After the Council admitted that it had mis-reported air quality data, Labour councillors asked for prompt action to be taken to address the areas where pollution levels were high. However, Cheshire East Council dragged its feet. Even a year after the true figures were revealed Air Quality Management Areas have yet to be declared in some affected locations.
It seems that most of the Council’s air quality team have been suspended, leaving no one to do the work. It appears that the suspensions only took place after the public outcry, rather than when the Council first knew that the air quality errors were as a result of deliberate and systematic manipulation of data.
Indeed, before the Council Meeting to approve the Local Plan on 27th July, the Council published an advert for an Air Quality Officer. After the Local Plan had been approved the post was withdrawn!
The number of Council officers suspended from their posts is now reaching such proportions that they are being referred to as ‘the disappeared’.
The deliberate and systematic manipulation of data sits uneasily with repeated concerns about bullying at Cheshire East Council.
The Labour Group are pressing for an external investigation, reporting within 3 months to the Group Leaders, into the culture of the organization.
Sam Corcoran, Councillor for Sandbach Heath & East, said;
“A responsible Council that wished to protect its residents would act quickly to declare Air Quality Management Areas and put in place action plans to improve air quality. Instead Conservative councillors have repeatedly sought to downplay the issue. I have personally made several suggestions but in Sandbach we are still waiting for effective action to be taken to improve the situation. Sadly the Conservatives seem more interested in allowing developers to make millions out of housing applications than in addressing the worsening traffic congestion and air quality problems in towns across Cheshire East.”
Cllr Steve Hogben, Labour Councillor for Crewe South, said;
Several neighbourhoods across Cheshire East are already blighted by unlawfully high levels of traffic congestion generated air pollution. Therefore, with the Tories’ Local Plan now adopted, the need for reliable and accurate air quality data is vital if speculative developers are to be required to set out, and to pay for, ways to mitigate the impact upon air quality by their developments upon local communities.’