Barlow's Beef: Surely it's time we gave independents an opportunity?


Do you remember the withdrawal of community bobbies following the 'police officers on the street don't catch criminals' mantra of the early 80s? You will recall the nationwide eruption of anti-social behaviour that followed.

Around that time our government decreed that diesel powered cars were so enormously better for the environment that we were given cash incentives to switch from petrol.

Having made the switch we have been duly penalised for that decision in the rising cost of diesel fuel now considered to be extremely damaging to the eco system.

In the 1960's politicians decreed high-rise living was the answer to all our housing problems. Neighbourhoods that had survived for 100 years were razed and replaced by multi story monstrosities many of which were demolished in 15.

Then came the right-to buy policy of the Thatcher government subsequently endorsed by the Blair administration seeing it as its mission not to ensure affordable rents for working people but to help them get a foot on the property ladder. This is what I wrote about the sale of council houses in 2005:

MBC Housing sale bigger trick than David Blane

It's a miracle. In an era when house prices have rocketed by 300 percent houses owned by Macclesfield Borough Council have actually devalued and are now almost worthless. David Blane could not have performed a more sensational disappearing act. In the same location where untouched two-bedroom terrace houses are fetching over £100K MBC's houses are valued at £3,600 a piece.

Four years ago everything was hunky-dory with the council boasting of their proud record in providing decent housing. Then they decided they wanted to rid themselves of the entire housing stock and spent £109K on a survey to prove how abysmal the borough's council houses really were and surprise surprise the survey confirmed the houses are worse than anyone imagined. In fact every single council house needs no less than £48K of repairs to prevent it crumbling to dust.

The stupefying total needed to repair the borough's housing stock is £250M. Considering the council own the land that's probably enough to rebuild every single house from scratch.

Now, forgive me for saying so but isn't it just a mite odd that these amazing 'facts' just happen to have surfaced just before council tenants vote on the sale of their homes to a private landlord?

Why, if I didn't know better I'd say someone in the town hall was trying to rig the vote.

Now here we are in 2017 with no housing stock and politicians of all parties insisting we destroy the greenbelt to satisfy the need for affordable homes when in reality those are the very homes that will NOT be built.

There's a clear pattern here of political dogma taking precedence over public opinion and common sense only to be discredited by subsequent events.

Thanks to the tenacity of Handforth residents the so-called Farm Village will NOT be excluded from the Neighbourhood Plan as CEC insisted. For once residents will have their say.

If we have learned anything from any of the above it is our need for politicians who respect and truly represent our views.

Surely it's time we gave Independents an opportunity to speak on our behalf.

Ask yourself this question: Could they do any worse?

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.

Pete Taylor
Tuesday 7th March 2017 at 10:14 am
AEPC elections 2015:

Conservative Party 0.
Independent (Alderley Edge First) 9.
Manuel Golding
Tuesday 7th March 2017 at 11:31 am
Residents of Wilmslow (RoW) is a independent group of concerned residents, appalled at the way our council has constantly chosen to ignore the expressed concerns of so very many Wilmslow residents.
RoW has fought CEC elections in 2015 defeating and winning the prior safe Conservative ward of Dean Row with our first Borough councillor, Toni Fox. We have also won 2 seats on WTC.
Looking at the present crop of party-hack Conservatives still representing the remaining Wilmslow CE wards, we beleive that it is long overdue for the people of Wilmslow to be represented by independent councillors who put their constituents before those of the Conservative party.
The same could be said of WTC, with 13 Conservative councillors to 2 independent Residents of Wilmslow representatives.
We in Wilmslow applaud the eminently sensible Alderley voters. RoW will be hoping to emulate Alderley at the next opportunity by offering a truly independent alternative voice for the town's voters.
Alderley and Wilmslow can achieve this goal together.
Vic Barlow
Tuesday 7th March 2017 at 12:04 pm
I believe Bollington recently went Independent in both borough and town elections.
'The times they are a changing.'
Manuel Golding
Tuesday 7th March 2017 at 3:27 pm
Yep, sorry for the omission Vic, you are dead right, Bollington's residents have seen the light.
Others follow and do yourselves a massive favour by helping the ignored populace of Cheshire East to have its views un-sieved by a party's apparatchiks.
Duncan Herald
Tuesday 7th March 2017 at 10:45 pm
If the present 9 Alderley Edge councillors are all members of the political group 'Alderley edge First', how does that meet with the term 'independents' ?
To go from the former 9 Conservatives to the present 9 A.E.First group is to swap one political group for another political group.
Nothing wrong with the electorate changing those holding office, but use the correct terminology please?

