A community leader has vowed that possible options for major changes in a Moorlands town which have been described in a council report are “not set in stone.” The Leader of Staffordshire Moorlands District Council (SMDC) councillor Sybil Ralphs attended the virtual meeting of Cheadle Town Council on Monday evening after being invited following the SMDC Cabinet’s decision to establishment of a 'Town Centre Delivery Board' and a 'Stakeholder Panel' which are set to work to improve the town of Cheadle.
A community leader has vowed that possible options for major changes in a Moorlands town which have been described in a council report are “not set in stone.”
The Leader of Staffordshire Moorlands District Council (SMDC) councillor Sybil Ralphs attended the virtual meeting of Cheadle Town Council on Monday evening after being invited following the SMDC Cabinet’s decision to establishment of a ‘Town Centre Delivery Board’ and a ‘Stakeholder Panel’ which are set to work to improve the town of Cheadle.
Within her report to cabinet members, cllr Ralphs had set out possible major changes to Cheadle town centre – including the possibility of a community hub in Tape Street car park, and residential development at Royal Walk (the site of the town’s hospital) and at the site of the existing South Moorlands Leisure Centre, to name but a few possibilities.
Since the SMDC Cabinet meeting, there has been much concern aired within the community of Cheadle, including by Cheadle Town Council members, about the options which have, so far, been laid out on the table.
Concern had also been raised that members of the Cheadle Town Council had not been involved in the compilation of the options – and this is why Cllr Ralphs was invited to Monday’s meeting.
At Monday’s online meeting, Cllr Ralphs made a presentation to town council members, as well as to a number of members of public who were also watching the live meeting online.
She spoke of a meeting which happened between herself, other SMDC representatives, and Cheadle Town Council some 12 months ago when they discussed the district council’s bid for Government High Street Funding; and she said that at the end of that meeting they had “all agreed to work together on the needs of the people of Cheadle.”
She went on to say: “Cheadle is a very good town and very popular but it has the chance to be better.”
Cllr Ralphs then went on to explain the formation of the Town Centre Delivery Board’ and a ‘Stakeholder Panel’ – the latter which she invited Cheadle Town Mayor Ian Plant to chair.
She said: “The recommendation in that report was to approve those proposals of those two things – a board and a panel.
“What perturbs me is that, throughout the report, you are not told that the leisure centre is being knocked down; it is an option. It’s not obligatory.
“You can leave the leisure centre where it is. The fact is that it has served its purpose and seen better days, so you canhave an option to patch it up and continue with it as it is.
“Another option is that you rebuild it on another site in the town.”
Cllr Ralphs went on to say it’s now up to the Mayor and other town councillors to go out into the community to ask people’s opinions on what they would like in their town.
She said: “The ball is in your park. It will be Cheadle’s ideas and you will bring to the board those ideas, and then – as a team – we will make a good town into a great town; a town that people are proud to live in, want to work, and want tovisit.”
The meeting then went to Cheadle Town councillors to have their say and raise their concerns which, between them, included a number of issues, such as: that the leisure centre was given to the town, that the initial cabinet report mentioned an option of more housing for Cheadle (after demolishing the hospital and/or leisure centre); that none of the options were mentioned at last year’s meeting with the town council; that there may be a possible disruption in facilities if the leisure centre is revamped or relocated; that the communication about the cabinet report could have been better handled, as well as concern over will Cheadle people really have their say on the project, to name but a few concerns raised.
Councillors also asked to see a copy of the consultant’s full report regarding the options which have been put on the table so far, as well as the cost of the consultant’s fee so far for the project.
Cllr Ralphs emphasised that the district council will be working together with the town council, and other organisations, on the project for Cheadle.
She said: “There is nothing set in stone in that report – there are a series of options which you can use as a guideline when you go out and consult with the people of Cheadle.
“If people want the leisure centre to stay where it is then it will stay there; otherwise what’s the point of setting up a panel if we are not going to use the results of your investigations?
“This is going to be the opportunity for everyone and anyone to take part in this.”
But Cllr Ralphs also warned: “If you don’t take the opportunity now – it will be another few years before anything is done so let’s get it started.”
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