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THURSDAY, 13th MAY, 2010.

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Fight for road safety

Twyford job cuts Readers' Views Pages 22-24 Page 29

Page 30

What’s on... What’s gone...

Pages 18-21

SATs boycott

Page 56

Coalition can learn from us, says Cheshire East Lib Dem

By Steph Barnett The Lib Dem faithful in this area have given a mixed response to the formation of a British Government involving their party for the first time in almost 100 years.

Alsager Coun Rod Fletcher, deputy leader of the Lib Dem group on Cheshire East Council, denied that national party members were “selling their soul” to the Conservatives in the coalition formed on Tuesday.

But Congleton constituency Lib Dem candidate Peter Hirst, who was defeated in the General Election, said he was “wary” of the coalition, in which Tory David Cameron is Prime Minister and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg is deputy PM.

Coun Fletcher said: “Both sides have conceded some of their policies in the national interest and I

elieve we have got a fair deal.

“After 13 years under Labour, the Tories should have walked this election, but people were obviously not willing to support all their policies.”

Coun Fletcher, who represents Alsager ward, continued: “I disagree that the Lib Dems have sold their soul by entering into government with the Conservatives. You have to make compromises if you don’t have a majority, that’s inevitable. Just look at Cheshire East, it’s filled with a Tory majority but we still work together.”

He added: “This is a case of the national government learning from local government and I’m hoping the Lib Dems will reign in some of the Conservatives’ excesses.

“I am certainly keeping the faith in Nick Clegg, but I hope the Tories do the same and keep faith in David Cameron’s ramblings as well.”

Speaking from Westminster, new Congleton constituency MP, Fiona Bruce who polled 23,250 votes in Thursday’s General Election, also supported the coalition.

She said: “There was a resounding vote for a change of government and this will enable them to get to work on issues which really matter to people.

“David Cameron’s announcement to Parliament also has a key: strengthening family and community life and supporting businesses and jobs creation.”

But Dr Hirst, who polled 16,187 votes, said he was “wary” of the coalition, and also said the party would have done a lot better under proportional representation.

He said: “We were obviously hoping to do a lot better, locally and nationally and I think we would have if we were under proportional representation.

“The most important thing is the electorate. We want as much of our manifesto as possible and to do that we need to go into coalition.”

Dr Peter Kolker, chairman of the Congleton Constituency Conservative Association praised Mrs Bruce’s campaign, saying: “She must have visited thousands of houses and almost every shop in the constituency.

“Her enthusiasm has led to an increase in the number of votes for the party of two or three thousand over the last election.”

Youth café closes amid claims that well-heeled county doesn’t get cash

True blue Fiona Bruce celebrates her victory at the General Election to become Congleton’s Conservative MP. For a report on the reaction of the disappointed candidates and and more pictures turn to page 26.(“Chronicle” photo. 1905a/10).

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Congleton’s only communityrun hangout for youths — the Vibe Café — is to close tomorrow (Friday) because it has run out of funds.

And one of the town’s youth champions claims the Vibe’s cash flow dried up because grantawarding organisations don’t think groups in affluent Cheshire need the money.

Its closure was announced in a statement released this week by the board of trustees for Congleton Youth Project, the group behind the café and the Youth Info Shop on High Street.

It explained that while there is still “a real need for this provision to support Congleton’s young people”, the charity cannot afford to run it any longer.

The statement said: “It is with enormous sadness and regret that we have to announce that the Vibe Café and related services at the Youth Info Shop in Congleton High Street are closing with effect from Friday, 14th May 2010.

“The trustees have been unable to keep the project sustainably financed due to budget cutbacks in provision from awarding bodies.”

Congleton Youth Project coordinator Justine Heathcote, who has been working with the town’s youngsters for 14 of the 16 years the scheme has been running, expressed her sadness about the news.

She said: “It has been a great privilege and pleasure working with the young people of Congleton and seeing them grow into young adults that the town can be proud of.

“It is very sad that we have not been able to convince funding organisations to help us continue this work.”

Town councillor Jeanne Whitehurst, who has been a longstanding champion for youth issues in the town, said the Vibe Café and all the facilities on High Street are going to be “really missed”.

She told the “Chronicle”: “It’s such a pity about the café and we will really miss it, but especially Justine Heathcote. She has real empathy for the youngsters and she was a best friend to many. She was always there for them.

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