Labour councillors have repeatedly raised concerns about bullying and the culture at Cheshire East Council. The Conservatives have repeatedly fobbed off these concerns and referred to them as legacy issues. Now that an independent review has confirmed that there is a problem with bullying and the culture at Cheshire East Council the Conservatives have changed tack and are claiming that they are working to address the problems. However, the same people who covered up the problems before are still in post. The Conservatives have made no changes in senior positions and no Conservative has admitted any wrongdoing.
In December 2015 Labour councillors tabled a formal motion at Cheshire East Council calling for an external investigation into allegations of bullying at the council, but the Conservatives rejected the suggestion.
In July 2017 Labour councillors raised concerns about bullying at the Cheshire East Council Staffing Committee. At that meeting the Conservative Chair of the Staffing Committee insisted that the issue of the culture at the Council had been addressed at a previous Cabinet meeting and when a member of the committee proposed that a task & finish group be formed to look into allegations of bullying and to speak people who were too frightened to speak out, the Chair quickly moved the discussion on. When the councillor insisted that he had made a proposal, the proposal was quickly seconded by Cllr Janet Jackson. However, the Conservative chair refused to accept the proposal as it was ‘not specific enough’.
The Conservative Leader of the Council then intervened to correct the councillor for saying that there were ongoing issues, insisting that matters were being dealt with in a professional, confidential and systematic manner.
At the July 2017 meeting Labour councillors said that sanctions were taken against those raising concerns. The Conservative Chair of the Staffing Committee insisted that such matters should be taken up through line management. When asked “What if the problem is the line manager”, he responded “Take it to the next level”. Given this complete lack of understanding of the fear of staff for their careers, it is little wonder that the bullying problems remained and the independent review found that, “Some people are so scarred by what’s happened to them or others that they remain afraid to put their head above the parapet.”
How can staff have any confidence about bringing forward concerns when the people and structures in place are the same people and structures that were in place before?
Cllr Sam Corcoran, Labour Group Leader, said, “The July 2017 meeting of the Staffing Committee was a masterclass in how to obstruct and procrastinate. The actions of the Staffing Committee have been shown to be woefully inadequate. The Conservatives failed take effective action to tackle bullying and have let down the staff. We now know that the Conservative Chair of the Staffing Committee knew about very serious allegations of bullying in July 2017, but withheld that information and thwarted the proposals put forward to investigate problems. How can staff have any confidence that things have changed at Cheshire East Council when those who abjectly fail to deal with bullying continue in post?”
Labour councillors have repeatedly raised concerns about bullying and the culture at Cheshire East Council. The Conservatives have repeatedly fobbed off these concerns and referred to them as legacy issues....
Last week it was announced that two further matters have been referred to the police by Cheshire East Council. This is in addition to the FIVE police investigations already swirling around the beleaguered Conservative-controlled Council.
This devastating news sees the Conservative administration continuing to lurch from one disaster to another, with long suffering staff and residents bewildered as to when it will all end.
One of the latest matters referred to the police is in connection with the purchase of land at Cledford Lane, Middlewich in connection with the development of the Council’s new Environmental Hub, occupied by two of its wholly owned companies ANSA Environmental Services Ltd. and Transport Service Solutions (TSS).
In July 2017 the Conservatives voted for £2.4M of extra funding to develop the site, despite Labour councillors querying why so much extra money was needed only shortly after the site had been purchased. It was well known that the site was contaminated and would need to be cleaned up, but the Conservatives claimed that more money was needed for land remediation costs.
At the July meeting, the Conservative Cabinet Member for Finance claimed that the extra £2.4M would not cost the Council a penny. This was shown to be untrue as it would cost the Council £2.4M. A Special Council meeting was called in December 2017 to discuss the matter. That meeting resolved that a report should be presented to a Cabinet meeting explaining why an extra £2.4M was required and why due diligence work before the land was purchased had not identified the potential extra costs. Cheshire East Council are now claiming the report cannot be presented because the matter has been referred to the police.
