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...
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...