Barlow's Beef: Going.... Going.. Gone!

Councillor Michael Jones, Leader of Cheshire East Council

So... our council Leader has resigned following sustained pressure from both public and party following what has become Physiogate. Why anyone is remotely surprised escapes me.
Just like the Lyme Green incident corners were cut and decisions made in contradiction to approved council procedure. Despite numerous attempts to prove otherwise there has been not one shred of evidence that Michael Jones made any personal gain whatsoever.

You may recall before Mr Jones gained the Leadership in 2012 Cheshire East was 'reaching for the stars' having spent almost £250K on a Chief Exec who (in my opinion) was clearly out of her depth.

A good deal of empire building followed with a proliferation of officers and directors. Then came the UK's most serious financial crisis for a century. The incumbent council Leader resigned with few applicants prepared to guide the new council through the painful pruning process.

Subsequently councillors elected Michael Jones to lead the restructuring process despite his little more than 12 months experience of council procedures. They saw Mr Jones's commercial experience and his apparent confidence to 'get the job done' as major attributes.

Restructuring is a fearful prospect for anyone steeped in the Paralysis by Analysis method favoured by councils with staffing problems.

By reducing costs and trimming management the new Leader held council tax throughout his term in office but everything comes at a price. Cutting staff and bypassing procedures is not a policy that endears you to the establishment.

The electorate were painfully aware how CEC jumped the gun and gave itself its own planning permission at Lyme Green and the far from perfect job done presenting the Local Plan.

Hence, the May elections provided the perfect opportunity for change. In the full knowledge of all that went before voters returned Mr Jones's Tory party with an increased majority. The people had spoken and like just Oliver asked for more.

Michael Jones did not disappoint. His management style did exactly what it said on the tin. There were no new surprises.

Six months later and Leader Jones is on his way. Getting rid of a Leader is not difficult for a sanctimonious council. Finding a better one is a different matter all together.
 Chances are CEC will opt for a Leader so steeped in bureaucracy and procedure it will require a full council meeting and a site visit to change a loo roll.

Give it twelve months and my mailbox will be stuffed with emails bemoaning the box-ticking procrastination of the new Leader.

Such is the price of a wasted vote.

The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of

Barlow's Beef, Vic Barlow


Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Mark Goldsmith
Tuesday 15th December 2015 at 12:39 pm
"Despite numerous attempts to prove otherwise there has been not one shred of evidence that Michael Jones made any personal gain whatsoever."

I believe Sepp Blatter has made similar claims too.

Okay, Cllr Jones is not on the same scale, but there are so many things that don't add up in this case that seriously question his integrity and ability. Whether he financially benefited or not is irrelevant. He had to go.

He bypassed many procedures that are designed to stop any untoward patronage with public money. And he has yet to explain why? From my experience, his explanation shows all the hallmarks of a lie (avoidance by diverting the subject onto his previous good work, not openly protesting his total innocence, only denying parts and not the whole story).

Therefore, it is right that he goes. Otherwise, what is the point of rules and elected office?

PS has anyone explained why CE needed to spend £164k on this project in a time of "austerity"? Don't schools have PE teachers anymore?
Vic Barlow
Wednesday 16th December 2015 at 11:53 am
I do believe that we, the electorate, need to accept our responsibility.

We cannot expect politicians to be sensitive to our views if we continue voting for the same party regardless of performance.

If they believe that nothing they do will change our voting pattern then why would they?

Time for us to stop complaining and act.
Pete Taylor
Wednesday 16th December 2015 at 8:19 pm
Some shreds of evidence may turn up soon.