Here is an update on what I’ve been doing in the last two months since my previous blog.
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:
- Answer a few questions (5 minutes) in my online Feedback Form
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Call or text 07711 459740
- Facebook Message @CllrKayWesley or Twitter @KayWesley
- Or you can come to my surgery – in-person this month, on March 6th at the Railway Inn, Congleton at 7pm.
The Council continues to do what it can to support the community in the Cost of Living crisis and has published a booklet that was distributed with Bear Necessities, explaining where people can get help. You can learn more at the page of the Congleton Town Council website, here: https://www.congleton-tc.gov.uk/your-council/congleton-cares
The Green Tree House Social Supermarket lost their premises at the end of last year and I helped them find a new home at 20 Lawton Street. It was a pleasure to be invited along to the opening of their new shop in February. The team there does a fantastic job.
White Ribbon Campaign
White Ribbon is an international organisation supporting men to campaign against men’s violence against women, and the behaviours and attitudes that lead to it. Congleton Town Council is a White Ribbon Accredited organisation and our goal is to ‘eradicate all gender-based violence and abuse from Congleton’.
In January some of our White Ribbon Ambassadors and I visited Eaton Bank School to run a White Ribbon Awareness session with all of Years 12 and 13.
As part of this we ran a training workshop on ‘being an active bystander’ and afterwards we chatted to the students about what they might do if they witnessed street harassment or abuse. About forty students made their White Ribbon Promise there and then, and over 90 per cent said they intended to do so.
If you’d like to get involved in White Ribbon, please contact me or visit www.whiteribbon.org.uk
Working with the Police
I am a member of the Cheshire Police EDEI (external diversity, equity and inclusion) board and I attended a board meeting in January at which we discussed the national Police Race Action Plan which has a vision of ‘a police service that is anti-racist and trusted by Black people’.
The board heard about progress on the Action Plan, especially in building the confidence of black police officers to report problems, from micro-aggressions to hate crimes.
You can learn more and provide input to the Race Action Plan here.
I also had the opportunity to visit the 999/101 call centre and learn more about what the team have done to improve response times and build public trust in the police force.
Community Safety Charter
The Town Council supported my proposal to sign up to this charter last year. It involves getting resources and training to help everyone feel safer on the streets, and is run by the Neighbourhood Watch organisation.
I met with officers to decide how we will roll this out in Congleton. We hope to engage with Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinators and will also share the materials out through Councillors and other groups. One of the resources we have received so far is training to handle harassment including an eLearning about Street Harassment, what to do if you experience and witness it.
You can take the 10-minute Stand up to Street Harassment eLearning here.
We discussed this at the Community & Environment Committee in March and have agreed to ask the Police to run a live active bystander/street harassment training for Councillors and officers.
I chaired a meeting with council officers and the leaders of a number of local green groups and charities, to align on the green activities for the year, and ensure we can share and amplify each others’ messages.
You can see the public version of our green calendar for the year here
In March we are celebrating Global Recycling Day and the Great British Spring Clean, amongst other events. Please join in by sending photos or videos of what you are doing, or putting them on social media with the hashtag #CongletonGreen.
I, together with the Deputy Chief Officer and Cllrs Firkin and Gartside, went to the Cheshire East ‘Achieving Net Zero’ conference. The MD of my business, Kanga Health Ltd, also attended with us.
There were several interesting and stimulating presentations, and we would like to run something similar in Congleton for local businesses. We discussed this with the Chief Executive of the Chamber of Commerce at the Conference and will follow up in the coming weeks.
Trees for Congleton
The residents’ consultation, including the online component I initiated at www.treesforcongleton.co.uk, has worked well this year and tree planting is well underway. I have been attending Trees For Congleton meetings to continue to support the project and especially the consultation. I have also helped with tree and hedge planting at weekends.
Waste and Recycling
I attended a photo session with the ‘Congleton Tip’ campaign to celebrate the three petitions reaching 6000 signatures.
I planned to attend the CEC Environment and Communities meeting that week for the ‘petition hand-over’, but unfortunately I got stuck in London due to strikes.
Meanwhile, Cheshire East Council announced in its budget that it would start charging for kerbside collections of garden and food waste. Several residents complained to me, and I gave a speech at the budget decision meeting in Macclesfield to protest on behalf of Congleton residents. My speech will be in the minutes when published, but I reproduce it here:
I am speaking on behalf of residents who have contacted me to protest most strongly at the potential loss of yet another recycling facility in our town. In the middle of a cost-of-living crisis, Cheshire East Council is proposing to charge for the collection of garden and food waste, which for many Congleton families will mean their garden and food waste will no longer be collected because they can’t afford to pay.
Just three years ago, this Council entered into a 15-year agreement to process organic waste at a brand new composting plant at Leighton Grange.
This was lauded at the time as an important part of the Cheshire East Council waste strategy and people across the Borough duly collected their food waste and added it to their green bin.
For Congleton, having lost our household waste and recycling site, kerbside collections are more important than ever, and now this essential service, which our residents already pay for through their council taxes, is being removed. As you can imagine, they are not at all happy about this.
