I hope everyone is well and doing OK. For the last article of the year, I thought I'd talk about some of the positive things going on in Macclesfield. First off, the topic of football. Something I’ll admit I’m not that familiar with, but you’d have to have been on another planet not to have heard about the buoyant and exciting news regarding the newly formed Macclesfield FC. Following the exit of Macclesfield Town from the National League in September, Macclesfield-born businessman Robert Smethurst is now the new owner of Macclesfield FC. With the former Leicester, Birmingham, Blackburn and Derby midfielder and football pundit, Robbie Savage, as head of football operations and our own MMB Director Nick Bianchi on the board, things are finally looking up! I went down to the Moss Rose ground last week and my word, they’re cracking on with things! The pitch is half way up to be replaced by a 4G surface and what was the McIlroy Suite is well on the way to becoming Macclesfield’s largest gym with accompanying sports bar. They have much more planned and will apply to enter the North West Counties League next season - I’m sure we’ll all be watching closely and with baited breath.
OK, so I wasn’t going to mention Covid, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who has felt some sense of pride towards Macclesfield’s biggest employer, Astra Zeneca. Together with the University of Oxford they’ve been at the forefront of efforts to fight the pandemic in the race to make a Covid -19 vaccine. Despite recent confusion over data, they continue this fight and crucially, the vaccine can be easily administered in existing healthcare systems being the only one that’s stored at ‘fridge temperature’. Let’s hope that as trials continue, we see the vaccine rolled out and a return to some kind of normality by summer. As you know, MMB has often promoted and talked about the benefits of Business Improvement District (BID), already in place and implemented in towns such as Altrincham and Stockport. Much as we still believe a BID would be of great benefit to the town and the businesses within it, given the circumstances, we need to give due consideration to the obvious financial pressures on levy payers (retailers and businesses within the town centre) at this challenging time. Therefore, we've decided to put the idea on hold for the time being - but we will of course keep you updated. Staying with the town centre - it was great to hear that following a focus group meeting at the end of July, Macclesfield Town Council and CE Council have created a ‘Recovery Working Group’ with the main objective of developing a recovery plan for Macclesfield town centre and the surrounding area. Made up of representatives and experts in town centre development, housing, heritage, the voluntary sector, communities, local businesses and landlords, this working group will gather and listen to the views of stakeholders, including local businesses and residents, to consider suggestions put forward to help the town centre recover. I know that a series of fact-finding workshops have already taken place and a Town Centre Manager has been recruited. Apparently a draft plan will be available early January with another Focus Group taking place in the mid-January. This is really positive - I look forward to seeing what happens in the coming months.
I just wanted to take this opportunity to mention a series of 'Tiny Treacle's' that will be taking place on on the 12th, 19th and 20th December from 10am - 3pm in the Market Place. These will be like the normal Treacle Market but smaller, 25 stalls with Covid safety guidelines in place. You can find everything else you need in all the local shops, revive yourself in a local cafe and spend your Christmas pounds in Macclesfield. The atmosphere is brilliant, so nice to experience - grab your mask, wrap up warm and get down there!
Finally, I'll leave you with this photo I took looking down towards Harrop Fold Valley near Bollington. We are so lucky to live and work in a place of outstanding beauty. Something that has been a real leveller for me is my weekend walks, a source of relaxation and welcome diversion. On behalf of myself and the MMB team, we thank you for your continued support and hope you, your colleagues, family and friends have a healthy and happy Christmas. We also look forward to meeting up with you all again in the New Year, as soon as it is safe to do so. Here's to a much better 2021!