Cheshire East News

Last week, it was suddenly announced that the Cabinet meeting scheduled for Tuesday, 16th January 2018 has been cancelled.

The official reason given is that ‘Our scheduling of forthcoming business for Cabinet has enabled us to cancel the proposed formal meeting...’

What this means is that Councillors who submitted motions on the agenda for the Council meeting last December, will now have to wait until the second half of February at the earliest for a response.

Why is this? Is the cabinet having an extended Christmas break, or are they hiding away from public scrutiny of the ongoing chaotic shambles that is result of the vacillating and partisan political leadership at Cheshire East?

At the last Council meeting the Conservatives denied that the new Council Constitution would be used to conduct more business in private, yet here we have a Cabinet meeting being cancelled because they say there is no need to discuss any business in public. So much for openness and transparency at Cheshire East Council!

Cllr Joy Bratherton, Labour Councillor for Crewe East said; ‘Why are they hiding? They have already refused to apologise for the chaotic situation they have created at the Council, now they will not even face other Councillors or the residents of Cheshire East to account for themselves!’

Sam Corcoran, Labour Councillor of Sandbach Heath & East, said, “The Conservatives may have run out of ideas and do not have any proposals that they wish to discuss publicly this month, but the Labour Group have tabled several formal motions that could have been discussed at this cancelled meeting. Labour motions waiting to be discussed at Cabinet include:

  • Ensuring that Cheshire East has a robust 5-year housing land supply so as to stop speculative housing developments.
  • Addressing climate change
  • Highway maintenance
  • Publishing the ‘viability assessments’ that developers use to avoid providing affordable housing.

It seems that the Conservatives don’t think any of these issues are important or urgent. Whilst many would like answers to these questions, we will now have to wait until 16th February 2018 at the earliest.’

Running scared or ‘no business here!’ Why has the Cheshire East Cabinet cancelled its January 2018 Meeting?

Last week, it was suddenly announced that the Cabinet meeting scheduled for Tuesday, 16th January 2018 has been cancelled. The official reason given is that ‘Our scheduling of forthcoming business...

We have just seen the annual Christmas and New Year meetings of various ‘hunts’ across Cheshire East, along with the footage of the associated havoc and inconvenience to many residents

Labour ended fox hunting, deer hunting and hare coursing. Yet the Prime Minister, in the face of overwhelming public support to retain the bans has publically given her support to those lobbying for a return to such barbaric practices. Only a Labour government will maintain the bans.

The latest concerns follow only a few months after a hunt ran amok on the outskirts of Macclesfield and footage was shown on the regional news programmes. After that incident Labour Councillor Nick Mannion was able to secure a commitment from the Council Portfolio Holder for Rural Issues that no hunts are permitted to cross council owned land or farms.

The Hunting with Dogs legislation urgently requires strengthening to give the police stronger power and the courts greater sentencing powers to punish the minority of  hunts and their so called ‘followers’ that so flagrantly flout it. 

Labour’s vision is for the UK to lead the world with high animal welfare standards in the wild, in farming and for domestic animals. Labour will increase the maximum sentence for those convicted of committing animal cruelty. We will promote cruelty-free animal husbandry and consult on ways to ensure better enforcement of agreed standards.

We will prohibit the third-party sale of puppies, introduce and enforce a total ban on ivory trading, and support the ban on wild animals in circuses.

We will cease the badger cull, which spreads bovine TB.

Cllr Steve Hogben, Labour Councillor for Crewe South said; ‘Fox hunting is a barbaric relic from medieval times, and belongs to another age. It is high time those that cling to such outdated and illegal activity should have to account for their actions’

Cllr Laura Jeuda, Labour Councillor for Macclesfield South said ‘The UK’s impending departure from the European Union has already triggered a range of challenges from multi-national agri-business corporations that fund the Tory party in Government. They are already lobbying for the relaxation or removal of several hard-won agriculture and animal welfare regulations that have been tenaciously built-up over recent years. We must not relax our guard!!

Traditional Christmas and New Year hunts rampage across Cheshire East.

We have just seen the annual Christmas and New Year meetings of various ‘hunts’ across Cheshire East, along with the footage of the associated havoc and inconvenience to many residents...

At the Cheshire East Council meeting on 14 December a qualified trading standards officer, formerly employed by the Council, used public speaking time to raise concerns about the terms of reference of the recently completed cultural review of the Council by the Local Government association (‘LGA’)

The terms of reference prevented anyone who had left the Council more than 6 months ago from giving evidence. Rob Edwardson said that he had wanted to give evidence to the cultural review but was refused because he left the Council just over 6 months ago. Several other significant witnesses were also prevented from giving evidence including the former Head of Internal Audit at the Council.

