News

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!!

Traditional Christmas and New Year hunts rampage across Cheshire East.

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.’’

Bullying Cover-Up

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 congratulated Paddy Lillis on his election as general secretary of USDAW.  The membership of NEC committees and policy commissions was agreed.  I will continue serving on the equalities committee, the business board and the work, pensions and equalities commission, and Pete Willsman is joining the audit and risk management committee.
 
We moved on to the election of the NEC youth representative, due in February.  Following ructions at the last youth conference the Royall report recommended balloting members rather than having delegates vote in person.  In previous incarnations the NEC would have extended the term of the current representative by a few months and run the election alongside the NEC and NPF ballots in July.  Also the party democracy review is expected to make recommendations for Young Labour in January and a short delay would have enabled an election by whatever method emerged.  I supported this, but it was rejected by 16 votes to 9.   
 
The NEC then considered whether to retain an electorate split into thirds:  individual young members, Labour students, and young trade union members.  In July the Young Labour national committee supported pure one-member-one-vote, but now favoured to halves, removing Labour students.  I voted for halves, as students already get one vote, though the review may soon replace it with yet another system.  That was carried with six against   Finally I proposed that individual young union members should be balloted, and that was rejected by 18 votes to six.  Instead each union will cast a single weighted block vote, with young members contributing through their union’s own internal democratic processes.  We did, however, keep the cutoff age for the NEC youth representative at 23, not the 27 requested by the YLNC, which would have allowed young women to serve for up to seven consecutive terms, until they were nearly 30.
 
So instead of continuing to combine elections in a single OMOV ballot, we have three separate votes, with the extra NEC places and the youth elections taking significant staff time and costing around £50,000 each.  For Young Labour this will be a continuing burden if a strict two-year timetable is carried forward.  For comparison £50,000 is the total amount allocated to bursaries to support candidates with disabilities.
 
Leaders’ Reports
 
At 10 a.m. the NEC were joined by members of the Scottish executive.  Jeremy Corbyn thanked party staff for their continuing work in difficult and distressing times.  He talked about homelessness, the budget, challenging the government on universal credit, Zimbabwe after Mugabe, the war in Yemen and arms sales to Saudi Arabia, and the plight of the Rohingya people.  On Brexit he was working with MEPs and fellow European socialists to try to minimise the damage:  two-thirds of Labour supporters voted to remain, but even leavers did not vote to lose their jobs, turn Britain into an offshore tax haven, or give up environmental and consumer protections.  Jeremy Corbyn said, again, that local parties should take a hard look at their culture, so that new members find their first meetings happy, friendly and sociable.  Though from my experience it is not that simple, and his kinder, gentler politics is not yet universal.
 
Richard Leonard then spoke of the challenges facing Scottish Labour in moving up from third place and winning back the young people who voted for independence.  They wanted radical change, and Labour was pledged to oppose austerity, extend public ownership and redistribute wealth and power, building support outside as well as inside parliament and talking with voters as citizens, not just consumers.   He was talking with Welsh Labour on areas of common interest and hoped that councils could do more than simply manage decline.  Brian Roy, Scottish general secretary, added the need for more resources, another possible use for money spent on extra ballots.   Scottish members stressed the need to reach into communities, strengthen links between councillors and constituency parties, and recognise Scottish and Welsh dimensions to policy-making.  Alice Perry added that Labour should include a pledge to restore local government funding in the next manifesto, otherwise the Tories would continue to devolve blame for cuts.
 
The turnout for the Scottish leadership election was 62.3% of the 35,309 eligible voters.  Richard Leonard gained 56.7% overall, winning by 51.8% among members, 77.3% among affiliated supporters, and 48.1% among registered supporters.  Interestingly the contest attracted only 79 registered supporters paying £12 each, reinforcing the lack of enthusiasm for them expressed in rule changes at conference and in my inbox.  Meanwhile Wales is still using the old-style electoral college to elect their deputy leader.
 
Be Prepared
 
General secretary Iain McNicol said that Labour was preparing for a general election at any time, engaging with members, taking on the Tories in parliament, building a strong, professional organisation, and supporting early selection of candidates.  Three had already been chosen, and more than 100 should be in place next year.  I and others passed on the desire from all CLPs to select candidates as soon as possible.  Peter Willsman said that working-class candidates were still disadvantaged and it shouldn’t be possible to buy a seat.  Since the meeting not all selections have been going smoothly, and my comment that the NEC got fewer complaints when imposing candidates in all 631 seats is sadly proving true.  Though I am not suggesting that we do it again.
 
Not Drowning but Waving
 
Annual conference was massive, with 1278 constituency delegates representing 579 CLPs, and sheer numbers meant that councillors and MPs were exiled to the balcony.  NEC members agreed with Christine Shawcroft that jumping up and down and waving bizarre objects to catch the Chair’s eye made the party look ridiculous and discriminated against disabled members.  She suggested a system of speaker cards, and I hope that the new conference arrangements committee will look at this.
 
