The first meeting of a new 'stakeholder panel' which is set to consult over developments in a Moorlands town will take place this month. The confirmation of the first meeting of the Cheadle Town Centre Projects Stakeholder Panel meeting has come from Staffordshire Moorlands District Council (SMDC).
The first meeting of a new ‘stakeholder panel’ which is set to consult over developments in a Moorlands town will take place this month.
The confirmation of the first meeting of the Cheadle Town Centre Projects Stakeholder Panel meeting has come from Staffordshire Moorlands District Council (SMDC).
Leader of SMDC, councillor Sybil Ralphs said: “The panel will meet for the first time on January 25 and we expect to be able to say more about plans for public consultation after that.”
The confirmation of the first stakeholder panel meeting comes as Cheadle councillor Greg Powell has written to MP Sir Bill Cash regarding the Cheadle Town Centre Projects.
In his open letter, cllr Powell said: “Staffordshire Moorlands District Council adopted a proposal on December 1, 2020 to establish a community ‘Stakeholder Panel’ which in the Cabinet Report of October 6, 2020 ‘Cheadle Town Centre Projects’ is subservient to a ‘Delivery Board.’
“In the context of the stated Governance Structure and alongside the correspondence so far released under an FOI request, the structure and process undermines fair representation and the best interests of the local community of Cheadle its Hinterlands and the Staffordshire Moorlands.
“The inappropriate “business focused” priority of SMDC over their duty to represent the best interests of our community is detailed as follows.
“Following an FOI request including an FMG report, correspondence between SMDC (Internal Projects) and Cushman and Wakefield (Commercial Real Estate), FORE (Real Estate Investment) and Latham (Architects) and the redacted information released in a Cushman and Wakefield report, I believe there are serious issues that require immediate investigation and public inquiry into the conduct of SMDC senior officials and officers with regards to their practices and methods of engagement with the community and community representatives and the way in which the ‘Corporate’ body of SMDC do not fulfil their duty to serve and work with the community of Cheadle, its Hinterlands and the Staffordshire Moorlands in a fair and appropriate manner and represent their best interests.
“Furthermore, there is poor collaboration with neighbouring authorities and their communities to the same ends and in all cases for the benefit of the Staffordshire Moorlands and our environment. This follows an historic pattern.
“To inform the evidence and reasons why there is a need for change regarding public concern, Cheadle Unite sent you a document on October 21, 2020 regarding SMDCs local plan, highlighting how the enactment of policies by SMDC were contrary to the Public Interest (covered in ‘Why it matters’) and are likely reflected in the Planning Inspection Reports carried out by Mr Mark Dakeyne and his Predecessor Mr Patrick Whitehead in terms of SMDCs policy effectiveness over the last ten years.
“It is through failure to properly engage and assess the genuine aspirations, needs and wants of our community over those of business interests from which plans are formed and options considered that has led to this situation.
“A proposed strategy moving forward would be the suspension of the current policy employed by SMDC and ‘Cheadle Town Projects’ alongside the investigation as stated above.
“I believe that the Gunning Principles as detailed by you (Sir Bill Cash MP) highlight the foundation for that investigation and should form a process by which a robust policy and monitoring mechanism will ensure those principles are fully met for the betterment of our community and to address the wider urgent needs for the environment.
“Following many years of attempted engagement and hope for change for the benefit of the Community by numerous action groups like Cheadle Unite, I do not believe the situation at SMDC can be rectified through minor points of clarification.”
The Times & Echo contacted MP Bill Cash for a response to cllr Powell’s letter. Sir Cash said: “I agree with what councillor Greg Powell says and I have already taken the matter up with Government ministers in the House of Commons.
“I believe the matter has to be dealt with thoroughly, and that the people of Cheadle are properly protected with consultation, as I have already outlined on many occasions including in the House of Commons and will continue to do so.”
The Times & Echo also contacted SMDC for a response to cllr Powell’s open letter to MP Cash.
In response, councillor Sybil Ralphs, Leader of Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, said: “We have been crystal clear about our commitment to ensuring that the people of Cheadle will have every opportunity to share their views on proposals for regenerating the town.
“This remains unchanged and will be led by the Stakeholder Panel which includes representatives from across the local community.
“The panel will meet for the first time on 25 January and we expect to be able to say more about plans for public consultation after that.
“But let me say again, no decisions have been made and no preferred options agreed so people, including Cheadle Town Councillor Powell, can rest assured that every voice will be heard before we reach that stage.”
When asked who will actually be sitting on the stakeholder panel which will be meeting on January 25, a council spokesman referred to a press release which SMDC had sent out in December: “Representatives from the District and County Councils, Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, the Stoke on Trent Clinical Commissioning Group and the Chair of the Stakeholder Panel will sit on the Board whilst the Stakeholder Panel will comprise of members from the Town, District and County councils, CCG and health representatives, a business representative, a Home Link officer, a Team Cheadle representative and community representatives including members from the Church, and a representative from the youth, education and leisure sector.”
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