Here is an update on what I’ve been doing in the last two months since my previous blog.
As we begin 2023 I would love to hear from you. What should I and the Town Council be prioritising? What particular challenges are you facing, if any? Do you have ideas for how we can improve life in Congleton? Please get in touch with me and let me know your thoughts:
- Email email@example.com
- Call or text 07711 459740
- Facebook Message @CllrKayWesley
- Or join one of my online surgeries on the second Monday of the month. The next one is on 9th January at 7pm. You can join on Zoom here or check out my Facebook page for details.
I and Council colleagues are continuing to work with a group of community leaders from churches, charities, businesses, Cheshire East Council and other organisations to see how we can help people in Congleton weather the storm of the current cost-of-living crisis.
Congleton now has some warm spaces funded by CEC and other venues are offering food and friendship in a warm environment. You can learn more at a new page of the Congleton Town Council website that I helped put together, here: https://www.congleton-tc.gov.uk/your-council/congleton-cares
In addition to this I created a new Facebook Group for anyone who needs or can offer help. Please join in if you like: www.facebook.com/groups/congletoncares/ I am supporting a number of local organisations as they apply to be warm spaces or expand their offering to cope with increased demand.
White Ribbon Campaign
White Ribbon is an international organisation engaging men to campaign against men’s violence against women, and the behaviours and attitudes that lead to this. Congleton Town Council is a White Ribbon Accredited organisation and our goal is to ‘eradicate all gender-based violence and abuse’ from Congleton.
November is an important month for the White Ribbon Campaign. White Ribbon Day is 25th November, and the following period is the UN ’16 days of activism’ against gender-based violence and abuse, ending on International Human Rights Day on the 10th December. I planned our Congleton campaign working with council officers and the White Ribbon Working Group, and other organisations joined in too.
The Congleton White Ribbon activities this year included:
- The White Ribbon Flag flying from the Town Hall and white ribbons around the town-centre lampposts
- A table at the Makers’ Market on 26th November. More than 20 people made their White Ribbon promise.
- A poster about #TheGoal to eradicate violence, which was the theme for this year’s White Ribbon Day, in football clubs, pubs and Town Council properties.
- Press coverage by Congleton Nub News and the Congleton Chronicle.
- A series of videos by White Ribbon Ambassadors, the Police and students from Congleton High and Alsager Schools, answering questions such as ‘What is White Ribbon Day?’ and ‘How can we all call out sexism?’. You can watch the full playlist below:
- A White Ribbon Sunday at United Reformed Church, led by The Rev Murray George. You can watch it and hear Murray’s moving sermon here.
- An article in All Saints’ Parish magazine by Jonathan Dakin, one of our White Ribbon Ambassadors.
- Social media posts, a Congleton Town Council Website and Facebook ‘Takeover’, and sharing of other topical information such as Cheshire East Council’s young person’s SHOUT (sexual harassment – stamp it out) campaign.
Many thanks to our White Ribbon Ambassadors, the high schools, the Police, the churches and to all the others who supported the campaign this year.
If you’d like to get involved in White Ribbon, please contact me, the Town Council at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.whiteribbon.org.uk
NALC becomes White Ribbon Accredited
I was asked to present the White Ribbon campaign to the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) Management Board at the request of their Policy Committee. I’m delighted to say that they unanimously decided that NALC should become a White Ribbon Accredited organisation too.
In order to celebrate this, the NALC team made a video featuring Councillors from all over the country with a very simple message. Three of our Ambassadors got involved – see if you can spot them in it!
If you’d like to get involved in White Ribbon, please contact me or visit www.whiteribbon.org.uk
Sexual Violence and Domestic Abuse – Cheshire East
MyCWA continuees to run their Domestic Abuse Clinic and peer group in Congleton, and I have referred a few residents to both of these recently.
