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Weekly launches referendum on major town plans

A weekly newspaper has launched its own readers’ referendum over a proposed £90m town centre redevelopment which has divided the town.

The Macclesfield Express has launched the major survey over the plans which could see the creation of a new multiplex cinema, restaurants and shopping parade.

The Trinity Mirror title has called on residents to send a message to Cheshire East Council before its planning committee decides on the scheme next month.

Its referendum was launched with a front page appeal to readers as well as three inside pages about the proposals and the arguments for and against.

Editor Gareth Tidman said: “This is one of the biggest decisions affecting Macclesfield and we will be living with the outcome for years to come.

“As a paper we have taken a strict neutral stance on the scheme, but felt that it is important the the people of Macclesfield get the chance to say whether they want it or not. There is genuine excitement in the town over how our poll will go.”

Supporters of the proposals say they are a once in a lifetime opportunity to bring Macclesfield into the 21st Century but opponents argue that they could harm business for independent traders and are out of keeping with the town’s historic buildings.

To vote, readers have to fill in coupons printed in the paper and return them to the newsroom. No photocopies are allowed and the paper will only accept one entry per envelope.

Sales of the paper were boosted in November last year when the paper published an eight page pull-out on the plans.

The council is due to decide on the plans on 12 June.