An environmental and waste strategy is about the long-term and should not be sacrificed to short-term financial pressures. A Council serious about the Climate Emergency would seek these savings elsewhere, and I urge you to do so. Thank you.
I got the reply that 65% of Councils around the country charge for this service, and Council Leader Sam Corcoran referred to the problem in his summing up, but I think the decision has been made.
Congleton Pride has set up a number of sub-teams to focus on areas of work and I’m on the Sponsorship and Communications/Marketing sub-teams.
I facilitated a communications strategy workshop and also set up website content plan. I’ll also be working on some of the governance of our communications. Members of the team are doing a great job on content, the ‘Pride calendar’ and updating our website and social media.
I set up two new Pride surveys to find out what Congleton is like for LGBTQIA+ people and would love you to complete them if you haven’t already. Here they are:
Attitudes Survey for the General Public in Congleton
Survey for the LGBTQIA+ Community in Congleton
Bromley Farm Hub Group
The group has got going since its initial meeting in December. It has had two further committee meetings and several new groups have been formed. Susan Mead is the Chair of the Group.
Sub-groups include a Residents’ Forum which is working with Plus Dane on improvements to housing, the Bromley Bloomers who are working with Trees for Congleton on ideas for planting at Hillary Avenue and Parnell Square, the Bromley Farm Hub Friends, who are planning a Tuesday afternoon ‘tea and games’ sessions, among others. The team is also working with Macclesfield College and Springboard on providing training courses at the Hub.
Plus Dane are supporting the group and have a seat on the Committee. They have also committed to a tidy-up and improvement of Parnell Square, where the Wellbeing Hub (the HQ of Bromley Farm Hub Group) is situated.
The Committee is democratically-elected and is publishing their activities and meeting minutes on Facebook. More people are coming forward to volunteer all the time. The Hub is now applying for funding for a number of projects.
For my part, I have helped behind the scenes with the constitution and setting up of the group and its governance. I sit on the Committee as one of two local Councillors who have been invited to take part.
If you would like to get involved please contact me and I will put you in touch.
I led a Ukraine ‘Hosts Evening’ at the Town Hall in January. Local people who were hosting Ukrainian refugees in their homes, or considering hosting, were invited to come and share their experiences. About 40 people attended.
Paul Nixon of the Congleton Area Ukraine Support Network gave a short talk about options to move-on from hosting into rented accommodation.
Then we had a couple of language related talks. First of all Sarah Spicer, an English Coach, presented information on how to help our Ukrainians guests learn English, including lots of useful tips for English practice at home. Then Nadiia Holovchuk gave us a lesson in some useful Ukrainian words and phases.
The feedback from the evening was very good, and I wished I had attended it months ago at the start of our own hosting experience. Slava Ukraini!
I also attended St Peter’s Church on the anniversary of the invasion to show solidarity and support to the people of Ukraine and especially our Congleton guests.
ARRIVA have announced that they are closing bus depots in the area which would mean the removal of a number of important local bus services, including the Number 38 that goes from Congleton to Crewe and Macclesfield.
I have made contact with CEC Officers to ask what is being done to prevent the loss of these essential services which allow Congleton residents to get to work and school/college.
Unfortunately CEC did not get any of the national government’s bus recovery funding, which is frustrating as I had sent a bus improvements requirements document from Congleton to CEC and was not invited to help make a business-case for this funding, just told that we hadn’t got it after the fact.
Congleton Neighbourhood Plan
The Congleton Neighbourhood Plan’s public consultation has been delayed. There have been challenges due to COVID and also the boundary review – when we thought Congleton was going to include the new estates on the periphery, but in fact it doesn’t – which was only completed in 2022.
When several of us reviewed the latest version of the plan we realised it also needs updating to reflect our updated priorities of our town around the climate emergency, public transport, biodiversity, among other areas. We would also like to simplify it and use a layout that will be easy for people to navigate and comment on relevant sections.
Therefore, a small team is working on these improvements and the plan should go to consultation in late May/June.
I attended the LGBT+ History Month event that Congleton Pride and the Museum collaborated on in February. It was excellent and saw around 60 people come to the Museum in one day. Congratulations to the team that made it happen.
These visitor numbers have since been topped by the excellent Roman Week in half term. Well done to Anna and Ian for another fantastic event.
For my part, I’m helping with the new Museum website and digitisation project, and we have now had the kickoff meeting and the developer is working on the design and functionality. I am supporting the co-creation work in which we will work with Friends of the Museum and other interested people to ensure the proposed new site will meet the needs of the community. This will also provide input to a fresh new ‘look’ and branding for the Museum.
I attended the first Town Tidy of the year in Mossley, and was shocked at the quantity of litter along Biddulph Road. I have reported it to officers in the hope we can get some signage to remind people to take their litter home.
I attended the Mayor’s Charity Tea Dance in February and enjoyed it very much. Many thanks to all the officers that made it happen, and to the Mayor of course.
My Meeting Attendance
Overall, my Council meeting attendance in these two months has been 100% for all council meetings and working/other groups, either face-to-face or virtually (26 out of 26). For the principal council committees my rate is 100% (7 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 93% 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.