Not the way to win hearts and minds

Several years ago I owned a block of dog kennels, professionally built on a concrete base with the appropriate planning consent. Unfortunately access was via a strip of grass, which became increasingly muddy during winter when I drove along it. The answer to this was to lay down loose shale.

The grass grew through it so it could only be seen from Google Earth and the truck wheels didn’t churn up the land. Result. Well not quite.

Cheshire East Planning didn’t like the ‘encroachment’ and ordered the ‘hard standing’ to be removed retrospectively. I was, as they say, well gutted. Nevertheless that was the council’s decision and I abided by it.

Up came the shale and the ground churned to mud. Cheshire East love guys like me…compliant and relatively easy to handle. What they don’t like is a challenge to their authority and the need for swift action (neither of these two words fit easily in council culture).

Include ‘defiance’ and ‘confrontation’ and council leaders are likely to have a panic attack. So when an individual determines to build three gipsy caravan pitches in Mobberley, whether Cheshire East Council like it or not, you can expect some dithering. The chosen site sits alongside the Chester to Manchester railway line creating considerable safety issues for Network Rail who insists no work must be undertaken without their agreement.

Nonetheless residents said that construction continued despite a High Court injunction. Looking at the photo (above) I can understand residential mistrust, as the three-caravan site appears to have had four caravans on it. We all know there is a need for sites for the travelling community but they have to win the hearts and minds of the community if they are to gain public support.

It would be encouraging to see travellers following the same process as everyone else and obeying the decision of the local authority with good grace. That’s the way to build goodwill in a community. HOW MANY MORE OFFICES DO WE NEED POST PANDEMIC?

There are very few uncertainties surrounding this pandemic. No one knows what’s coming next speculate as they may. Governments around the world are twisting and turning with each new phase.

There are no safe bets. The world is changing and unlikely ever to be as it was, similar maybe…but not the same. The nearest we are likely to come to a certainty is that ‘working from home’ will continue as companies realise they can operate efficiently without the overhead of expensive offices.

Take that off the books and a small profit can become a big one. The temptation for companies to divest themselves of office space is far too great to ignore. So why on earth would anyone choose this time to build more office capacity?

Yet plans have been approved for office development at a new business park located on land to the west of the A34 Bypass in Wilmslow. Would it be too sensible to return this former greenbelt land to its former status? While this may be radical thinking to those determined to destroy and develop at will to council leader Sam Corcoran, whose sole mission is to save the planet, surely this presents a God-given opportunity?

There are not many occasions when a politician can make a name for decisive pragmatism and receive public approbation for doing so. Come on Councillor…I can see your statue now. FRAUDSTER’S CHARTER FROM MY BANK

I spotted a very questionable transaction on my bank account this week and duly called the bank. When the phone was eventually answered an automated voice asked me to input my bank sort code, followed by my account number, followed by my date of birth, followed by my 16 digit card number. I was then told my call was being recorded followed by a list of departments I could contact by pressing the appropriate extension number.

When that extension answered I was given six more options then five more. When it appeared I had finally found the appropriate department I was informed they were ‘experiencing a very high volume of calls’. As it was a pre-recorded message clearly they had no idea what volume of calls they were ‘experiencing’ at 8am on a wet Tuesday morning in September.

I was then asked to hold as due to the Covid-19 virus most bank staff were working from home and I might hear some domestic noises. I hadn’t expected this and wondered whether I should listen. In the end it mattered not because whoever it was ‘working from home’ didn’t answer but referred me to ‘online chat’.

I found the website and followed the appropriate link where I saw a message advising that should the web-chat button not show there was no one currently available.

As I closed down my computer in utter frustration a metallic voice asked, “Is there anything else I can help you with today?”

“Yes, find me a bank that actually speaks to customers and I will transfer my account immediately.”

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