Update on the questionnaire and related events relating to the Paddock at Cranage
You may or may not know the outcome of the questionnaire sent out by the parish council to determine the wishes of residents regarding the field (known as the Paddock) owned by residents on the corner of Middlewich Road and at the A50 Goostrey Lane crossroads. This letter has been written by some residents opposed to the development of the Paddock and not by Cranage parish council.
The returned results were higher than a local or national election so well done to those who responded.
The results were (as published on the Cranage website http://cranage-cheshire.org.uk/):
For development for housing
The highest alternative use was for the land to be left for grazing, its use at present.
You would think that would be the end of the matter but not so.
At the next parish meeting in June it came up again and it was apparent that certain parish councillors still wanted to sell the land for housing. (While not all councillors were at this particular meeting, from past voting, those in favour of developing/selling are Mrs R Hurst, Mr J Irlam, Mrs M Mackenzie and Mrs J Worstencroft and those against selling the land for housing are Mr J Halstead, Mr D Hopley and Mr G Yarwood.)
The chairman J Irlam stated that he wanted to sell the land and when a resident said to him you wish to go against the will of the residents he still said that was his view.
The outcome was to leave the question alone as they had several meetings earlier voted not to proceed with the sale.
It has been reported that after this meeting had ended and members of the public had left, one councillor accused three others of dishonesty. At the July meeting, one resident asked the councillor concerned to justify this statement or resign but further discussion was effectively vetoed by the chairman who said that the matter was to be discussed in a private meeting after the parish council meeting had ended. It appears the outcome was there was no acknowledgement of wrongdoing, no apology and no admonishment. The resident who raised this had said that he did not want to be represented by someone making, what he presumed, were false accusations.
Sometime after that parish council meeting Cheshire East Planning Department contacted several residents to inform them that they had received an application to extend the time limit on the planning approval.
At the next parish council meeting (July) residents asked the councillors who had authorised this to which all denied any knowledge and that the clerk would write to Mr J Ashall the architect who had submitted the application in the parish council’s name.
During the July parish council meeting, when the application was discussed, it was pointed out to the parish council by a Cheshire East councillor present, that they could stop this application by a simple e-mail to Cheshire East Planning. But what did the parish council do, they voted to let the application stand even though they still say they had no knowledge of it.
One resident e-mailed the chairman J Irlam requesting that the parish council resign and that they could all stand for re-election based on the question of the paddock thereby gaining a mandate for or against from the residents: this request was refused.
Several residents attended the first planning committee meeting at Crewe: no one from the parish council attended.
Our local ward councillor Andrew Kolker was in attendance and spoke on residents’ behalf.
He told the meeting that this was the most unusual application he had seen, as the applicant had no knowledge of it and had recently voted not to sell the land.
Mr J Ashall the architect then had chance to speak. When he was questioned by committee members he first said it was in the parish council’s name as he didn’t want to confuse the council members.
He then said it was actually the Muir Housing Group who were applying
When asked had he got authorisation to submit in the parish council name he said yes when asked could he provide proof of this he changed it to no he hadn’t but said he did have an e-mail.
The chairman said she was surprised that no communication had been received by them from Cranage parish council even though she knew they were aware of the application.
The matter was deferred to a later meeting but at this meeting (21st Aug) unfortunately, despite the best efforts of those who spoke objecting to the application, it was passed. A draft copy of the Cranage parish council minutes sent to the Planning Committee (despite the fact that they are not on the website at the time of writing and an undertaking to make them available as soon as possible after each meeting) confirming retrospective authorisation of the application probably did not help.
What can we conclude from what has taken place?
It appears that someone might be being economical with the truth in these matters.
Why did the parish council even though they had previously voted not to sell the Paddock, spend £500.00 of our money on a questionnaire that obviously didn’t give some of them the result that they thought they would get i.e. in favour of an affordable housing development (which clearly some parish councillors want)?
Why wasn’t there a referendum or questionnaire for residents in the first place six years ago when this all started so that we the owners of the land could decide on its future?
Why is the Muir Housing Group spending £575, the application fee for something they don’t own?
The next meeting of the parish council is on 3rd September in Cranage village hall at 7.30 pm. We urge you to consider these issues very seriously (especially as there have been contradictory votes by the parish council both for and against development), to lobby your parish councillors, to attend the meeting and to ask questions in the public forum which occurs at the start of each parish council meeting.
Maybe others would like to see an election? All the current parish councillors have been co-opted. Would you support a referendum requesting an election?
Cranage is your village; make sure you are happy with the way in which it is run.
Want to have your say then please contact us via
Despite the overwhelming opposition to the development of The Paddock, a majority of Cranage parish council is still hell bent on pursuing this option. If you care about Cranage please come along to the parish council meetings to express your views.