To write about the 'ignored populace of Cheshire East' is a nonsense; when the people vote, in this case for a Conservative Cheshire East Council, that is a democratic decision and if you don't like it, you'd do better to lump it, rather than whinge on!

What exactly is meant by 'party-hack Conservatives' ? Apart from an ungracious insult to people who were elected?How many of the above authors are elected members?

I consider the present national Labour leadership to be awful; but they were correctly elected and so I live with it.
I wonder why the above is critical only of the Conservatives; might the above authors add their opinion of the Labour party and indeed of the tiny Liberal rump?

Apparatchiks eh? Sounds nicely insulting, so I looked it up
1. a loyal member of an organisation
2. a member of a part of the Russian communist party
you pays your money and you takes your choice eh ?
Mike Dudley-Jones
Wednesday 8th March 2017 at 6:39 pm
Alderley First is not a political party. It is a collection of independently minded individuals who banded together to 'put Alderley First' and to represent the views of Alderley residents - and not the policies of some political party like the Conservatives.

It is that simple and - in my independently minded opinion - that successful!
Duncan Herald
Thursday 9th March 2017 at 10:05 am
Good Morning Mike D-J,

you write that 'Alderley First' is not a political party.
Is that a response to my post above of Tuesday? If so, please re-read my post as nowhere in it do I refer to 'Alderley First' as a party. The term I used is 'group'.
Nine people standing for election under a common title and with a common 'manifesto', is I contend a group. Similarly your supporters (and yourselves?) attacked the previous parish council as 'Tories'; doesn't that mean that your group is political?
Thus a 'political group'? Seemples?

Your group have been the Parish Council for some time.
Now I read, from various people, on this site, complaints about some of the things you are proposing.. Is the honeymoom period over? . Welcome to the club !

By the way, are you still intending to dig up part of the park to make more allotments?
Fenton Simpson
Thursday 9th March 2017 at 1:20 pm

This comment:

"By the way, are you still intending to dig up part of the park to make more allotments?"

Shows your complete and utter ignorance of how statutory green spaces are protected how changes can be made and not made. Your Conservative Parish Council passed a resolution in a Parish Council meeting to change the use of land with out going down any of the proper processes or even asking the land lord (Cheshire East) . This the Parish Council that you sat on as a Councillor.

Or were you just being bullied into towing the party line?

That is one of the example of the many reasons why the village was fed up of your Conservative Council.

The Honeymoon period is over on any new Council if there ever was one but you still clearly have cob on about losing to bunch of "amateurs".
Duncan Herald
Thursday 9th March 2017 at 3:15 pm
Good Afternoon Fenton,

I note that you do not actually deny that the Parish Council have debated the idea of allotments in the park ! Perhaps you might tell us whether you have been at all involved in such discourse?

I'm not at all sure what 'cob on' means but I'll assume that it is meant as an insult of some sort. Rather a shame that you should choose that approach, rather then reasoned dialogue. Its your choice of course. A touch of hypersensitivity?

Why on earth would you assume that I might use the word 'amateurs'? However all Parish Councillors are 'amateurs', to use your choice of words, I certainly was.
I don't believe there is a GCSE in 'parish councelling' !

Party line? Oh my, how you compliment we of the previous parish council: we had trouble deciding on what time to start meetings, let alone having a party line on anything !
Oh no, my mistake, we had a party line on starting a new Medical Centre.
Alan Brough
Friday 10th March 2017 at 12:04 am

I would challenge you to find any instance where any of the nine AE1 candidates "attacked" the previous PC as "Tories."

There were several exchanges where those of us supporting AE1 may have referred to being fed up with the Conservative PC and the way in which it seemed tied to party political agendas that required it to fall quietly in line with what Conservative-led CE Council dictated - not always in the best interests of Alderley Edge.

As I understand it, the very potent message put out by AE1 from it's inception was "People before Politics" and I took this to mean that party political interests (and quarrels) are counter-productive in serving the needs of a small, village community.

I was (personally) concerned about the way in which the "Tory" PC sought to steal allotment land that had been bequeathed to Alderley Edge folk by a caring and wealthy benefactor for the purpose of peaceful recreation so that they could tarmac over it and provide a car park to serve the growing and insatiable needs of some "Jonny-cum-lately" businesses that might seek to prosper in the land of perma-tans and footballers!

It is an opinion that may or may not strike a chord with others but it's mine and I'm sticking with it.

As time goes on, I see much to despise in the way that that CE Council goes about it's business. I listened to Rachel Bailey on BBC Radio 4's Today programme this week and felt a sense of unease as she was chided by Nick Robinson for talking in political gobbledegook when she was asked simple questions - frankly she was embarrassing.

