This statement was issued on 25th May 2018 by Cllr Sam Corcoran (Sandbach Heath and East) who the Leader of the Labour Group on Cheshire East
As the Leader of the Opposition it is part of my role to highlight the failings of the Conservative leadership of Cheshire East Council. This is inherently a largely negative role. I therefore welcomed the opportunity of the Council’s Annual General Meeting yesterday to stress the positive points at Cheshire East Council; it was hard not to be positive on a sunny day at Tatton Park in the beautiful green Cheshire countryside.
The Summer Reading Challenge is well run, well received by children and promotes the Cheshire East library service. My children have taken part for many years and I have been proud to be involved in handing out certificates and medals to many children who completed the challenge.
I regularly use Sandbach Leisure Centre and encourage more Councillors and Council staff to use the leisure facilities which are just next door to the Westfields offices.
Cheshire East Council’s website has again been rated as 4 star. I recommend residents use the website to report issues including potholes, overgrown hedges and clanking manhole covers.
However, it was a shame that the Conservative Leader marred this bright occasion by trying to score party political points on planning.
In her address she said she regretted that that Local Plan was not passed unanimously. I make no apologies that the Labour Group voted against the Local Plan.
The Local Plan has numerous flaws, for example it is allowing over 3,000 new houses in Sandbach without the necessary supporting infrastructure and it is based on a flawed traffic model according to which there are no traffic problems in Sandbach. The plan has also gone for the easy option of removing large areas around Macclesfield from the greenbelt, rather than steering development towards the several brownfield sites in the town.
Leaving aside the many specific flaws in the Plan, it will be as much use as a chocolate fireguard in opposing speculative housing applications on greenfield sites if the Council does not maintain a robust 5-year housing land supply.
That is why I proposed at the Council meeting in July 2017 that the Council start work on a new Local Plan. The current Local Plan demands that at least 1800 new homes be built in Cheshire East each year, yet a recent government consultation is suggesting that only 1142 homes a year are needed. In July 2017, the Labour Group called for work to start on a new Local Plan, but the Conservatives rejected this and have refused to refresh the Plan to take advantage of the lower housing targets put forward by the Government. Under the Conservatives, speculative property developers are laughing all the way to the bank, while local communities are left with overloaded infrastructure and loss of green fields.