News

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...

Keir Starmer, Labour’s Shadow Brexit Secretary, has urged ministers to meet the deadline for handing over the 58 Brexit impact studies to MPs tomorrow [Tuesday 28 November] or risk being held in contempt of Parliament.

Earlier this month, MPs unanimously backed a Labour motion for the economic impact studies to be released to the Select Committee for Exiting the European Union. MPs on that Select Committee will then have the right to review the impact studies and determine what information is put in the public domain.

The Speaker of the House of Commons said motions of the kind tabled by Labour “have in the past been seen as effective or binding.”

Responding to the decision, the Brexit Secretary, David Davis, said on Tuesday 7 November: “The Government is committed to providing the information to the Committee as soon as possible. I have made plain to the House authorities that we currently expect this to be no more than three weeks [Tuesday 28 November].”

If ministers fail to respond to Labour’s motion, then they risk falling in contempt of Parliament.

Parliament’s rulebook Erskine May states that “actions which…obstruct or impede” the Commons “in the performance of its functions, or are offences against its authority or dignity, such as disobedience to its legitimate commands.”

Labour is calling for the papers to be handed over, unredacted before Parliament rises tomorrow.

Keir Starmer said:

“There is huge anxiety across the country about the impact of the Government’s Brexit approach on jobs and the economy.

“Labour fully understand the importance of protecting the UK’s negotiating position with the European Union. However, the decision agreed unanimously by MPs earlier this month was about transparency and ensuring Parliament had the information it needs to hold ministers to account during the Brexit process.

“Ministers have accepted that the vote was binding and they must now respect Parliament’s decision. That means releasing the impact studies to the Brexit Select Committee in full and unredacted before Parliament rises on Tuesday. If ministers fail to act then we will have no choice but to raise this matter with the Speaker of the Commons.“

Labour urge ministers to meet deadline for releasing Brexit impact studies

Keir Starmer, Labour’s Shadow Brexit Secretary, has urged ministers to meet the deadline for handing over the 58 Brexit impact studies to MPs tomorrow [Tuesday 28 November] or risk being...

Rebecca Long-Bailey MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, responding to the publication of the Government’s Industrial Strategy, said:

“This is a White Paper made up of re-announced policies and old spending commitments, showing once again that this is a Government short on details and new ideas.

“Nothing in the White Paper will help give businesses the certainty or incentives they need to invest in the face of the Government’s catastrophic handling of Brexit.”

“What detail there is concentrates on a few elite industries in which Britain already has an advantage, and will do nothing to help the millions of people who work in low productivity and low wage sectors such as retail, hospitality and social care, or those based outside the “Golden Triangle” made up by London, Oxford and Cambridge.

“After the Budget last week, the Government’s economic credibility has been shot to pieces. This White Paper falls far short of the change of direction needed to improve our dire productivity, income and GDP growth. Labour’s Industrial Strategy set out a radical programme of investment and genuine partnership between industry and government, to build an economy for the many, not just the few.”

Government’s Industrial Strategy is just re-announced policies & old spending commitments

Rebecca Long-Bailey MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, responding to the publication of the Government’s Industrial Strategy, said: “This is a White Paper made up of re-announced...

John McDonnell MP, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, responding to the analysis today by the IFS, said:
 

“The analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies has today exposed the appalling failure of seven years of this Government’s austerity economics and its grim consequences for working people.
 
“Seven years of austerity has not only blighted lives and plunged our public services into crisis, it has also trashed productivity growth and dragged down living standards.
 
“The NHS faces its toughest ever decade, whilst the IFS expects those on average earnings to be around £1,400 a year worse off by 2021, with workers facing two decades without earnings growth.
 
“The Tories are overseeing the worst economic growth of any comparable G7 country, while the outlook for real wages and salaries looks dire for generations to come.
 
“The IFS has also lifted the lid on Philip Hammond’s attempt to fiddle the figures, exposing his failed attempts to meet his own targets and admitting his chances of balancing the budget are ‘remote’. This means austerity is still top of the Tory agenda and looks set to continue well into the next decade.
 
"The confirmation that the stamp duty cut will in fact increase house prices, helping sellers and pricing some people, including first-time buyers, out of the market, will come as a major disappointment to many hoping to get onto the housing ladder.
 
“This is a government and an economic policy that has completely failed by any conventional standard, they can serve no further purpose in office. Labour stands ready to govern in the interests of the many, not the few.”

Labour Press IFS analysis exposes the appalling failure of seven years of this Government’s austerity economics

John McDonnell MP, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, responding to the analysis today by the IFS, said: “The analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies has today exposed the appalling failure of seven years...

An application to build an additional 400 houses on White Moss Quarry near
Alsager was refused by Cheshire East Council. The developers appealed. It is
welcome news that the Planning Inspectorate have dismissed the appeal.

However, the appeal ruling includes some worrying comments that suggest
future appeals may be upheld because Cheshire East Council does not have a
5-year housing land supply. Under the rules introduced by the coalition
government (National Planning Policy Framework) if a local authority does
not have a 5-year housing land supply then a 'tilted balance' applies and
planning permission must be granted unless the local authority can prove
that the harmful effects of the development would 'significantly and
demonstrably' outweigh the benefits.

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."

"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."