Labour Councillors have also expressed their concerns about the handling of bullying allegations, including criticism of the Chair of the Council’s Staffing Committee, who knew about an incident when a Council employee held a knife to their throat at work and shouted “Is this what you want …” and named the person who was allegedly bullying them. Despite knowing about the incident when Labour councillors were raising concerns about bullying, the Chair of the Staffing Committee did not share this information with other members of the committee and does not appear to have taken any meaningful action.

At the Council meeting Cllr Brian Roberts asked,

“At the end of the Staffing Committee meeting on 26 October, the Chair made a statement denying that he sat on issues of bullying and covered up a serious incident involving knife. Could the Leader clarify when she became aware of the knife incident and given that she has said that the incident is outside the terms of reference of the Staffing Committee could she clarify what the Chair of the Staffing Committee did about the knife incident (if he didn’t cover it up) and if he didn’t sit on issues of bullying could she clarify what he did do?”

In response the Conservative Leader said that she would be willing to discuss the matter later.

Janet Jackson, Labour Councillor for Macclesfield Central, then asked,

“Would the Leader like to join me in thanking Sarah Messenger for conducting a review into the culture of the Council and allegations of bullying and given that the Chair of the Staffing Committee is minuted as quoting the Leader publicly revealing the location of one particularly shocking incident, could she state where the quote is from and would she acknowledge that many staff are fearful of coming forward with allegations of bullying for fear that details of their situations will also be made public.”

In response, the Conservative Leader said that she had made a public statement on the location of the incident, but didn’t say when she had made the statement, and added that as council staff moved around she didn’t think that revealing the location of the incident was significant.

However, at least one local newspaper has publicly stated that they will not publish the location of the incident because it increases the likelihood of identifying the individuals involved.

Councillor Steve Hogben, Labour Councillor for Crewe South said; ‘’The LGA review is seen by some staff as a sham, and I am not surprised given the very public rejection of certain potentially unfavourable evidence by the council and by Ms Messenger. The six month rule has all the signs of a deliberate cover-up by the dictatorial regime at Westfields.’’

Bullying Cover-Up

At the Cheshire East Council meeting on 14 December a qualified trading standards officer, formerly employed by the Council, used public speaking time to raise concerns about the terms of...

Earlier this week news of the departure of Bill Norman, the Council’s Head of Legal Services and Monitoring Officer, was quietly slipped out by the Council’s communications team.

Mr Norman had been suspended for several months, for reasons that were not made public, nor were the reasons for his resignation or details of any financial package surrounding his departure.

Cheshire East Council has estimated that the cost, this year alone, of suspensions and investigations into senior officers will be £800,000. This is in addition to the costs of less senior officers currently away from their desks either suspended, on ‘gardening leave’ or assigned to other duties.

Sam Corcoran, Leader of the Cheshire East Labour Group and Labour & Co-operative Councillor for Sandbach Heath & East said,

“As with the Lyme Green fiasco, we see senior officers at Cheshire East Council leaving, but the root of the problem is not disclosed and no Conservative councillor admits any wrongdoing. Since it was formed 8 years ago, Cheshire East Council has had 7 different people in charge of its legal department. There is something very rotten in Conservative-controlled Cheshire East Council and repeatedly changing the Head of Legal is not solving the problem.”

Nick Mannion, Labour Councillor for Macclesfield West & Ivy  said,

 “Labour Councillors have repeatedly raised concerns about the culture at Cheshire East Council and its impact on staff. After the departure of Michael Jones it was hoped that the culture of the organisation would be addressed, but the level of staff turnover suggests that the problems have not been resolved.”

Cllr Dorothy Flude, Labour Councillor for Crewe South said “Yet another senior officer has walked away from Cheshire East Council, for reasons about which we are not told, and with a severance package the details of which will presumably be subject to a confidentiality clause. Yet we appear to be no closer to getting to the bottom of the rotten and chaotic management culture at the council.”

Cllr Suzanne Brookfield , Labour Councillor for  Crewe East said, “Local residents must be wondering ‘what next’ as no less than FIVE ongoing police investigations are swirling around Conservative-controlled Cheshire East Council. Whilst the money tree can be shaken to find thousands of pounds to pay for expensive consultants yet our vital community libraries and bus services are butchered in the mantra of austerity.’’

Another Senior Officer Departs Cheshire East Council

Earlier this week news of the departure of Bill Norman, the Council’s Head of Legal Services and Monitoring Officer, was quietly slipped out by the Council’s communications team. Mr Norman...

At the Cheshire East Council Cabinet meeting on Tuesday 5 December, Labour Councillor Irene Faseyi asked, “West Sussex has agreed to ban the use of snares on its land. Would the Cabinet support a similar proposal in Cheshire East?”

The motion passed by West Sussex Council was;

(1)  That from the 2 June 2017, all new Business Farm Tenancies on County

      Council owned land, and those to be renewed, will include a clause which

      bans snaring.

