Posted: 26.04.21 at 12:05 by Alexander Greensmith
As we get closer to the local elections on Thursday 6 May, Macclesfield Nub News have requested articles interviewing those standing for the Macclesfield Central Ward councillor on our Town Council, hearing more about their key priorities and what they would hope to get done if elected.
Today, we chatted with the Labour candidate Sandy Livingstone.
Sandy is originally from Hamilton, but moved to Macclesfield in 2017. He is a Director of Property for a local Housing Association.
His key policies include reducing car congestion in Central Ward, town centre recovery, and preserving Macc’s heritage.
Macclesfield Nub News: Why did you decide to stand for election as Macclesfield Central Ward councillor and what do you think you can bring to the role?
Sandy Livingstone: "The reason I decided to stand is having looked at the work the Town Council was doing - what I saw as an active town council, working on behalf of residents and making a difference.
"What I think I’d bring to the role is my similar experience of working on behalf of communities, through my work in social housing.
"And the ability to listen and to drive, improvements on their behalf, and to actually deliver. “
"So I think what I offer to Central Ward is that experience and knowledge and ability to get things done."
Macclesfield Nub News: Please can you tell me more about your ‘20 is plenty’ policy, which is also suggested by both the Greens and Labour? And how it differs from that offered by the Green candidate John Knight?
“There is an economic benefit, making the high street more appealing. There really is a safety benefit. There is an environmental benefit, but I think it is working with communities to change how we actually travel. So the active travel policy Cheshire East is bringing, is the solution."
“The way I see ‘20 is Plenty’ it goes back to working and listening to residents. There’s a fair amount of traffic in Central Ward, and particularly the areas around the town centre they are quite narrow streets. In the morning there are lots of schoolchildren running around, and a lot of older people trying to access the town centre.
I think where John [Knight, Green Party candidate] I differ, is how you actually delivery it and how you would work for residents.
“From experience these things work when you listen to residents about what they want to see in terms of ‘20 is plenty’ and then implementing it so it is successful. You still have to allow traffic to flow around the town, so what you don’t want to do is clog up the roads and divert traffic onto smaller side streets, but what we want is to encourage slower traffic so that it is safer for people to access the town centre.
“Having an advantage of working this in over time by doing this you get that the streets feel safer and it changes behaviour. What you’ll do is encourage cycling and encourage walking access. And that becomes more of a thing that you can do.”
“I support the policy Cheshire East has brought in, I think the opportunity is to work with Cheshire East and listen to residents to deliver real improvements. “
Macclesfield Nub News: The town council is Labour led, and are already helping to reduce traffic in the town centre. It is your policy too. Please can you tell me a little more about how you’d implement this with them, and if there is anything you’d like to add to it?
Sandy Livingstone: “I’ve taken up cycling a lot in the past year, I both played and coached rugby, however due to an old rugby injury that has caught up with me, I no longer run. So I see what it feels like to be a cyclist on the road.
“So I think dedicating things to cyclists with cycle lanes and slowing traffic will encourage cycling use. And we live in an area where cycling should be something we can do. So to encourage that active travel policy working with Cheshire East Council and using the town council as a vehicle to engage with residents is exactly what I’d want to see.
“There is no reason where I live in town [near Macclesfield College] that I would drive into the town centre anymore. I should either be walking or going by bike, which I try and do most times.
“But also if we then add in the opportunity to put electrical charging points in, I think you start to come up with a real solution in the town centre.”
Macclesfield Nub News: You recently sat as a consultant on Macclesfield Town Centre Recovery Plan, can I ask how else you may propose to bring people back into our high streets?
Sandy Livingstone: “I think we have got to recognise that the use of the high street is changing. What we have done traditionally isn’t what people will expect, particularly during the pandemic, people have got used to retail in a certain way. So we actually have to change the offering that we give them to encourage them back.
