Sin­gle coun­cil gets vote but turnout is ‘dis­ap­point­ing’

Macclesfield Express - - NEWS - STU­ART GREER

THE peo­ple of Mac­cles­field have voted in favour of the for­ma­tion of their own town coun­cil.

The re­sults of a pub­lic bal­lot re­vealed more than half – 3,429 of the to­tal 6,448 res­i­dents that cast a vote – felt the for­ma­tion of a sin­gle town coun­cil was the right thing for Mac­cles­field.

There were 1,478 peo­ple in favour of form­ing seven smaller parish coun­cils and 1,449 for an En­hanced Lo­cal Ser­vice De­liv­ery Com­mit­tee (LSDC), where ex­ist­ing Cheshire East coun­cil­lors run the ser­vices on be­half of the coun­cil.

The turnout for the bal­lot was just 16.2 per cent of the 39,925 elec­torate. This means the to­tal per­cent­age of the elec­torate vot­ing for a town coun­cil was just 8.6 per cent.

There was a turnout of 68 per cent for the Mac­cles­field par­liamtary elec­tion in 2010 and 14 per cent for the Cheshire Po­lice and Crime Com­mis­sioner elec­tion.

The bal­lot is the lat­est stage of the Mac­cles­field Com­mu­nity Gov­er­nance Re­view, which is ex­plor­ing how Cheshire East Coun­cil can de­volve ser­vices and as­sets – such as CCTV, al­lot­ments, burial grounds, mar­kets and pub­lic con­ve­niences – to the com­mu­nity.

Mac­cles­field is the only part of the bor­ough of Cheshire East not to have a town or parish coun­cil and de­ci­sions about ser­vices are cur­rently made by the LSDC.

The Mac­cles­field com­mu­nity gov­er­nance re­view sub-com­mit­tee will now meet to con­sider the bal­lot re­sults and dis­cuss the next steps.

The fi­nal de­ci­sion lies with Cheshire East Coun­cil. Coun Michael Jones, coun­cil leader, said the re­sults do not give a ‘clear vi­sion’ of what peo­ple in the town want.

He said: “Clearly, at first view, I don’t see any sig­nif­i­cant in­di­ca­tion for any of the op­tions un­der this part of the Com­mu­nity Gov­er­nance Re­view – and we need a set­tled view go­ing for­ward.

“We will pass this re­sult on the com­mit­tee of cross­party coun­cil­lors, who will need some time to ab­sorb the re­sults of the con­sul­ta­tion.

“I think that the peo­ple of Mac­cles­field need, de­serve and want a clear vi­sion – and we should think about what fur­ther con­sul­ta­tions we may need to do. But I am still de­ter­mined to give the peo­ple of Mac­cles­field a clear and stronger voice on their lo­cal af­fairs.”

Coun David Mar­ren, chair of the com­mu­nity gov­er­nance com­mit­tee, said the turnout was ‘very dis­ap­point­ing’ and the coun­cil ‘couldn’t have made things eas­ier for peo­ple to par­tic­i­pate’.

He added: “Good in­for­ma­tion de­scrib­ing the op­tions was sent out to ev­ery house­hold, along with the bal­lot pa­per and a pre­paid en­ve­lope, so it is not for want of try­ing to give peo­ple the op­por­tu­nity to have their say.”

The three op­tions have split the town’s coun­cil­lors. Coun Janet Jackson, Mac­cles­field mayor, ad­vo­cates cre­at­ing a new town coun­cil, calling it a chance to bring some in­flu­ence back to the town.

Coun Les­ley Smetham, who rep­re­sents the Gawsworth ward, is be­hind the idea of parish coun­cils. She said: “I think it’s a shame more peo­ple didn’t en­gage with the process when it seems to me an im­por­tant sub­ject for Mac­cles­field.”

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