John Knight's September 2018 Talking Politics column for Macclesfield Express.

8 September 2018

Inconsiderate car parking is a major concern in Macclesfield.  Vehicles parked on the pavement can cause an obstruction and inhibit the independence of many vulnerable people, especially older or disabled people with visual or mobility impairments.  And when pedestrians, such as families with pushchairs, are forced into the road and into oncoming traffic, pavement parking is simply dangerous.

Pavement surfaces are not designed to carry the weight of vehicles, and the added maintenance cost of repairing cracked and damaged paving adds an unnecessary financial burden to cash-strapped Cheshire East Council. 

Research commissioned by the Guide Dogs charity shows that 46% of drivers are unclear about the law on pavement parking.  Cheshire East Council could use Traffic Regulation Orders, with some strategically-placed signs around town to make things clearer to drivers. 

With so many narrow, densely-populated roads running through the town, parking space is at a premium.  Residents’ Parking Schemes can help avoid arguments between neighbours and between local people and visitors.  Local communities - residents directly affected and those nearby - should be fully consulted and communicated with in setting up such schemes, which Cheshire East Council has not always done. 

Of course, the basic problem is that too many cars are being brought into a small, congested space.  More frequent, reliable, comprehensive - and affordable - train & bus services would give many commuters and other visitors to the town centre the option to leave their cars at home.  Shuttle buses, linking communities with shopping areas, the railway station and bus station, could enable shoppers to get into and around town and take the groceries safely home without having to use the car - or a taxi - easing pressure on town-centre car-parks and on-street parking.  Evening and weekend bus services must be reinstated, to reduce our reliance on the car.

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Greens challenge Energy Secretary after shock revelation from frackers Cuadrilla

Green Party of England and Wales co-leader Jonathan Bartley has today (21 June) sent a letter (below) to Greg Clarke MP, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, to highlight the Party’s far-reaching concerns for the safety of the local community in the vicinity of Cuadrilla’s exploratory fracking site at Preston New Road in Lancashire.

The letter follows a meeting between Bartley and two directors from Cuadrilla, where he put questions from the community to them. Bartley is concerned both by the lack of information about emergency plans provided to the residents and by significant questions over whether or not there is even an evacuation plan in the event of a well blow out or other accident.

Bartley said:

“We’re calling on the Secretary not to make a decision over whether to grant a licence to frack until the matter has been investigated thoroughly and safety concerns are addressed. The fact that local residents don’t even know if there’s even a proper plan in place for emergencies - let alone evacuation - is deeply concerning.

“It would be completely unacceptable and be playing fast and loose with people’s safety to ignore these issues. The Secretary of State clearly shouldn’t make a decision on whether Cuadrilla should be allowed to frack until these serious questions are answered and the concerns of local people are addressed.”

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