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S I T TI BI

COMITUM

SANCTA COMORS

Registered at the Post Office as a Newspaper Est. 1893

INCORPORATED WITH THE CONGLETON AND MACCLESFIELD MERCURY

THURSDAY, 7th OCTOBER, 2010.

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INSIDE: OUR COMPREHENSIVE PROPERTY GUIDE FEATURING LOCAL ESTATE AGENTS

Much-loved priest dies

Holiday offer Readers'ViewsPages26-29 Page 9

Page 31

What’s on... What’s gone...

Pages 21-24

Shoppers marooned

Page 20

Congleton First: a political party born out of car parking fee fury

Rene’s cafe is serving the laughs on Daneside stage

By Chris Young A political party has been formed that promises to focus on the needs of Congleton town rather than political allegiances.

Calling itself “Congleton First”, the group, initially motivated by Cheshire East Council’s introduction of parking charges, has begun a membership drive.

It has been encouraged y the activities of Middlewich First and antwich First.

Group members spoke exclusively to the “Chronicle” about why they were running for town and Cheshire East council seats in the traditionally Conservative stronghold of Congleton.

They said: “As residents of a town that we love and are proud of we are determined to use our voice to do everything in our power to make Congleton vibrant again and we need your support to do this.”

The founder members will be familiar to readers of the “Chronicle’s” letters page,where they have criticised Cheshire East Council and its Conservative majority, especially over parking charges.

So far the group comprises

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Free Parking - Disabled Access former Cheshire county councillor Neville Price, Graham Goodwin, Bill Keeling and John Saville-Crowther.

Apart from Mr Price, none of the members have political experience.

Mr Goodwin said the party would ask traders and residents for their views on what the major problems facing the town were before forming a manifesto.

Congleton is split into two three-member Cheshire East wards: East and West. The group intends to fight the six seats at the May elections — the first since Cheshire East Council was formed in April last year. • —Turn to back page. Gallic gaffes are the order of the day at the Daneside Theatre this week as Congleton Players present wartime comedy classic ‘Allo ‘Allo. Pictured from left, Karen Wood (Yvette), Chris Mann (Rene) and Sheila Hallam (Mimi). For more photographs, turn to page 23. (“Chronicle” photo. 4009c/10).

Mystery of Capitol Walk’s empty shops

The Capitol Walk shopping centre, the classy self-contained mall in Congleton town centre, appears to be struggling with over half the units empty.

Some are filled with artwork to detract from the blank shop windows.

Justin Sheldon, head of development and investment at the Clowes Group, which owns the property, said he would not talk about reasons behind the empty units or plans for filling them unless he could approve the story before publication.

Owner of Debonair Handbags and Accessories Debbie Chancellor said: “A few people have left and in this economic climate it can be a struggle for any small business.

“The landlords don’t do much to encourage business.

“The rent is quite high and I guess there is a pressure to be immediately successful. But there are some shops here that are thriving”

The Clowes Group would not confirm how many units were available to rent, but “the Chronicle” counted 10 empty shops out of 19.

Both Mrs Chancellor and owner of milk shake outlet Shakeeze Sue Eaton said that business was good.

Mrs Eaton said: “We’ve been open for 15 months and business is better than I expected.

“One of the problems for Capitol Walk might be that shops like B&M are just over the road and shoppers don’t always come down this end of High Street.”

MrsEaton added that, while lower rent would be nice, she thought the problem for shops closing down in Capitol Walk was lack of footfall.

Jackie MacArthur, town centre manager, said Capitol Walk provided good premises for start-up shops. She explained that some businesses moved on because they needed more space, rather than any problems with lack of trade.

While admitting that business was tough in towns at the moment, she stated that the opening of the shop to selling Mercian items (to raise money for the 1st Battalion the Mercian Cheshires Regiment) would attract more shoppers to Capitol Walk.

The mall would have been placed at the centre of a town development moving the market towards the bus station but the Clowes Group failed to submit a planning application.

Another developer has since received planning permission for town centre development at the Bridestones centre.

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