MyCWA hosted their annual White Ribbon Conference and also produced a video to celebrate White Ribbon Day. Its theme was ‘positive masculinity’ and some of our White Ribbon Ambassadors took part, along with Police and Crime Commissioner John Dwyer, among others. You can watch it here:
Working with the Police
I was part of a Cheshire Police ‘Day of Action’ in which teams knock on doors and ask residents if they have any concerns about crime or safety in their community. My team uncovered a few situations that required follow up, but most people do feel safe and were grateful to the Police teams for coming to ask.
I joined another Community Cohesion Group meeting which this time was a consultation about Police use of force. We looked at bodycam and other videos of arrests and assessed whether we thought a reasonable process had been followed and appropriate force used.
It would be good to get a wider cross-section of the public involved in these meetings so please contact me if you are interested: email@example.com.
I’ve been leading a project to launch new sections of the Congleton Town Council website to bring all our sustainability and environmental content together to support residents and businesses, as well as communicate what we are doing as a Council.
We have now launched these new sections and you can find them here:
Green Council – explaining what Congleton Town Council is doing to reduce our carbon and environmental footprint and improve biodiversity.
Green Living – with sections on recycling, energy, biodiversity, travel, food, and much more – including lots of links, tips and helpful resources for living more sustainably.
Green Business – top tips for more sustainable business, some case studies and resources and links to help.
Don’t forget you can also complete our green e-learning course here: http://learn.congleton-tc.gov.Uk.
You can see the public version of our green calendar for the year here, and a new version of this is in progress for 2023.
We have designated January ‘Green New Year’s Resolution’ month. Please join in our events by sending photos or videos of your Green Resolution, putting them on social media with the hashtag #CongletonGreen.
Trees for Congleton
This group of volunteers has started work again this season. Most of the work so far has been maintaining last year’s planting and replacing any lost plants.
I, together with the Partnership Officer have been helping with communications a bit, and I’m happy to say that this year, all the consultation on new tree planting sites is online. There is a new domain – www.treesforcongleton.co.uk where you can read about the planting plans for each site, have your say and learn how you can get involved.
The team would really love to hear from people who would like to become a ‘friend’ of a particular site and help plant and look after it. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.treesforcongleton.co.uk.
To wrap up the Congleton’s 750th Charter Year, we held a mock ‘Council Meeting’. We dressed in Mediaeval costume and heard reports from the Catchpole, the Ale Taster and the 750 team. The event was principally to thank all the wonderful volunteers who have made this year so special.
As part of the event Cllr Firkin and I, as Museum Trustees, presented the prizes to the young winners of the 750 History Competition with the help of the Mayor and the Chair of Elizabeth’s Group, Susan Munro.
It was a fun event and lots of members of the public came to share it. Thank you for joining in all the celebrations throughout the year!
The museum held its AGM and I presented our ‘Global Museum’ project – starting with a new website and digital style guide – which has its kick off in January. A couple of Friends of the Museum volunteered to be on the User Panel to help us create this, which is great.
This project aims to reach and engage many more people with Congleton’s heritage and history. In a survey we did earlier in the year, half the people had never been to the Museum and 12 per cent didn’t know it existed, although those that had visited really liked it. This told us that there is a great opportunity to both reach new people and re-ignite the interest of people who have been before, using a variety of immersive digital experiences.
I attended the Congleton Pride AGM. As the movement has grown, the group is putting in a little more structure and I volunteered for the Communications and Sponsorship teams.
The Pride team joined Santa going door-to-door in Biddulph. It was, as ever, wonderful to see the children’s faces, although a cold night at -5oC!
I am in the process of creating a new ‘attitudes’ survey for Pride and it will be interesting to see what has changed from the last one we did 2 years ago.
Bromley Farm Community
I attended the Bromley Farm Community Development Trust’s AGM in November. Sadly, it seems that little progress has been made on making the Trust more transparent and accountable (as Cheshire East Council requested) since the last AGM. The residents were not happy as the 3 committee members present voted themselves back in and the Chair told us about the year’s activities. Many of the projects sounded good, but the residents present wanted to be involved in decision-making and volunteering, and it was clear they were not welcome. Furthermore, no results have been published from the residents’ survey done earlier this year, which apparently had only 20 online responses and 80 on paper.
