News

At the meeting of the full  Cheshire East Council in Macclesfield on Thursday 19th October, in what was at times a heated and passionate debate, the majority of the Tories on the Council voted to reject a call from the Labour Group, supported by many Independent Councillors, for the creation of a Cabinet of Unity.

The Labour Group and most of the Independents offered to work with those Tories untouched by the seemingly never-ending series of scandals, suspensions and police investigations at Cheshire East Council in a cross-party 'Cabinet of Unity' to work to restore the Council's badly damaged reputation. This offer was rejected, despite several experienced Tory Councillors voicing their concerns about the current situation.

Cllr Nick Mannion, Labour Councillor for Macclesfield West & Ivy, who formally proposed the   motion, said, “Whilst, turkeys were never likely to vote for Christmas, the sad fact was that Tory after Tory who spoke in the debate never offered a single word of apology to the residents, hard-working loyal Council staff or businesses of Cheshire East for the desperate situation the Council finds itself in, two years into their shambolic administration.'

 Cllr Sam Corcoran said, “The big message I get on the streets is for politicians to stop squabbling and work together. That’s what we offered in this proposal. Taking on any Cabinet role is a poisoned chalice at the moment and one Conservative Cabinet member stepped down to protect his own reputation. By contrast there are Labour and Independent councillors who are willing to risk their own reputations in order to protect the Council’s reputation.”

Cheshire East Tories Reject Call for Cross-Party Unity

At the meeting of the full  Cheshire East Council in Macclesfield on Thursday 19th October, in what was at times a heated and passionate debate, the majority of the Tories...

Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, responding to Jeremy Hunt’s claim in the House of Commons that the NHS pay cap has been lifted, said:

“The Secretary of State tells the Commons the NHS pay cap’s been lifted but he cannot say whether this is going to come from existing budgets or not. It looks like hospitals will be forced to cut other services to find the funds.

“Jeremy Hunt is trying to face both ways on NHS pay and it just means even more uncertainty. While the Government dithers, staff continue to leave the NHS and patients continue to be at risk from short staffed services.

“There has still been no confirmation of any of this from the Treasury. The Government need to immediately confirm that extra funding will be provided to lift the NHS pay cap so that all staff can benefit from a long overdue pay rise.”

Government must confirm extra funding will be provided to lift NHS pay cap

Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, responding to Jeremy Hunt’s claim in the House of Commons that the NHS pay cap has been lifted, said: “The Secretary of State tells...

John McDonnell MP, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, commenting on the IMF’s report out today, said:

 

“The IMF report out today is yet another blow to the Chancellor’s already crumbling economic credibility – it is no wonder many of his fellow colleagues in his own party are calling for him to be sacked.

 

“With nearly all other advanced economies recovering at a faster rate than the UK, alarm bells should be ringing at the Treasury. Philip Hammond’s plans to continue the austerity policies of his predecessor are failing.

 

“The IMF’s confirmed downward revision to the UK’s growth has also made clear that seven years of Tory economic failure has left our economy fundamentally weakened. On a day when other worrying data and reports have been published highlighting the failure of Tory austerity, this directionless Chancellor needs to follow Labour’s lead and urgently change course.

“The next Labour government will provide the proper investment our country needs, underpinned by our Fiscal Credibility Rule, to build a high wage, high skill economy for the many not the few.”

IMF report is yet another blow to the Chancellor’s already crumbling economic credibility

John McDonnell MP, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, commenting on the IMF’s report out today, said:   “The IMF report out today is yet another blow to the Chancellor’s already crumbling economic...

The Conservatives on Cheshire East Council have struggled to find decent candidates for several Cabinet posts, but the Finance Portfolio has been particularly problematic. The post was held by Michael Jones when the fateful decisions over Lyme Green were taken (with Peter Groves as his deputy).

 

Later the post was held by Sam Gardner until it was revealed that he caused Fomfest Ltd to misuse donations of at least £4,142 collected on behalf of a charity. Peter Groves was then brought back to the post, but recently resigned to protect his reputation Surely that should read to protect the reputation of the Council? However, the Conservative brand on Cheshire East Council is now so toxic that even Cabinet members are trying to distance themselves from the mess they have created.