So, it's reasonable to expect that people in far away places such as Wilmslow might also feel the winds of change rustling their political consciences as they question the motivations of their Conservative Parish Councillors. They may be minded to consider independent options, but alas, they wont be able to vote for a member of the AE1 "party"
Fenton Simpson
Friday 10th March 2017 at 1:23 pm
Duncan on the issue of party politics you still have not answered the questions of who gave or told you to deliver anonymous leaflets to the houses on Chorley hall lane the day before the election?

So come on who was it? You were caught red handed delivery these immoral if not illegal leaflets.

Then there was Conservative and prospective Conservative Councillors knocking on doors telling elderly people that Alderley first would not build the medical centre... nice

On the park question. You clearly don't read this website as fully as you should:

You clearly need to read more and stop asking people for the answers to questions that you could find yourself. I suspect you ask these questions openly like they are some kind of revelation to other readers.

As for armatures, Festival Hall would not have been completed with out the new councillors who had lots of experience in project management and they picked up a shambolic piece of planning and funding work done by your Colleagues.

I disagree with some of the new PC ideas but when I speak to them they listen and I'm treated with curtsy. Unlike the last Conservative Parish Council who treated any questioning of their governance with utter contempt. (you might have been the exception to that, but you were in that Council).

Party politics has not place in Parish Councils unless you just like John Snows swing o meter to use PC and town council elections as a barometer for Westminster results...
Elizabeth Mooney
Friday 10th March 2017 at 1:39 pm
What is the reason behind extra allotments in the Park? (Sorry I have come late to this thread). Is it to compensate allotment holders on Heyes Lane if they lose some original land for parking? It would be a shame to lose valuable recreation space in our village. We need something for teenagers a skate area was once mooted. There are no Youth Clubs any more (once upon a time every village had one.)
Craig Browne
Friday 10th March 2017 at 2:11 pm
Hi Elizabeth,

Yes, that is right. Allotment land has a very high level of legal protection (more so, in fact than green belt land), irrespective of how many plots are used or where the occupiers happen to live. In order to take away allotment land in one location, an equivalent amount of land has to be provided somewhere else and as you can imagine, this is particularly challenging in Alderley Edge where land values are high.

A skate park area is currently being considered by the Parish Youth Council, who are looking either at the area between the children's play area and the tennis courts, or at the bottom end of Chorley Hall Lane playing field. I am currently exploring whether there are any Section 106 monies that could be used to fund this, whilst the Youth Councillors are also looking at ways of raising funds themselves. In addition, Rachael Grantham is preparing funding applications on behalf of the Parish Council.

I have been advised by CEC that in order for the project to go ahead, planning permission will be required and of course, this will take some time. Thank you for your comments and I hope I have been able to answer your questions.

Kind regards,
Duncan Herald
Sunday 12th March 2017 at 3:58 pm
Hi Elizabeth,

I see that Craig has already responded to your question. May I add my threepennyworth?
As you write that you have come late to this, may I proffer a little of the history?

There is a drastic parking problem in the village; I think that most people living here would accept that. You may have noted that another shop in the village is to close, citing a lack of parking as a factor in this closure? Loss of business = loss of jobs?

The last Parish Council wished to build a car park on the whole of the Heyes Lane allotment site, holding 150+ cars. The 'A.E. Allotments and Gardens Society' fought that move, tooth and nail (as was their right of course).
At the last parish council election, the opposition to the then Parish Council propised to not allow a car park on the allotments and to solve the parking problem in some other way.
The electors voted the opposition into office as the new/present Parish Council.

Solving the parking problem, without building on the Heyes Lane site, proved to be rather more difficult that anticipated.

Recent proposals by the Parish Council includes the building of a 50-place car park on a part of the Heyes Lane allotments. I have no first-hand knowledge of what dialogue, if any, has taken place between the Parish Council and the 'Allotments Society'; however the decision to build on the Heyes Lane site may include a replacement site for the 'lost' allotments.
The likely proposed place for those allotments may be in the park.

To the best of my knowledge, the above is accurate.

Now to look at the possible situation, from the point of view of the park users:
the park has two new tennis courts (due to the last parish council), a new enclosed play area for young children (due to the present parish council), a bowling green (been there forever and so nought to do with present or last parish council), a football area with new land drains (due to the last parish council) etc. etc.
Proposals by the present Parish Council may include: building a 'skate park area' in the park, building allotments in the park, doubling the size of the Reillys Lane parking area into the park, making the R. Lane car park a double story car park.

