Here is the Speech I asked Cllr Houlbrook to read out on my behalf at the Special Council meeting of January 23rd
I can only apologise for not attending this important meeting tonight – unfortunately the unexpected, while in this case most welcome, clashes with a long-standing work appointment but my heart is with you all tonight. However, thanks to Cllr Houlbrook, my words on this subject can be heard as a matter of record.
As the only Tory in Town, I am a passionate champion for this great town in which you all sit tonight. I and many others care deeply about its future and am determined that Winsford will take its rightful place as one of the most vibrant Gateway towns in Cheshire. Its residents have long been awaiting a regeneration, even a rejuvenation of the town centre and have been patient in this ask as both sides of the political divide have united in trying to unlock the impasse between owner and the council. So many times to the brink, so many times stepping back.
What is clear with the proposal now in front of us is that we have an opportunity, an opportunity to move this town to the next stage of its future. A future where the art of the possible is discussed, not the mistakes of the past, where the towns current and new residents can be proud of and can call their town, the town for their future generations.
Such opportunities are long awaited, indeed it has taken this administration since late 2015 to take this first step. Perhaps that was a little underestimation of the task ahead but more probably to do with the complexity of the situation and the sheer number of avenues that needed to be explored.
Whatever the reason, you have seen that rather than take a partisan view, the two political parties representing CWaC in Winsford have both worked hard to the common goal and that is to make things better for our residents and to ensure Winsford can thrive today and prosper tomorrow.
So we must not allow anything to divert us from taking this opportunity with both hands, not taking the eye off the ball as appears to have happened in Northwich and elsewhere and to drive the detail forward into delivery. Where we work together to deliver what the town wants for itself – not imposing a plan where consultation by a handful of residents holds sway over the silent majority, Where we listen to all parties and deliver what we need for our future, for our children’s future.
We can start by following the lead of the local MP who is ahead of us in this conversation. Key to the success of this long term plan is to involve our communities, the social media forums, some as large as 4000+ members, we need to actively engage our MP – who has key data through her recent survey on what Winsford residents are looking for and expect from a forward thinking Cheshire West and Chester Council.
Looking in more detail at the plan in front of us and to adapt a phrase from one of our counties greatest leaders, we can see that this is not the regeneration, this is not even the plan for the regeneration but this is the beginning of the plan for regeneration. That plan can be delivered by being bold, by being innovative and by being there for our residents and for those businesses who believe in Winsford.
I urge all members to support this plan if I could, I would vote with a “for”.