Last week, it was suddenly announced that the Cabinet meeting scheduled for Tuesday, 16th January 2018 has been cancelled.
The official reason given is that ‘Our scheduling of forthcoming business for Cabinet has enabled us to cancel the proposed formal meeting...’
What this means is that Councillors who submitted motions on the agenda for the Council meeting last December, will now have to wait until the second half of February at the earliest for a response.
Why is this? Is the cabinet having an extended Christmas break, or are they hiding away from public scrutiny of the ongoing chaotic shambles that is result of the vacillating and partisan political leadership at Cheshire East?
At the last Council meeting the Conservatives denied that the new Council Constitution would be used to conduct more business in private, yet here we have a Cabinet meeting being cancelled because they say there is no need to discuss any business in public. So much for openness and transparency at Cheshire East Council!
Cllr Joy Bratherton, Labour Councillor for Crewe East said; ‘Why are they hiding? They have already refused to apologise for the chaotic situation they have created at the Council, now they will not even face other Councillors or the residents of Cheshire East to account for themselves!’
Sam Corcoran, Labour Councillor of Sandbach Heath & East, said, “The Conservatives may have run out of ideas and do not have any proposals that they wish to discuss publicly this month, but the Labour Group have tabled several formal motions that could have been discussed at this cancelled meeting. Labour motions waiting to be discussed at Cabinet include:
- Ensuring that Cheshire East has a robust 5-year housing land supply so as to stop speculative housing developments.
- Addressing climate change
- Highway maintenance
- Publishing the ‘viability assessments’ that developers use to avoid providing affordable housing.
It seems that the Conservatives don’t think any of these issues are important or urgent. Whilst many would like answers to these questions, we will now have to wait until 16th February 2018 at the earliest.’
Running scared or ‘no business here!’ Why has the Cheshire East Cabinet cancelled its January 2018 Meeting?
Last week, it was suddenly announced that the Cabinet meeting scheduled for Tuesday, 16th January 2018 has been cancelled. The official reason given is that ‘Our scheduling of forthcoming business...
We have just seen the annual Christmas and New Year meetings of various ‘hunts’ across Cheshire East, along with the footage of the associated havoc and inconvenience to many residents
Labour ended fox hunting, deer hunting and hare coursing. Yet the Prime Minister, in the face of overwhelming public support to retain the bans has publically given her support to those lobbying for a return to such barbaric practices. Only a Labour government will maintain the bans.
The latest concerns follow only a few months after a hunt ran amok on the outskirts of Macclesfield and footage was shown on the regional news programmes. After that incident Labour Councillor Nick Mannion was able to secure a commitment from the Council Portfolio Holder for Rural Issues that no hunts are permitted to cross council owned land or farms.
The Hunting with Dogs legislation urgently requires strengthening to give the police stronger power and the courts greater sentencing powers to punish the minority of hunts and their so called ‘followers’ that so flagrantly flout it.
Labour’s vision is for the UK to lead the world with high animal welfare standards in the wild, in farming and for domestic animals. Labour will increase the maximum sentence for those convicted of committing animal cruelty. We will promote cruelty-free animal husbandry and consult on ways to ensure better enforcement of agreed standards.
We will prohibit the third-party sale of puppies, introduce and enforce a total ban on ivory trading, and support the ban on wild animals in circuses.
We will cease the badger cull, which spreads bovine TB.
Cllr Steve Hogben, Labour Councillor for Crewe South said; ‘Fox hunting is a barbaric relic from medieval times, and belongs to another age. It is high time those that cling to such outdated and illegal activity should have to account for their actions’
Cllr Laura Jeuda, Labour Councillor for Macclesfield South said ‘The UK’s impending departure from the European Union has already triggered a range of challenges from multi-national agri-business corporations that fund the Tory party in Government. They are already lobbying for the relaxation or removal of several hard-won agriculture and animal welfare regulations that have been tenaciously built-up over recent years. We must not relax our guard!!
We have just seen the annual Christmas and New Year meetings of various ‘hunts’ across Cheshire East, along with the footage of the associated havoc and inconvenience to many residents...
