Barlow's Beef: Will Cheshire East please stop 'saving' us money?


In 2011 Cheshire East endeavoured to save taxpayers money by building their own waste transfer station in Lyme Green instead of paying contractors to deal with our waste. It was a brilliant idea except for one minor was completely illegal.

By some amazing oversight CEC 'forgot' to apply for planning consent from their own planning department. Still suffering from memory loss they denied the fact until residents submitted photographs of the work in progress.

Far from saving money that little blunder cost taxpayers £2M plus £450K paid to an outside consultant to determine how they did it. Cleary amnesia was rampant in 2011.

A couple of years later CEC thought of another way to save money by launching their own business selling their 'expertise' to third parties. First off was CoSocius a company created to supply HR, training and financial management to the public sector.

For some inexplicable reason, customers did not clamour for their 'expertise' and CoSocius folded with a trading loss of £800K and a £8M pension deficit. (Not much 'saving' there.)

Having totally restructured in 2009 CEC decided to give it another go in 2013 appointing a new streamlined team of 13 top executives. Out with the old and in with the new came Heather Grimbaldeston, Director of Public Health.

Now, here we are in 2016 and guess what Cheshire East plan to do again. Yes, you have it in one... restructure. I have no idea what is happening to the other members of the Class of 2013 but our friend Heather is on her way out with a £283K redundancy package (slightly less than £1 from every man woman and child in the borough.)

I have no idea what Ms. Grimbaldeston intends to do with that enormous sum of money but I know it won't now be spent on care for families in need or improving the desperate plight of the mentally ill or supporting the disabled.

I know it won't ease the burden on social services or provide more respite accommodation for carers or help cancer patients in need of expensive drugs.

Should Ms Grimbaldeston suddenly find herself back in employment, as so many before her have done, I doubt she's going to return the cash so how is that going to 'save' taxpayers money?

Can I make a suggestion? Why don't Cheshire East concentrate on emptying bins, filling in potholes, making sure that street lights are on in winter and off in summer and forget about 'saving' us money.

Stop commercial experiments and restructuring every three years. Abandon these ludicrous ventures and even more ludicrous pay-offs and do the damn job.

Every £ thrown away is money that cannot be spent helping those in need.

We didn't vote for inept commercial ventures or financing monstrous payouts. We voted for the efficient delivery of services.

Can we start now...PLEASE?

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 16th August 2016 at 11:53 am
Vic, one has to question the abilities of the people we elect as our "representatives". Financial disaster after financial disaster, money saving idea after money saving idea,extravagant employment strategy after extravagant employment strategy, they all always end up costing us mega pounds.
It was too good a hope that the new leadership would have seen all the money loosing mistakes of the previous leadership. But no, the incompetents continue along the same crazy, hopeless path.
A lot of questions have to be asked of our majority Conservative councillors' competence to represent their electorate, to even understand what the leadership is up to, to ask questions and at some point simply state the bl---ing obvious, "the emperor has no clothes" .
Come the next round of elections, both for CEC & our town/parish councils, we must remember the unholy mess these people have been party to and vote for independent people with no party axe to grind. The party system has no place in local politics, as our Conservative councillors have proved time after time.
Nick Jones
Tuesday 16th August 2016 at 1:43 pm
In 2014 Cllr Sam Corcoran made a very reasonable and sensible suggestion, for clarity that those involved in the expensive 2011 onwards Lyme Green debacle, voluntarily release sections of the whitewash report relating to their individual conduct. Needless to say that never occurred. A legal decision suggested release of the full report may ‘jeopardise the careers’ of those critisied in it where People and not Process were at fault. Unfortunately it also allowed some of these same People others to carry on regardless… and that same whiff of unpleasantness on the respective shoes continued; Adlington “Never build on these fields “Road… Local plan, Cllrs going against their electorate to vote against protecting the green belt, Co Socius reporting a loss of £2.6m , CEC reorganising into directorates (More Cost !) to become self-funding ?, Then ‘No need for an inquiry’ £150.000 contracts issued to physiotherapist Core Fit (Now being investigated by Law Enforcement) Now… a newly created ‘Executive Directors’ role??.. (following on from Messrs’ Wenzel, Riley& Suarez)…. You just couldn’t make this stuff up !!! It’s No wonder Ian Hislop is reaping the benefits from record sales of Private Eye !! Shouldn't they be concentrating on merging East and West? Get rid of the duplication? Why such a small county was portioned was ridiculous in the first instance... Then we are told £5m savings already having been made? Just where exactly do these randomly generated numbers come from ?... In times of alleged cut backs and austerity measures... Who is paying for all this unaccountable shenanigans from their taxes?? ... The Localism Act was invoked to ensure councillors hold the highest ethical Standards... Perhaps therefore we should now revisit Cllr Corcoran’s suggestion re; Lyme Green? Co Socius and all the other wasted funds (not all being highlighted here). As Sir Humphrey himself once said in relation to misuse of revenue “A tiny mistake. The sort that anyone can make ... Hacker: A tiny mistake? 75,000 pounds? Give me an example of a big mistake.... Sir Humphrey: Letting people find out about it….. The quest for open government or a Dover Lemon sole in the River Bollin continues! and until that’s done I fear that the situation re; pot holes / street lights / other services will not change.
Barry Stafford
Wednesday 17th August 2016 at 3:41 pm
Most of these failings have happened since we started paying the buggers..Many are ,like MP's professional do-gooders. Many years ago when Aldermen and Councillors were running things. They were established business and professional had a proper job.Knew they had to save money ,as it wasn't theirs to squander.It was an honour to be made an Alderman,best of all they paid their own expenses,DID NOT get paid and expenses on top. Baz
Rick Andrews
Thursday 18th August 2016 at 10:44 am
Cheshire East Council is a failed experiment which we have paid for. You only have to look at the complete absence of street and footpath maintenance - so many footpaths alongside roads in rural areas have not bee swept or cleared for over 5 years. CEC needs to re-focus on delivering services and stop playing with consultants and advisers who are the only winners in the "cost saving" spin-offs. Are any of our councillors qualified to be company chairs? Of course not, but it seems they love the ego boosting publicity and expenses. (Fill in typical names here.....)
If the police and fire services can operate across Cheshire, why can't East and West recombine for council services - think of the cost savings there!
Pete Taylor
Friday 19th August 2016 at 1:36 pm
Is this the next CEC disaster coming down the track?

This is what is proposed to replace the failed (£9M) CoSocius experiment.
Vic Barlow
Friday 19th August 2016 at 2:08 pm
So here's the question:
Given Lyme Green Physio Gate Cosocius, the appointment of a disbarred director the constant 'restructuring' that costs a fortune and has to be undone every three years why would any organisation pay for their 'expertise.'
Would you?
Name any area of business where they have excelled...