"Paragraph 14 of the Framework indicates that where relevant policies in the
development plan are out of date, in this case arising from the marginality
of a sufficiently convincing 5-year housing land supply, planning permission
should be granted unless any adverse effects of doing so would significantly
and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, when assessed against the policies
in the Framework as a whole."

In the case of White Moss Quarry, the Inspector noted that at least 300 of
the houses applied for would not be built within 5 years and so would not
contribute to the 5-year housing land supply. In this case the Inspector
rejected the application. The worry now is that any speculative developments
that are able to demonstrate that the houses would be built within 5 years
will be granted permission even if they breach the Local Plan and any
Neighbourhood Plan.


Janet Jackson, Labour Councillor for Macclesfield Central, said, "Although
Cheshire East Council does now, at last, have a Local Plan, the failure to
maintain a 5-year housing land supply could mean that permission for
speculative housing applications outside the Local Plan will be granted.
This is a disaster for local communities who relied on Conservative promises
that they would stop the flood of speculative housing. Sadly, under the
Conservative planning rules, Neighbourhood Plans can also be over-ruled if
Cheshire East Council fails to maintain a 5-year housing land supply."

Brian Roberts, Labour Councillor for Crewe West, said, "The Cheshire East
Local Plan includes an assumption of building 1800 new houses a year (or
9000 over 5 years). A recent government consultation suggested that Cheshire
East only needed 1142 houses a year (or 5710 over 5 years). Sadly, in July
the Conservatives rejected a Labour proposal to start work on a new Local
Plan so we are stuck with the higher requirement in order to demonstrate a
5-year housing land supply. The continued short sighted and arrogant
attitude of the Cheshire East Conservatives in refusing the Labour proposals
to continue developing the Local Plan to hold back speculative developments
will add further stain on local services and investment-starved
infrastructure."

Cllr Sam Corcoran, Labour & Co-operative Councillor for Sandbach Heath &
East said, "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.

"The White Moss Quarry site has had a colourful history. The Local
Government Ombudsman ruled that Cheshire East Council had knowingly and
persistently misled the public over a previous planning application. When
questioned at a Cabinet meeting in 2014 about White Moss Quarry the previous
Council Leader said "I am very concerned that certain sites historically in
the Council have come forward with strange decisions around them. That won't
happen on my watch. I'm not part of any secret group, masons or whatever."

White Moss Quarry Planning Appeal puts 5 year supply in doubt

An application to build an additional 400 houses on White Moss Quarry nearAlsager was refused by Cheshire East Council. The developers appealed. It iswelcome news that the Planning Inspectorate have...

Emily Thornberry MP, Shadow Foreign Secretary, commenting on the UK losing its place on the International Court of Justice for the first time in its 71 year history, said:

“While we congratulate our friends in India on maintaining their place on the International Court of Justice, it remains a shocking indictment of Britain’s declining international standing that, for the first time in the history of the court, it will now be without a British judge. Theresa May and Boris Johnson like to proclaim their dream of a ‘Global Britain’, but here in the real world, her weak leadership and his repeated gaffes have left our country increasingly isolated and ignored.

“Only a Labour Government, which will restore values and principles to our foreign policy, and build bridges with our international partners, will allow us to recover our global influence, and re-take our rightful place as a leading player at the United Nations.”

Theresa May’s weak leadership has left our country increasingly isolated and ignored

Emily Thornberry MP, Shadow Foreign Secretary, commenting on the UK losing its place on the International Court of Justice for the first time in its 71 year history, said: “While we...

John McDonnell MP, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, commenting on Public Sector Finance figures published today by the ONS, which show borrowing has increased by £500 million to £8 billion from last year, and that £147.8 billion has been added to the national debt since October 2016, said:

“These figures are a reminder of the continued failure of both Philip Hammond and Theresa May over these past seven years. The deficit has still not been eliminated as they promised it would be by 2015, and the national debt continues to grow. The rise in the Government’s deficit over October shows once again that seven years of Tory spending cuts have caused pain and misery for millions with little to show for it.

“It further highlights why it is so vital that we see a change of course in the Budget tomorrow, halting the growing emergency in our public services and ending their failed austerity policies.

“The next Labour government will set out a serious plan for the public finances with strategic investment underpinned by our Fiscal Credibility Rule, to help build a high-wage, high-skill economy for the many not the few.”

Comment on latest Public Sector Finance figures

John McDonnell MP, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, commenting on Public Sector Finance figures published today by the ONS, which show borrowing has increased by £500 million to £8 billion from last year,...

Jonathan Ashworth MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, responding to the European Council’s decision to relocate the European Medicines Agency from London to Amsterdam, said:

“This decision is extremely disappointing. Labour has been clear all along that Britain should seek to maintain membership of the European Medicines Agency.

“Not only will this relocation see the loss of almost 900 jobs from London, but Britain’s reputation as a world leader in the life sciences is under serious threat and patients will likely suffer from longer waits for new medicines.

“Ministers must urgently reassure the House that the UK will not become a second-tier market as a result of their reckless handling of Brexit, and that the best possible deal for patients and staff remains at the forefront of negotiations.”

European Medicines Agency to relocate away from London

Jonathan Ashworth MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, responding to the European Council’s decision to relocate the European Medicines Agency from London to Amsterdam, said: “This decision is extremely disappointing. Labour...

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