Audlem Parish Council's extraordinary meeting to consider the opportunities and implications of taking over the football field, car park, tennis courts, and children's play area was held in the Methodist Church Hall last evening.
As expected the meeting was held to a packed house of more than 60 interested Audlem residents, some with standing room only.
Parish Council Chair, Heather Jones, explained that the meeting was called so that the Parish Council and villagers could jointly consider the financial implications to the people of Audlem of acquiring these assets from Cheshire East.
Concern was expressed from the floor that 15 minutes was insufficient for Audlem residents to fully express their views. Heather Jones explained further time was available after the PC's Finance Officer John Kemble's Financial presentation.
Strong support for taking on these assets locally and confidence in Audlem volunteers to successfully manage them was expressed by Messrs Bill Consterdine, Ralph Warburton, Roland Hall, Derek McKelvey, Mrs Elizabeth Huntbach and Bob Mclintock. The successful local management of the cemetery and toilets were highlighted as examples of Audlem residents' success.
Concern was expressed by Terry Aspen that liability and insurance needed to be fully considered by the Parish Council. John Kemble explained that this was fully covered.
Then the 15 minutes ran out.
John Kemble explained the best estimates to date of the initial and ongoing 5year financial estimates of the costs involved. This showed that the Parish Council costs in maintaining these assets over the next five years at zero precept increase gradually ran down the reserves, but comment from the residents that a modest increase of 25p/week or 10% would enable the Parish Council to fully cover costs.
John Kemble's figures suggest a Management Charity Trust, if set up, could reduce the cost by nearly 40%, but no discussion about this occurred.
A request from Rodney Cottrell that a show of hands from residents be allowed to guide the Parish Council in making their decision was supported by Bob Mclintock and others.
The result was overwhelming support for Audlem taking on these assets. Out of over 60 residents present there were only 6 abstentions and 1 against.
Th Parish Council decision will be made next Monday.
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