Sam Corcoran, Labour Group Leader, said, “The clearly expressed will of the Council for a report into why an extra £2.4M is required for the ANSA/TSS depot in Middlewich has now been thwarted.
This joins a long list of matters that the Conservative-controlled Council won’t discuss:
1) Cheshire East Council waived its procurement rules to award contracts to the former Conservative Leader's personal physiotherapist, but this can’t be discussed due to the ongoing investigation by the Organised Crime Unit of the regional police.
2) the deliberate and systematic manipulation of Air Quality data at the Council for several years can’t be discussed because the Conservatives say it made no difference to any planning applications and there is a police investigation - we still don't know who did it or why.
3) the £70,000 promised to an academy primary school in a marginal electoral area by a Conservative Councillor can’t be discussed because of an ongoing police investigation.
This is very unsatisfactory situation, particularly for a Council that aspires to be open and transparent.”
Cllr Brian Roberts, Labour Councillor for Crewe West, said; ‘Just how many more skeletons are going to be found lurking at the back of Cheshire East’s cupboard? The Environmental Hub at Cledford lane has been a highly controversial project from its outset. If it is found that anything unlawful or illegal has occurred during its procurement or development, there will very some very serious questions to ask.’
Cllr Suzanne Brookfield, Labour Councillor for Crewe East said: ‘The regular announcement of yet more police involvement into activities at Cheshire East Council will only inflict further damage to the Council’s already very tarnished reputation amongst local residents and businesses. How much longer can it be before the Secretary of State puts the Council into Special Measures?‘
Last week it was announced that two further matters have been referred to the police by Cheshire East Council. This is in addition to the FIVE police investigations already swirling...
On Wednesday 13 March, the Conservatives on Cheshire East Council’s Cabinet refused to sign up to the UK100 Agreement.
Sam Corcoran said, “Climate Change is the greatest challenge facing our generation. It’s a difficult one for politicians because the damage caused by inaction will be felt after the next election whereas the difficult decisions need to be taken now. So it’s not a great surprise to me that the proposal to sign up to the UK100 is not recommended for approval at this Cabinet meeting.
The Conservative policy is certainly to speak in favour of doing something about climate change, but not actually grasp the nettle. By contrast Labour’s Industrial Strategy sets two initial missions - one focussed on outputs related to the green economy, and one focussed on the inputs necessary to make the UK an innovation nation.
That is the vision I have for Cheshire East; Cheshire is renowned as a green county with beautiful countryside. We should promote that vision and promote Cheshire East as a place where the green economy can thrive. We have geothermal potential under Crewe. Cheshire East Council should be promoting green energy.
Labour-controlled Cheshire West & Chester Council has signed up to the UK100 Agreement. I am disappointed that Conservative-controlled Cheshire East Council has refused to sign up to the UK100 Agreement.“
In December Councillor Sam Corcoran had proposed the following motion at Cheshire East Council
This Council acknowledges;
- the historic commitments made at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change
Conference in Paris toward the future of renewable energy;
- our responsibility to help secure an environmentally sustainable future for
our residents and in relation to the global effects of anthropogenic climate
This Council subsequently notes that;
- despite the Paris Agreement placing no binding commitments upon local
government institutions, we as a Council can still play our part in the global
movement towards a sustainable energy future;
- additional benefits of the development of green industries include the
potential to create well-paid, high-skilled employment locally, regionally and
- the UK100 Agreement pledge outlines the ambition for the UK regions to
exceed the Paris Climate targets through achieving 100% ‘clean energy’
usage by 2050.
In light of this, this Council therefore resolves to;
- match the ambitions of the UK100 Agreement through pledging to achieve
100% clean energy across Cheshire East Council’s full range of functions by
2050 (defined as 70% from fully renewable sources [Wind, Water, Solar],
with the remainder from other low CO2 forms of energy production, in line
with ambitious post-2040 energy mix forecasts;
- work in partnership with our residents and business community to deliver
against the commitments made nationally and internationally at the 2015
- turn these commitments into reality through developing a ‘route map’ to a
sustainable future, working together with Cheshire East’s business,
educational and residential communities as part of an integrated approach to
a shared sustainable future.