Some people fear that the present nature of the park will be lost.
The park is quite small, about 2.5 hectares (sorry, no idea exactly what that is in acres; about 6 ?) and if all the above proposals go through then it may be just too much. Many users of the park simply stroll through it or dog-walk in it or bring their young chidren to it and tell me that they are unhappy with all the possible changes.

You will of course decide your own view on that.
Good Luck.
Pete Taylor
Sunday 12th March 2017 at 7:01 pm
Frankly Duncan, you now appear to be keeping up with the Jones's. Which is a shame.
Alan Brough
Sunday 12th March 2017 at 7:12 pm
Can I just ask why the people of Alderley Edge should give up any of their valuable recreational space (allotments, park, football pitches) so that businesses can profit from it?

It would be unthinkable that children should lose their play space in the park. It's equally unthinkable that older folk should have to give up their recreational space (allotments)

The business that recently (and regrettably) announced it's closure after a stonking 8 months trading in Alderley Edge, blaming lack of parking as part of the problem, might want to revisit their Business Plan. The (supposed) parking problems have existed for a lot longer than their tenure and haven't stopped other businesses such as Weinholts from trading very successfully for generations.
Duncan Herald
Monday 13th March 2017 at 9:51 am
Hi Alan,
clearly you and I have vastly different opinions re. business/politics/etc. Nothing wrong with that.
My view includes that if businesses fail then employment goes down. Without employment, the village will be less prosperous and that's a bad thing.

You mention the recent closure of one shop and (I think) decry its blaming a lack of parking. I came to live here in 1986 and at that time the village main street had a range of 'proper shops'. They have all gone (except a couple) and many of them cited a lack of parking as a factor in their closure (along with high rents, business rates etc.).Without those sort of shops (greengrocer, fish monger,etc.) we cease to be a traditional village, do we not?

I have no objection to allotments as such.I'd like us to have allotments and parks and a sufficiency of parking etc.
But when the preservation of allotments (and we do have three separate allotment sites) is perhaps at the expense of the park and parking, is there too much fixation on allotments? One park but three allotment sites?

By the way, back in the day when it was me tromping the park and the streets and talking to people, the good folk at Weinholts did actually say that they were worried about the lack of parking.

We alas can't have it all, it seems and so we are faced with the 'least worst' choice.

Hi Pete,
sorry but i don't understand what you wrote.

Generally: there are comments about planning and legal obligations when it comes to the possibility of turning allotments into car park. Which is a possibility now accepted by some who were once opposed to any such.
I assume that legal opinion has been taken on the subject. Either from private solicitors, the Parish Council's solicitors or C.E's lawyers. Also there will be on record, the legal opinions taken by the previous Parish Council. Instead of 'broad comments' from non-lawyers, why not simply publish all these opinions (I'm pretty sure they won't agree with each other!) and thus help let people decide for themselves about allotments v car park?
Alan Brough
Monday 13th March 2017 at 11:17 am
Hi Duncan,

Alderley Edge employees will not require parking spaces so your argument (in that regard) is a non sequiter.

Also, the type of business you describe - Green Grocers, Fishmongers etc would logically serve the pedestrian community of Alderley Edge. I would argue that it is the high cost of business rates and rents, as well as competition from supermarkets, that prevent a forward-thinking artisan food trader from risking their sanity in Alderley.

I would say that whilst I generally walk into Alderley Edge, on the occasions that I drive I have never had any real difficulty in finding a (legal) parking place. Generally, I am only in the village for an hour or two and it may well be different if I wanted to park all day.

I believe that this PC have taken a thoughtful approach to the issue of parking and that they continue to consult widely and wisely before rushing into decisions which (if wrong) could not be reversed.
Duncan Herald
Monday 13th March 2017 at 2:28 pm
Hi Alan,
just a quicky first thought.
Why woudn't A.E. employees require parking spaces? The beauty salon ladies do and the people who work in the bars and restaurants do and the shop workers do etc.
Serve the pedestrian community ? The parish is quite large and surely not everyone can walk in? There are also people who for physical reasons can't walk in ?
You list time in the village as 1 or 2 hours. Traders need people to come into the village to shop and have lunch and even shop a little more; without rushing out to move their car from one spot to another.
Pete Taylor
Monday 13th March 2017 at 2:31 pm
You said above: "Now here we are in 2017 with no housing stock and politicians of all parties insisting we destroy the greenbelt to satisfy the need for affordable homes when in reality those are the very homes that will NOT be built."