 

The current Finance Portfolio Holder Cllr Paul Bates, is sustaining the doubtful Tory track record as he was a director of Solutions (EU) Ltd which went bust in 2010. Solutions (EU) Ltd, company number 06506411, was formed in only February 2008, but in less than 2 years later the company was wound up with unsecured creditors of £176,804.

 

Irene Faseyi, Labour Councillor for Crewe Central, said, “Why do the Conservatives keep putting the Council’s Finance Portfolio into the hands of people who have bankrupted companies? Cllr Paul Bates is the third since I became a councillor in 2011.”

 

Cllr Brian Roberts,  Labour Councillor for Crewe West, said,

 

“Paul Bates has also had problems with being accurate and transparent. For he uttered a load of what he later accepted was inaccurate gibberish at a recent meeting of the Full Council when asking Councillors to approve  £2.8million of additional funding for the controversial Ansa depot in Middlewich on the basis that it was a loan by the Council, to Ansa at commercial interest rates.It wasn’t!’

 

9th October 2017 Financial illiteracy and cabinet members for finance

The Conservatives on Cheshire East Council have struggled to find decent candidates for several Cabinet posts, but the Finance Portfolio has been particularly problematic. The post was held by Michael...

At the Audit and Governance Committee meeting on 28th September 2017 an internal
audit report into air quality was discussed.
In 2016, a response to a Freedom of Information Act request by a Sandbach resident
showed nitrogen dioxide levels of 39.5 microgrammes per cubic metre on Middlewich
Road in the town. This was queried by Sandbach Town councillors who commented
how it was suspiciously just below the threshold of 40 for declaring an Air Quality
Management Area. The accurate figure of 50.4 was later reported to an air quality
working group of Sandbach Town Council.
A staff member of Cheshire East Council raised concerns about the air quality data
more widely and this led to an external investigation which concluded that the data
had been deliberately and systematically manipulated over a number of years.
When the external investigation was commissioned it was supposed to determine the
reason for the errors and who is responsible. Sadly we still don’t know who did it or
why they did it and nobody has admitted responsibility (although at least one
Conservative Cabinet Member whose portfolio included air quality has denied any
responsibility on the grounds that Cabinet Members only deal in policy).
The review also identified that there were no policies or procedures in place to ensure
that air quality was effectively managed in accordance with statutory requirements.
Five new Air Quality Management Areas have now come into force from 1st October
2017.
The report presented said “Cheshire East Council’s real time analysers have recorded
no breaches of this limit for 2013, 2014 and 2015. By contrast, Putney Bridge in
London exceeded this limit on 19 occasions in the first week of 2016.” This might be
interpreted as an attempt to belittle the scale of the problem in Cheshire East. If that
was the intention then in came unstuck when Cllr Sam Corcoran presented the
detailed figures produced for Putney Bridge showing that although the number of
exceedences in 2015 & 2016 was very high, since March 2017 there had been NO
exceedences. In Putney the local council had measured the nitrogen dioxide levels on
an hourly basis, published the results, acknowledged the problem and taken steps to
improve air quality, leading to a dramatic improvement in air quality. The contrast
could not be greater with Cheshire East Council, where the problem was hidden, the
figures were manipulated and we are still awaiting any meaningful action to address
poor air quality on the Council’s own doorstep on Middlewich Road in Sandbach.
At the Audit Committee meeting the question was asked about why Cheshire East
Council’s team of data analysts had not picked up on the manipulation of air quality
data. The Conservative chair of the Audit Committee refused to allow discussion of
the manipulation of figures as that was subject to a police investigation and refused to

allow discussion of how to improve air quality as that would be a matter for a
different committee.
There have been issues with the publishing online of data from the few real time
analysers that Cheshire East Council operates.
Cllr Sam Corcoran said,
“In March 2016 I wrote “At a local level nitrogen dioxide along Middlewich Road is
already at high levels and will increase unless action is taken. I suspect that the
nitrogen dioxide levels along the pavements near the girls school are already at
dangerous levels (but the levels on the pavements are not measured ...). ” More
recently I have called for a real time air quality monitor on the pavement on
Middlewich Road between Sandbach High School and St Peter’s Rise. This could
then measure the levels of pollutants which children are breathing in on their way to
school. There are frequent traffic jams on this road at just the time when children are
walking to school. There is clear evidence that poor air quality affects children -
whether they are travelling in cars, cycling or walking. We need to improve air quality
along the routes to school for our children. At present the Conservatives are simply
denying there is a problem and not even measuring the air pollution levels on the
route from Elworth to the Sandbach secondary schools.”