On Wednesday 13 March, the Conservatives on Cheshire East Council’s Cabinet refused to sign up to the UK100 Agreement. Sam Corcoran said, “Climate Change is the greatest challenge facing our...
Congleton Women's Forum on the front page of Congleton Chronicle this week. A fantastic event on International Womens Day last week. Celebrating women having the vote for 100 years, organised by our Women's Officer Sue Munro
Congleton Women's Forum on the front page of Congleton Chronicle this week. A fantastic event on International Womens Day last week. Celebrating women having the vote for 100 years, organised...
At the Cheshire East Council Cabinet meeting on Tuesday 13 March I set out my solution to Junction 17 and queues on A534 Old Mill Road bypass in Sandbach.
LONG TERM - double bridge roundabout (similar to Junction 18)
MEDIUM TERM - 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 business park site.
SHORT TERM - change the phasing of the lights. I have repeatedly raised this point with Highways England, but I have received little support from Conservative councillors or from Fiona Bruce MP.
The Conservative response was to ask for a report ….
I set out below my full speech:
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 other local councillors 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 have reduced maximum queue lengths on the A534 to 200m in the morning rush hour and 42m in the evening rush hour.
However, Cheshire East Council relaxed the planning conditions and has now given permission for a different roundabout to be built. The maximum queue lengths under the new roundabout are 1010m in the morning rush hour and 868m in the evening rush hour. I appealed to other local councillors and Fiona Bruce MP to join me in opposing this ‘inferior’ roundabout, but no support was forthcoming. Indeed Cllr Gill Merry said at the planning committee “traffic is bad in Sandbach but that is just something we will have to accept in today's climate”; I beg to differ.
Instead the Barry Moran & Fiona Bruce are now calling for additional government funding to ‘improve capacity at Junction 17’. In short the developers have been let off the hook and it is now proposed to seek government funding to do what the developers were originally obliged to do!
If the proposals were for a double bridge roundabout at Junction 17 (similar to Junction 18), then I would support this as a long-term solution. But there are no actual solutions suggested in this motion – it’s just a party political attempt to give a pretence of doing something and to cover-up for the avoidable traffic problems caused in Sandbach by failure to enforce planning conditions.
Sadly 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 infrastructure.
At the Cheshire East Council Cabinet meeting on Tuesday 13 March I set out my solution to Junction 17 and queues on A534 Old Mill Road bypass in Sandbach. LONG...
At the Sandbach Town Council meeting on Thursday 8 March, a report was
received on the flaws in the Cheshire East Local Plan and Sandbach
Neighbourhood Plan exposed by the Marsh Green Road planning application. The
report confirmed that despite having recommended the planning application
for approval, Cheshire East Council planning officers now accept the
decision of the Southern Planning Committee and will contest any appeal.
This is good news, but unless the flaws in Cheshire East's Local Plan are
corrected then there is a risk that the government Planning Inspectorate
will allow the Marsh Green Road application on appeal.
The Marsh Green Road planning application for 30 dwellings (ref 17/3611C)
was recommended for approval by Cheshire East Council (CEC) planning
officers, because it was for affordable housing and therefore according to
CEC was supported by the Sandbach Neighbourhood Plan. The problem arose as
1. Sandbach Neighbourhood Plan (SNP) policy PC3 only allowed affordable
housing in open countryside if it was in accordance with Congleton Borough
Council policies which were relevant at the time. Congleton Borough Council
policies clearly defined this category as being specifically to support the
rural economy, (labourers, rural workers etc). Therefore SNP policy PC3 was
sound before the Cheshire East Local Plan was approved.
