Campaigners call for 'rotten' Council to be put into special measures

A local campaign group is calling for the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to put Cheshire East Council into Special Measures.

Residents of Wilmslow (along with other Cheshire East independent groups) has written to MP Sajid Javid outlining their concerns over the way the Council is being administered and requesting he initiates an independent enquiry to restore public confidence and considers placing the Council into Special Measures.

Speaking of behalf of Residents of Wilmslow (RoW) Manuel Golding said "We are informing him of our continued concerns about Cheshire East Council's poor management history that has resulted in a long stream of high profile errors, investigations and waste of taxpayer funds.

"Our latest concern is for the recent Cheshire East Council's admissions that officers have deliberately and systematically falsified and manipulated air quality data readings between 2012 and 2014. These falsified readings were put to some of the Council's Strategic Planning Boards' planning deliberations. We are concerned that this deliberate and systematic data falsification may have had a material effect upon planning decisions. It also may well have a serious effect on Section 106 awards during this time. Two officers have now been suspended and Cheshire Constabulary has now opened an investigation into this matter.

"We justifiably feel that this latest escapade has finally destroyed what remained of our waning confidence and belief in both our council's leadership, its cabinet members and its officers.

"This latest fiasco follows a litany questionable policies, decisions and administration by this council."

In their letter RoW have outlined the following, which they describe as 'earlier questionable issues':

  • Suspension of the CEO of Cheshire East Council, Mr Mike Suarez, in April 2017 pending a police investigation.
  • The resignation of the former Leader, Councillor Michael Jones, over contracts awarded to his personal physiotherapist's firm in 2015.
  • The Lyme Green Waste Transfer Station Fiasco in 2013/14
  • The suspension of Mr Bill Norman, Head of Legal Services in July 2017
  • Financial venture 'Co-socius' costing over £3M supposedly to save money on I.T. & H.R
  • Appointing a disbarred company director to run a Council commercial enterprise
  • Inability to merge East & West Cheshire councils' governance silos of one small county
  • Creating 'Executive Directors' roles followed by large severance payments
  • The Local Plan has been over 5 years in the process- council leadership & officers have consistently ignored residents serious misgivings;
  • Residents concerns have been treated, in the words of the Chief Planning Officer, as "irrelevant"
  • Numerous professional & highly respected planners have always asserted the LP has been so obviously "retro-fitted" to suit a specific agenda. Even officers of a neighbouring authority have made the same observation
  • Lack of a 5 year housing supply, developers do not build their applied for numbers, has resulted in significant over supply and unplanned growth in the south with an over demand for ever more of the north's green belt; 
  • Housing numbers and population growth have been vastly over estimated, based on suspect calculations (our figures are based on the ONS', CECs & others projections – we are able to present growth projections to prove our point)
  • This highly flawed and elongated process has wasted huge sums of public money.
  • Non Conservative councillors were not engaged by the council at any stage in the LP process

Manuel Golding added "Whilst it would appear there are a series of 'unconnected' events and issues that have resulted in a number of senior officers being suspended, with some officers possibly being charged with criminal behaviour, these only leads us to conclude there is something rotten at the core of this council.

"We are seriously concerned that Cheshire East Council has lost all credibility with the residents and electorate of the borough.

"Therefore we are writing to call upon the Secretary of State to initiate an independent enquiry into the actions and behaviour of the members and officers of Cheshire East Council to restore public confidence and to consider placing this council into Special Measures."

Cheshire East Council, Residents of Wilmslow


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

Chris Wigley
Monday 11th September 2017 at 8:31 am
I wish ROW every success in their campaign. Whether it is more transparency or significantly bad practice we have had a continuous number of scandals since the inception of Cheshire East which I cannot remember when we had Cheshire as a county council.
Terry Roeves
Monday 11th September 2017 at 8:31 am
Air quality data - UK wide neglect by government being highlighted in a report for the UN. Full report is in Guardian online. Extract is below. Violating obligations is my belief when it comes to CE. Their reputation is destroyed. What can we trust them with anymore?

"The UK government is “flouting” its duty to protect the lives and health of its citizens from illegal and dangerous levels of air pollution, according to the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights related to toxic waste.

Baskut Tuncak issued his warning after a fact-finding mission to the UK in January at the invitation of the government in a report that has been shared exclusively with the Guardian before it is presented to the UN human rights council this week.
“Air pollution continues to plague the UK,” he said. “I am alarmed that despite repeated judicial instruction, the UK government continues to flout its duty to ensure adequate air quality and protect the rights to life and health of its citizens. It has violated its obligations.”
Such harsh international criticism will be embarrassing for the government, whose air pollution plans have already been ruled illegally poor twice. The latest plan forced by the courts was released in July but condemned as “woefully inadequate” by city leaders and “inexcusable” by doctors.The
Laurie Atterbury
Monday 11th September 2017 at 5:59 pm
Another good example of CEC's incompetence is where they failed to notify the National Trust of the planning application for the recycling plant at Styal Prison. NT own adjoining land and I queried with CEPlanning why they did not consult NT at the end of August; as you'd expect no response as yet to my query.
Chris Neill
Monday 11th September 2017 at 9:57 pm
Thank you ROW for initiating this and I,m sure that almost all of us who have experienced life in our embattled town over the past years welcome your heroic efforts to save what we have left of the quality of Wilmslow. Overbuilding, more cars, vans and heavy duty kit which park on our pavements and pound the small potholed roads have been overwhelming in the past few years. There is obvious corruption, greed, and manipulation going on at CEC, that this needs to be exposed and stop the destruction of our infrastructure and life quality which we strive to achieve.
Nick Jones
Tuesday 12th September 2017 at 6:01 pm
David Burnand at Sandbach has also started a petition to Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to put Cheshire East Council into Special Measures for the same reasons at this time they are 10 short of 1500 signatures. Thats a lot of people annoyed with the current incumbents.
Here’s the link:
Barry Stafford
Wednesday 13th September 2017 at 6:12 pm
It always amazes me how the same developers get clear planning on 'Green Belt' Usually large 4/5/6 bed homes (greater profit) With no small mews homes,apartments or first time terraced homes.Instead these guys pay into the Council funds for use on local issues. In the Bethel Lane,Alderley Rd. Chapel Lane Area we have been over-run with contractors vehicles.heavy waggons,cars,etc. Blocking all the roads. In total four large developments were allowed to start this year by Ches.East. All these are flats for mature people,all within 100yards of each other .That is probably another 100 cars Trying to move onto Alderley Rd from Chapel Lane and Holly Rd. I agree with moves to hold public enquiries into this council.
Maria Quin
Wednesday 13th September 2017 at 7:20 pm
I couldn't have put my views any better than those of Chris Neill. This definitely needs action and I'm totally behind and grateful to RoW for their rigorous efforts. Wishing you every success.
Simon Atkins
Thursday 14th September 2017 at 8:42 am
Good Luck RoW
David Nelson
Saturday 16th September 2017 at 9:05 am
I hope other sensible thinking caring organisations will join in this campaign to put CEC into special measures. This has to be a concerted wake-up call. CEC has got away with too much for far too long at its residents' expense.