News

At the Cabinet meeting on 12 September, reference was made to letters sent by local resident groups and local MPs to the Secretary of State expressing concerns about the running of Cheshire East Council.

 

The Conservative Leader tried to brush off the Council’s problems as ‘legacy matters’ and said that many of the action groups that have written to the Secretary of State have suddenly appeared, then appeared to contradict herself by saying that the residents groups had been quiet for a long time. The Conservative Council Leader then added, in an apparent criticism of local Conservative MPs who have written to the Secretary of State, that nobody who had written to the Secretary of State had contacted her or come to the Cabinet meeting to speak.


Cllr Brian Roberts, Labour Councillor for Crewe West said, "Many local residents would dispute the Conservative Leader's claim that the Conservatives are not brushing the Air Quality scandal under the carpet. Private Eye’s Rotten Boroughs column has reported on the Council’s response to the finding that air quality figures had been systematically and deliberately manipulated for years. We still don’t know who manipulated the figures or why and the Conservatives maintain that no planning applications were affected. It seems that the Conservatives are in denial about the reputational problems of Cheshire East Council."

 

Laura Jeuda, Labour Councillor for Macclesfield South, queried why the Conservatives have decided that now is the time to review the Council's Constitution. At present the Director of Legal Services and the Chief Executive are both suspended and the Council is under investigation by the Organised Crime Unit of the regional police

Cllr Jeuda said “Reviewing the Constitution at a time when the Chief Executive and Director of Legal Services are both suspended, when residents groups are calling for the Council to be placed into Special Measures, and even Conservative MPs are writing to the Secretary of State sounds like re-arranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.”

At the Cheshire East Council Cabinet meeting Labour Group Leader Sam Corcoran said,
“From the comments today it seems that some members of the Cabinet are in denial about the serious concerns of residents. I would like to suggest a way forward.

“In March the Labour Group called for an external, reporting within 3 months to the Group Leaders, into allegations of bullying and the culture of the organisation. Would the Leader agree that had she responded positively to that request then there would have been no need for residents groups to have written to the Secretary of State? Would she also agree that initiating such an external review now would help restore the reputation of the Council and protect those many staff who work hard to deliver good services in Cheshire East?”

 

Conservatives in denial

At the Cabinet meeting on 12 September, reference was made to letters sent by local resident groups and local MPs to the Secretary of State expressing concerns about the running...


A Sandbach residents group has called upon the Secretary of State to
initiate an independent enquiry into the actions and behaviour of the
members and officers of Cheshire East Council to restore public confidence
and have set up a petition at
https://www.change.org/p/sajid-javid-launch-an-independent-enquiry-into-air-
quality-data-falsification-by-cheshire-east-council


The Secretary of State will not normally intervene at a Council over one
recent issue and will only intervene if there has been a history of poor
performance. It is therefore worth looking back over the history of
Conservative-controlled Cheshire East Council.

The Council was formed in 2009 and the Conservatives appointed a chief
executive on £230,000 p.a. saying they were ‘reaching for the stars’. It
wasn’t long before the wheels started to come off. The chief executive left
after just 3 years in the job with a £93,000 severance package.

In 2012 the Conservative portfolio holder responsible for ensuring that
landlords know their legal duties became a convicted criminal landlord.
Despite this salutary lesson, the Conservatives have failed to address the
issues caused by a massive increase in the number of Houses of Multiple
Occupation and rogue landlords resulting in deep rooted social and health
issues.

Work started on a waste transfer facility at Lyme Green near Macclesfield,
but the Council failed to get planning permission from itself. The report
into the fiasco cost £225,000 and revealed numerous failings and breach of
procurement regulations but the Conservatives refused to make the report
public. A redacted version showed a culture of mistrust & fear at the
Council.

In 2012 the Council’s auditors expressed “concerns about whether Cheshire
East Council has proper arrangements to secure value for money in its use of
resources” and qualified their opinion accordingly. The auditors said “The
most significant of my recommendations is the need for Members to provide
clearer strategic direction and political leadership when agreeing
priorities, taking difficult decisions and supporting officers to deliver
agreed plans.”
This statement clearly places the blame for Cheshire East Council’s woeful
performance on the Tory administration of the council and not on the
officers employed by the council.

