Christmas lights shine bright on a silent night

Alderley Edge Parish Council had already planned to make some changes to the Christmas lights switch-on this year, whch included moving the event to a Saturday - in the hope that this would make it easier for children to attend with their parents on a non-school night.

However, due to the current Covid-19 restrictions, local residents were unable to gather in the village centre as per usual to celebrate the countdown to Christmas.

Councillor Craig Browne said "Unfortunately, as we all know, the national restrictions introduced due to the coronavirus made any kind of mass-participation event impossible this year, so the lights were quietly turned on without the usual countdown, staging or on-street stalls.

"We were determined however, to make sure that the three Christmas Trees (at the junctions of Macclesfield Road and Ryleys Lane, as well as at Wood Gardens) should be in place as usual and that the tree lights and lamp column decorations should be turned on.

"We hope that by lighting the village centre for Christmas, people will be encouraged to look to the future and the hope of brighter times ahead."

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Comments

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

Steve Hughes
Wednesday 25th November 2020 at 9:41 am
One rule for us and another for them!
Extremely disappointed to see Councillor Craig Brown and members of the Parish Council clearly flouting the Lockdown Rules that supposedly apply to everyone and that should be doubly observed by those in positions that are supposed to know better and set an example.
On the way home from food shopping we stopped to observe the lights, supposedly remotely, being switched on. Parking up and staying in our car we were surprised to see Craig Brown close by with a member of a council maintenance department who clearly had the task of switching the lights on.
Our first thought was, is this essential travel that Craig Brown attends the ‘remote’ switch on. Only for him to be joined moments later by 5 members of the parish council and friends or partners.
Now we have 6 people together attending a non-essential event that the public had been asked not to attend, and rightly so. The group of 6 including Craig Brown then proceed to share a bottle of wine after distributing cups. All was merry and group huddles and group selfie photos taken and guess what…. Not one face covering between them!!
Do as we say and not as we do seems to be the message.
Linda Booth
Wednesday 25th November 2020 at 12:13 pm
I'm truly shocked and disappointed by this.
Alan Brough
Wednesday 25th November 2020 at 12:44 pm
I'd like to think there is some mistake / misunderstanding.

Perhaps Craig will explain?
Craig Browne
Wednesday 25th November 2020 at 2:54 pm
Hi Alan,

Yes, clearly a misunderstanding. I did go to meet the engineer from our sub-contractor (Lite) to ensure that everything was in order ready for the switch-on. One member of the Parish Council also attended with two members of her immediate family; therefore, in the same support bubble. Two further residents (not connected with the Parish Council) also came to stand on the footpath to watch the switch-on; social distancing was observed at all times.

Kind regards,
Craig
Steve Hughes
Wednesday 25th November 2020 at 4:51 pm
I would refer Mr Brown to the detail in my email which was 100% accurate and factual with no embellishment.
Please do not call into question the accuracy of my comments
Perhaps the editor will publish the photograph sent to them today to demonstrate the poor judgement and double standards highlighted in my previous comments.
Mike Dudley-Jones
Wednesday 25th November 2020 at 5:37 pm
Good evening Steve,

With the amount of money invested in Christmas lights by the Parish Council each year it is clearly important to ensure that everything is working well.

I asked my fellow councillors to ensure that all was well especially as we had experienced some issues with time clocks so the actual ‘switch on’ is always a bit nerve wracking! I am sure you will understand that. Unfortunately, I could not be there with them as I had stupidly injured myself helping to erect the trees at Piccolinos, Wood Gardens and the island on Macclesfield Road.

I am proud of the way the Parish Council works to ensure all is well in difficult times . Most of what we do is behind the scenes, with huge amounts of time given voluntarily so you might perhaps understand why we find your post here a little upsetting!

Do please contact me personally if you wish to discuss this further. All my contact details are on our website.

I hope the lights help you and your family feel that ‘it’s starting to feel a lot like Christmas’ - in a difficult year. That’s what we were hoping to achieve.

