Council refers two further matters to police for potential investigation

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Cheshire East Council has announced that two further matters have been referred to Cheshire Police to determine whether an investigation is required.

One of referrals is in connection with the purchase of land at Cledford Lane in Middlewich for the development of the Council's new Environmental Hub whilst the Council has declined to confirm what the second matter is in connection with.

Kath O'Dwyer, acting chief executive of Cheshire East Council, said: "As a result of targeted and risk-assessed audit work, undertaken over the last couple of months, I can confirm that I referred two further matters to Cheshire police on 26 February. The police are currently undertaking an initial assessment of these matters, in order to determine whether an investigation is required.

"One of the matters referred to the constabulary relates to the acquisition of land at Cledford Lane, which was subsequently used to provide the Cledford environmental hub project.

"In December 2017, council resolved that a report to clarify certain points raised as a notice of motion by elected members, in relation to the Cheshire East environmental hub project, would be presented to cabinet. We had intended to bring such a report to cabinet in March 2018.

"However, because the police are now considering whether any criminal offences have been committed in that matter, I am not in a position to bring forward the report as planned.

"We have agreed with colleagues in the police that we will not name the second matter until such time that the police have determined whether or not they will be formally investigating the matter.

"We stated last year that we would endeavour to ensure that any historical matters of concern are fully explored and appropriate action taken on our findings. To this end, we have embarked over the last few months upon a targeted and risk-assessed programme of audit in relation to specific land sales and acquisitions. This has resulted in these two referrals to the police, outlined above."

These latest referrals are in addition to four other matters which are currently being investigated after being referred to the police by Cheshire East Council. These investigations are regarding the awarding of contracts to CoreFit, the former Council Leader's physiotherapist, the deliberate manipulation of air quality data, the Council's decision to allocate £70,000 of public funds to Berkeley Academy in Wistaston for a car park and another land purchase.

Cllr Brian Roberts, Labour Councillor for Crewe West, said; "Just how many more skeletons are going to be found lurking at the back of Cheshire East's cupboard? The Environmental Hub at Cledford lane has been a highly controversial project from its outset. If it is found that anything unlawful or illegal has occurred during its procurement or development, there will very some very serious questions to ask."

Cllr Suzanne Brookfield, Labour Councillor for Crewe East said "The regular announcement of yet more police involvement into activities at Cheshire East Council will only inflict further damage to the Council's already very tarnished reputation amongst local residents and businesses. How much longer can it be before the Secretary of State puts the Council into Special Measures?"

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Cheshire East Council
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Comments

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

Nick Jones
Wednesday 7th March 2018 at 1:31 pm
Six Criminal Investigations !

It can neither be either appropriate, wise or independent enough to report these matters to Cheshire Police, and their PCC ( funded by Cheshire Taxpayers )
It needs independent scrutiny by another Force, SOCA, Regional Crime Team or some other Law enforcement agency

This is no way to run the show ...( unless a cowboy show ! ... perhaps that is a more appropriate analogy !! )

Cheshire West should take immediate control and merge this small county ASAP and rid ourselves of the damaged brand that CEC Council has become.

I note from the recent CEC Council staff survey some 200 employees reported bullying in the last half of 2017 ... That's not Michael Jones watch... That's Rachel Bailey' s watch.

Its a real shame that the hardworking Cllrs and back room staff at CEC who provide day to day services / support are now suffering this same 'general taint', They need change as much as the victims of their obfuscations ie; The residents and Tax payers!!

As George Orwell reminded us in his novels 'tyranny is ostensibly overseen by a leader'
Pete Taylor
Wednesday 7th March 2018 at 2:24 pm
Given the almost glacial speed with which Cheshire Police are dealing with the previous investigations, would it perhaps be better to send these cases to GMP, or one of the other nearby forces? Next thing we know the PCC will be asking for extra funds to conduct these investigations- into the very people who provide his funds!

Hopefully our local CEC representatives will be able to make comment here very soon, or have their PR company gagged them?
Brian Tickner
Wednesday 7th March 2018 at 3:44 pm
Nick Jones - is the word Criminal in your first sentence correct? I can't remember but I thought the police had been asked to see if any criminal investigation is required in each instance.
Vic Barlow
Wednesday 7th March 2018 at 10:34 pm
It's a wonder Cheshire Police have time to do anything other than investigate CEC.
Surely to God the Leadership has run out of time for 'historical issues' which appears to be their mantra.
Mr Jones has been gone over two years you can't keep blaming the same dry cow to divert attention from your own under-producing herd.
Martin Kitchin
Thursday 8th March 2018 at 12:59 am
Hi Nick Jones,

Hmm I wonder which Cheshire East dept will come out of the woodwork next ?

Yes in the interests of transparency, if the reviews are to have any credibility then they must be carried out by an independent police force and not by Cheshire Police.

All the best,

Martin
Peter Evans
Friday 9th March 2018 at 10:46 pm
Smoke / fire. Esp when there is so much smoke it's become a smog. The article and comments so far haven't mentioned the ludicrous redundancy pay offs over last couple of years or the 5.99% hike in counc tax. What's there to not like about CEC !?!?!