The Conservatives stopped pensioners from using their free bus passes on the
charity-run Dial-a-Ride service, caused the charity to collapse, then
re-instated the use of free bus passes when the service was taken over by a
private company.

The Council’s children’s services were put into special measures from 2013
to 2015 following an ‘inadequate’ rating from OFSTED. The services have
improved by one step from the bottom are now rated ‘requires improvement’.

The Planning department has perhaps caused the most anger amongst residents.
The long-running saga over producing a Local Plan seemed to be over when a
Local Plan was finally approved in July 2017, but the Plan is now the
subject of a legal challenge. Even more worrying is that a recent appeal
hearing has allowed a speculative housing development to go ahead on a
greenfield site despite the application being in breach of the Local Plan
and the Holmes Chapel Neighbourhood Plan.

A developer has estimated that the Council has spent over £2m fighting (and
losing) planning appeals. Developers and landowners have made millions out
of speculative housing applications on greenfield sites in Cheshire, leaving
local residents to pick up the tab for overloaded infrastructure such as
schools and roads. The planning applications already approved will cause
problems for years to come.

In 2013 the Local Government Ombudsman found 6 examples of maladministration
over a planning application at White Moss Quarry near Alsager and said that
the Council had knowingly and persistently misled the public
When questioned at a Cabinet meeting about White Moss Quarry the then
Conservative Leader, Michael Jones, 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.”

The Ombudsman found the Council guilty of maladministration again in 2014
over a planning application in Sandbach and again there was evidence of a
lack of honesty in council officers.

It was not just the planning department where the Ombudsman’s reports
revealed a lack of honesty at the Council. In 2015 the Ombudsman rejected
the Council’s claim that disclaimers had been included on all garden waste
renewal letters warning of plans to remove the service over the winter. The
Ombudsman said “I am concerned there are two versions of the renewal letter
in existence, one with, and one without, the disclaimer on it. I cannot see
why this should be the case. I am concerned the disclaimer may have been
added later, once the Council started to receive complaints. The number of
complaints only increases concerns many customers did not receive the
disclaimer.”

The Council has also been found at fault by the Ombudsman over the treatment
of a vulnerable adult in 2013. In fact, this was the second time the same
vulnerable adult had gone to the Ombudsman seeking redress and it was only
after the second maladministration finding that the Council put things
right.

At the Cabinet meeting on Monday 4 February 2013 a member of the public
asked why Cheshire East Council had used taxpayers’ money to sponsor the
Cheshire & Wirral Conservative Party conference. In response, the
Conservative Leader, Cllr Michael Jones, said, “Sponsorship of CW13
conference was in order to get a message to Eric Pickles.” before pulling
out his cheque book to pay the sponsorship costs himself.
In 2015 the BBC revealed that Council staff had been drafting tweets for the
Conservative Leader attacking his party pollical opponents; party political
campaigning by council staff or using council resources is illegal.

In 2016 It was revealed that Cllr Sam Gardner, the Conservative Cabinet in
charge of Finance, had been disqualified from being a company director
because he caused his company Fomfest Ltd to misuse donations of at least
£4,142 collected on behalf of a charity. Sam Gardner wasn’t fit to run a
small company, but the Conservatives put him in charge of the council’s
finances.

The Council has been under investigation by the Organised Crime Unit of the
regional police force since December 2015 when an investigation was started
into contracts awarded to the Conservative Leader’s personal
physiotherapist, waiving normal procurement procedures.

Since its formation 8 years ago the Council has had 7 different Monitoring
Officers. The Monitoring Officer is a senior lawyer, responsible for dealing
with complaints against councillors and ensuring that the Council conducts
its business lawfully.

The Chief Executive was suspended six months ago and the Monitoring Officer
(head of legal) is also suspended. A temporary s151 officer is covering for
the head of finance after he was removed from some of his duties. The Head
of Communications has been absent from work for the last year. The Head of
Internal Audit left after being off work for a year and has not been
replaced; it is almost as if someone doesn’t want an effective audit team
looking into the internal workings of the Council.

At the Council meeting in July 2017 there was a proposal to allocate an
extra £2.4m to construct the waste processing site in Middlewich the extra
costs were said to be down to land remediation costs not noticed when the
Council bought the site and increased insurance costs. The Cabinet Member
responsible said that the increased allocation wouldn’t cost the Council a
penny as it would be a loan to the council-owned company ANSA Ltd who would
pay the money back. After the vote was taken ANSA Ltd denied that it was a
loan and it was conceded that the real cost to the Council was £2.4M. When a
Labour councillor queried whether the decision was valid the acting
Monitoring Officer ruled that it was – so it seems that Conservative
councillors can say whatever they like (true or not) to get a motion passed.

