Saturday, 23 February 2013


   If I hadn't been there, I don't think I would have believed it - a couple buying cheese to pack in their baggage for France ! Our neighbour across the channel has probably more varieties of cheese than anywhere in the world. But, let's face it, a goodly hunk of Cheshire takes a lot of beating. And so this Saturday I found myself outside Goostrey's Crown Inn buying cheese from the same stall as the couple at the launch of the monthly farmers' market. They lived in France they told me but there was nothing like a bit of local farmhouse to remind them of home !  The market was flagged up for several weeks and in spite the bitterly cold day with more than a passing hint of snow flurries there was a  fair turnout of stallholders doing a brisk trade. So much so that several ran out of produce long before the end.  The lady selling cheese was doing a good deed standing in for the stallholder after her own craft-baked bread stall sold out. And a delighted Pig & Co from Blackden didn't even have the proverbial pig's whistle left to offer latecomers !
  Penny Clark from Wilmslow, who makes a range of special preserves with an old  school pal Sarah Langley, said she was delighted with  support from the village and would certainly be returning in March. "I didn't expect so many would turn up because it is so cold and this was the first market but the support of people has been tremendous," she told me. Julia Ryding from Billinge, Lancashire, a regular at seven other markets with her hand-made cakes, agreed it had been a wonderful atmosphere and would be back with her stall, too. "It took me only half an hour to get here so it really is good."   Huw Rowlands offering beef from his herd of red poll cattle at Mickle Trafford was also a very happy farmer but concerned if he would have anything to sell the next day at Whitchurch  such was the demand for his home-raised meat.
 All in all it was a great  morning out for the community - some I know had been in the pub the night before but still managed to rise early - and a tribute to the new owners of the Crown, optimistic the monthly event on the car park will become a regular feature of village life.
    Goostrey's next farmers' market is on March 30.
Meanwhile, the deadline for public comment on Cheshire East Council's proposed Local Plan looms on February 26 but the parish council has been working hard to rally support in its bid to have Goostrey's designation  changed from a Local Service Centre to a Sustainable Village. This would minimise the amount of future development for the life of the plan up to 2030.Every household should have received a model letter  with space for individual comment  to send off before the deadline. The alternative is a Goostrey possibly swollen by new homes for more than 1,000 newcomers ! The LoveGoostrey website has all the details.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013


 In a call to arms  reminiscent of  Lord Kitchener's famous  poster "Your Country Needs You" of World War One, Goostrey Parish Council  finally is urging villagers to examine  the proposed Cheshire East Local Plan. Last week households were leafleted by the council with the call "Your Village Needs YOU..." to comment on the plan at two information sessions this week in the village hall tomorrow (Wednesday) between 4pm and 8pm and on Saturday, between 10am and 3pm.  Large scale maps of development sites to home possibly 1,000 newcomers will be on view.
 Not only that councillors will be on hand to discuss the issues and the fact that Goostrey is one of 13 parishes designated as a Local Service Centre. I guess in planners  speak that means it has a population and area large enough to absorb a massive increase in population in one big speculative estate and on smaller developments. But as I implied in my previous blog the term LSC must have been coined by a faceless Whitehall mandarin.
 The arrival of the council's leaflet must have come as a bit of a surprise, if not shock, to  many villagers, despite the good offices of a new website LoveGoostrey set up by a group of concerned residents to make people aware about the impact of the proposals.  It appears that few of us ordinary folk were "in on" the plan which could so easily have slipped through without comment before the deadline of February 26.That's less than two weeks away ! 
 Yet I learn that  several potential developers are in  advanced state of negotiation with Cheshire East Council and landowners.But I have to give credit where it's due - the parish council acted fast when it was realised  that so few people in Goostrey were aware of the local plan due to a lack of publicity.  It was certainly not a hot topic on the village's hourly bus - always a good source of local gossip - or around the bar at the Crown or Red Lion.
 Like LoveGoostrey, I would not want to be accused of being a Nimby as I think there is scope for the village to grow in a far more modest way over the years but, as said previously,  land by and large should  be earmarked only  for local needs,
 But as the parish council says in its leaflet: The future of your village is in your hands !