At the Cheshire East Council meeting on 14 December a qualified trading standards officer, formerly employed by the Council, used public speaking time to raise concerns about the terms of reference of the recently completed cultural review of the Council by the Local Government association (‘LGA’)
The terms of reference prevented anyone who had left the Council more than 6 months ago from giving evidence. Rob Edwardson said that he had wanted to give evidence to the cultural review but was refused because he left the Council just over 6 months ago. Several other significant witnesses were also prevented from giving evidence including the former Head of Internal Audit at the Council.
Labour Councillors have also expressed their concerns about the handling of bullying allegations, including criticism of the Chair of the Council’s Staffing Committee, who knew about an incident when a Council employee held a knife to their throat at work and shouted “Is this what you want …” and named the person who was allegedly bullying them. Despite knowing about the incident when Labour councillors were raising concerns about bullying, the Chair of the Staffing Committee did not share this information with other members of the committee and does not appear to have taken any meaningful action.
At the Council meeting Cllr Brian Roberts asked,
“At the end of the Staffing Committee meeting on 26 October, the Chair made a statement denying that he sat on issues of bullying and covered up a serious incident involving knife. Could the Leader clarify when she became aware of the knife incident and given that she has said that the incident is outside the terms of reference of the Staffing Committee could she clarify what the Chair of the Staffing Committee did about the knife incident (if he didn’t cover it up) and if he didn’t sit on issues of bullying could she clarify what he did do?”
In response the Conservative Leader said that she would be willing to discuss the matter later.
Janet Jackson, Labour Councillor for Macclesfield Central, then asked,
“Would the Leader like to join me in thanking Sarah Messenger for conducting a review into the culture of the Council and allegations of bullying and given that the Chair of the Staffing Committee is minuted as quoting the Leader publicly revealing the location of one particularly shocking incident, could she state where the quote is from and would she acknowledge that many staff are fearful of coming forward with allegations of bullying for fear that details of their situations will also be made public.”
In response, the Conservative Leader said that she had made a public statement on the location of the incident, but didn’t say when she had made the statement, and added that as council staff moved around she didn’t think that revealing the location of the incident was significant.
However, at least one local newspaper has publicly stated that they will not publish the location of the incident because it increases the likelihood of identifying the individuals involved.
Councillor Steve Hogben, Labour Councillor for Crewe South said; ‘’The LGA review is seen by some staff as a sham, and I am not surprised given the very public rejection of certain potentially unfavourable evidence by the council and by Ms Messenger. The six month rule has all the signs of a deliberate cover-up by the dictatorial regime at Westfields.’’
At the Cheshire East Council meeting on 14 December a qualified trading standards officer, formerly employed by the Council, used public speaking time to raise concerns about the terms of...
The NEC met in Glasgow, welcomed by the new Scottish leader Richard Leonard. After a reception on Saturday evening hosted by Unite we convened at 9 a.m. on Sunday, and...
Earlier this week news of the departure of Bill Norman, the Council’s Head of Legal Services and Monitoring Officer, was quietly slipped out by the Council’s communications team.
Mr Norman had been suspended for several months, for reasons that were not made public, nor were the reasons for his resignation or details of any financial package surrounding his departure.
Cheshire East Council has estimated that the cost, this year alone, of suspensions and investigations into senior officers will be £800,000. This is in addition to the costs of less senior officers currently away from their desks either suspended, on ‘gardening leave’ or assigned to other duties.
Sam Corcoran, Leader of the Cheshire East Labour Group and Labour & Co-operative Councillor for Sandbach Heath & East said,
“As with the Lyme Green fiasco, we see senior officers at Cheshire East Council leaving, but the root of the problem is not disclosed and no Conservative councillor admits any wrongdoing. Since it was formed 8 years ago, Cheshire East Council has had 7 different people in charge of its legal department. There is something very rotten in Conservative-controlled Cheshire East Council and repeatedly changing the Head of Legal is not solving the problem.”