Normally I would agree with you but, rather surprisingly, there may be some light at the end of the tunnel. It seems that Westminster has finally twigged (after a large number of complaints from Local Authorities) that across the country Developers are forcing through demands for more and more land, yet not building the houses which they already have permission for. There is a White Paper out for consultation at the moment in which the Housing Minister says:
"Therefore we propose to amend national policy to make clear that authorities should amend Green Belt boundaries only when they can demonstrate that they have examined fully all other reasonable options for meeting their identified development requirements...."

Also, speaking on ITV’s Peston on Sunday programme, the Housing Minister, Gavin Barwell MP said: “We are not going to weaken the (Green Belt) protections. We have a clear manifesto commitment. There is no need to take huge tracts of land out of the Green Belt to solve the housing crisis. They [councils] can take land out of the Green Belt in exceptional circumstances but they should have looked at every alternative first. That policy is not going change.”
The Prime Minister has gone on record supporting this position.

CEC seem to be in clear breach of this policy with their current raids on the Green Belt around Alderley, Wilmslow and Handforth. CEC say that there are 17000 houses with permission already granted but not yet started. This White Paper means that something can be done about that.
Alan Brough
Monday 13th March 2017 at 6:18 pm

Employees who live in Alderley Edge don't need parking spaces because they can walk to work. A good reason for local businesses to employ local staff don't you think?

Of course those that live at the extremities of this vast parish might wish to drive in, as will those who have mobility problems.

I can quite easily attend to my hair and grooming needs as well as visit all of the charity shops within a two hour period and suggest that anyone requiring longer than that is just being tardy.

Incidentally, as a former Councillor you will of course be aware that, contrary to what you state above, there are two Council-run parks / playing fields in Alderley Edge - the other being on Beech Road.
Jon Williams
Monday 13th March 2017 at 8:27 pm
I don't think Beech Road can be classed as a "Park" Alan !
Duncan Herald
Monday 13th March 2017 at 10:07 pm
given the price of housing in A.E., (which I believe you may have mentioned yourrself?) how do the employees in the restaurants, bars, shops, etc. afford to live close enough to walk to work?

Beech Road is surely a kiddies play area plus a little grassy area. No way a park i.m.h.o.
Duncan Herald
Tuesday 14th March 2017 at 10:06 am

re your above of March 10th.

1. You attack the previous P.C. regarding the Festival Hall Re-vamp
You may have lost the plot there.
At that time, there were two projects to deal with; the new Medical Centre and the Festival Hall. Clearly the Medical Centre was the most important. We did not wish to tackle both at the same time. So matters went forward apace re. the Medical Centre whilst the Festival Hall received only minor 'holding' works such as making electrical works up-to-date and some re-decoration.
The new P.C. thus inherited a Medical Centre project that was well advanced and a Festival Hall project that was pretty much a blank canvas.
You may not have known all this, as you were not involved?

2. You write that I was caught red-handed delivering 'immoral if not illegal' leaflets.
Boy O Boy, have you lost that plot.
I was asked by an aquaintance to help deliver some leaflets in the Chorley Hall Lane area.
As I told you at the time, I was not involved in writing them or producing them.
The contents of the leaflet were a simple advice that if the opposition were voted in, they would press for a car park on the playing field and there were two quotes from opposition would-be councillors backing that assertation. That came true didn't it?
As to caught red handed! It was a warm early summer evening as I strolled along Chorley Hall Lane, halting to talk to people. I did not disguise myself with a false moustache or a balaclava and I did not do a single bit of skulking!
You ask me to name the person/s who wrote the leaflet but that's none of my business; if you want that badly to know, why not put out a public request?
Bye the bye, for a man who objects to questions, you seem happy to ask them !

3. You speculate on the possible motives for my asking questions.
Instead of wasting your time and energy doing that, why not simply answer the questions? Seemples !

4. You accuse the previous P.C. of treating you with contempt. I recall having meetings with both yourself and your predecessor, along with another Parish Councillor. They were all polite and quiet and views were exchanged re. allotments (sadly to no great avail).

I was going to ignore your above foaming-at-the-mouth bit, but upon reflection, as it was in the public domain and rather insulting, I decided to respond. You may care to 'have a go' at my rebuttal, but I think I'm done on this minority topic.
As the poet Dylan T. once said, 'someone's boring me and I think its me'.
Fenton Simpson
Tuesday 14th March 2017 at 12:55 pm
Well as always you have an answer for everything but a poor memory for your time as a Councillor. End of this for me too.
Elizabeth Mooney
Wednesday 15th March 2017 at 8:26 pm
Thamks for the responses Craig and Duncan. I have replied on the other thread about the great work done by the Youth Council.