2. Cheshire East Local Plan policy SC6 carried over similar controls as
Congleton Borough Council on affordable housing in open countryside - for
Local Service Centres and Other Settlements, but NOT for Key Service
Centres. Sandbach is a 'Key Service Centre', so the failure to reference Key
Service Centres in the Cheshire East Local Plan leaves open a loophole for
affordable housing on any greenfield site around Sandbach.
The obvious answer would be to amend policy SC6 of the Local Plan. However,
Cheshire East Council seem reluctant to do this.
In the report presented to Sandbach Town Council it was confirmed that the
policy to allow unlimited affordable housing on greenfield sites around
Sandbach was not inadvertent. So Cheshire East Council admit to having
deliberately set policies that allow unlimited affordable housing on
greenfield sites around Sandbach. This breaches the intention of the
Sandbach Neighbourhood Plan, but not the wording.
Labour councillors are pressing for amendments to either the Local Plan or
the Sandbach Neighbourhood Plan to make it clear that simply labelling
housing as 'affordable' does not mean that planning permission on greenfield
sites around Sandbach should be granted.
Kathyn Flavell, Labour Councillor for Sandbach Elworth, said, "We have a
Council that picks and chooses between different policies to suit its own
ends. The lack of consistency between the local plans has caused confusion
and misinterpretation. We need to align the various policies to ensure there
is no longer any ambiguity. I am pleased that CEC will support the decision
to deny planning permission for the Marsh Green Road Development when it
comes to appeal. However, there are other concerns besides the argument over
affordable housing and planning loopholes. The Marsh Green Road site would
have very poor access: a narrow residential street, already in a poor
condition, is completely unsuitable for heavy plant and site traffic, or
indeed the extra residential traffic once the development is finished.
Astonishingly, Cheshire East Highways has made no objection to the plans on
this basis; by putting pressure on them to recognise the unsuitability of
this planned development, we can add an extra line of defence at the
Sam Corcoran, Labour Councillor for Sandbach Heath & East, said, "There is a
clear party political difference over planning policies. Labour proposes
building more council houses and would let local government planning
determine the style and location of homes (brownfield sites). The
Conservatives have let loose private developers, allowing them to build on
sites where they can make the greatest profit (greenfield sites in
Cheshire). The result of deliberate Conservative policy can be seen in
Sandbach where permission has already been granted to build 3,200 new homes
- an increase of 40% in the size of the town! Without proper local
government planning the Conservative policies have let private developers
make millions and have left local communities to try to deal with the
resulting infrastructure overl
At the Sandbach Town Council meeting on Thursday 8 March, a report wasreceived on the flaws in the Cheshire East Local Plan and SandbachNeighbourhood Plan exposed by the Marsh Green...
In December 2015 Labour councillors tabled a formal motion at Cheshire East
Council calling for an external investigation into allegations of bullying
at the council. After 2 years of dithering and obstruction, and some high
profile incidents of bullying being reported in the press, the Conservatives
finally gave into the pressure and commissioned a review by Sarah Messenger
of the Local Government Association.
The recognition that there is a problem with bullying at Cheshire East
Council and that the culture of the organisation has been awry since the
Council was formed in 2009 is welcome. Acknowledging a problem is the first
step in fixing it, but this is only the first step. The Labour Group will be
working across party lines to address the problems at Cheshire East Council,
that have now been acknowledged, and to implement all of the recommendations
in the report.
The evidence of cultural problems at Cheshire East Council has been
overwhelming for several years now;
In 2017 the Council won Private Eye’s Filthy Liars of the Year award for
deliberately and systematically manipulating air quality data.
In 2016 the Head of Communications was allegedly asked to ‘dig the dirt’ on
the Head of Internal Audit.
In 2013 the Council was found by the Local Government Ombudsman to have
knowingly and persistently misled the public over a planning application at
White Moss Quarry near Alsager.
In the past, the Conservative response has been to shoot the messenger. Some
staff trying to highlight problems have been forced out of the Council. The
Head of Internal Audit, who oversaw the whistleblowing process, was forced
out and not replaced. The names of staff in the air quality department were
leaked to Private Eye. This has led to a culture of fear, where staff are
wary of coming forward with evidence of wrongdoing for fear that their jobs
will be at risk.