“For me to encourage people back into our town centres - it is about cleaner, safer and greener. We need to change the offer we give them. For example, in terms of pub trade, allowing opportunities to allow more outdoor seating in Market Square, The Town Council is providing planters and seating to allow that facility.
Macclesfield is an old historic town centre that dates back a couple hundred years. In a sense the challenge with that is we may in a previous life - in the 1970s - ruined its attractiveness but that’s what we need to bring back. We need more green space in the town centre. Using what’s already there better and making it more suitable - like the pocket park near the bus station. It just changes the way the place feels and by doing that we make it more attractive.
The other thing is we have a great local market, the Treacle Market. I think it is a great local facility. Having artisan traders in and encouraging people to come, I think that is the secret to reviving our town centre and keeping employment in Macclesfield."
Macclesfield Nub News: You said in a Facebook campaign video you will look to hold the heritage that we hold dear. Please can you give me some examples on what you’d like to try and help preserve, and how you’d do it?
Sandy Livingstone: “It concerns preserving what’s important. When you come to a place, your ability to read its heritage is really important to Macclesfield. Usually – for what was formally an industrial town - has quite a lot of it left. And you can see it through the town centre. It is really important that we use that well and we look after it.
“One of the other things I’ll help is the route down from Market Place down to Church Street onto Water’s Green. If you come to Macclesfield and encourage people to come by train - that is a front door to Macclesfield for these people coming out of the train station. So the access route that’s the sort of thing we need to protect and enhance.
“Things like opening up the Dams Steps which is a local petition I’m supportive of. Because that's the real heritage of the town. And I think it is a real asset for us that we can encourage the use of and gain a benefit from. We also have something that we can encourage people to come and see and I think lastly there’s an environmental benefit in terms of knocking buildings down - it introduces more carbon. So if we can keep them, and use them well that’s much better in terms of heritage but also the ongoing [situation with the] environment for me."
Macclesfield Nub News: Tackling the climate emergency is clearly a key priority for the Town Council, they are even organising an environmental summit this summer. But what type of eco-friendly projects and initiatives would you like to see happen in Macclesfield in particular?
Sandy Livingstone: “I am passionate about the environment. I do that as part of my job. I am leading for my housing association in terms of sustainability.
“My main plea to my fellow residents of Central Ward is to get them to get involved in this. And shape it for what they want for their community.
“I think that when people won’t engage, they think it is being imposed on them. If they feel part of creating something they will embrace it.”
“I think my experience of working within the housing sector and with communities is that is much more powerful. So that is my wee plea in this article for people to get involved.”
Macclesfield Nub News: Above all, what do you think the biggest issue is facing our town?
“The biggest issue is as we come out of the pandemic it is the challenge of how we use our town centre, how we build our recovery that protects the jobs of the people in the Central Ward. It addresses some of the challengers in terms of traffic, but it also works towards the future in terms of a more sustainable environment. That is the real issue the town has.
“And I think the other issue is to shop locally, we need to change the way we shop in terms of what is, and that gives the opportunity to local businesses. Maybe where they might have been crammed out in the high street in the past by the bigger stores, rather than seeing this as a threat I think it is a bit of an opportunity.”
Macclesfield Nub News: What is your favourite thing about Macclesfield?
Sandy Livingstone: “The honest answer is people. Having come here just over three years ago. We’ve been made to feel very welcome and part of the community. We haven’t found that difficult at all and that says a lot about the quality of the people that live here. It speaks volumes for them. And without going back to the beginning that is the reason why I’m standing.
“I chose to move to Macclesfield for a number of reasons. From working here, I knew the town. My new job was in the North West. But I think if you look at the location we came from [Hamilton] from a former industrial town in Scotland not too dissimilar from Macc - about 12 miles from a large city.
“Great transport links but very close to the countryside. Macclesfield close to the Peak District. We’ve got Macc Forest and I’m finding interesting cycling routes not that far from where I live. “That is quite a hard combination to beat. It chose itself.”
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