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Management failings at CEC

Bewildered

 

 

The Information Commissioner has ordered Cheshire East Council to release a report that the Council has suppressed.

The Information Commissioner (whose national HQ is in Wilmslow in Cheshire East) has recently ruled against Cheshire East Council over a report about plans for the “BeWILDerwood” adventure park at Tatton Park. This report was withheld from public disclosure by Cheshire East Council when a member of the public requested it last spring. The council now has until 13th February (Ash Wednesday) to release the report or appeal against the ruling.

 

Cheshire East Council is currently without a permanent chief executive, deputy chief executive or head of legal services. The head of finance is on long term sick leave. This all follows an investigation into Lyme Green, where the Council spent £810,000 developing a waste transfer depot before planning permission had been granted, and incurred expenditure beyond the approved budget, breaking the Council’s own Finance and Contract Procedure Rules; furthermore, the Council’s decision to award the relevant contract did not comply with EU procurement regulations either. The Information Commissioner’s ruling lists the extensive catalogue of errors at Lyme Green and then states that the Lyme Green Depot development and the BeWILDerwood project are comparable initiatives, both involving significant public expenditure.

 

References are to paragraphs 31-35 of the report on Case Reference 0457702 at the Information Commissioner’s website

 

http://www.ico.gov.uk/enforcement/decision_notices.aspx

 

See also the attached copy of the decision notice that may be found on that website.

 

The two Labour members of the Council’s powerful Audit and Governance Committee have spoken about what this notice means for the authority.

 

Cllr Sam Corcoran, Labour Councillor for Sandbach Heath & East, said

“The very fact that the Information Commissioner has ruled against Cheshire East Council is embarrassing, but the terms of the judgement make very uncomfortable reading. It is becoming clear that Lyme Green was not an isolated incident, but at every turn the Conservatives claim that things have changed and we are now on the right road. The council seems to lurch from crisis to crisis and in the case of BeWILDerwood the response of the Conservative leadership at Cheshire East Council has been to brush it under the carpet.”

 

 

 

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

“The Information Commissioner’s ruling has implications for the Lyme Green report that is currently being withheld. The Conservative leadership of Cheshire East Council should now do what Labour councillors and local newspaper editors have been calling for. They should commit to releasing the Lyme Green report as soon as all staff disciplinary proceedings have been completed.”

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