Decision Date Allows no Time for Public Scrutiny of Critical Information

Letter sent to Council Leader Michael Jones on 24th May and copied to all Cheshire East councillors. No reply received as yet.

Dear Councillor Jones

We note the 12th of June has now been confirmed as the date for the Strategic Planning Board meeting at which a decision on the Macclesfield Silk Street plans will be made.

Whilst no-one wants to delay this decision any longer than necessary, we have serious concerns about the timing of this meeting for the following reasons.
Firstly, you will be aware that the Information Commissioner has ordered Cheshire East to disclose key information relating to the development including the full details of the contract between the council and the developers. We now understand the council has until the 10th June to release this information.  Should those responsible leave the release until the last minute, that gives just one day for the public and councillors to scrutinise the information.  Should the council decide to appeal against the Information Commissioner’s decision, we will not know the outcome for several months after this date.

Secondly, the council’s retail report relating to the development has not yet been released into the public domain although we understand it has been completed. We are told this report will probably be made public some time during the week commencing 27th May and that the document runs to several hundred pages including all the statistical information.  Again, a meeting on the 12th June does not give adequate time for scrutiny, particularly given the complexity of the information the report will contain.

For these reasons, we request that:

a) Both the retail report and the information covered by the Information Commissioner’s decision are released urgently.
a) The SPB meeting is delayed until such time as all the relevant information is in the public domain and both those making the decision and those on whose behalf the decision is being made have had time to scrutinise it fully.

If Cheshire East continues with this date for the meeting despite the short time frame, then it can expect to lose any remaining trust the electorate may still have in its ability to handle planning issues honestly and openly.

In the light of your stated desire for transparency, I trust you will agree that a delay to the decision is the only reasonable way forward.
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