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Xmas wine and dineReaders' Views Pages 26-29Page 64

Pages 36-39

What’s on... What’s gone...

Pages 24-25

Col Bob targets town

Page 7


Payback time for MP Ann?


on the property.

By Chris Young Congleton MP Ann Winterton has refused to comment over speculation that she and her Macclesfi eld MP husband Sir Nicholas may have to repay up to £100,000 in the latest twist to the MP expenses scandal.

Independent auditor Sir Thomas Legg conducted an independent inquiry into expenses claimed since 2004, and on Monday he sent letters to hundreds of MPs asking them to pay back money he thought was

nfairly claimed. Although several MPs, including Staffordshire Moorlands MP Charlotte Atkins, have divulged the contents of their letters, Lady Winterton has

When the “Chronicle” contacted her Westminster offi ce to ask about the details of any correspondence she may have received, her PA said she would not be commenting, adding: “She is quite happy to see the details published in due course.”

However, yesterday’s (Wednesday) “Daily Telegraph” newspaper speculated that the Wintertons could be two of the hardest hit, due to Sir Thomas’s decision that renting second homes from family members or trusts benefi ting family members would be “invalid”.

Last year the couple made headlines after it was revealed they had been claiming rent for a London fl at owned by a trust, of which they were both trustees. They had paid for the property in full, but transferred it to the trust, and went on to claim expenses of close to £900 a month to rent the fl at. It was believed the couple had made the arrangement to help their children avoid inheritance tax

The national newspaper article claimed that the couple, nicknamed “Mr and Mrs Expenses”, might have to return up to £100,000.

Leaked copies of the report described “confl icted transactions” as: “Where an MP uses the additional costs allowance to enter into a confl icted transaction, for example when buying or renting a second home from a close relative, a company in which he or she has shares, or a close associate such as an employee, the transaction will be regarded as tainted, and the whole payment accordingly invalid.

“This will be so even if the MP can show that it was effected at arm’s length or that the public purse has not suffered.”

That interpretation could brand the Wintertons’ arrangement as “tainted,” as their children were benefi ciaries of the trust.

• —Turn to back page.

Money back offer to beat parking charges could be town traders’ next move

Congleton’s traders are working on ways to keep shoppers coming to the town centre once parking charges are introduced in January.

They have suggested a parking fees reimbursement scheme, details of which are being circulated to retailers for their opinions.

Most traders were opposed to the introduction of parking charges by Cheshire East Council, which mean shoppers are charged a minimum of 30p to park in the town centre. Many felt they would cripple town trade, especially if they were implemented in the run up to Christmas, which was the council’s original plan.

The council claims the charges, approved in September, will improve trade, as they would free up parking spaces normally used by people parking all day.

The ticket scheme would reimburse customers with an hour’s

free parking (30p) if they spent over £5 and two hours’ parking (50p) if they spent over £10. The scheme, which traders would be encouraged to join on a trial basis, would be co-ordinated with the council.

Sharon King of King’s Party Emporium, vice-chairman of the traders’ group said: “It is up to individual shops whether or not they choose to opt in to the reimbursement scheme.

“Schemes such as this have had a positive impact on trade in other market towns across the UK, so we believe it is worth trying.

“The next stage is to meet with more interested traders and with Cheshire East to sort out the operational details.”

Any trader interested in being part of the scheme should contact Jackie MacArthur at the town council on 01260 270350 or email

Congleton twins Eleanor and Sophie Bird, (11), crossed the fi nish line together at the fun run held as part of the Congleton Lions Run Day on Sunday. They came joint second. Over 700 people took part in the annual event which included the notorious Sting In The Tail race. For the full story and more pictures, turn to page 12. (“Chronicle” photo. 4205c/09).

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