s headliner is Pilgrim’s Way who tell stories of highwaymen, robbers and brigands through traditional English folk song…and 1980s disco.

The BBC Radio 2 Folk Award nominees from Stockport feature the talents of multi-instrumentalist Jon Loomes who remarkably played 22 instruments on the band’s 2016 album, Red Diesel.

Mark also wanted to book the act as a nod to Knutsford’s Highwayman Higgins connections.

On Saturday Mike McGoldrick and friends will take to the stage.

Mike has mastered numerous instruments including Irish flutetin whistlelow whistleuillean pipes, tenor guitar and bodhrán and he was in his first band, Toss the Feathers, when he was still at school.

He also performs regularly with the BBC Four Transatlantic Sessions and with Dire Straits frontman, Mark Knopfler.

Then on Sunday acclaimed folk duo Greg Russell and Ciaran Algar will close the show.

Greg and Ciaran met by chance through a mutual friend but have now been playing together for nearly seven years.

They have won two BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards including the Young Folk Award and Horizon Award and yet are still in their early 20s.

Mark said: ‘I’m thrilled to be part of Knutsford Music Festival as it’s the town I live in and wanted to make a contribution.

“I can promise people three evenings of truly exceptional music in a folk and roots style and look forward to counting on their support at our cherished Little Theatre.”

Each performer will also have a support act.

Lucas Marks, a singer-songwriter from Knutsford, will share the stage with Pilgrim’s Way and Amelia Coburn, who was nominated for a BBC Radio 2 Folk Award last year, will support Mike McGoldrick.

Mark himself will be stepping onto the stage on the Sunday.

The former BBC Radio 1 breakfast show presenter will join his former Family Mahone bandmates Dave Russell and Chris Lee for a stripped back folk show.

Sarah Morgan, Deputy Town Clerk, added: “Given his excellent reputation as a broadcaster, extensive knowledge of music and enthusiasm for our event, we are delighted to have Mark involved with Knutsford Music Festival.

“We’re determined to make this year’s festival even bigger and better than the launch event in 2017 and so look out for many more announcements in the weeks to come.”

Details on how to buy tickets and further acts for the second annual Knutsford Music Festival will be revealed in the coming weeks.

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Neighbourhood Planning FAQs

Following the consultation events associated with the Knutsford Neighbourhood Plan in November and December 2017, there were a number of questions raised by the local community. Many of the questions were based on a misunderstanding of the role, scope or even responsibility. As a result, the steering group have asked their consultants to prepare the following answers to 10 of the most frequently asked questions.

Questions about the Emerging Policies Consultation

1. What is this consultation all about?

This consultation was all about the Knutsford Neighbourhood Plan. This is a land use planning document which is being prepared specifically for Knutsford and must be led by the local community. Once finished, the Neighbourhood Plan will be used to assess, where relevant, the acceptability of any planning application in Knutsford. The plan is being prepared by the Knutsford Town Council who, following feedback from the community, have taken this opportunity to seize more control and involvement in local planning matters. This latest consultation asked the people of Knutsford if they felt all the important topics and issues had been considered.

2. There isn’t much detail available, so how can we comment?

This consultation isn’t asking for detailed responses on the plan; it is simply asking whether the framework that is set up is correct and reflects the communities wishes. This specific consultation happens approximately mid-way through the process of making the Neighbourhood Plan. It is the first time the topics and the matters that will be covered by the plan are introduced to the community. There will be further rounds of consultation on this plan as it progresses – each time with more detail based on the feedback received. Developing plans is time-consuming and expensive, and the group responsible for this plan did not wish to undertake abortive work against the communities wishes.
Relationship with the Local Plan and Planning Decisions

3. Is this a replacement for the Cheshire East Plan?

No, it’s not. This plan works alongside the Cheshire East Local Plan. The Local Plan is necessarily strategic and based on broad principles but does set the general location and number of new homes and employment sites throughout Cheshire East. The Local Plan also sets out Knutsford’s role as a Key Service Centre, meaning it provides retail, employment, leisure, and other services for a much wider rural area. The Neighbourhood Plan has to work alongside this but is able to provide specific detail at much more localised level. Many of the topics covered by the emerging Neighbourhood Plan are barely touched upon in the Local Plan (heritage, trees and hedgerows, local character) so it’s important that the Neighbourhood Plan provides this detail.

4. How much weight will the Neighbourhood Plan have – is it worth the effort?

At this point the emerging Neighbourhood Plan has some weight in the determination of planning applications. As it progresses towards the formal adoption it will continue to gain in weight. Once adopted (or ‘made’) the Neighbourhood Plan will have the same weight as the Cheshire East Local Plan. Any planning application would be required, in accordance with planning law, to demonstrate how it had complied with the plan or why there were strong reasons against following the plan.

 

The Neighbourhood Plan’s Relationship with Proposed Housing

5. Why have many houses been allocated in Knutsford?

As mentioned, the Neighbourhood Plan has not been responsible for the number of houses coming forward in Knutsford. This is set by the Local Plan which is required to deliver 36,000 homes throughout Cheshire East over the next 14 years. The number of houses for Knutsford was agreed following an examination in public by an independent inspector in autumn 2016. As a Key Service Centre (as befitting its market town status) Knutsford was considered as a location that should accommodate growth of housing and employment. The housing growth is roughly based around ensuring a proportionate growth across the Borough with Macclesfield and Crewe, as the largest settlements, taking the majority of the growth.