The Berkeley Academy primary school in Willaston was promised £70,000 for a
car park by the Conservatives. This was not in accordance with the Council
policy and was not agreed with officers of the Council. The promise was
confirmed in writing by Cllr David Brown allegedly forming a binding
contract. Labour councillors sought to have the decision scrutinised by a
committee, but in September 2017 the acting Monitoring Officer rejected the
request as there was potential legal action and disciplinary action so it
would not be appropriate for any public scrutiny!! Surely the fact that the
decision was dodgy should be an argument in favour of public scrutiny, not a
reason to suppress Labour pressure.

On 27 July 2017 Cheshire East Council approved its Local Plan and rejected a
Labour amendment that work should immediately start on a new local plan that
took into account correct air quality data. On 28 July the Council revealed
that an external report had concluded that air quality data had been
deliberately and systematically manipulated. An internal report later
concluded that no planning applications had been affected by the falsified
data. So now we are in the position that we know that a person or persons
deliberately manipulated data, but we don’t know who they are or why they
did it.


No Conservative Councillor has admitted any wrongdoing over any of the above
list.
The coalition government abolished the Standards Board for England and the
Audit Commission, so effective means of taking action are now very limited.
The only power rests with the electorate to vote them out of office or with
the Secretary of State to put the Council into special measures.


Sam Corcoran, Labour Group Leader said, “The Labour Group has been calling
since March for an external investigation, reporting within 3 months to
group leaders, into the culture of the organisation and allegations of
bullying. For the sake of the staff and residents of Cheshire East, the
Conservatives need to take urgent action.

Call to investigate CEC

A Sandbach residents group has called upon the Secretary of State toinitiate an independent enquiry into the actions and behaviour of themembers and officers of Cheshire East Council to restore...

The first thing that struck me about the Budget was how little substance it
contained. This was the first Spring Budget of a new Chancellor, so I would
have expected new ideas, but the only headline grabbing change was the
increase in National Insurance for the self-employed.
The second thing that struck me was the disparity between the rhetoric and
the actual tax changes. The Chancellor said that he wanted to address the
discrepancy between the rates of tax paid by employees and workers operating
through limited companies. An employee earning (say) £30,000 a year will pay
tax at 20% plus employee’s National Insurance at 12% and the company will
pay employer’s NI at 13.8%. A worker operating through a limited company
earning £30,000 a year will pay corporation tax at 20% and dividend tax at
7.5%. The first £5,000 of dividends are tax free and the Chancellor
announced that this will be reduced to £2,000 tax free from April 2018; this
will cost the worker in my example operating through a limited company £225
a year in extra tax. The Chancellor also confirmed a cut in corporation tax
to 17% by 2020. This will give the worker in my example operating through a
limited company up to £900 a year in reduced corporation tax. So actually
the discrepancy between the rates of tax paid by employees and workers
operating through limited companies will INCREASE over the next few years.
The Chancellor also said that we shouldn’t be saddling our children with
ever increasing debt, but then announced that government borrowing will be
£100bn higher than predicted at Budget 2016. Government debt now stands at
£1.7trn (nearly double what it was in 2010). The Chancellor criticised
Labour’s plans to borrow £500bn to spend on capital infrastructure projects,
but seems happy to borrow to fund corporation tax cuts!
UK economic growth is forecast to be 2% in 2017 (roughly the same as it was
when Labour left office in May 2010). Growth is forecast to fall to 1.6% in
2018.
The Chancellor announced £100m to put GPs into A&E departments, but he
didn’t explain where the GPs would come from. If the plan is to move GPs out
of GP surgeries then this is going to make it even harder to get a GP
appointment! The underlying problem is a shortage of GPs and the diversion
of GPs away from the core job of seeing patients in GP surgeries.
I was surprised to hear the Chancellor say that ‘Choice is the key to
excellence in education’. I disagree! I think that good teachers and decent
funding is the key to excellence in education. The Chancellor announced an
extension to free transport for those at selective schools. This will jar
with many parents in Cheshire East who have just had their free school
transport withdrawn and are facing major funding cuts to their local school.
Finally the Chancellor said that those with the broadest shoulders should
bear the heaviest burden. A fine sentiment, but it is not matched by the
announcements in the Budget. The corporation tax rate will be cut to 17% by
2020. The Universal Credit taper rate will be reduced from 65% to 63%! Who
has the broadest shoulders? Is it a multi-national company or a low paid
worker who earns just enough to have some of their benefits withdrawn?