My best wishes

Mike Dudley-Jones
Chairman
Alderley Edge Parish Council
Mark Russell
Thursday 26th November 2020 at 6:36 am
I thought we are in a lockdown? Why would a councillor need to be there, when there was an electrical engineer? I thought we were only allowed out of the trip was absolutely necessary? Added to that it needed 2 councillors to check this professional had turned on the lights???? Double standards at the absolute minimum, but looking like one rule for us and one for the political class.
Steve Hughes
Thursday 26th November 2020 at 9:55 am
Response to Mr Dudley-Jones comments

Firstly can I say that I, like most people, am proud of our village and appreciate the efforts than many people contribute to our village and the effect on its presentation but I’m also sure that many of those volunteers, together with the wider public, would still be disappointed?

This must then not be accepted or confused with people in positions of responsibility then believing that they have the right to ignore or disobey strict Government guidance and law and that they should not be held accountable for those breaches.

If the original flouting was not disappointing enough, the subsequent hypocrisy being demonstrated in denying the facts, avoiding acknowledging and taking responsibility, trivialising and trying to brush the matter under the carpet beggars belief for me.

One might expect when someone/a group are exposed in this way that the right, professional and sensible thing to do would be to acknowledge the errors and apologise at the offset, not to dig bigger holes!

One might also suggest that, instead of finding the content and facts “upsetting” that all those involved should stand up and take responsibility for their actions and stop digging deeper holes.

It’s concerning that Mr Dudley-Jones for his part can only say he finds the content of these comments upsetting and makes no mention of investigating or regret or concern about breaches of Government guidance and law.

Notwithstanding Mark Russells comments which are obviously very relevant, maybe the facts were not set out clearly enough. So, for the avoidance of doubt, let me make it even clearer, I might add that we were parked 8-10ft for approximately 20 minutes

- We were parked 8ft from Mr Brown and the Engineer, neither wore face covering despite being less than 1m apart

- Mr Brown drank coffee and engaged with the engineer, side by side, showing pictures or texts on his mobile to the engineer.

- The 5 other people all arrived together, at the same time, as a group.

- One member of ‘the group’ proceed to remove a bottle of wine and plastic cups from a rucksack and then distributed the cups between the now group of 6. Seems the engineer was not deemed to be worthy in joining in the celebratory drink.

- At no point did anyone use any form of face protection

- Wine was then poured and shared by all 6

- Selfies were then taken of the whole group as well smaller groups and pairs.

- Mr Brown even passed his phone to the engineer so that he could take group photo of the 6 huddled together

- We were so amazed and disappointed that we used our phone camera to capture the events

Hopefully this gives all those involved the opportunity to reflect on their actions and comments and that they will finally take responsibility and actually show some regret and remorse.

All too often ‘the public’ are taken for granted by those who feel they are above reproach, hopefully our local Councillors and Parish Council members will not tarnish themselves in this way!?
Alan Brough
Thursday 26th November 2020 at 10:22 am
Mark,

In fairness to Craig Brown, above all else he has been (and is) a "force for good" around Alderley Edge. Along with other Councillors (past and present) he has been very visible in the work he does to make the village a better place.

As Mike Dudley-Jones says, a lot of the work that he and others do is "out of hours" and so it doesn't surprise me that he should decide to take a walk through the village to see how the Christmas Lights look - I'm sure that he could justify it as part and parcel of his work as Council Representative but it might equally have been done as part of his permitted period of daily exercise.

It's more likely (to me) that he wasn't "checking" anything other than that the people of Alderley Edge might at least have some decent festive lights over what will be a pretty gloomy Christmas period.
Mark Russell
Thursday 26th November 2020 at 4:20 pm
So because he does a good job he can choose which laws to follow?
Andy Brown
Thursday 26th November 2020 at 9:18 pm
It was clearly a misunderstanding that 6 people randomly bumped into each other and decided to share a bottle of wine.

Happens all the time.
Vince Chadwick
Friday 27th November 2020 at 4:38 pm
Did they bump into each other because they were 'testing their eyesight'? ;-)
Gordon Massey
Saturday 28th November 2020 at 7:51 pm
Having read everybody’s comments and feedback, it would appear that despite the article on the 4th November of which the Northwest Chief Constables commented on with regard to the flouting of the COVID-19 rules, some councillors felt that they were exempt, shame on them.
Gordon Massey
Monday 30th November 2020 at 7:22 pm
Apologies in advance for labouring the point, but I would have thought Mr Brown would have apologised by now! Or is he doing the honourable thing and stepping down?
Mark Russell
Tuesday 1st December 2020 at 9:21 am
I’ve just got 100% on my yearly appraisal at work. So I’m going to do what the local councillors do as I deserve a treat. I’m off down the bypass to see if my car can do 100 mph.
Alan Brough
Tuesday 1st December 2020 at 12:25 pm
@ Mark Russell,

I'm not aware of any of our local Councillors doing a ton on the bypass - I do know that some of them give up their time to help with the Community Speed Awareness programme though.

