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Poor culture in Cheshire East Council

Culture of Fear


At the Cheshire East Council Audit Committee meeting on Thursday, the issue of the culture in Cheshire East Council was raised.

An extract from the summary of the Designated Independent Person report on Lyme Green says that “perhaps officers found it difficult to report negative news”

Cllr Steve Hogben said that this is a clear suggestion of a culture of fear where Cheshire East employees are unwilling to report bad news.


The Conservative’s initial response to the Lyme Green investigation was to change rules. However Labour councillors pointed out that no amount of new rules will help if the rules are not followed.


The second response to Lyme Green was to implement a management restructure even though the extracts of the Lyme Green report that have been made public do not criticise the management structure.


The problem at Cheshire East Council is the culture of the organisation  - and this still needs to be addressed.


Some departments in Cheshire East Council do have the right attitude. On one hand, a recent external investigation report says, “All staff involved in inspection were most receptive to constructive comment and approached the inspection in a most positive, courteous and cooperative manner. “  On the other hand, the Local Government Ombudsman recently reported that the planning department “knowingly and persistently misled the public” and referred to an apparent attempt to cover up. Dates put on the council planning website are still misleading the public.


The Audit & Governance Committee agreed to review the culture of the organisation as part of its future work plan.


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

“The problem has been the culture of the organisation not the rules which govern its operation or the structure of management.  There will be genuine improvement when the council enables its staff to develop and improve: the council must take responsibility for its own actions rather than shifting blame or being evasive.  This means real openness and transparency in the way it works - not the smoke and mirrors that have been used too often in the past.”


Cllr Sam Corcoran said,


“What we need is a culture that treats complaints as gifts – because they highlight areas for improvement.”

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