Cllr Steve Hogben, Labour Councillor for Crewe South said,
As I said at the Environment & Regeneration Overview & Scrutiny Committee
recently, like my colleague, Cllr Brian Roberts, I live near an air quality management
area, and I have long thought there is something in the air in Crewe. The Clean Air
Acts of the last 60 years or so have made big changes, but air quality still needs to be
improved, not least by curbing the use of the internal combustion engine.
At a time when we are seeing year on year increasing levels of traffic congestion, and
there are also several thousand new houses in the pipeline for Cheshire East, it is vital
that the Council restores residents’ faith in how it carries out its legal duties regarding
the monitoring and control of air pollution in our towns and villages’.

Air Quality How Did the Manipulation Come to Light?

At the Audit and Governance Committee meeting on 28th September 2017 an internalaudit report into air quality was discussed.In 2016, a response to a Freedom of Information Act request by...

At the Audit and Governance Committee meeting on 28 September 2017 the
complaints received in 2016/17 were discussed. In total 1603 complaints were
received - a small increase on 1565 for 2015/16.
Top of the list of issues for complaints was waste and recycling (including missed bin
collections), with Highways a close second.
Highways complaints have started to rise again, up by 24% from 227 in 2015/16 to
281 in 2016/17. The main causes of complaints were due to repairs not being carried
out promptly and poor quality work.
The Council response was that reduced funding in 2016/17 has meant a ‘managed
decline’ in ‘network condition’.
The amount of disruption on the roads has increased due to all the house building
across the borough and this is set to increase further.
Cheshire East Council has outsourced all highways repair work

Cllr Brian Roberts, Labour Councillor for Crewe West said
‘Residents and motorists are suffering the consequences of chronic under-investment
in Cheshire east’s road network by the Tories, with many rural and estate roads not
having had any proper investment now for a decade.
Over the wet summer it has been no surprise to see here in Crewe an increase in the
rate of dilapidation of many of these neglected roads and footways.. With winter fast
approaching and with many of these defects being ignored by CEC, we can expect the
rate of dilapidation to accelerate, resulting in an upward  spiralling of costs of these
much delayed repairs.’

Cllr Janet Jackson, Labour Councillor for Macclesfield Central said:
‘The reality of the phrase ‘managed decline’ is that our already crumbling road
network, will see even further decay, with the Council seemingly retreating to little
more than a ‘patch and make do’ approach to our ageing road network, rather than a
systematic plan of investment and renewals to make our roads fit for the 21 st Century.’

Cheshire East Roads are in Managed Decline

At the Audit and Governance Committee meeting on 28 September 2017 thecomplaints received in 2016/17 were discussed. In total 1603 complaints werereceived - a small increase on 1565 for 2015/16.Top...

