Strange Decisions Over White Moss Quarry
On 12 November 2014 the Cheshire East Council Strategic Planning Board will consider a report on the change-of-use application for land known as the triangular field by White Moss Quarry. Since 2005 this greenfield site has been used for parking and storage of vehicles, machinery, building materials and other equipment. In 2011 the Council approved a retrospective change-of-use application, but after the Local Government Ombudsman had investigated in April 2013 and found maladministration that decision was reversed.
The report to be discussed on 12 November confirms the Ombudsman’s finding of a catalogue of gross errors made by Cheshire East planning department in approving the application and confirms that enforcement action to prevent the use of the green field for parking vehicles is possible. The report concludes that part of the triangular field has been used for parking vehicles on since 2005 and that this change of use required planning consent. It remains to be seen whether Cheshire East Council will take any action as a result of this report. It is very galling to many residents when some people appear to flout planning rules in Cheshire East and get away with it.
Labour Group Leader, Cllr David Newton, said “There has been a long standing breach of planning rules. No enforcement action has been taken over the last 9 years. Will any enforcement action be taken now?”
The Ombudsman also found that the Council had knowingly and persistently misled the public. This disturbing finding has been taken up by Labour councillors shocked at how little action has been taken by the ruling Conservative administration after the Ombudsman’s damning report.
Speaking about the Ombudsman’s report at a Cabinet meeting on 22 July 2014 Sam Corcoran, Labour Councillor for Sandbach Heath & East, said, “There was one item of that that particularly concerned me and it was an allegation that the date on an aerial photo that had been uploaded to the website was changed in order to make it appear that the aerial photo had been available during the consultation period, whereas in fact the photo was uploaded after the consultation. I have now obtained under the Freedom of Information Act the audit trail relating to that aerial photo. If it had simply been uploaded to the website there would only have been one entry on the audit trail. I can now reveal that there are 2 entries on the audit trail.”
Cllr Corcoran then asked that the second item on the audit trail should be investigated thoroughly to find out: Who did What and Why they did it.
In July Cllr Michael Jones said, “I ask the chief executive to formally look into this,” but since then nothing has been reported back to Cabinet
The Conservative Council Leader added, “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.”