Meanwhile, I also attended the first general meeting of the newly-constituted Bromley Farm Community Hub team, to consider the feedback after their residents’ consultation day, and prior to that meeting they published the results of the consultation on Facebook.
At the meeting the team shared the constitution and invited nominations from the public for the new Hub Committee. A Committee was duly appointed (I agreed to be the CTC representative on it), and a couple of early activities identified – free training courses at the Hub, a Plus Dane Residents’ group, and a Christmas party.
The Committee will meet in January to decide on next steps.
The Integrated Transport Working Group, of which I am a member, brought a proposal to Council that all residential streets in Congleton should be reduced to a 20mph limit. Several members of the public came to speak on this matter, and felt very strongly that the Council should support this move.
I pointed out that many towns and cities around England, and all of Wales, have adopted 20mph. 30mph was an arbitrary figure, put in place when many fewer cars were on the road, and the safety evidence is irrefutable. I invited my colleagues to be ‘leaders, not followers’ in this matter and vote for the 20mph limit. I’m happy to say they did.
This proposal will now go to Cheshire East Council as the Highways authority, and they must decide whether to accept it and if so, how and when to implement it.
Congleton Neighbourhood Plan
The Congleton Neighbourhood Plan, which will determine the framework for future planning and development in Congleton, is now coming out for consultation in January. Please look out for this and answer the consultation. We will be sharing it widely on social media and elsewhere.
This will determine where and what gets built in future in Congleton, including how we protect green spaces and what we take into account when deciding whether to support planning applications. Please have your say! Thank you.
The Congleton Town Centre Vitality Plan is still out for public consultation. This is not yet funded but is intended to be a ‘wish list’ of ways to improve the town if we can secure funding, and I’ve been on the CTC focus group for it. You can learn more and answer the consultation here.
I attended the Congleton InBloom Celebration evening – congratulations to all those volunteers who have made Congleton look beautiful this year.
I’ve been working with Cllr Firkin to support the Old Saw Mill as it restructures post-COVID. This Community Benefit Society does a great deal of work to support people who are isolated or vulnerable in Congleton, and is a designated Warm Space for the current cost-of-living crisis.
We helped them put together a set of Business Sponsorship Packages for local firms who might want to support the community through the current difficult times.
The sponsorships range from £500 to £2000 and allow sponsors to get access to the Old Saw Mill’s meeting rooms and samples of its famous apple juice as well as promotion on the Old Saw Mill’s publications. To learn more email email@example.com.
I have spoken in favour of preserving nature and green spaces, and opposed development that affects them, at the Town Council Planning Committee. I’ve also supported the preservation of trees and requested that replacements are planted if the loss of a tree is inevitable.
As chair of the Antisocial Behaviour Working Group I have reported criminal and antisocial behaviour that we have heard about from residents to the local police, and followed up with residents where necessary. One recent success was getting Cheshire East Highways to repaint lines and markings on the bus station to prevent illegal and obstructive parking there:
My Meeting Attendance
Overall, my Council meeting attendance in these two months has been 96% for all council meetings and working/other groups, either face-to-face or virtually (23 out of 24). For the principal council committees my rate is 86% (6 of 7). (This includes mandatory public meetings and additional core meetings such as Council chairs’ group and strategy group.)
In total since I have been a Councillor (from May 2019) my overall meeting attendance across all types of meetings has been 95%, with 92% at core Council meetings.
I am a member of eighteen other Groups as well as the Council Committees, some of which are council-related, some are other local charities and community groups. You can see my memberships on the About Me Page.
The Town Council’s remit does not include things such as Social Services, Health, Transport, Waste, Recycling – these are the domain of Cheshire East, but we can lobby in these areas.