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Chairman's Annual Meeting Report: May 2019

By the end of the April 2019 meeting, this Council had been in existence for 8 years. There are some things which mark a town council out from a Unitary authority and top of that list must be that, except for the Town Clerk and his deputy, every one of us is an unpaid volunteer.  We do this job for no other reason than because we want to make a difference to the town we live in.

However, making a difference can and does take time and requires much patience. So I want to start by paying tribute to all those Councillors who have gone before and to those no longer with us, for all they have done, for all the hours they have spent making that difference and for doing it with such good grace.  The achievements, when they come, really do bring with it a strong sense of pride in doing good for Wilmslow.

It is a great honour to be Chairman of this Council, something I have shared with Keith Purdom who stepped down at the election and with our founding father, Jim Crockatt, sadly no longer with us.  It has been a privilege to meet so many people from all walks of life and to talk to many businesses, large and small. To you all, thank you.

We face several challenges over the next four years.  First and foremost, we need to take ownership of the Neighbourhood Plan which has been exceptionally well produced by unpaid volunteers who will, along with others, continue to have a role down-stream.  Without labouring the point, the Local Plan is Cheshire East’s, not ours whereas the Neighbourhood Plan most certainly is ours and no-one else’s.

Secondly, we need to persuade Cheshire East to engage with us more.  We know they face severe financial constraints but we, as a Council, should be asked about how we may assist when cuts are being considered.  Just by way of example, Wilmslow Town Council has funded the Citizen’s Advice presence in Wilmslow following the withdrawal of funding by Cheshire East. The fact is that the need for that service is growing, not diminishing. I welcome proposals from Councillor Mark Goldsmith, who now sits on both Cheshire East Council and Wilmslow Town Council, to act as a go-between and to regularly brief us on ‘the flavour of the month’.

 I also want to acknowledge that certain areas of our town are less fortunate than others and have specific needs.  I would like us to explore these needs in a partnership arrangement.  In particular I should like to see a case put forward for this Council to employ a Youth Officer.

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