Barlow's Beef: The times they are a-changin


I've been thinking-as I do- and can't help wondering if Bob Dylan was thinking about Cheshire East when he sang The Times they are a Changing?

We've had the Lyme Green debacle losing us almost £1M then adding insult to injury by charging us £400K for a report we weren't allowed to see. (Can you imagine any commercial organisation making its clients pay for information they were denied? No me neither).

We've had a £200K chief exec 'aiming for the stars' who spent more time off work than she spent on the job.

Then there was the Council Deputy cabinet member for finances who turned out to be a disbarred director of a company that folded owing creditors £440K.

We've had Physiogate and the jewel in the crown (of thorns) CoSocius who somehow managed to lose £800K in eleven months trading plus a £8M pension deficit.

The latest revelation of ludicrous pay-offs paid to short-stay officers is probably no more than we've come to expect so what do we do about it?

Sadly there is no effective political opposition to Tory dominance and it's not likely to change. Let's face it Labour have as much chance of becoming the majority party as I do of becoming Mayor and the Lib Dems have been sitting on the fence so long no one knows they are there.

I do however like the new Alderley Edge First council who took over from an arrogant Tory regime. AEF actually seem to understand and listen to residents, which must be quite pleasant for them after being ignored for decades.

They have transformed local politics in Alderley. Okay, it's only a parish council but it demonstrates what can be achieved when residents are prepared to change their voting habits.

My Cheshire East councillor is an Independent and he's doing a really good job. He's very responsive and follows everything through. He's not part of any inner cabal and has no certainty of being re elected. He has to work hard for his place in the council chamber. He can't afford arrogance.

Not so Tory grandees who are sufficiently certain of re election to be dismissive of public opinion. Destroying the Greenbelt while leaving Brownfield sites untouched is no problem when you are certain to be returned to office.

Alderley Edge First is a lesson we can all learn. Alderley had the same old tired faces running the show for decades. Now they have new faces with no guarantee of anything. Being dismissive isn't an option.

In politics certainty leads to insouciance and Cheshire East is awash with it.

As Bob warned us...
Come gather 'round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You'll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you
Is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'.
(NB: Bob didn't like the letter 'g'.)

The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of

Photo: By Alberto Cabello from Vitoria Gasteiz - Bob Dylan, CC BY 2.0.

Barlow's Beef, Vic Barlow


Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Duncan Herald
Tuesday 11th October 2016 at 9:30 am
You adore 'Alderley Edge First' Parish Council.
Can you please get them to tell the rest of us what they intend to do to solve the near-gridlock in the village? They seem to have taken a vow of omerta.

Your Cheshire East Councillor is not an Independent, he's a member of the Alderley Edge First political grouping. He's also a Parish Councillor which, as I recall, is something 'they' spoke out against! Can you please ask him what he (and Chesire East) intend to do about parking in Alderley Edge? Might his refusal to tell the villagers what is happening be just another form of arrogance?

Maybe there is a master plan; who knows?

Might you define what you mean by 'Tory grandee'?

You clearly do not care for the 'Tory dominance'. Is there something wrong with democracy?

Give my regards to Mr. Corbyn, if you happen to see him; he's doing sterling work to maintain Tory dominance!
Vic Barlow
Tuesday 11th October 2016 at 4:29 pm
Mmm...I 'adore'' Alderley Edge Parish Council.
My Cheshire East Councillor is NOT an Independent.
Who am I?
' Adore' is a word I rarely use. (Unless i'm talking about dogs)
And my CEC representative is most certainly an Independent.
Sounds like you have me confused with someone else.
Not Bob Dylan by any chance?
Mike Dudley-Jones
Tuesday 11th October 2016 at 6:22 pm
I would like to thank Vic Barlow for his kind remarks about Alderley Edge Parish Council.

I still remain very very proud of the fact that we created history in our own way by wiping out our Conservative opponents in a Parish election at a time when the Tories nationally were enjoying a substantial roll!! Must have been a bit embarrassing for them but as Vic rightly said - the times they are a-changin'!

I am also immensely proud of my colleagues who have worked so hard to get things done. We had no idea how long some 'changes' can take and it may well be that parking and other issues might still have some distance to travel but we are making progress and when we have news we always share it quickly.

I have never once heard anyone say that we are a 'waste of space' as a Parish Council except by the occasional crack pot on this website but we have all become immune to their rantings. Instead, most of us are regularly thanked for the hard work being done. That does not make us complacent. It just helps us to see that we are making a difference. That is pleasing.

We will continue to stick closely to our election pledge. We listen, we seek to understand and we care about our Village and everyone in it.
Pete Taylor
Tuesday 11th October 2016 at 7:53 pm
To be frank, I'm wondering how long sour grapes last.
Alan Brough
Tuesday 11th October 2016 at 9:20 pm
Hi Duncan,

I see you're again asking others to ask AEPC for answers to your questions.

Why not try" Kock, Knock Knocking" on The Festival Halls door one Monday evening when the Parish Council hold their meeting? You could " Lay Lady Lay" your questions to them directly.

