An interested audience last night in the Public Hall heard a series of presentations from five speakers and had opportunities to raise questions on many local issues at the Annual Village Meeting.
Chaired by deputy chairman of Audlem Parish Council, Kate Down, the meeting opened with a very personal account of her life in teaching by the headteacher of Audlem St James' School, Catherine Nolan-Burnitt who noted that several of the School Governors who had interviewed her for the post seven years ago were in the audience! She described initiatives at the school such as its relationship with a school in Uganda and its Fair Trade policy as well as developments there during recent years.Inspector Bob Hassall, who runs the Neighbourhood Policing Unit covering a large area of South Cheshire spoke of his experiences as a police officer and his approach to policing in rural areas such as Audlem. PC Ken Maple, the village's policeman, was also in the audience. Questions on anti-social behaviour – particularly the damage twice in recent weeks to the house of an elderly resident opposite the Post Office – speeding vehicles through the village and the recent transfer of parking issues from the police to the traffic attendants of Crewe & Nantwich Borough Council, and how wasteful this seems as the police are in the village far more frequently, were amongst the issues raised and dealt with very frankly by Bob Hassall.
Bob Vass, himself an ex-policeman, gave an interesting presentation with the aid of a Powerpoint portrayal of a typical rural community, on the pressures caused by the lack of affordable housing and the various schemes that were being developed. He concluded with the results of the housing needs survey carried out in Audlem which revealed the scale of 'hidden housing needs' – that is the number of households in the village where at least one member wanted to set up a separate household, and those peope who had moved away, often because of housing costs, and would like to return.
Bob Cartwright, the chairman of the Audlem Parish Plan team and a member of the Audlem Online webteam, talked about the major projects that were being developed; an update on the de-priming of the A525; and communications in the village, notably the Newsletter, where he congratulated Margaret Roberts on her success since taking over as editor three years ago, and progress on the website. He concluded by describing his experiences judging eight villages in the Calor Village of the Year competition. He said that Audlem would still be a very strong contender but he had been impressed by the commitment to both allotments and play areas in all the villages he judged.
The evening concluded with a review of the Weaver Valley Regional Park project by Chris Mahon, who has been carrying out a major consultation programme on the park. He congratulated the village on the very successful opening of the Weaver Way on Sunday and the tremendous community spirit in Audlem and described its role as the southern gateway to the Weaver Way, the new long-distance footpath cycleway from Audlem to Frodsham.
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