Sam Corcorans Budget Commentary

The first thing that struck me about the Budget was how little substance itcontained. This was the first Spring Budget of a new Chancellor, so I wouldhave expected new ideas,...

In January, Labour Councillors complained about the punitive cuts to funding
for schools in Cheshire East. Regrettably, despite a public outcry and
warnings from local headteachers about the impact these cuts will have on
local schools, the Conservatives have not yet backed down.
For many years schools in Cheshire East have been some of the best in the
country. Now that success is threatened by cuts of over a million pounds
across the borough. Only a handful of primary schools have not had their
finances cut. Poynton loses the most at £-165k, followed by Fallibroome
£-156, both in Tory held council seats.

The Conservatives claim that national funding for schools has increased, but
in fact pupil numbers have increased by more than the funding. So the
national funding per pupil has fallen. The badly misnamed new Fair Funding
Formula, does not properly take into account the level of funding that
schools are already getting. So schools in Cheshire East, which are
relatively poorly funded, but still produce good results will lose money and
will become the worst funded in the country. This seems to be a punishment
for success.

Local MP Edward Timpson is the Minister for Children, but has failed to make
any clear statement on the impact the government policy will have on schools
in Crewe. In January, St Thomas More Catholic High School in Crewe was
reported in the Times as the top school in Cheshire East for Pupil Progress.
In March the headteacher of St Thomas More was interviewed on BBC Radio Four
setting out the problems that the cuts would cause!

Following years of Tory mismanagement, the educational system is now
struggling at all levels. The Early Years funding is inadequate, so
providers are in financial difficulties. The Special Education Needs system
is so complex that funding is delayed and children with special needs are
not getting the support they deserve.

Labour Councillors are encouraging parents, school governors and teachers to
respond to the consultation on the new funding formula at
https://consult.education.gov.uk/funding-policy-unit/schools-national-fundin
g-formula2/consultation/intro/
 There have been complaints about the
impenetrability of the questions in the consultation. It is important for
respondents to state their views on the impact the proposals will have on
their school.
There is a useful resource at
http://www.fairfundingforallschools.org/act-now.html

A march against the cuts has been organised by local residents starting at
11am on Saturday 18 March at Sandbach boys school and going to the Cobbles
in Sandbach town centre.

Brian Roberts, Labour Councillor for Crewe West said, “Before the latest
cuts Cheshire East was 145th, in a league of 150 areas nationally. Due to
the decisions of this Tory Government, Cheshire East is now being relegated
to the Rock Bottom of 150th.  All our children deserve better.
The silence from the Tory voices of Cheshire East is stunning.”

Brian’s fellow councillor for Crewe West, Jill Rhodes, added, “The effect of
these cuts on primary schools is particularly pronounced as their only real
option is to remove classroom support.  Each class has to have a teacher, so
the funding cuts will mean less help for those pupils who need extra
support. That will have knock on effects when those pupils get to secondary
school.”

Sam Corcoran, Labour Councillor for Sandbach Heath & East said, " In his
Budget speech the Chancellor said, ‘Choice is the key to excellence in
education’. I disagree! I think that good teachers and decent funding is the
key to excellence in education. The Chancellor announced an extension to
free transport for those at selective schools. This will jar with many
parents in Cheshire East who have just had their free school transport
withdrawn and are facing major funding cuts to their local school. The
Conservatives seem determined to pursue their ideological objective of
promoting grammar schools at the expense of all other schools."


Irene Faseyi, Labour Councillor for Crewe Central, said, “It's a disgrace
that the Tory government have enough money for new grammar schools at the
expense of struggling schools. One would have thought that the government
would plough some funding into existing schools rather than building " white
elephant " ones to further widen the divide between the haves and have nots
of this country.”