Nick Mannion, Labour Councillor for Macclesfield West & Ivy said,
“Labour Councillors have repeatedly raised concerns about the culture at Cheshire East Council and its impact on staff. After the departure of Michael Jones it was hoped that the culture of the organisation would be addressed, but the level of staff turnover suggests that the problems have not been resolved.”
Cllr Dorothy Flude, Labour Councillor for Crewe South said “Yet another senior officer has walked away from Cheshire East Council, for reasons about which we are not told, and with a severance package the details of which will presumably be subject to a confidentiality clause. Yet we appear to be no closer to getting to the bottom of the rotten and chaotic management culture at the council.”
Cllr Suzanne Brookfield , Labour Councillor for Crewe East said, “Local residents must be wondering ‘what next’ as no less than FIVE ongoing police investigations are swirling around Conservative-controlled Cheshire East Council. Whilst the money tree can be shaken to find thousands of pounds to pay for expensive consultants yet our vital community libraries and bus services are butchered in the mantra of austerity.’’
Earlier this week news of the departure of Bill Norman, the Council’s Head of Legal Services and Monitoring Officer, was quietly slipped out by the Council’s communications team. Mr Norman...
At the Cheshire East Council Cabinet meeting on Tuesday 5 December, Labour Councillor Irene Faseyi asked, “West Sussex has agreed to ban the use of snares on its land. Would the Cabinet support a similar proposal in Cheshire East?”
The motion passed by West Sussex Council was;
(1) That from the 2 June 2017, all new Business Farm Tenancies on County
Council owned land, and those to be renewed, will include a clause which
(2) That a letter is sent to all current tenants and licensees of Business Farm
Tenancies and Smallholding Agreements informing them of the County
Council’s policy to ban snaring on its land, seeking immediate compliance
on a voluntary basis
Sadly, as with Labour calls to ban badger culling on Council land, the Conservative Cabinet members claim that legal difficulties would prevent them implementing the proposal.
Cllr Laura Jeuda, Labour Councillor for Macclesfield South said, “If it was possible for West Sussex then why is it impossible for the Conservative-controlled Cheshire East Council? Where there is a will there is a way. The Labour proposals set out the way, but the Conservatives who control Cheshire East Council lack the will.”
At the Cheshire East Council Cabinet meeting on Tuesday 5 December, Labour Councillor Irene Faseyi asked, “West Sussex has agreed to ban the use of snares on its land. Would...
The 'pinch point' scheme at Junction 17 of the M6 has undoubtedly made it
easier to exit the motorway and has made the junction safer. Unfortunately,
the scheme was NOT built according to the agreed design. Highways England
(who are a government agency responsible for motorways) amended the design
to cut costs and reduced the length of both filter lanes to join the M6 from
the A534. This reduction in the length of the filter lanes has resulted in
increased queues along the A534.
In addition, Highways England have set-up the phasing of the lights so that
the motorway slip roads are kept clear at the expense of queues on the A534.
What is inexcusable is that the phasing of the lights has been rigged to
such an extent that at times the lights are green to let cars off the
southbound slip road even when the slip road is completely clear. It is
frustrating to know that there is this 'wasted green time' on the lights
when there are long queues along Old Mill Road. I have repeatedly raised
this point with Highways England, but I have received little support from
local Conservatives or from Fiona Bruce MP.
A medium term solution to the queues on Old Mill Road would be for the
developers of the Capricorn site to build the enhanced roundabout at
Junction 17 that was a condition of being allowed to build houses on the
Capricorn site. That enhanced roundabout would reduce maximum queue lengths
on the A534 to 200m in the morning rush hour and 42m in the evening rush
However, the Conservative-controlled Cheshire East Council relaxed the
planning conditions and has now given permission for a different roundabout
to be built. The change in maximum queue lengths is from 200m to 1010m in
the morning rush hour and from 42m to 868m in the evening rush hour. At the
planning committee meeting where this different roundabout was discussed a
Sandbach Conservative councillor said "traffic is bad in Sandbach but that
is just something we will have to accept in today's climate". I have
appealed to Fiona Bruce MP to join me in opposing this 'inferior'
roundabout, but no support has been forthcoming.
