Trafford Council has denied claims that a major new plan aimed at improving Hale for residents, visitors and businesses amounts to an “unmandated assault on motorists”.
Earlier this year, the council appointed Nexus Planning to prepare a ‘Village Place Plan’ for Hale that will create a new vision for the village and outline how it can best “provide clarity and confidence to attract future investment”.
A consultation was launched to consider a variety of proposals, including a new 20mph speed limit in the village, new paving, seating and lighting on Ashley Road and a new village square with the clock tower at its heart.
Denise Laver, Chairman of Hale Civic Society, now says however that the process was “flawed” and that the plans will see the number or parking spaces in the village reduced.
She said: “The council claims that only six businesses took part in the plan’s consultation phase which simply cannot be true as I alone collected and delivered more than 35 business responses to the council. The consultation process was flawed as it wasn’t inclusive, lacked hard copies of the document for people to read and originally only gave four weeks to digest and respond to a complex 93-page consultation document.
“Hale Civic Society has been trying to ensure Hale prospers for over 60 years and the society was originally excited about a plan which was sold to everyone as one which would help the village move forward.
“Unfortunately, we have discovered that the secret plan is actually an unfunded, unmandated assault on motorists to drive them away from Hale to other areas, where no doubt, they will be welcomed with open arms.”
Hale’s Conservative councillors called for the plans to be put on hold and a “truly meaningful consultation” to take place.
However, a spokesperson for Trafford Council said there was “no question” of the council “trying to impose a Plan on the people of Hale”.
“Our consultation, led by Nexus Planning, involved announcements in the media, letters to businesses, consultation events and meetings with stakeholders, as well as surveys, which were publicised extensively. We also set up an exhibition space in Hale Library in January and February for people to look at, which also included hard copies of the survey for people to fill in.
“As a result of this, we had well over 600 responses from both consultations and numerous in-depth discussions with local stakeholders, representing a fantastic response from all sectors of the community.”
On the parking issue, the spokesperson said that “some parking spaces” were being reallocated “to within a short walking distance in order to create destinations for people to spend time and enjoy visiting while in Hale”.
“We are aware that the issue of parking divides opinion but it important to note that we are not reducing the number of parking spaces in Hale.
“It is also important to consider all forms of transport, not just motor vehicles especially when more people than ever are getting on their bikes.
“Since the draft plan was produced, all responses have been considered in refining a preferred option for proposals, including the clock tower and bowling green.”
The council added that the report had not yet been signed off and will go in front of the Executive at a meeting on September 28th.