Why there are still huge opportunities for the people of Macclesfield to take ownership of the new Town Council – ideas from Cllr. Neil Puttick
Watching the wonderful Christmas Lights Switch On, last week, many of us saw another example of what the new Town Council is about: There were many local people as part of local businesses, local organisations working to create a moment of togetherness for our community…
The Macclesfield Town Council is a catalyst: taking energy and ideas and making them into something even greater. By many measures, the work of Macclesfield Town Council can be judged as a success so far.
A Town Council For Everyone
However it is often how people have responded to the Town Council (the Qualitative Data!) that has shown how valuable the work is.
This week, there will be another event – the Tree of Light Festival this Thursday 7th December. Hearing teachers from Ash Grove School, in South ward, talking about the pupils’ excitement taking part is a clear signal that what the Town Council does is having a positive effect, and better still, that its work is becoming more well-known and visible across the whole town.
Quietly doing good things for the town
While there are the fireworks, glamour and razzle-dazzle of running exciting events and public artworks, there are things the Town Council quietly does that are just as noteworthy. For example, supporting children to do activities that their families might not be able to afford or boosting support our gifted and talented – Cllr. Janet Jackson (Central Ward) can tell you about how as a Councillor she helped fund a young Sir Ben Ainslie to practice sailing. Now with all the Olympic glory he brought us, that investment was surely money well-spent!
It’s the little things…
As well as championing ‘Macctivity’, MTC has quietly been fixing benches, hanging baskets or planting trees to make Macclesfield greener, happier and more active. This year, there is a focus on Pocket Parks, those small green spaces that are so vital for areas of the town without big gardens – such as the square on High St. that will be receiving face-lifts and new equipment.
We have also given the police the tools to be more community-facing such as new all-terrain mountain bikes that will allow more face-to-face conversations, and mean less high-octane 4×4 dangerous pursuits!
Macclesfield Town Council is quietly putting in the infrastructures to make town centre regeneration happen: digital noticeboards, free Wi-Fi networks, new public toilets and support for events & activities that continue to encourage people to come and visit.
Pressures on our Community
Despite being the lowest form of government the Macclesfield Town Council with around 1000th of the budget of Cheshire East Council and 1000th of the staff, The Town Council are helping to save community assets because we believe in investing in our town, not taking away.
In 2018, we’re giving support to the Citizen’s Advice Bureau – who provide vital legal advice and representation – at a time when legal aid has been cut and many people need this help. We also support the groups who have stepped in to help like the Disability Information Bureau service as people see their worth.
More recently, even our Silk history is at stake, with museums receiving cuts. With such important history and an upcoming relationship with Xi’an in China, I think it crucial that we look at how we can keep the heritage of our town for the future.
We will continue supporting local services because we know that once they are gone, they are gone – which costs much more to bring them back. We are also supporting our community assets, because we know that you, the people of Macclesfield want to keep them.
The Key reasons why the TC will continue to be a success
In my opinion, the continued strength of the Town Council is due to (in no particular order):
-Local Knowledge – being close to the ground lets us be responsive to the needs of the town.
-Transparency – being open and honest with the community about what we spend and what for.-Catalyst – looking at how we can work with the existing stakeholders in any situation
-Contacts – knowing everyone personally. For me, meeting people at the Moss Rose Partnership lets me know exactly how the Town Council can help.
-Willingness to see potential – investing in the town, and not selling off assets. Looking at where we can step in to keep the best of our town.
-Inclusivity – welcoming everyone and always looking for how we can bring in more people
-Love of our community – When you care, of course it shows – I would add to this – what does your Grandad think? What does your mum think? What do your friend’s children think? – we should never be separate from the community we serve.
-A “You said we did” approach – taking local people’s ideas and developing them, and when we do something, going back to show the progress that has been made.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas for how we can go forward in the future…
Neil Puttick is Councillor for Macclesfield South Ward