The following statement was given by the Chair of the Parish Council, Simon Read, to a full meeting of Cheshire East Council on 24 February 2022.
It is hoped that Cheshire East will respond to us on these points shortly. The Parish Council is also writing to key decision makers at Cheshire East to reinforce and detail some of the points in the statement.
Script of statement by Parish Councillor Simon Read to Cheshire East Council 24 February 2022
My name is Simon Read, Chair of Pickmere Parish Council. The Parish Council has asked me to attend this meeting to express our concerns about the level of service provided by your Council.
Our three main areas of concern relate to town planning, highways and communication. Indeed, last year we took the unusual step of raising a formal complaint about the difficulty we have had in dealing with you.
On planning we consistently have great trouble trying to contact your officers about outstanding planning applications. The Parish Council’s officer, or Clerk, is effectively prohibited from liaising with case officers because your officer contact details are kept secret. This means wasted time and effort, and it hampers our democratic responsibility to represent the village – when a short direct discussion between our officers could resolve a particular question.
The impact of the lack of resources in your Planning Enforcement team means breaches of planning control go uninvestigated and unremedied for months, forcing residents to tolerate breaches with no action being taken and no updated information forthcoming. This situation is unjustifiable, unacceptable and unsustainable.
Highways issues are another problem. Put simply, our roads need more maintenance than they currently get. Your Council has a woeful approach to complaints about serious and dangerous highway surface problems. In Pickmere our roads and lanes are narrow, but they are regularly used by heavy vehicles such as milk and livestock lorries servicing our farms and for events such as The Royal Cheshire Show.
We also get a huge and well-publicised influx of visitors to our lake in summer. There are existing yellow lines yet we never see a parking warden. We have been trying for years to get your Highways Department to repaint the older lines that are too faded to be enforceable. Following a resident survey, we have tried to talk to you about the feasibility of introducing new yellow lines in certain locations to help residents but we have got nowhere.
Attempts to get action through the normal channels and our ward councillor go without success. Your Council, I am sorry to say, has a very poor reputation among Pickmere’s residents. Speaking at this meeting feels like a last resort.
HS2 will undoubtedly pose even more challenges so it is vital that we establish an effective communication loop. Can you get your officers to address the points I have made and to make contact with my Council to see how we can collaborate to improve matters?