Instead the Conservatives are now calling for additional government funding
to 'improve capacity at Junction 17'. In short the Conservatives have let
the developers off the hook and are now proposing government funding to do
what the developers were originally obliged to do!
If the Conservatives were proposing a double bridge roundabout at Junction
17 (similar to Junction 18), then I would support this as a long-term
Under the Conservatives the future looks bleak with speculative developers
making millions out of building houses on greenfield sites and local
residents having to suffer traffic jams, air quality problems and overloaded
The 'pinch point' scheme at Junction 17 of the M6 has undoubtedly made iteasier to exit the motorway and has made the junction safer. Unfortunately,the scheme was NOT built according...
At the Cheshire East Council meeting on Thursday 14th December, Labour Councillor Sam Corcoran will propose
That this Council notes that:
1) in a recent planning appeal case the Inspector considered whether Cheshire East Council had a 5-year housing land supply and said, “To my mind, even though the calculated supply includes a 20% buffer, the 5-year supply should be considered to be marginal and, potentially, in doubt” and said “I conclude that it would be both cautious and prudent in the circumstances of this case to regard policies for the supply of housing to be considered not up-to-date, thus engaging the tilted balance of paragraph 14 of the Framework.”
2) the Local Plan assumes a housing need of 1800 p.a.
3) a recent government consultation included a figure for housing need in
Cheshire East of 1142 p.a.
4) if the 5-year housing land supply calculation were based on a housing need
of 1142 p.a. then Cheshire East would have a secure and robust 5-year
housing land supply
5) in order to take advantage of the lower figure for housing need in
calculating a 5-year housing land supply, the Local Plan will need to be
This Council requests that a report be presented to the next Cabinet meeting setting out the work required to refresh the Local Plan to ensure that Cheshire East has a secure and robust 5-year housing land supply.
In July 2017 Conservative-controlled Cheshire East Council finally adopted a Local Plan. The Conservatives claimed this would end the flood of speculative housing applications on greenfield sites that have been blighting towns in south Cheshire. However, a loophole in the Local Plan means that council officers can recommend for approval any planning application for ‘affordable’ homes around towns in south Cheshire.
The Cheshire East Local Plan has controls on affordable homes in open countryside around Local Service Centres and Other Settlements (small towns and villages), but NOT for Key Service Centres (such as Sandbach, Alsager and Congleton).
Cllr Steve Hogben, Labour Councillor for Crewe South said “Whether this was an oversight or a deliberate attempt to allow a loophole for developers to exploit this unfortunate flaw in the Cheshire East Local Plan needs to be rectified as soon as possible.”
Sam Corcoran said, “At the Council meeting in July when the Local Plan was adopted I warned the Council that without a 5-year housing land supply the Local Plan would be as effective as a chocolate fireguard in stopping speculative housing applications. I proposed then that work should start immediately on a new Local Plan. Sadly that amendment was voted down by the Conservatives. I am being proved right and the Conservatives have wasted 5 months. We now need to act swiftly to ‘refresh’ the Local Plan if we are to stop a developer’s free-for-all.”
“The five police investigations swirling around Conservative-controlled Cheshire East Council should not be allowed to distract attention from the ongoing problems over speculative housing developments caused by national Conservative Party policies and local Conservative incompetence. Developers are making millions out of housing on greenfield sites and local communities have to suffer increasing traffic congestion and overloaded services.
We need proper local government planning to ensure that houses are built in the places where they are needed and that appropriate infrastructure improvements are provided.
Under the Conservatives private developers build houses in the places and styles that make them most money, without regard for local residents.”
At the Cheshire East Council meeting on Thursday 14th December, Labour Councillor Sam Corcoran will propose That this Council notes that: 1) in a recent planning appeal case the Inspector...
At the Sandbach Town Council meeting on 7 December it was agreed to write to
Cheshire East Council asking that meetings to produce an air quality action
plan take place in late January/early February 2018. Meetings were due to be
held in September 2017, but have been postponed by Cheshire East Council
until March/April 2018.