The 2018 women’s conference will again be held on the Saturday immediately before annual conference, but in discussion with the newly-elected women’s conference arrangements committee it was agreed that CLPs and affiliates should be able to submit motions rather than statements, and that one motion should go forward to the annual conference agenda.  I have asked for information about delegates and deadlines to be sent directly to women’s officers as well as secretaries, and for secretaries to be reminded to pass it on to their women members.  For 2019 a stand-alone women’s conference is planned.
 
Membership and Money
 
Membership began to slide after the vote on Article 50, but picked up again when the general election was called.  The end-of-year figure is likely to be 568,500, including around 50,000 in arrears.  Of these, 43% are renewing their membership if asked, so well worth following up.  Because membership is volatile, particularly when there are no national elections, financial planning has to err on the side of caution.
 
Back in 2014 the Collins review required union members to state explicitly, by 2019, that they wished part of their political levy to be used to affiliate to the Labour party.  However this had been overtaken by the government trade union act which requires all new union members to opt in to party affiliation, and will eventually affect all members.  The NEC therefore agreed that the Collins recommendations on collective affiliation had, in effect, been implemented.  This will lead to a decline, over time, in income from union affiliations, another reason for prudence.
 
The NEC development funds, established under Refounding Labour in 2011, are open for bids for local campaigning and for enhancing democracy and diversity, with a deadline of 28 February 2018.  In recent rounds there have been few bids, with some of those from previous applicants or those with inside connections, and little sharing of good practice.  These funds include part of the subscription income that was formerly returned to local parties, and I am interested in whether CLPs would prefer to continue with this system, or to have the money distributed directly to them, on top of the central payment of £1,400 for fixed charges (Euro-levy, election insurance, Contact Creator and conference pass) and the £2.50 per member. 
 
A Voice for Members
 
Katy Clark gave an update on the party democracy review.  Thousands of comments had already been received, most from individuals, and making sense of them all will be a Herculean task.  The review covers almost everything, though it excludes Westminster selections and complaints and disciplinary procedures.  On the latter there is continuing and justified concern about delays in investigating cases and arranging hearings by the national constitutional committee.  I am still rescuing individuals who were excluded or suspended over a year ago.  More personpower is being assigned to this and I hope will finally clear the backlog.  It can be done:  on sexual harassment six NEC members have already been trained and heard several cases.
 
The review will also have to decide what to do about the national policy forum (NPF).  It was reported that even in lslington North only four out of 200 members understood the system, and a manifesto written in three weeks was more successful than those constructed over three years.  Meanwhile, as under previous leaders, shadow ministers have their own groups developing policy without involving members.  However, after a six-month break the policy commissions are now meeting again.  On 17/18 February the NPF will agree documents for consultation from March to June (yes I know we will be in election mode for most of that time).  Since the NEC meeting the joint policy committee has decided one priority for each commission:  I’ve listed them below but, as always, members should discuss whatever is most important to them.
 
Early Years, Education and Skills – Towards a national education service
Economy, Business and Trade – A fair deal at work:  the future of work
Environment, Energy and Culture – Leading richer lives:  a greener Britain
Health and Social Care – Healthcare for all:  tackling health inequalities
Housing, Local Government and Transport – Leading richer lives: giving people the power to shape their local communities
International – A global Britain:  achieving sustainable development goals
Justice and Home Affairs – Safer communities: protecting our communities and turning lives around
Work, Pensions and Equality – Equality for all:  addressing in-work poverty and working-age inequalities
 
Elections Past and Future
 
The NEC agreed aims and objectives for 2018, including plans for the next general election, building a unified organisational strategy, empowering members and supporters, maintaining financial stability, and giving staff an exciting and inclusive working environment.   The NEC heard of a programme for women in leadership positions, support with mental health issues, and networks for women and black, Asian and minority ethnic staff members.  Jon Trickett was leading a transition team on preparing Labour for government. 
 
Campaign co-ordinator Andrew Gwynne ran through the elections to be held in May 2018.  Reviewing the June results Seamus Milne said that according to conventional wisdom non-voters don’t vote, campaigns cannot shift intentions by more than 2%, manifestos don’t make any difference, and parties cannot win without mainstream media support.  Labour tore up all those rules.  However the Tories would not repeat the same mistakes next time.  We had to keep our June vote, especially among young people, and gain support from northern and working-class communities.  Ian Lavery wondered why older people continued to vote Conservative even when they were kicked in the teeth by their own party.
 
It’s the Economy, Stupid
 
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell led the final session.  Amid Tory faction-fighting, Philip Hammond’s budget failed to mention social care, public service pay, council housing, or anything important really.  Labour would continue to resist austerity and to campaign on the issues which have such a direct impact on so many people’s lives.   After brief questions Andy Kerr, chairing his first NEC meeting, finished within minutes of the scheduled time of 5 p.m.  Perhaps because many of us had planes to catch, but welcome nonetheless.

National Executive Committee, 26 November 2017

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.’’

Another Senior Officer Departs Cheshire East Council

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

      bans snaring.

 

(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.”

Call to Ban Snares on Council Land

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
hour.

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
solution.

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
infrastructure.

Changes needed to Junction 17 layout

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

    refreshed

 

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.”

Call to ‘Refresh’ the Cheshire East Local Plan

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."

Air quality in Sandbach

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! 

Where Next for Public Transport in Cheshire East?

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...

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