But getting back to the thrust of what Vic is writing about, What's your opinion (as a former Conservative Parish Councillor) of the recent performance of (Conservative led) CE Council?
Duncan Herald
Thursday 13th October 2016 at 10:30 am
Hi Vic,
nice to have a response. But you didn't answer any of the questions that I put to you; are you sure you're not a Parish Councillor, as that's what they don't do!
Oh well, perhaps my questions shot past, 'Blowing In The Wind' ?

By the way, now that we are 'speaking', am I still to be labelled a 'Tory Grandee'?

Hi Mike.
good to see you here again as its been so long that I thought you must have gone AWOL !

What is that stuff about someone saying you were 'a waste of space'? It certainly was not I, so might you 'name and shame'?
However, to say that someone who disagrees with you is a 'crack pot' is rather insulting to that person? As my old granny used to say, 'play nicely'.

Hi Alan,
yes there I am posing questions of the AEPC and not getting answers. If you read other entries, I'm not the only one asking questions now am I?

I have been to a P.C. meeting but alas no one answered questions there either; oh well, perhaps my questions got 'Tangled Up In Blue ?

Vic does indeed write a strong anti-CE message and if the cap fits, it will have to be worn.
In the interests of fairness, might Vic have mentioned the creation of a new Medical Centre, by the last (Tory) P.C.

Not to mention Mrs. May's determination to proceed with the voters' wish for a Brexit; is the Labour Party for or against; its so hard to work out what Corbyn's lot (i.e. variety of cabals) have in mind! Perhaps 'The Times They Are A Changing' ?
Alan Brough
Thursday 13th October 2016 at 1:12 pm
Hi Duncan,

I didn't think I'd imagined it and sure enough, after checking "All Along The Watchtower" I unearthed the following on this very website.....

I think that Craig Browne's September update, along with other items posted within the last week give folk a pretty good idea of what's going on - so hardly a vow of omerta (really?)

It looks like there will be more spaces at Ryleys Lane along with some smart resurfacing. It seems there will be approx. 15 additional parking spaces in the Village Centre and the various plans surrounding Heyes Lane and Chorley Hall Lane are still rumbling along through the process.

Meanwhile the Planners plan, Developers develop and Builders build.

"Positively George Street!"
Duncan Herald
Monday 17th October 2016 at 1:34 pm
Hi Alan,
apology for taking so long to reply to you; I've just been out and about, having a good time!

You suggested that if I followed your link to 'Craig's September update', i would have 'a pretty good idea of what's going on'. I was happy to oblige but alas I came up with more questions than answers:

1. Craig wrote that the Chorley Hall Lane Playing Field had not been progressed as a car park site. Um, didn't say why not.

2. He wrote that the work on the Park car park would hopefully provide some extra parking spaces. Later figures suggest 40 spaces but there were actually 43 cars parked there (as I reported a wee while ago) and so the expensive surfacing (£20,000 was quoted I believe) seemingly will actually mean fewer spaces. And if you park poorly on the shiny new white lines, you'll be fined.

3) There was mention of a possibility of a two story car park in the Park. Where might the feasibility report and the business plan be seen? (That may seem a little unfair of me as I do not think much of business plans but since you guys do, then please trot 'em out).

Oh well, let's not go over old arguments yet again eh ? Hopefully someone will eventually produce all the answers?

By the way, where are the last Parish Council Annual Accounts? Weren't they due out in September?
Claire MacLeod
Wednesday 19th October 2016 at 7:58 pm
Tempted though I am to suggest that certain contributors 'Bore off', I will refrain and simply say, 'Well said, Vic'. Mike, you are right to be proud. Not only did you (collectively) achieve a monumental victory, but even more impressively, you have delivered exactly what you promised and more besides. Anyone who has lived in the village for the last 5 years or more cannot help but appreciate the difference the Parish Council has made. From larger projects, like the completion of the Medical Centre and the plans for the sustainability of the new Festival Hall, and the youth-led project for the park, to the litter picking and improvement of the appearance of the railway station. We are lucky to have such a pro-active, responsive and consultative PC. I, for one, thank you all.
Duncan Herald
Wednesday 26th October 2016 at 10:13 am
The re-configured (!) car park looks pretty.

There are 39 spaces (including two for the disadvantaged).

So that's approx. 4 less cars than there were.

Good stuff re-configuration?

Let's hope that 'Phase 2' will get under way soonest ?
Catriona Lang
Wednesday 26th October 2016 at 11:42 am
I'd like to say "well done and thank you" to the Parish Council for their work so far. I'd rather they spend time in considering all of the available options to make sure the right decisions are taken for the good of the village. I also appreciate the transparency of their operations and I don't expect a day-by-day or week-by-week update on of everything they have been doing!
Fenton Simpson
Thursday 3rd November 2016 at 8:39 pm
Duncan i would have thought that as a previous parish councillor you would know that the PC accounts run April to March.

All the PC accounts are available to down load from the PC website.
Duncan Herald
Friday 4th November 2016 at 10:52 am
Yo Fenton,

yes they run from April to March but when I asked, a while back, where they were, I was told that they would be 'out' in September.

Seemples ?