The Vital Villages Project/Parish Plan, which was undertaken by Cranage Parish Council supported by The Countryside Agency and the then Cheshire Community Council, was the outcome of consultation with the people who resided, worked or visited the parish of Cranage. We believed it to be a reflection of the needs and aspirations which the community considered to be most important. After the publication of the Project, an Action Plan was produced as the starting point for anyone in the community who wanted to help or get involved in one or more of the actions suggested. The successful implementation of this Plan was very much dependent on the active participation of residents. It highlighted five areas where it was felt residents had shown a preference for action to be taken to address various issues within Cranage parish. There have been considerable changes since the production of this Parish Plan, not least the changeover from Cheshire County Council and Congleton Borough Council to a newly formed Cheshire East Borough Council. In the last few years, there has been a considerable number of changes in councillors, council officers, and administration in general, too many to list and still ongoing. All of these changes, of course, affected by the present economic climate.
The group of residents who formed the Steering Group has diminished in number, mainly through moving away from the area because of employment changes, family changes or other circumstances. There is now an opportunity to look at our original plan and examine those areas where some progress has been made and others where work are still ongoing, or still to be done. Below are the areas highlighted by the Plan, followed by a resume` of where we are at the present time? Although work continues on many points within the list, other items have been added to bring Cranage up to date.
1. Transport and Highways
We were asked to address several concerns:
- The lack of information about public transport.
- Extent of reliance on public transport for those without access to a car.
- Lack of transport which limits access to employment.
- Disability limiting access to transport.
- Seek increased lighting and better maintenance on parish footpaths and highways.
The issues raised included ongoing work on the following:
- Improvements to Northwich Road, Middlewich Road, Hall Farm Drive/Carver Avenue;
- Speeding on Northwich Road raised with Highways authority and attempts to get change in speed limit;
- Maintenance and some replacement of Cheshire railings.
- Potholes! – Ongoing. Possible for everyone to report these now. Via e mail or telephone. Link for reporting all kind of things: Report Potholes here!
Number Contact centre: 0300 123 5020
A survey on rural transport needs was carried out by members of the working group. Damaged and loose manholes on A50 and other streets repaired. Ongoing. CEC has contracted out the work on Highways to a different firm as cost cutting exercise.
2. Security and Safety (some overlap with Transport and Highways)
- UU asked to address stench on A50. Replacement manholes and covers. Further work ongoing.
- Kissing gate installed on footpath between Glebe Farm and Manor Farm.
- Byley Lane landlords agreed to enter permissive path agreements in order to give access to Carver Avenue and the no through road on Byley Lane – to Byley Lane.
- Possible route of a new footpath connecting Needham Drive estate to Village Hall discussed with parish council and village hall committee. Inconclusive result.
- Footpaths on A50 to and from H.C. cut back to improve walking and pushing buggies.
- Speed limits on both the major roads and the country lanes;
- Safety of pedestrians and cyclists;
- Positioning of school bus stops;
- The incidence of crime, as well as the perception and fear of crime.
Work done to date on Security and Safety
There is regular contact with the Police and officers have attended meetings. In addition, they advise on safety and security measures, which are passed on to residents. The local PCSO has visited council meeting and organised a police surgery in Cranage or Holmes Chapel. We have new footpath and tree representatives who assist by reporting on any changes affecting our trees, hedgerows or public footpaths, so that these can be dealt with by the authorities. There was also some hedge planting locally when the hedgerow society offered plants free of charge.
3. Future Development:
We were asked to look at the following:
- Extent of existing housing compared to future needs;
- Analysis of local employment;
- Increase in population;
- High proportion of commuters within the area.
- Lack of local facilities, eg. Surgery, post office, shops, etc.
- Keeping abreast with technological developments;
- Distribution of population within Cranage and implications on future planning and on community services.
Work done to date and ongoing:
Affordable houses application successful on land to north of Middlewich Road (2008) way forward. To date, the intention to provide a footbridge over the River Dane to give pedestrian and cycle way access between Cranage and Holmes Chapel has not been so successful. The landowner is reluctant to sell land needed to access land alongside the river. No work can begin on this until new position for crossing the river with footbridge, or compulsory purchase of necessary land. Other solutions invited. This affects the joint venture of the playing field development (CEC, HCPC, CPC), to provide changing rooms, more car parking spaces and improved access by footpaths. Despite many hours of meetings and site visits, there is no progress. This is further affected by Cheshire East cutbacks, which means Cranage would be dependent on precept and grant funding. CEC have offered little or no assistance; Holmes Chapel is moving ahead on the south side of the River Dane.
(Since the writing of the Parish Plan, CEC are now keen for parish councils to take on other responsibilities under the Transfer of Assets scheme. One project we have been asked to accept transfer is the bowling clubhouse and green. Progress is being made on this.)
We were asked to examine the following:
- The range of information available and the audience it should reach; location of notice boards, information available on Health Centre opening hours, out of hours arrangements, Chemist prescription delivery service, emergency services, Home Watch.
- Consider solutions to the delivery of this information, such as a community booklet for Cranage, a page in local newspapers;
- Methods of distribution of information, including website, newsletters via e-mail, hard copies, computer links through libraries, laptop available to mobile library.
- Consideration of information centre to have it all available.
Work done on Communications, to date:
Work continues on the Parish Plan actions, including the provision of notice boards in various locations in Cranage. A regular newsletter asked those who wanted to register in order to receive regular updates. A website has been added to improve communications. Agenda, Minutes and details of councillors are included, as well as newsletters. Contact details of Clerk and Council included.
5. Improving Community aspects of Cranage
- Look at community spread in rural area and distinct community settlements; invite residents to “workshops”, collate information on existing groups and activities.
- Links to other local communities outside Cranage, liaise with Countryside Agency, Cheshire Community Council, liaise with Holmes Chapel Parish Council.
- Look at how little infrastructure there is to support a village community spirit.
- Support the Village Hall Committee to extend/improve existing facilities.
Work done on Improving Community aspects of Cranage.
This is connected to communications and efforts have been made through the notice boards, newsletter, website, e-mails and correspondence to provide and advise on information useful to us all.
There are links to other local communities nearby, in particular, Holmes Chapel, where the infrastructure there provides most of the schools, shops, surgeries, dentists, etc.
The parish council has supported the Village Hall Committee with donations to extend or improve their existing facilities, within the limits set down by statute. Cranage Parish Council donated towards a new boiler and windows and other items have been paid for from grants from E ON and Manchester Airport. There is at least one parish councillor on the Village Hall Committee.
The Clerk is qualified to CiLCA level. We have now our own CPC logo as part of the quality status requirements.
Volunteers to join working groups from the community about continuing the Parish Plan and what is to be done to take Cranage forward would be more than welcome. It is important that everyone in the village has an opportunity to decide on what happens in the village, as a whole. If you wish to be involved, contact the Clerk of the Council.