Barlow's Beef: Another stunning £800k loss from Cheshire East


I was somewhat taken aback by the news emanating from the hallowed halls of Cheshire East this week:

Cheshire East Council has entered into an agreement with Staffordshire and Moorlands District Council to enable the two authorities to assist each other with building regulations applications.

Civicance, a wholly-owned company of Cheshire East Council, which provides building control, planning support and address management, will be the Cheshire East component of the partnership.

Unless members of Staffordshire and Moorlands District are imbibing illegal substances why would they think a partnership with a council who blew over £1M on an ill-conceived unapproved waste transfer station then botched their own Local Plan so badly it had to be withdrawn was just the organisation to provide assistance with building control, planning support and regulation applications?

Next up from Cheshire East was another strange announcement to wit:

Cheshire East Council is to create a new flagship company to promote eco-efficient district heating networks in the Borough.

The Council is to team up with ENGIE, a global player in the development of renewable energy generation including geothermal.

The new company will be called Cheshire Energy Networks Ltd.

Council Leader Rachel Bailey said: "The establishment of Cheshire Energy Networks Ltd, in partnership with ENGIE, ensures that Cheshire East Council is in a strong position to secure a low-carbon future for the Borough.

"I applaud the previous work completed to get the project to this stage, which ensures Cheshire East is in the vanguard of district heating in the UK."

Rachel, Rachel, Rachel do you not read the news? Maybe you've been too busy so let me bring you up to speed.

As you were 'applauding all the previous work completed to get to this stage' CoSocius, a company jointly owned by Cheshire East, Cheshire West & Chester councils to provide IT and HR services, were winding up after making huge losses.

Somehow CoSocius managed to clock up an operating loss of £800,000 in eleven months plus a pension deficit of £8.5M.

Now, I don't know if that's some kind of record failure for a council selling it's wares? If not it's a damn good effort.

Had you gone to any UK financial institution to secure backing for Cheshire Energy Networks Ltd the first question that bank would ask would have been the performance of previous ventures to which you, Rachel, would reply: "We made a thumping great loss."

"How long were you operating?" would be the next question after which you would be shown the door and advised to seek backing from The Peoples Bank of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kurdistan or anywhere else ending in 'stan'.

Truth is, Rachel, the commercial competence of Cheshire East is, how shall I put it? On a par with Jamaica's ski jump team.

Unfortunately (for residents) you don't need to seek financial backing from banks you simply take it from taxpayers. Speaking as one of those taxpayers I'd like you to refrain.

Look Rachel, I am sure you mean well and as new leader of this delusional regime you may harbour a genuine desire to save taxpayers money so...stop throwing it away.

Concentrate on emptying bins and repairing potholes, maybe switch the street lights on when it's dark and stuff like that. When we think you are ready to move up we'll let you know.

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.

Manuel Golding
Tuesday 12th April 2016 at 7:21 pm
Hear, hear!

Well put Vic as yet another (potential) big loss making ego-enterprise is launched.

I wonder, do the councillors nominated to sit on any of the council's various management boards really know and understand how to run a business, never mind the proverbial whelk-stall? History does not bode well.
Deborah Ascott-Jones
Wednesday 13th April 2016 at 2:21 pm
Well said Vic - yet another black hole for tax payers money enters the fray!
Maria Quin
Wednesday 13th April 2016 at 2:52 pm
Spot on, as usual, Vic! When will the learning begin (or would that mean an exchange in the fortunes or otherwise of the council and its customers)?? We should have a facility to enable residents to produce a vote of no confidence in this council, methinks!
Barry Stafford
Wednesday 13th April 2016 at 3:26 pm
VIC. I am sure we can ask the National Audit Office to look into these total c...k -ups by Councils.Perhaps for the committee members to be liable for some of the losses.Does anyone know ? ie an ex Local Govt Official Baz
Vic Barlow
Wednesday 13th April 2016 at 4:53 pm
When you believe you have a brilliant business plan the bank insist you invest some of your own money before they invest theirs.
I see no reason why directors of these knew ventures should not be made to make the same financial commitment .
I do believe they would be a lot more careful and a lot less gung-ho with their business plans if they used some of their own cash rather than simply use ours.
If our council leader is so confident of success perhaps she would set the example and make a substantial investment.
No bank will back a new business without risk being shared with by senior management and neither should we.
So far CEC's track record is one of appalling losses.
Peter Davenport
Wednesday 13th April 2016 at 8:25 pm
I am looking forward to seeing the balance sheet of ANSA, and what the directors are paid, waste removal etc, ie drain emptying, bin emptying etc. From local experience in Adlington Road, it has taken at least 4 visits to empty drains, and there are still some of the 11 or more still blocked. How is that for an efficient run company!
Also, on odd visits from them, I have seen them, the gully wagon, disappearing at 2.30pm. Very efficient use of money!
Manuel Golding
Saturday 16th April 2016 at 10:33 am
Vic, regarding your last "comment" (10th April @ 4.53 p.m.) re banks requiring directors cash input, it is known in the finance world as "putting your skin into the game";that simply means directors & shareholders putting their brass forward.
So Cheshire East, what skin have your anointed councillors put into their respective games?