Steve Hogben, Labour Councillor for Crewe South, said, “Yes, the Prime
Minister boasted a few days ago that £320 million was to be made available
for new free or grammar schools.  Since the Chancellor's budget it has
emerged that the true extra funding for free or grammar schools is over
three times that amount at nearly £1 billion.  Even - or perhaps especially
- before the budget the government could not bring itself to admit just how
much money it was really siphoning off from state education. Such unashamed
deceit!  And this is all at the expense of existing schools.
“I wonder how the government plans to punish us plebeians next?

Education funding cuts in Cheshire East

In January, Labour Councillors complained about the punitive cuts to fundingfor schools in Cheshire East. Regrettably, despite a public outcry andwarnings from local headteachers about the impact these cuts will...

Cheshire East has been a black spot for Delayed Transfers of Care (DTOC).
Despite recent improvements, DTOC remains a significant issue that results
in unnecessary spend of millions of pounds a year. Nationally it is
estimated that one third of hospital beds are occupied by those over 65 and
that 10% of all beds are taken up by patients who should not be there.

At the Cheshire East Council meeting on 23rd February, Labour councillors
proposed a solution to the problem of Delayed Transfers of Care (bed
blocking).

The problem of DTOC is exacerbated by the structure of the NHS. Patients who
should be at home occupy a hospital bed; it is the hospitals and patients
who experience the problem. The funding for solving the problem is with
Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs). The people with the expertise to help
the patients get back home safely with a proper package of care are employed
by councils. So under the crazy NHS structures the problem, the funding and
the solution are all kept separate. It is now clear that the massive top
down reorganization of the NHS instigated by David Cameron wasted £4bn and
made problems such as DTOC worse.

The solution is obvious. Cheshire East Council should use its expertise to
move patients out of hospital and back into their homes, but the current NHS
structures do not reward such behaviour.

Sam Corcoran proposed “That a review should be carried out into ways to
reduce Delayed Transfers of Care from hospitals (DTOC) which should include
the option of setting up a wholly owned company to provide services on a
commercial basis.”

Cllr Laura Jeuda said, “The Conservatives voted against even carrying out a
review of the proposals. The Conservatives voted instead to stick with the
policies that have failed to solve the problem of DTOC in the past.”

Labour proposes solution for bed blocking

Cheshire East has been a black spot for Delayed Transfers of Care (DTOC).Despite recent improvements, DTOC remains a significant issue that resultsin unnecessary spend of millions of pounds a year....

Lancashire County Elections
The elections in Lancashire are fast approaching and we are working hard on doorsteps across the county. If you want to help out please email lancashire.labour.organiser@outlook.com to find out about activities near you. 

Greater Manchester Mayoral
Andy has been visiting towns right across Greater Manchester asking people to help build "Our Manifesto for a Greater Manchester". Now the focus turns to the voters. Sign up to volunteer and we will be in touch with the best way you can help in your area. Count me in

Please help us increase our digital reach by liking Andy's Facebook page and sharing the posts. facebook.com/burnhamformayor

Liverpool City Region Mayoral
We are taking nothing for granted. We need as many members as possible to get involved and there is something for everybody to contribute. We have 1.2 million voters to reach so we need members new and old to campaign for a Labour victory. Please fill in our survey http://www.steverotheram.com/volunteer/ to  find out how you can help.

We are holding a fundraising dinner on the 18th February which is hosted by the comedian John Bishop - we have a handful of tickets left. If you want to have a good night out in Liverpool with good food, wine and company please
 buy your ticket here.

National Policy Forum
Over the next couple of months, we are holding NPF events in Lancashire, Merseyside, Cheshire and Greater Manchester. These events are an opportunity for you to discuss issues with you NPF reps and feed into the policy making process. If you can't make it to an event you can contact your reps Facebook.com/npfteamnw
See details of the event near you here. 

International Women's Day
What better way to celebrate International Women's Day on 11th March than to spend the day with fellow Labour party women over afternoon tea. We will be joined by guest speaker Diane Abbott MP. Get your ticket here.

And finally, we are right in the middle of two really important by-elections to the North and South of the region. If you are able to help out at either it would be a huge help. Polling day is 23rd February so the next two weeks are vital. 

Copeland labournorth.com/copeland
Stoke on Trent westmidlandslabour.org.uk/events

Upcoming events in the North West

Lancashire County ElectionsThe elections in Lancashire are fast approaching and we are working hard on doorsteps across the county. If you want to help out please email lancashire.labour.organiser@outlook.com to find out about...