You might also like to consider litter-picking or planting-up tubs or delivering meals to some of our local elderley residents who are "shielding" and unable to get out of their homes - all stuff that some of our local Councillors do quite freely and usually unheralded.
Steve Hughes
Tuesday 1st December 2020 at 7:05 pm
Alan appears to be massively missing the points, principles and the huge hypocrisy.

What ever good you do, DOES NOT GIVE YOU A PASS / get out of jail free, to do as you please.

Fair to assume that no apology will be forthcoming and that arrogance and self preservation prevails.

Perhaps I need to follow the advice, do the right thing and report the matter to the Police who I’m sure will be interested in speaking to Mr Brown after reviewing both the facts and photographic evidence.
Steve Hughes
Tuesday 1st December 2020 at 7:31 pm
How ironic and condescending that Mr Brown feels so un-remorseful that he feels he can take part in the following article published today on alderleyedge.com


https://www.alderleyedge.com/news/article/21008/rates-are-now-steadily-decreasing-as-cheshire-east-heads-back-into-tier-two

Leader of the Council (Councillor Sam Corcoran) and Deputy Leader (Councillor Craig Browne) issued a joint statement welcoming the news, saying: "We saw worryingly high rates of infection in Cheshire East. Our rates peaked at more than 250 cases per 100,000 people in Mid-November. Through positive action by residents and the knock-on effects of a national lockdown, rates are now steadily decreasing with today's rate of infection being 127 cases per 100,000 people.
"We would like to thank everyone who has worked so hard and sacrificed so much to fight Covid-19. Rates are slowly coming down but not quick enough, there is still more work to do but without your positive action we would be in a much worse situation now.
Gordon Massey
Sunday 6th December 2020 at 8:15 am
If Councillor Brown, is a force for good as someone mentions earlier, why does he not then set an example? I suppose it is because he feels he is beyond reproach and that he does not have to comply. My understanding of a true leader, is to lead by example.
Vin Sumner
Monday 7th December 2020 at 10:58 pm
Bit late to this ; whatever actsalyy happened , and those that were they know i guess , the justification from our parish council chair shoes extreme lack of judgement and thought in difficult times ; in lockdown one it did seem the country was together ; now it’s more what suits me , am sad to say
Geoff Hall
Tuesday 8th December 2020 at 10:45 am
As a former Parish Councillor I have followed this thread with interest. In my time as a Councillor  I found people in our community tend to fall into one of three groups:

- The Active Few, who give up their time without financial reward to make their community a better place (think: unpaid volunteers of all kinds - including Parish Councillors).

- The Grateful Many, (which now includes me) who get on with their own  lives but are quietly thankful for the work of the Active Few.

- And then there are the Critics: the smallest but noisiest group. Those who are rarely, if ever, there when the real work needs to be done, but who are, it seems, wiser, smarter and morally superior to the Active Few. 

As a Critic you do of course have the option of standing for the Parish Council yourself, but I would advise caution. It involves a lot of work, most of it unrecognised, much of it making decisions that, come what may, someone will take offence at. One day I fear that we may reach the point where - like many other Parish Councils - there is no one left to criticise as no one is willing to take the job on.

As we approach the end of a difficult year for everyone, Seasons Greetings and Best Wishes to all, no matter which group you fall into ;)
Geoff
Mark Russell
Tuesday 8th December 2020 at 11:39 am
@Geoff,

I too am following this thread, and i find your post very condescending.

The Active Few, yes your right. But i expect my elected officials to a) do what they promise and b) follow the same laws we have to follow. All local counsellors have promised to sort the local parking out, as yet a big fat zero in both Wilmslow and Alderley Edge.

I give up my time to help injured ex forces, however i never boast about. It is private to me, and there are a lot more who give their time (and money) to help the community. 99% of us do it to genuinely help, not to claim expenses and tell everyone else what to do.