6. Where are the houses going?

The Cheshire East Local Plan has allocated sites for 925 new homes on allocated sites between now and 2031 (approximately 65 per annum). These are split across five sites around the town, including sites for 200 homes at Parkgate and 225 homes south of Longridge, both to the east of the town. A collection of sites to the north and west of Knutsford totalling 500 new dwellings along Northwich and Manchester Roads. The total number of houses and these locations have been set by the Cheshire East Local Plan which was adopted in summer 2017 and cannot be changed. Additional dwellings have been approved or may come forward on previously developed sites or as a result of plot subdivision elsewhere in the town. There are no current plans to release further greenfield land.

7. Why are there no plans for the housing sites around the town as part of this consultation?

The housing sites around the town are being brought forward by private owners or development organisations and will not form any part of the Neighbourhood Plan. It would be wrong for the Neighbourhood Plan to support (or otherwise) the work by these private interests bring forward as they may change or be modified over the course of the plan. The schemes that each organisation / owner bring forward will be subject to separate planning applications and as a result – government guidance dictates that they should have separate consultation and engagement exercises.
Neighbourhood planning and Infrastructure

8. What can the Neighbourhood Plan do about the traffic in the Town?

The Neighbourhood Plan authors are very well aware that traffic, congestion and queues within Knutsford are a key issue for the community. Whilst the planning system has some role to play in reducing traffic congestion, it is only part of the solution. Traffic and congestion issues are controlled by the local highways authority, who will implement highways improvements to ease congestion (often funded through new developments). The Neighbourhood Plan has a much wider role to play, insofar as it must ensure that planning prioritises walking, cycling and public transport to reduce overall car use. The plan includes a number of proposed policies to tackle this issue.

9. It’s all very well, building more houses, but what about schools and healthcare?

It is acknowledged by service providers and the Local Authority that further healthcare and education provision will need to be made before 2031. There will be a requirement for increased provision of schools places but, at this time they have no confirmed projects that we can include and support. Likewise, the Clinical Care Commission Group (who are responsible for local healthcare) are investigating projects in the town but have no firm plans. Therefore, the Neighbourhood Plan has taken forward policies to ensure that when community infrastructure is proposed, it is well connected to the new and existing communities it will serve. Should any decisions be made on these proposals prior to finalising the plan this will be reflected in the plan.

10. So, what’s the next step to producing the plan?

The immediate next step is to collect and collate all the feedback obtained from the consultation. Work on this will begin in January 2018. Following that, the local community champions involved in each of the topic areas and the consultant team will begin to prepare the first full draft of the Neighbourhood Plan. This will include policies and explanatories for all the outlines that obtained support during the consultation. It is anticipated that a first draft will be subject to the next round of consultation in spring 2018. This consultation will be a formal process and will be the final opportunity to share your thoughts with the group preparing the plan – after that all engagement will be through an examination by an independent qualified examiner in late 2018.

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Cllr Charlotte Greenstein steps down from Council

Electors in Norbury Booths have the opportunity to request a by-election, following the resignation of Cllr Charlotte Greenstein. Charlotte has reluctantly stepped down from the council owing to a change in working commitments.

A notice of the vacancy has been posted today and electors in the ward have until  Friday 2nd February to request a by-election from Cheshire East Council. If an election is not requested the Town Council will advertise for and co-opt a new councillor.

Cllr Peter Coan, Deputy Mayor of Knutsford said “I would like to thank Charlotte for the contributions made during her time in office and wish her well in her present and future ventures.”

A request for an election should be submitted to:

The Returning Officer
Cheshire East Council
Westfields
Middlewich Road
Sandbach
CW11 1HZ

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Community Governance Review Petition

Knutsford Town Council is calling on Cheshire East Council to undertake a Community Governance Review (CGR). This is a formal process which defines the boundaries and electoral arrangements of Knutsford  Town Council. The Town Council has identified three anomalies it wishes to see fixed:

Northwich Road Development

The housing development planned on Northwich Road straddles the boundary of Knutsford and Tabley. The new residents who eventually live here will use Knutsford services, have a Knutsford address and consider themselves part of Knutsford but technically will live in Tabley. This means they won’t pay the Knutsford precept (making it comparably more expensive for existing residents)  and means they won’t be represented by the Town Council.

Longridge Development

The housing development planned opposite Longrdridge is wholly within Knutsford but it is split between two Town Council wards – Over and Norbury Booths. This will present confusion at elections and for representation as different houses within the area will be represented by different councillors.

Populations within Wards

Nether Ward and Over Ward are set to increase through development whilst Norbury Booths and Bexton remain the same. This results in a disproportionate ratio of electors to councillors across the wards.

To trigger a review we need around 800 electors of Knutsford to request a review from Cheshire East. We have created a petition to make this process simple – all you need to do is click here: https://moderngov.cheshireeast.gov.uk/ecMinutes/mgEPetitionDisplay.aspx?id=66 create an account with the Cheshire East website and sign the petition. We’ve already collected around 300 physical signatures, so its just another 500 we need to get!

 

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