The terms of reference of the review were highly restrictive, and prevented
key witnesses such as the former head of internal audit from taking an
active part. Indeed the written terms of refence only allowed for ordinary
staff members to speak to Sarah Messenger as part of focus groups. Labour
councillors pointed out that very few staff members would risk their jobs by
expressing their concerns about bullying by senior management in front of
other staff members who might later report their comments to senior
management. Only after pressure from Cllr Sam Corcoran at a public Cabinet
meeting was it then agreed that any staff member could email Sarah Messenger
Conservatives have repeatedly referred to ‘legacy issues’. Now, by
restricting the terms of reference of Sarah Messenger’s review to employees
who left within the last 6 months, the Conservative claims that the bullying
problems are legacy issues have been destroyed. The Conservatives must face
up to the problems at the Council – problems they have tried to deny and
have failed to deal with for many years.
Cheshire East Council staff deserve better!
Now that the report has finally been published, the Conservatives have no
excuse for not taking action. The Labour group will be working across party
lines to address the problems at Cheshire East Council, that have now been
acknowledged, and to implement all of the recommendations in the report. The
aim should be to make Cheshire East Council a place where people enjoy
working and an employer that people are proud to work for. The current
reality is different
There are now FIVE police investigations swirling around Conservative
controlled Cheshire East Council:
1) an independent investigation by Bureau Veritas found evidence of
deliberate and systematic manipulation of air quality data
2) £70,000 granted to a primary school in Wistaston, where (allegedly) a
Conservative Councillor promised the money to the school despite it not
being in accordance with policy
3) reports in the Crewe Chronicle of vile and intimidating hate mail sent to
two dissident Conservative councillors
4) land acquisitions
5) The ORGANISED CRIME UNIT are investigating contracts awarded to the then
Conservative Leader's personal physiotherapist's company - CoreFit.
In addition to the five police investigations, the chief executive, head of
legal and head of finance were all suspended from their roles at an
estimated to cost the Council of £800,000 this year. The head of legal has
Michael Jones is not an isolated example in the local Conservatives. Cllr
Sam Gardner was forced to step down as Cabinet Member for finance when it
was revealed that he had caused Fomfest Ltd (a company of which he was
director) to misuse donations to a charity. Fomfest Ltd went bust leaving
numerous local businesses and the charity out of pocket.
Although the Conservatives claim that the problems at Cheshire East Council
are 'legacy issues', the Council continues to lurch from crisis to crisis
and regularly features in the Rotten Boroughs section of Private Eye. The
Council recently won Private Eye’s ‘Filthy Liars’ of the year award over
their failings on air quality.
The Conservatives are desperately trying to distance themselves from their
former Leader, but in February 2015 when the Labour group took the highly
unusual step of proposing a motion of no confidence in the Leader, the
Conservatives literally shouted down Labour councillors and formally voted
that they had complete confidence in Michael Jones. The fateful contracts to
Core Fit ltd were awarded within weeks of that vote.
Cllr Sam Corcoran, Labour Group Leader, said, “Labour Councillors have been
calling for an external review of the culture at Cheshire East Council for
over 2 years, so I am pleased that this review has taken place. I welcome
the recognition that there is a problem with bullying at Cheshire East
Council and that the culture of the organisation has been awry since the
Council was formed in 2009. Acknowledging a problem is the first step in
fixing it, but this is only the first step. The Labour Group will be working
across party lines to address the problems at Cheshire East Council that
have now been acknowledged, and to implement all of the recommendations in
the report. The aim should be to make Cheshire East Council a place where
people enjoy working and an employer that people are proud to work for. At
the same time I recognise that the current reality is different for many
“The staff survey reveals a lack of confidence that instances of bullying
will be dealt with fairly and effectively. This is of great concern and is
indicative of a wider lack of trust in the leadership of the Council. I hope
that there will now be extensive cross-party working through scrutiny
committees to openly discuss issues and restore trust in the Council. We
need to move from a perceived culture of ‘shoot the messenger’ to a culture
where a complaint is regarded as a gift because it enables you to improve.”
