Single council gets vote but turnout is ‘disappointing’
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.”