At the Sandbach Town Council meeting on 9th February 2017, Cllr Martin
Forster, Labour Councillor for Sandbach Elworth, proposed that the Air
Quality Working Group should present views to Cheshire East Council and
explore ways to improve air quality and reduce traffic congestion in
Sandbach. However, Conservative Councillor Gill Merry proposed amending this
proposal to remove the reference to traffic congestion. Despite support from
her Conservative colleagues, Cllr Merry's amendment was narrowly defeated
and the working group will look into ways of reducing traffic congestion.
This marks a change from a year ago when Cllr Merry was mayor and used her
second casting vote to defeat a proposal to have a Sandbach Cycling
Champion.

Sam Corcoran, Labour Councillor for Sandbach Heath & East, said, "Traffic is
an increasing problem in Sandbach and we should be looking at ways to reduce
congestion - including promoting cycling. It is a shame that my proposal for
a cycling champion for Sandbach was defeated last year on Cllr Gill Merry's
second vote as Mayor. I believe that establishing safe cycle routes,
especially to the 2 secondary schools in Sandbach, could make a significant
difference to traffic congestion in Sandbach."


Martin Forster, Labour Councillor for Sandbach Elworth, said, "The
Conservatives don't want to talk about traffic congestion, because it is
their laissez-faire approach to speculative housing developments that has
caused much of the problem in Sandbach. But we have to face up to the
reality that planning permission has already been granted for 3,200 new
houses in Sandbach. We need to plan ahead to make sure that all the new
houses do not lead to traffic gridlock and further air quality problems in
Sandbach."

Sandbach Council to look at Traffic & Air Quality

At the Sandbach Town Council meeting on 9th February 2017, Cllr MartinForster, Labour Councillor for Sandbach Elworth, proposed that the AirQuality Working Group should present views to Cheshire East Council...

In 2010 the coalition government tore up planning rules and introduced the
National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). This has led to a flood of
speculative housing applications on greenfield sites in South Cheshire. Even
the government now admits that the housing market is broken. But the
government's 'solution' is to relax planning rules and to give even more
power to property developers. Labour would give more power to local
authorities to determine the sites where houses should and shouldn't be
built and to build council houses.

Under the current rules the harm caused by a planning application has to
significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits before it can be
refused. So even a bad planning application will be approved.

The way the Conservatives have weighted the scales in favour of property
speculators is illustrated by the rules on traffic congestion. New houses
create more traffic and it would be reasonable to expect the developers to
have to pay for road & cycling improvements to compensate for any
significant traffic problems they would cause. However, under the Tory
rules, the congestion has to be severe before a planning application can be
refused on highways grounds. Severe is not defined in the rules, but case
law suggests that delays of up to 20 minutes are not severe.
For example, Sandbach residents know that since the new housing in Elworth
has been built, it often takes 10 minutes longer to travel down Middlewich
Road. However, according to the governments highways rules this congestion
is not 'severe' and so planning permission for even more houses in Sandbach
cannot be refused on highways grounds.

Although Cheshire East Council hopes to have its long-awaited Local Plan in
place later this year, the Plan policies will be considered 'out of date' if
the council doesn't maintain a 5-year housing land supply. The Council will
be penalised if less than 1,800 houses a year are built in Cheshire East. If
fewer than 1,530 are built then the requirement is increased by 20%.
Furthermore, under the White Paper proposals, if the supply of new houses
falls below 65% of the required amount then the rules protecting
Neighbourhood Plans will not apply. So the Neighbourhood Plans which many
communities have spent thousands of hours preparing could be over-ruled if
the number of houses built falls below 1,400 a year in Cheshire East.

Nationally, there is a serious problem of 'land banking'. This is a practice
whereby private property development companies do not build the houses they
have been given planning permission for, because they want to restrict the
supply of new houses in the area to keep house prices high in that area.
House builders can also restrict the number of houses they build in areas
such as Cheshire East, so that the Council misses its targets for new
housing. When the Council misses its targets the government rules mean that
developers can demand planning permission for housing on sites where they
wouldn't normally get planning permission. Land with planning permission can
be worth millions of pounds more than land without planning permission, so
by 'land-banking' in this way the developers' land goes up in value and
their companies show large profits.