Sam Corcoran, Labour Councillor for Sandbach Heath & East, speaking at the
meeting, said, "Sandbach resident Richard Hamilton raised a Freedom of
Information request in May 2015 about air quality on Middlewich Road. He
received a reply on 2 June 2015 giving a figure of 39.5 for Middlewich Road
The limit for declaring an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) is 40. As soon
as I saw the figure of 39.5 I queried the figures. A meeting with Sandbach
Town Councillors and Cheshire East officers was arranged. At that meeting
Cllr Barry Moran asked officers to confirm that the incorrect figures had
not delayed the declaration of an Air Quality Management Area on Middlewich
Road. In response, one of the officers present said that the incorrect
figures HAD delayed the declaration of an AQMA.
An AQMA should have been declared in 2016 if not earlier. In fact it wasn't
declared until 1 October 2017. Even after the correct figures were known
Cheshire East did not act swiftly to declare an AQMA.
This afternoon a senior Cheshire East Council (CEC) officer denied that the
FoI request had anything to do with the discovery of the deliberate and
systematic manipulation of air quality data and claimed that it was
discovered and addressed internally.
But CEC say they don't know who manipulated the data or why they did it. The
2 officers who attended the meeting with Sandbach Town Councillors were
both, regrettably, named in Private Eye as having been suspended so how he
knows what prompted the discovery is an interesting question!
Once a AQMA is declared an Air Quality Action Plan should be prepared within
1 year saying what you are going to do about the poor air quality.
I remain very concerned about poor Air Quality, which according to the Royal
College of Physicians, is responsible for 40,000 deaths a year in UK - this
is a serious matter - and I am also concerned about the way CEC is
continuing to fail to take meaningful action to improve Air Quality.
The particular point highlighted here is that CEC have delayed meetings to
discuss an Air Quality Action Plan from September 2017 to March/April 2018."
At the Sandbach Town Council meeting on 7 December it was agreed to write toCheshire East Council asking that meetings to produce an air quality actionplan take place in late...
Despite a brave and passionate campaign by local bus users the Conservative Cheshire East Cabinet voted to slash the bus services budget by 30% - leaving the whole of Cheshire East with NO evening, Sunday or Bank Holiday bus services whatsoever from April next year.
Several Labour councillors sought to ‘call-in’ this draconian decision that will leave many residents isolated and unable to access work, medical and family at evening or weekends.
However, the application was rejected by the Council’s acting Monitoring Officer despite the fact that the decision will affect many residents.
The Council’s acting Monitoring Officer (standing in as the Monitoring Officer is suspended) acknowledged that the report for the committee meeting was produced late meaning many members of the public (and councillors) had very little time to study the final proposals. A second meeting was held, allowing councillors more time to read the report, but the second meeting was in secret so members of the public could not attend or speak.
Cllr Jill Rhodes, Labour Councillor for Crewe West, said, ‘Residents are still uncertain of the ultimate outcome of the review. The amount to be cut from the budget has dropped from £1.56 million to £1 million. However, bus service users are still not sure if their route will still operate after April next year, as there is a suggestion that some cuts may not happen if the tendering process can result in more savings. The whole process seems to be waiting on the tendering outcomes, which leaves may residents that are dependent on the threatened services in limbo.’
Cllr Dorothy Flude, Labour Councillor for Crewe South, said, “These cuts will affect many, many residents, isolating those in both town and country that currently rely on the lifeline that is their local bus service to visit hospitals etc. during the evening and at weekends.’
Cllr Nick Mannion, Labour Councillor for Macclesfield West & Ivy said, “The decision to cut evening services into our town centres is perverse! On the one hand the Council is putting forward policies, strategies and master plans to revive the night time economy in places such as Crewe and Macclesfield, yet they are now effectively saying that only car owners are welcome!
Despite a brave and passionate campaign by local bus users the Conservative Cheshire East Cabinet voted to slash the bus services budget by 30% - leaving the whole of Cheshire...