The Critics. I pretty sure calling our politicians to account, is a fundamental right, as not only do we vote them in, they them spend OUR money. And as such they should be held to account. The absolute minimum standards they should follow, is the law as they get great pleasure in coming on web sites like this, telling us THEY have taken away are freedoms,.

So when a local sees an elected official BREAKING THE LAW, it is such a shame said officials colleagues just jump to his defence instead of calling him out. And as such we have no no apologies. Just more nonsense telling us what a fantastic job he does. He may very well do a good job, but please done fill us with bull about a) how he does it for free, he claims £10,000's in "expenses" every year and b) try to deflect from the fact his actions are illegal and poorly judged.

And yet him and is ilk STILL spend OUR money telling us WE need to follow the LAWS he does not.

I fully understand why politicians dont want oversight, its a slippery slope to the end of democracy, this people are already behaving like dictators, removing our freedoms which my grandfather fought for.

On a final note, i dont have time to become a councillor, as i spend every minute of my day fighting to keep my company afloat, after politicians decided to shut it, and not hep me out with 1p. And the real kick in the nuts comes when these decision makers ignore the laws, and have a private party for the Christmas lights, which by the way, he stopped all other locals attending.

At worse criminal offence, at best extremely poor judgement. Do i want this person representing me? NO (but at least the planters will look pretty come March)
David Hadfield
Tuesday 8th December 2020 at 2:43 pm
Hi Mark Russell,
I have to say I quite like the work Craig Browne has done so far, but I totally agree with your comments above ...... Well Done for pursuing this accusation and not letting certain individuals fob you off !!
Politicians of all persuasions, whether they be MP's or Local Parish Councillors, or even the devious Dominic Cummings of this world, should adhere to the Law and requirements they set and require everyone else to conform to as well.
Tony Haluradivth
Tuesday 8th December 2020 at 7:34 pm
Geoff Hall commendable though your loyalty is , if I were you I would just quit while you are still ahead. I too admire a lot of the work Mr Browne has done but leaders should lead by example...we are all fed up with restrictions. Furthermore our Councillors DO NOT work for free Sam Corcoran our "Leader' claimed just shy of 40 k expenses (up 10k from last year) working from home is clearly very costly. Mr Browne has received slighly
less at just under 30k (he claimed £12,900 last year
Nina Hindley
Thursday 10th December 2020 at 9:23 am
This thread is better than cheshire housewives
Gordon Massey
Thursday 10th December 2020 at 5:12 pm
Love the last comment, your right at least they kept within the Covid regulations, unlike some we could mention, on a serious note, I see we still await an apology. Probably sitting in hope, we will all forget and let’s just sweep it under the carpet, as they say swiftly moving on, soon be election time.
Mark Russell
Thursday 10th December 2020 at 8:16 pm
Kate Burley has today been suspended for six months for covid breaches. Our politicians can’t even apologise for breaking the law.

I wonder if he will refer himself to the council for investigation if he is convinced he did nothing wrong?
Tony Haluradivth
Friday 11th December 2020 at 11:34 am
Our neighbours are in Tier 3 perhaps as they have lower rates than London they too should be moved to Tier 2 as it is logical to assume their merrymakers are swarming into our area pushing up case numbers.
Our local Hospitals are managing very well apparently and are nowhere near crisis point... cases are up because there us now even more testing capacity. I hope Messrs Corcoran and Browne do not attempt to secure more funding from Westminster by pushing us up a tier. We have long memories. And yes all this could perhaps have been nipped in the bud by issuing a short apology on these pages. Hubris is an overrated quality ;)
Steve Hughes
Friday 11th December 2020 at 3:52 pm
I’d politely point out that these statistics are delayed and as of the day after lockdown.

So, this 100% increase is based on week 4 of lockdown versus week free

Coincidentally, or not, this covers the period immediately after Cllr Craig Brown irresponsibility breached COVID restrictions ( see previous article )

https://www.alderleyedge.com/news/article/21036/coronavirus-cases-increase-in-most-local-areas

Did he play a part in the Alderley Edge spike in infections, directly or indirectly?
Gordon Massey
Friday 11th December 2020 at 6:12 pm
Well, councillor brown are you going to apologise? Fall on your sword or as well expected, ignorance is bliss, unfortunately probably the latter, I suspect if you apologise your worried you are guilty?

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