Barlow's Beef: Handforth residents are not easily duped


If you knew you were going to upset the company on whom you relied for your employment, you would probably think very carefully about it. You'd want to check and recheck your facts before you made waves. The last thing you'd want would be to create animosity on totally erroneous information. Were you to do so your credibility (and your job) would be in serious jeopardy.

Suppose... just suppose you went ahead with your controversial plan and when challenged insisted you had all the correct information. Let us assume your company subsequently carried out their own research and discovered the basis on which you based your case was entirely wrong.

They could come to only two conclusions i.e. you made a deliberate attempt to mislead the company or you are totally incompetent. Either way you have no future.

In January Cheshire East Council, knowing the distress it would cause to Handforth residents, announced plans to go ahead with a 'Garden Village' without any reference to local opinion.

Councillor Barry Burkhill said at the time: "This comes as a surprise to us all and has caused much upset to Handforth residents and the Neighbourhood Plan Team."

You really would want to be sure of your facts before causing that amount of distress in the community. CEC have enough resources and legal clout to check their position before announcing such controversial plans. Upsetting residents unnecessarily is not a recipe for creating goodwill.

Nevertheless CEC were adamant: "we are not proposing that the emerging Handforth neighbourhood plan covers this (Garden Village) site," was their unyielding response. They didn't actually say 'so up yours' but that was the general tenor.

The Handforth Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group (HNPSG) refused to capitulate and carried out their own research which proved that CEC's attempt to exclude the Garden Village from the Neighbourhood Plan was a breach of the regulations and therefore illegal.

"So, in light of this, we've reviewed the decision and can confirm that the whole of Handforth Parish, including the North Cheshire Garden Village, is now to be designated as the Handforth Neighbourhood Area," said CEC.

So what do you think? Did CEC make a deliberate attempt to mislead or are they simply incompetent?

Before you come to a conclusion consider the sequence of events at Lyme Green.

The parish council pointed out to CEC that illegal work was being carried out at Lyme Green. CEC made repeated denials sending representatives to parish meetings to assure residents this was not the case.

A vigilant local resident subsequently supplied the press with photographic evidence of work in progress before CEC finally admitted they were building a waste recycling plant on the site WITHOUT planning approval.

There followed a £500K independent inquiry much of which was redacted to ensure taxpayers did not have the full story.

So were CEC attempting to hoodwink the people of Handforth or were they just incompetent?

I shall leave it for you to decide.

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

Barlow's Beef, Vic Barlow


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

Bob Bracegirdle
Tuesday 28th February 2017 at 5:48 pm
Why are parts of the report redacted?
David Hadfield
Wednesday 1st March 2017 at 9:15 am
In answer to Vic Barlow's question ....
CEC tried to hoodwink the Handforth residents AND CEC are incompetent !
Vic Barlow
Wednesday 1st March 2017 at 3:37 pm
Large chunks of the report were redacted as CEC thought it unwise to allow the public (who paid for the report) access to the full details.