At Cheshire East Council’s Audit & Governance Committee meeting on 28
September 2017, Cllr Sam Corcoran challenged the Council’s external
auditors over their statement that no ‘non-compliances with relevant laws and
regulations’ had been identified during their audit work. Leaving aside the four
separate matters being investigated by the police (awarding of contracts to
CoreFit Ltd, Air Quality data manipulation, awarding of £70,000 to Berkeley
Primary Academy in Willaston and land acquisitions), Cllr Corcoran pointed
out that failing to comply with National Minimum Wage (‘NMW’) legislation is a
criminal offence.
Cheshire East Council has been embroiled in allegations that it failed to
comply with NMW legislation over payments to care workers who have to
sleep in the same premises as the people they are caring for. The Council has
repeatedly denied being in breach of NMW legislation. However, on 27
September, the Council issued a press release saying that it was going to
increase the amounts paid to staff and backdate the increase by 2 years.
It may now be possible to explain why the Council has chosen this moment to
change its mind and admit to having underpaid its workers. The Council claim
it is due to “a landmark legal ruling”, but the critical ruling was in November
2013. However, it may be more relevant that an HMRC amnesty to avoid
penalties and any criminal prosecution expires on 2 October!
The Conservative cabinet member for corporate policy and legal services
said: “We have undertaken an extensive review to establish exactly who this
ruling affects and how much each individual is owed.”
At the Audit Committee meeting Cllr Sam Corcoran quoted from an email in
March 2014 from a finance officer saying “I am looking into the financial
impact of the recent ruling over Whittlestone v BJP Home Support Ltd (Nov
2013) where it was decided that NMW is applicable for employees sleeping
shifts.” This makes clear that the Council has known about breaches of NMW
legislation for over 3 years.

Another email in June 2016 from a legal officer says “There is no limit on the
length of arrears that can be claimed, provided it is all part of the same series
of unlawful deductions.” In the light of this clear advice back in 2014 another
Labour Councillor on the committee, Nick Mannion, then asked Cheshire East
officers why the extra pay was only being backdated for 2 years.
Officers then announced that the increase could be backdated by 6 years and
that the backpay will affect about 160 people and will cost the Council about
£200,000 for the first 2 years and about an additional £100,000 for 6 years.
Cllr Laura Jeuda, Labour Councillor for Macclesfield South said;
‘It is a great pity that CEC chose to ignore the advice of officers who warned
at the time that the council were in breach of NMW legislation. Instead they
resorted to what is now known to be the usual default position of denial and
blaming the very people who alerted them to the problem. 
This whole sorry business has cost employees their jobs, denied low paid
workers their employment rights and will ultimately cost the taxpayers of
Cheshire East yet another unnecessary expense.’

National Minimum Wage

At Cheshire East Council’s Audit & Governance Committee meeting on 28September 2017, Cllr Sam Corcoran challenged the Council’s externalauditors over their statement that no ‘non-compliances with relevant laws andregulations’ had...

Councillor David Brown has handed the Highways portfolio to a fellow
Congleton Tory whilst his involvement in the awarding of
£70,000 to the Berkeley Academy for a new car park is investigated by
Cheshire Constabulary.
Yet, whilst Cllr Brown has stepped down from his Cabinet responsibilities, he
remains as Deputy Leader of the Council!
He shall presumably continue to attend both formal and informal cabinet
meetings, voting on key strategic and financial issues, whilst continuing to
draw his annual allowance of £16,463 as Deputy Leader of Cheshire East
Council.
Therefore, the Council could end-up paying Special Responsibility Allowances
to both Cllr Brown as long as he clings to the Deputy Leadership of Cheshire
East, and to the substitute portfolio holder for Highways. The result could be
that even more money is spent on allowances to Tory councillors rather than
upon hard-pressed front line services.
Will Cllr Brown also continue to represent Cheshire East on a range of outside
bodies such as Cheshire and Warrington Local Transport Body, the Local
Government Association General Assembly, or as a director of Rail North
Limited, amongst many others?

Cllr Nick Mannion, Labour Councillor for Macclesfield West & Ivy said;
‘Cllr Brown should step away completely from all of his current posts, both at
Cheshire East and on outside bodies, pending the outcome of the police
investigation of his involvement in the promise of £70,000 to the Berkeley
Academy?’
Cllr Sam Corcoran, Leader of the Labour Group on Cheshire East said:
“The reputation of Cheshire East Council is suffering as the Conservatives
lurch from scandal to scandal. It cannot help that reputation if the
Conservative Deputy Leader is mired in a police investigation. Therefore to
protect what’s left of the Council’s reputation Cllr David Brown should step
down as Deputy Leader while the police investigation is in progress.”

Cllr David Brown

Councillor David Brown has handed the Highways portfolio to a fellowCongleton Tory whilst his involvement in the awarding of£70,000 to the Berkeley Academy for a new car park is investigated...