Janet Jackson, Labour Deputy Group Leader, said, “I was pleased to read the
results of the Independent Cultural Review that had at last been
commissioned by Cheshire East. Labour Councillors were aware of the bullying
culture at CE and had first asked several years ago for an independent
While many staff have much to be proud of, enjoy what they do, and are aware
that things are getting better; an amount of bullying still continues,
coming largely from some people with power, including some Councillors.
One of the recommendations is that CE must set a new tone at the Council. To
enable this there will be a Council wide Cultural Programme where staff will
take part in the design and deliver it alongside members. I want to see all
the recommendations acted upon so that in future all employees can be proud
of working for Cheshire East.”
In December 2015 Labour councillors tabled a formal motion at Cheshire EastCouncil calling for an external investigation into allegations of bullyingat the council. After 2 years of dithering and obstruction,...
On Thursday 25 January 2018, Kathryn Flavell (Labour) was elected as the
Sandbach Town Councillor for Elworth with 436 votes. The Conservatives were
110 votes behind with 326 and the independent came third with 150 votes.
This is a big turnaround from the Cheshire East Council elections in 2015;
Con 1236, Lab 656, UKIP 482, LibDem 228.
Recurrent themes during the campaign were bus cuts, 5 police investigations
swirling around Cheshire East Council, child sex offenders at Linden Bank
approved premises/bail hostel, dog mess, the scandal of leasehold property
sales, the failure to stop speculative housing applications on greenfield
sites and the resultant pressure on infrastructure, causing traffic jams and
air quality problems on Middlewich Road.
The winning Labour candidate Kathryn Flavell said, "I am both delighted and
honoured to have been elected onto Sandbach Town Council by the people of
Elworth. I owe a debt of thanks to those who have supported me. Talking to
residents, it is clear that many people have become disillusioned with the
Conservative led Council and want to see a change. I sincerely hope that I
can make a difference by being a strong voice in the community, representing
peoples' views, and addressing their concerns with hard work and integrity.
Alan Smith, Labour Councillor for Sandbach Ettiley Heath & Wheelock, said
"During the campaign Kathryn showed herself to be the best candidate,
contacting residents and knocking on doors to follow up issues even when she
knew that the occupants might be supporting other candidates. I look forward
to working with Kathryn on Sandbach Town Council."
Sam Corcoran said, "Many thanks to all who voted and campaigned. It was good
to see that Fiona Bruce MP was out on the streets of Elworth campaigning for
the Conservative candidate. I hope that the Conservatives will now take
stock and work with us to address some of the issues raised, including
closing the loopholes that allow speculative housing applications on
On Thursday 25 January 2018, Kathryn Flavell (Labour) was elected as theSandbach Town Councillor for Elworth with 436 votes. The Conservatives were110 votes behind with 326 and the independent came...
At last week’s meeting of Cheshire East Council’s Corporate Scrutiny Committee, the Conservative proposals for "Community Budgets funded from New Homes Bonus" unravelled when it was stated by council officers that the £2m allocation was actually funded from a change in accounting policy (MRP) in 2017/18, rather than directly from the New Homes Bonus Fund.
Cheshire East will receive £8m of New Homes Bonus this year (2018/19), which is included in the normal budget arrangements and makes up over 3% of the Council’s net funding. In the past, the New Homes Bonus has been added to general funds and used to assist with holding down council tax increases. The majority of New Homes Bonus money will continue to be used through the normal budget process. The Conservatives are now proposing in the budget consultation to allocate £1m in 2018/19 and in 2019/20 to community budgets.