 

(2)  That a letter is sent to all current tenants and licensees of Business Farm

      Tenancies and Smallholding Agreements informing them of the County

      Council’s policy to ban snaring on its land, seeking immediate compliance

      on a voluntary basis

 

Sadly, as with Labour calls to ban badger culling on Council land, the Conservative Cabinet members claim that legal difficulties would prevent them implementing the proposal.

Cllr Laura Jeuda, Labour Councillor for Macclesfield South said, “If it was possible for West Sussex then why is it impossible for the Conservative-controlled Cheshire East Council? Where there is a will there is a way. The Labour proposals set out the way, but the Conservatives who control Cheshire East Council lack the will.”

Call to Ban Snares on Council Land

At the Cheshire East Council Cabinet meeting on Tuesday 5 December, Labour Councillor Irene Faseyi asked, “West Sussex has agreed to ban the use of snares on its land. Would...

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...

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...

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...

There has been a series of press releases issued by Cheshire East Council's Communications Team in recent days that paint a very rosy picture of things at the Council at the moment.

However, in the interest of balance it must be pointed out that there are currently no less than FIVE ongoing formal police investigations into matters at Cheshire East Council.

Also, the Council's Chief Executive Officer, the Head of Legal Services and senior officers responsible for air quality monitoring at the Council are all currently suspended.

Cllr Laura Jeuda, Labour Councillor for Macclesfield South said “I am very concerned that it appears the Council's Communications Team is being used to try and distract residents from the chaos in Cheshire East Conservative Group.”

Cllr Dorothy Flude, Labour Councillor for  Crewe  South said; “No amount of window dressing and pretty photographs can hide what is frankly an appalling situation currently at Cheshire East Council, where long-suffering staff continue to deliver public services whilst some in positions of authority are clearly not up to the task of running a large complex organisation.”

Sam Corcoran, Labour Group Leader said, “Conservative controlled Cheshire East Council has been lurching from crisis to crisis since its formation 9 years ago. The Conservative Leader recently denied that the Council was spiralling out of control.

However, there are now FIVE ongoing police investigations spiralling around Conservative controlled Cheshire East Council:

1) CoreFit where contracts were awarded to the former Conservative Leader's personal physiotherapist's company

2) the deliberate and systematic manipulation of air quality data

3) the granting of £70,000 to Berkeley Primary Academy, where (allegedly) a

    Conservative Councillor promised the money to the school despite it not being in accordance with policy

4) land acquisitions

5) Vile and intimidating hate mail received by two Conservative councillors who spoke out against ‘unsafe’ walking routes to school and the Council not complying with National Minimum Wage legislation.

In addition to the police investigations there are clear signs of unpleasant infighting within the Conservatives.  Michael Jones, the former Conservative Leader who stepped down quoting ‘Blue on Blue attacks’ has now left the Conservative group completely.

Cllr David Brown has been ‘stepped down’ as Deputy Leader of the Council and asked at a recent Staffing Committee what help there was for councillors being bullied.

Cllr Peter Groves stepped down as Cabinet Member for Finance to protect his reputation (not to protect the reputation of the Council).

The chief executive, head of legal and head of finance are all suspended from their roles. The temporary Head of Finance alone is costing the Council £10,000 a month. In case any one believes the Conservative claim that all the Council's problems are 'legacy' matters, in September the Council admitted that it was breaching the National Minimum Wage legislation, that about 160 people were affected and would be awarded backpay going back 2 years totalling roughly £200,000. Emails obtained by Labour Councillors show that the Council knew in 2014 that the NMW legislation was being broken.

Another recent example of problems at the Council is an employee putting a knife to his own throat at work earlier this year, shouting 'Is this what you want...'. Despite widespread concerns about bullying being raised at the staffing committee, the Conservative Chair of the staffing committee didn't even tell his own committee about the incident. Then to compound his errors he abused his position as chair to make a personal statement, trying to vindicate himself, during a staffing committee meeting and publicly stated the office in which the knife incident had occurred, thereby increasing the risk of identifying the staff members affected.

There have been calls for Cheshire East Council to be put into Special Measures. Even Conservative MP for Tatton Esther McVey has written to the Secretary of State asking him to look at the Council. A Sandbach resident has started a petition about Cheshire East Council https://www.change.org/p/sajid-javid-launch-an-independent-enquiry-into-air-quality-data-falsification-by-cheshire-east-council

In fact the only local MP to have come out in support of the beleaguered Council is Fiona Bruce MP for Congleton who praised the ‘principled and professional manner’ in which the Conservative Council Leader ‘has addressed and planned to resolve past problems’.

