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Councillors selected for town centre projects panel

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7 JAN

Councillors selected for town centre projects panel

By timesecholife on in All News, Latest News

A town council has agreed which two members will sit on a stakeholder panel which is set to help with a town centre project in the Moorlands. The Stakeholder Panel is being set up by Staffordshire Moorlands District Council (SMDC) to help support a Delivery Board which will be overseeing the development and delivery of a Cheadle Town Centre Project.

A town council has agreed which two members will sit on a stakeholder panel which is set to help with a town centre project in the Moorlands.

The Stakeholder Panel is being set up by Staffordshire Moorlands District Council (SMDC) to help support a Delivery Board which will be overseeing the development and delivery of a Cheadle Town Centre Project.

The formation of the panel and board has caused some concern in the town after an options report surrounding the project, which was commissioned by SMDC, revealed the possible demolition of both Cheadle’s hospital and leisure centre to make way for housing developments, as well as the possibility of building of a new community hub in the town centre’s car park.

The five district councillors for Cheadle (who also sit on the Cheadle Town Council) – cllrs Ian Plant, Kate Martin, Gary Bentley, Phil Routlegde, and Richard Alcock – have all received and accepted invitations to sit on the Stakeholder Panel.

In his letter of invitation, Cheadle Mayor Ian Plant was also notified that two other councillors who are members of Cheadle Town Council could be selected to also sit on the panel.

The selection of the two town councillors was made at the virtual Cheadle Town Council meeting on Monday (January 4).

The selection of councillors Hugh Black and Paulette Upton was made after much debate surrounding the formation of the panel, and after a vote taking place.

Prior to the eventual selection, councillor Greg Powell made a speech about his concerns surrounding the formation of the panel.

He said: “I have circulated to councillors the FOI response that I received from SMDC regarding Cheadle Town Projects.

Correspondences reveal that an SMDC (Internal Project Group) passed detailed information to a number of commercial businesses (Commercial Real Estate, Real Estate Investment, and Architects amongst them) sometime before May 2019. This detailed information included a number of Cheadle assets including our leisure centre, community hospital and our main car parks. The details of this information have not been passed on to Cheadle Town Councillors.

SMDC working with these commercial businesses then edited a baseline review document of Cheadle in August 2019 removing any references to these key assets. This edited baseline review was flashed in front of town councillors in August 2019 in a so-called brainstorming session in the full knowledge that they were keeping us in the dark and in my opinion our time was not only wasted but potentially seen as a mechanism to try and make councillors appear complicit.

From that process a Cushman and Wakefield Report was produced and the contents from that are still being withheld from Cheadle Town Council and our community.

An extract from that report formed the Site Options in the Cabinet report that was approved by SMDC Cabinet and rubber stamped late last year. Radical options that could see a significant reduction to our leisure facilities hospital and carpark provision only came out to town councillors including myself in October 2020. Despite a call in these options still sit on the table.

The leader of SMDC cllr Sybil Ralphs attended Cheadle Council at short notice and without adequate time for our council to prepare and stated: “So all those questions are in front of you and your colleagues and I can’t answer any of those questions tonight because I don’t know the answers, you haven’t told me yet, but you will do. And you need to get on and start and do it.”

Despite indicating Cheadle councillors would have the say on the make-up of the Stakeholder Panel, a letter has been sent from cllr Sybil Ralphs to the Mayor directing that there will be places for two town councillors.

The Stakeholder Panel are subservient to the Delivery Panel.

It is my personal opinion that our council is being set up to fail.

It’s my proposal that we should defer responding to the SMDC request for two town councillors, so as Cheadle Town Council we can at the next meeting discuss the information that has now been  released from my FOI request and which I have circulated to you, so we can all debate what SMDC are trying to do and form our strategy going forward.”

After further debate and three councillors being put forward to go onto the Stakeholder Panel – councillors Hugh Black, Jamie Evans, and Paulette Upton – the decision on the selection went to vote, with each town councillor present at the meeting allowed to cast two votes each.

Cllr Black received ten votes, cllr Evans six votes, and cllr Upton 14 votes; resulting in cllrs Black and Upton being selected to sit on the panel.

SEE our letters to the editor on page 19 in this week’s paper for responses to Monday’s vote by Cheadle Town Council.

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