"We need a change" say Cheshire town residents as they look to break away from council

"Change is needed and quickly". That is the message coming from one Cheshire town looking to break free from its local authority which residents feel has consistently let them down for the past 11 years.

Thousands of Macclesfield residents are now backing a petition for the town to step out from under the local government of Cheshire East Council and form a smaller break-away unitary authority with Macclesfield at its heart.

The petition, entitled ‘Break Free from CEC’, was started by Macclesfield man Martin Smith after a Freedom of Information request revealed that Macclesfield had severely lacked in capital funding since 2013. The information obtained by Martin showed that the town had fallen considerably behind other towns in the borough when it came to funding and investment from the local authority.

The figures showed that over the past 11 years, Crewe had received £141m and Congleton had been given £121m of various funding, whereas Macclesfield had received just £26m.

Martin said: “Things have only gotten worse with the closure of leisure centres, increased car park charges, the ‘mothballing’ of local tips, and the general state of our towns and villages.”

After it was launched in February, Martin's petition has recently gained traction among the community and businesses across the town. It now has more than 2,000 signatures.

Ruth Eaton, a resident and employee of a small business in the centre of Macclesfield, has signed the petition and encourages others to do the same.

“They need to be held accountable. It’s heart-breaking," she said.

Martin Smith, spearheading a group that wants a Macclesfield Neighbourhood Development Plan -Credit:Macclesfield
Martin Smith, spearheading a group that wants a Macclesfield Neighbourhood Development Plan -Credit:Macclesfield

Ruth has worked in Macclesfield all her life and has seen the decline of services and facilities in recent years.

Ruth added: “I do think Cheshire East Council seems to have priorities elsewhere. I don’t think a town-led [unitary] council would solve everyone's problems, but it’s worth a try.”

Emma Parker has owned Mootiful Gifts on the high street for 24 years, and she thinks the lack of investment is part of the problem, with another key issue being funding going to the wrong areas.

Emma said: “I just don’t think there is enough money being invested into the town. Macclesfield needs tidying up.”

Martin is calling for a Macclesfield-led ‘North East Cheshire Unitary Authority’ to better address the issues facing the area. He has now set up a Facebook group to help spread the message and is claiming that Cheshire East Council is “teetering on the edge” and could “effectively declare themselves bankrupt” soon.

He has also raised the concerns of green spaces such as those at Danes Moss being overtaken by new housing and other development sites.

A campaign to save Danes Moss has been an ongoing battle with the council since it published its Cheshire East Local Plan in 2017. This detailed how the council would see 950 homes built on the site.

A similar petition has been registered to preserve Poynton Pool and asks the council to adhere to environmental regulations when maintaining the space.

Cheshire East Council has not commented on the growing number of petition signatures when contacted by Cheshire Live, but it has previously refuted the idea of under-funding Macclesfield.

The council has previously stated that it it "committed to driving forward a positive future for Macclesfield", pointing to the UK Shared Prosperity Fund pumping £12.4m into Cheshire East between 2022 and 2025, which the council is using to line up various projects for Macclesfield.

These include having an indoor market refurbishment, a new scheme called ‘Macc On Foot’ aiming to improve the pedestrian experience, and a ‘Museum on the Street’ project to welcome visitors and educate residents.

Despite this, Martin and now more than 2,000 others believe that Macclesfield has been side-lined, with comments under the petition dubbing the council as “incompetent and wasteful”.

"We live in a run-down town with greedy landlords and council," says one commenter, adding: "We need a change."

The petition can be found here: 'Break Free from CEC - A call for a new Macclesfield-led council'

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