A report issued on Tuesday 19 September by the FIA Foundation reports that children are particularly vulnerable to poor air quality. Poor air quality can damage the development of a child’s lungs. The report also finds a correlation between poor air quality and obesity and identifies traffic levels as a key risk factor in the development of obesity in children.

 

In a separate report the Royal College of Physicians stated that “each year in UK around 40,000 deaths are attributable to exposure to outdoor air pollution”.

 

Improving air quality should be a major concern of Cheshire East Council. However, even after admitting that the figures had been deliberately and systematically manipulated, the Conservatives are still dragging their feet over putting in place plans to improve air quality.

 

Sam Corcoran, Councillor for Sandbach Heath & East said, “I would like to see a real time air quality monitor on the pavement on Middlewich Road between Sandbach High School and St Peter’s Rise. This could then measure the levels of pollutants which children are breathing in on their way to school. There are frequent traffic jams on this road at just the time when children are walking to school. There is clear evidence that poor air quality affects children - whether they are travelling in cars, cycling or walking. We need to improve air quality along the routes to school for our children. At present the Conservatives are simply denying there is a problem and not even measuring the air pollution levels on the route from Elworth to the Sandbach secondary schools.”

 

 

Cllr Nick Mannion, Labour Councillor for Macclesfield Qwest & Ivy said;

 

‘Every day hundreds of children on their way too and from school and college have to make their way through Broken Cross in Macclesfield, where current levels of traffic congestion generated air pollution are already consistently above the lawful maximum.  

 

There are also now planning applications to build hundreds of additional houses nearby that will further increase congestion and thus air pollution at this busy roundabout unless Cheshire East council wakes-up and takes urgent meaningful action to address the problem, and insists that housing developers pay for mitigation measures if their planning applications are approved.’

 

Air Quality Affects Health - Fact!

A report issued on Tuesday 19 September by the FIA Foundation reports that children are particularly vulnerable to poor air quality. Poor air quality can damage the development of a...

After the Council admitted that it had mis-reported air quality data, Labour councillors asked for prompt action to be taken to address the areas where pollution levels were high. However, Cheshire East Council dragged its feet. Even a year after the true figures were revealed Air Quality Management Areas have yet to be declared in some affected locations.

 

It seems that most of the Council’s air quality team have been suspended, leaving no one to do the work. It appears that the suspensions only took place after the public outcry, rather than when the Council first knew that the air quality errors were as a result of deliberate and systematic manipulation of data.

 

Indeed, before the Council Meeting to approve the Local Plan on 27th July, the Council published an advert for an Air Quality Officer. After the Local Plan had been approved the post was withdrawn!

 

The number of Council officers suspended from their posts is now reaching such proportions that they are being referred to as ‘the disappeared’.

 

The deliberate and systematic manipulation of data sits uneasily with repeated concerns about bullying at Cheshire East Council.

 

The Labour Group are pressing for an external investigation, reporting within 3 months to the Group Leaders, into the culture of the organization.

 

 

Sam Corcoran, Councillor for Sandbach Heath & East,  said;

 

A responsible Council that wished to protect its residents would act quickly to declare Air Quality Management Areas and put in place action plans to improve air quality. Instead Conservative councillors have repeatedly sought to downplay the issue.  I have personally made several suggestions but in Sandbach we are still waiting for effective action to be taken to improve the situation. Sadly the Conservatives seem more interested in allowing developers to make millions out of housing applications than in addressing the worsening traffic congestion and air quality problems in towns across Cheshire East.”

 

 

Cllr Steve Hogben, Labour Councillor for  Crewe South, said;

 

Several neighbourhoods across Cheshire East are already blighted by unlawfully high levels of traffic congestion generated air pollution. Therefore, with the Tories’ Local Plan now adopted, the need for reliable and accurate air quality data is vital if speculative developers are to be required to set out, and  to pay for, ways to mitigate the impact upon air quality by their developments upon local communities.’  

Air quality is still NOT being addressed

After the Council admitted that it had mis-reported air quality data, Labour councillors asked for prompt action to be taken to address the areas where pollution levels were high. However,...

Liquid syntax error: Error in tag 'subpage' - No such page slug cookies