Sam Corcoran, Labour Councillor for Sandbach Heath & East, said, "I am
pleased to have helped develop Labour Party policy to prevent land-banking.
I would like to see councils given the power to charge council tax on houses
that have not been built years after planning permission was granted. In
addition, councils should have the power to compulsorily purchase land that
has been allocated to housing but where development has not taken place.
Combining these 2 policies would mean that any property speculators who did
not build houses after obtaining planning permission would either have to
pay council tax on the unbuilt houses or waive the planning permission and
risk having the land compulsorily purchased at its agricultural value. These
policies would be effective in stopping land-banking and would encourage
genuine house builders, but strangely the Conservatives haven't adopted
these policies."

Irene Faseyi, Labour Councillor for Crewe Central, said, "The Tories keep
moving the goalposts on planning. The only thing that will stop the Tories
granting planning permission to speculative developers is when they start
losing elections."

Broken Tory Housing Framework

In 2010 the coalition government tore up planning rules and introduced theNational Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). This has led to a flood ofspeculative housing applications on greenfield sites in South...

At the Cheshire East Council Environment Committee Meeting on 26 January
2017 the proposed cuts to bus services were discussed. A verbal presentation
was given on the passenger consultation on the proposed 40% (£1.6m)
reduction in the budget for supporting bus services in the borough. No
written report was presented.

A major flaw in the methodology is that only existing users of
council-supported bus services will be consulted.  Labour councillors asked
why non-users were not being consulted and asked why they don't use the bus,
and what would encourage them to do so, but no meaningful answer was given

Improved bus services could help combat the rising levels of air pollution
in our major towns and provide an attractive alternative to the private car
for those working and using the hoped-for growth in the night-time economies
of Crewe and Macclesfield.

Nick Mannion, Labour Councillor for Macclesfield West & Ivy, said “This is
the start of a process that could well see the end of the remaining evening
and Sunday bus services in Crewe and Macclesfield. The Tories will see the
£1.6million cut as a soft target as it will hurt few of their car-owning
supporters.”

Chehsire East proposes Bus Service Cuts

At the Cheshire East Council Environment Committee Meeting on 26 January2017 the proposed cuts to bus services were discussed. A verbal presentationwas given on the passenger consultation on the proposed...

The Women's Forum meets monthly to discuss and debate
issues that affect women locally, nationally and internationally.
Our aim is to reach out into the community offer friendship and
help to other women.
One issue that has come to our attention is the use of food
banks in our area and how women are disproportionately
affected. One area of particular concern to us is that food
banks, homeless hostels, women's refuges etc do not stock
women's hygiene products. Because these items are taxed as luxury items the cost is high which
is problematic for women on low incomes. This has had the knock on effect of women presenting
at GPs with infections and even Toxic Shock Syndrome because they use substitute materials
which are not hygienic. Since 2010, the figures have risen sharply. We would like to address this
problem locally by setting up a scheme called Monthly Gift where local women can drop-in and
receive free hygiene products.
We hope to launch this initiative on 8th March 2017 which is International Women Day. The launch
will be held at The Old Saw Mill, which is a community project in Congleton, and thereafter we will
be testing a one hour drop-in at the Mill every Wednesday morning.
Objectives
1. Raising the profile of the Labour Party in Congleton Town. At the present we do not
have a single Cheshire East Councillor and only one Town Councillor out of 20 seats.
2. Helping women badly affected by Tory cuts. A Labour Women's Forum should strive to
reach out to women in the community especially those in need.
3. Setting up a weekly drop-in centre where women can pick up free hygiene products
and chat with party members over a coffee. This will enable us to find out the main
issues for women in Congleton allowing us to target them more efficiently and identify
other campaigns.
4. A delivery service across the rest of the Constituency.
Although this is very much a women's issue, the whole CLP will benefit from the high
profile we are trying to achieve for the Party locally and we value the help of male party
members in this campaign.
We will be busy fundraising to pay for printing, products and venue and we will be placing
a collecting tin and a collection box at the back of meetings, to enable you to donate
products and/or money.
If you would like to be involved in fundraising activities or have any suggestions contact Susan
Munro - Women's Officer on 07534510841

Monthly Gift Scheme launched in Congleton

The Women's Forum meets monthly to discuss and debateissues that affect women locally, nationally and internationally.Our aim is to reach out into the community offer friendship andhelp to other women.One...

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