The Labour Group does not believe that the local Conservatives have the competence to solve the problems at the Council and has been calling since March for an external investigation into the culture at the Council and the allegations of bullying. Conservative controlled Cheshire East Council has now finally agreed to a review by the Local Government Association.

The Labour councillors on Cheshire East Council have been active in putting forward positive proposals as well as highlighting Conservative failings. Here is a sample of the issues we have been working on:

 

  • Pressing for stronger controls on Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs) – reporting HMO’s and issues around rented properties. Pressing for a compulsory landlord registration scheme.
  • Working with the Save Our Buses Campaign following Conservative proposals to reduce bus subsidies by 40%
  • Retaining Children’s Centres and Mental Health Facilities in the Borough - Working with Community Groups on relevant campaigns.
  • Fly tipping and litter
  • Parking in urban areas on grass verges – funding for the pilot projects to be extended to other areas.
  • Highways Maintenance and Repair – Question how funding is allocated and grants sought for road upgrades and repair.
  • Air Quality – Checking the progress of suggested Air Quality Management Areas and Air Quality Action Plans as well as following the unfolding saga of who manipulated the figures.
  • Social/Council Housing – monitor the provision of Social Housing.
  • School Parking – Campaigning for providing schools with drop off points on a rolling programme. Other measures to lessen the number of parents who use cars to take children to school as outlined in the working group report.
  • Social Care- Keep a check on the quality of care by checking reports to Committees. Reporting on the stream of private care homes being judged as ‘inadequate’ or ‘requires improvement’.“

Are the Tories on Cheshire East wearing rose-tinted glasses?

There has been a series of press releases issued by Cheshire East Council's Communications Team in recent days that paint a very rosy picture of things at the Council at...

At the Cheshire East Council meeting on 23rd February this year, Labour Councilors proposed “That during 2017/18 the council consult on a compulsory residential landlord licensing scheme for all privately let residential accommodation situated within Cheshire East, including all houses in multiple occupation (HMOs). The administration of the scheme will be cost neutral, with its set-up and running costs to be covered by income from licence and inspection fees within the forthcoming three year budget cycle.”

The Council Leader, Councillor Rachel Bailey and the portfolio holder for housing, Cllr Ainsley Arnold gave an undertaking to investigate and pursue the issue.

Yet, over six months later nothing has happened, with the Council procrastinating, saying that it is waiting for the Government to issue new regulations on the registration and management of HMOs.

Meanwhile new HMO’s are springing-up on a weekly basis in the inner areas of the Borough’s major towns , and especially in Crewe, where residents are complaining that the concentration of HMO’s has now reached saturation point.

Yet some councils are not waiting, with many up and down the country currently working on introducing new HMO registration schemes, or strengthening and extending their existing HMO registration schemes, Changes include imposing restrictions on new HMO’s in areas already having high concentrations, and pursuing prosecutions against rogue landlords and agents far more vigorously.

Brian Roberts, Labour Councillor for Crewe West said; ‘Over the last few years I have witnessed most of my neighbours move away. Where once over 90% of my neighbourhood was made-up of owner occupiers or long term tenants, it has now fallen to around 20%, with the majority of houses and flats let on short term insecure tenancies.

As a result, neighbourhood cohesion is non-existent, fuelled by the ongoing ‘churn’ of residents that stay for only six months, or less. Also, the housing stock is becoming increasingly dilapidated as is the public realm because of continued lack of any long-term investment by Cheshire East Council on infrastructure.

The minority of rogue landlords are being let off the hook and private renters, especially in HMO’s, face a “postcode lottery” when it comes to having their rights upheld, with Cheshire East currently having the lightest of light touch registration schemes.

 

Steve Hogben, Crewe South Labour Councillor, added, “In my ward and many others in Crewe the consequence of uncontrolled HMO development is that many of our communities and neighbourhoods are at saturation point with HMOs and we risk them being ‘hollowed out’ as families give up and move away. 

We desperately need a policy that limits the density of HMOs in any given area, to prevent the ‘doughnut effect’ that occurs in some inner cities. I have raised the need for such a policy a number of times at planning committees and so far the official response has been to ignore it.  I am not prepared to tolerate that any longer. 

We need action by Cheshire East Council NOW, before it is too late!”

Nick Mannion, Labour Councillor for Macclesfield West & Ivy, said, “For many of our most vulnerable residents, renting from a private landlord is currently the only option available to them. Therefore, we have a duty to ensure that such accommodation is safe and well-managed. Good landlords have nothing to fear from a robust registration scheme, but it will help the Council quickly identify and clamp-down on the minority of incompetent and rogue landlords and agents.”

Labour calls for urgent action to control growth in Housing In Multiple Occupation (‘HMO’s’)

At the Cheshire East Council meeting on 23rd February this year, Labour Councilors proposed “That during 2017/18 the council consult on a compulsory residential landlord licensing scheme for all privately let...

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