John Knight's December 2020 Talking Politics column for Macclesfield Express

29 December 2020

This month, Cheshire East Council finally debated and voted on “20’s Plenty” - a 20mph default speed limit for residential areas, improving road safety and reducing pollution. Unfortunately, the council stopped well short of this, agreeing only to the “principle” of 20mph zones “where appropriate”. The original proposal, put forward by the council’s walking and cycling champion, Independent councillor Suzie Akers-Smith, was watered down and kicked into the long grass by amendments put forward by Labour, Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.

At the same time, the council is bragging about “progress” with the so-called Poynton Relief Road. Traffic planners have known for nearly a century that bypass roads do nothing to relieve traffic; rather, they encourage extra car journeys and cause increased congestion where they disgorge back onto the original route. In this case, swathes of Green Belt land in Poynton and Adlington are being destroyed for the sake of a new road that will result in even more traffic clogging up Macclesfield’s busy streets and, by providing an extra route to the airport, will encourage even more air travel. Has Cheshire East Council not heard of climate change? We need to be drastically reducing road- and air-traffic, not increasing it.

What nonsense to claim that a new road can provide “economic and social regeneration”! Any jobs created at the airport will be at the expense of existing jobs in places like Macclesfield, as businesses move there to take advantage of tax-breaks and lighter planning regulations. Existing employees will be forced to commute to the airport if they want to keep their jobs - by car, of course, as there’s no public transport to get there.

A year and a half after the Labour-led coalition took control in Cheshire East, it seems they are just as obsessed with cars as their Conservative predecessors.

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