There was virtually no response to the public consultation on this item with only 1 or 2 responses mentioning it. Therefore, why are the Conservatives so keen to set up a new £2m fund rather than putting the money through the normal spending regime? Indeed, Cheshire East Council has a history of setting up shiny new 'community funds' with a loud fanfare. The Council set up a 'Your Money' fund under Cllr Michael Jones's leadership. It was money from that fund which was used to pay Core Fit/Amanda Morris Ltd; the police are investigating.
Cllr Joy Bratherton, Labour Councillor for Crewe East said; ‘Behind the PR smoke and mirrors, the reality is that this money should be used to prevent or reduce cuts being implemented across Cheshire East Council’s services. The idea of a separate fund gives opportunities to Conservative Councillors to allocate funds in a way that makes the biggest political splash in the run up to the 2019 elections, rather than using funds based on need.
Cllr Brian Roberts, Labour Councillor for Crewe West said; ‘This scheme is setting money aside and then looking for ways to spend it, rather than looking at need. Indeed, part of this new fund could have instead have been used to help pay for evening and weekend bus services for at least the next three years across Cheshire East. But no, it is effectively a ‘kitty’ for the Tories to spend in those wards where their councillors are under threat in May 2019.’
At last week’s meeting of Cheshire East Council’s Corporate Scrutiny Committee, the Conservative proposals for "Community Budgets funded from New Homes Bonus" unravelled when it was stated by council officers...
A planning application for 100 dwellings off Park Road, Willaston in the green gap between Crewe and Nantwich has been refused by the planning inspectorate. The good news is that the inspector attached significant weight to the harm that the application would have caused to the landscape character of the area. The bad news is that Cheshire East Council cannot demonstrate a robust 5-year housing land supply and has accepted that the settlement boundaries set out in its Local Plan will be subject to further change.
There is a clear party political difference over planning policies. Labour proposes building more council houses and would let local government planning determine the style and location of homes (starter homes and brownfield sites). The Conservatives have let loose private developers, allowing them to pick and choose the sites where they can make the greatest profit (executive style houses on greenfield sites in Cheshire). The result of this ideological capitalism can be seen in Sandbach where permission has already been granted to build 3,200 new homes – an increase of 40% in the size of the town! Without proper local government planning the Conservative policies have let private developers make millions and have left local communities to try to deal with the resulting infrastructure overload.
Under the current government rules, if a Council cannot demonstrate a robust 5-year housing land supply then planning permission must be granted unless the adverse impacts of the application significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits. This gives a ‘tilted balance’ in favour of the developers.
Another worrying aspect of the latest appeal ruling is that the 5 year supply has been set at 14,824 dwellings and the inspector found that there had been slippage against this target and that the Council’s assumptions on lead times were not being met.
Cllr Irene Faseyi, the Labour Councillor for Crewe Central, said “The Labour group warned the Council in July last year that they needed to start work on a new plan that would provide a robust 5-year housing land supply.”
Cllr Y said “Speculative developers are making millions as a result of the relaxation of planning rules. The residents of Cheshire East are picking up the bill in terms of traffic congestion, poor air quality and overloaded services.”
Sam Corcoran, Labour Councillor for Sandbach Heath & East, said, “At the Council meeting in July I said “If we don’t have a 5 year housing land supply then the Local Plan will be as effective as a chocolate fireguard in stopping speculative housing applications.” Sadly the Conservatives voted against my amendment in July and in December when I called for a refresh of the Local Plan to ensure the Council did have a robust 5-year housing land supply the Council refused to discuss my proposal and referred it to the Conservative Cabinet and then cancelled the Cabinet meeting in January.
” Dorothy Flude, Labour Councillor for Crewe South, said, “The government's planning reforms have caused chaos. This has resulted in numerous speculative housing developments on greenfield sites in south Cheshire which have benefitted speculative developers and lawyers who have made millions. Yet still the number of houses being built is inadequate to meet the nation's needs. We need to free up Councils to build houses.”
A planning application for 100 dwellings off Park Road, Willaston in the green gap between Crewe and Nantwich has been refused by the planning inspectorate. The good news is that...