Barlow's Beef: Who reads the small print on our behalf?


This year has been a strange one don't you think? Both globally and locally nothing has gone as predicted. I'm guessing pollsters are going to find their services a lot harder to sell in future.

As for politicians they could not have got it more wrong. Their arrogant assertion of the outcome led the political establishment on both sides of the Atlantic to have absolutely no Plan B whatsoever.

So what have we, the normally passive people of Cheshire, learned from recent events? We've learned that within Cheshire East public opinion counts for nothing. We've learned that Brownfield First has no more meaning than Mr Blair's 'Weapons of Mass Destruction.'

We've learned that lies will be told about certain developments unless and until CEC are faced with indisputable evidence (see the Lyme Green Waste Transfer Station denied right up until photographs were produced showing contractors at work.)

We've learned that so-called public consultations are often little more than a PR exercise for pre determined decisions as I'm sure the residents of Adlington Road in Wilmslow and Fence Avenue in Macclesfield will testify.

We've learned that while services will be cut to 'save money' it will have no effect whatsoever on financial packages handed out to departing council executives.

Most unpopular measure are engineered to be executed with minimum public awareness and will be (hopefully) too far down the line to attract serious opposition.

Never have residents needed the watchful eye of the local media more. Only a few weeks ago the editor of this website discovered that of 15 senior managers appointed by Cheshire East in 2013 only three remained in office. One of those departing executives received a severance package of £78,388 after only 15 months.

We have witnessed CEC creation CoSocius folding after 11 months with a trading loss of £800K and a £8M pension deficit. Residents weren't likely to read that in a press handout .

Twice NHS chiefs have flagged up plans to close the A&E facility at Macclesfield General Hospital and withdrawn them only after massive public opposition voiced in the local press.

Most of these 'plans' would have been acted upon before residents became aware were it not for the vigilance of local media. Not many of us have the time in our busy lives to chase Freedom of Information requests or attend public meetings.

Authorities planning unpopular measures rely on that to push their decisions through with the minimum of scrutiny.

Without a healthy active local media the public would be forever playing catch-up.

Which brings me to my point. Without public support scrutiny of local councils and other public bodies will simply wither away. Residents will discover what's happening after the event and in some cases not at all.

Whenever you place an advert online you are helping to ensure that scrutiny continues. The cost of no-scrutiny is too painful to imagine.

Don't allow it to happen.

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

Barlows Beef, Vic Barlow