S I T TI BI
Registered at the Post Office as a Newspaper Est. 1893
INCORPORATED WITH THE CONGLETON AND MACCLESFIELD MERCURY
THURSDAY, 18th NOVEMBER, 2010.
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Grateful Mercians salute Congleton
The caring spirit of Congletonians was this week saluted by grateful Mercian soldiers.
Following the magnificent welcome home arade of the 1st Battalion Mercian Regiment in Congleton on Wednesday, the soldiers told the “Chronicle” how they had een taken aback by the overwhelming generosity of Congleton folk.
While on tour in warntorn Afghanistan the troops regularly received packages of goodies from Congleton as part of the Congleton Support Group’s Mercians Jiffy bags scheme.
One soldier explained to the “Chronicle” just how important the scheme truly was to the fighters on the frontline: “I remember getting a package one day from Congleton. It had a magazine, some deodorant, some sweets and some toothpaste — if I’m honest, I wept.
“I knew at that moment that someone was thinking of me and they cared. Knowing it wasn’t from my family but a complete stranger, made it mean even more.
“Don’t underestimate what you people have done.”
The soldiers’ emotional link with the town and its people began in June 2009 when crowds lined the streets to wave them off on a six-month tour of duty in Afghanistan, where 12 were killed and more than 60 injured.
And the town’s rousing send off struck a chord with the soldiers who put in a special request for their homecoming medal ceremony to be held in the town on their return.
Now, a regional news programme has picked up on this special bond between the Mercians and the town and a 10-minute film has been made which airs on BBC1 on Monday at 7.30pm as part of the programme “Inside out”.
BBC journalist Andy Johnson filmed the homecoming event that saw the town centre streets oozing with hundreds of proud supporters who cheered as each of the 450 heroes received their service medal.
Mr Johnson said that he worked closely with the soldiers and got their reaction to the parade and also the impact tours have on their families.
He said: “We were as amazed as the troops by the turnout in Congleton. I wanted to make a film to mark the role our soldiers have played and it was clear how proud Congleton was of its troops. It was a fantastic day and proved that Congleton is one of many towns in Cheshire that have done a lot to support the soldiers.”
He said he had spoken to town centre manager Jackie MacArthur who had told him of the hard work Jill Dolman and the other members of the Congleton Support Group had done with the jiffy bag scheme.
Mr Johnson said Mrs MacArthur also told him of the “Mercian pride” beer the town’s Beartown Brewery has produced to show its support.
Mrs Dolman told the “Chronicle” she would definitely be tuning in to the programme on Monday: “Mr Johnson came to my house and filmed myself, Ernie Clarke, Marie Johnson and Steve Ellwood, as we were doing the jiffy bags, to see what we did and how we did it.
“We also explained to him all the different things we were doing and he interviewed Steve and Marie as well but I don’t know how much will be shown on the television.”
She continued: “I think it’s fantastic that he has filmed it. It’s is a tribute to Congleton and the Congleton people that they have done so well. I most certainly will be tuning in.”
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Our robust measures are making savings, says council leader
The severity of cuts on Cheshire East Council services has been revealed in a financial performance review that covers the first half of the financial year.
At a Cabinet meeting on Monday, the warning went out that service managers were “working hard” to find ways of making cuts and that financial pressures were being dealt with in a “robust and professional” manner.
Proposed cuts for the year total £9.38m. Government funding cuts have hit the council’s budget and an overspend of £6.7m was predicted for the year end.
The cost of keeping children in care, or who are being fostered, was targeted along with adult services.
Council leader Wesley Fitzgerald, portfolio holder for resources, said the council would not use the cuts as an excuse: “Budget cuts and austerity measures are a national problem but we are not using that to get it off our conscience.
“I want to reassure people that we have already identified more than £10m in savings as part of our efforts to tackle the projected overspend in our annual budget.
“This has been done through robust measures that were put in place as soon as the budget pressures emerged.
“We are now at the mid-year point and are in a much stronger position to analyse the budget pressures, and more importantly the remedial action we are taking, than we were three months ago.
“Like many local authorities we are facing increased pressure on services offered by our adults and children and families departments.
“Growth is outstripping expectations nationally, and Cheshire East Council is not alone in dealing with these problems.
“Budget pressures have been exacerbated by in-year reductions in funding from central government.
• —Turn to back page.
6th Congleton Scouts Owen Gough and Billy Dodson were one of hundreds that remembered the fallen on Sunday in the town centre. They are pictured at Congleton cenotaph with their pack’s poppy wreath. For more pictures and a report, turn to page 24. (“Chronicle” photo. 4616l/10).
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