Independent Group and Labour enter 12-month agreement to run Cheshire East Council

The Independent Group and Labour have announced they have entered into an agreement which will see them run a shared Cabinet for a fixed term of 12 months until it is replaced with a committee-based system.

The announcement follows the recent elections which resulted in the Topires losing their their majority on Cheshire East Council for the first time since the council was formed in April 2009 - leaving no party with overall control of the council.

The Leader of the Labour Group, Sam Corcoran, will be the new Leader of Cheshire East Council, whilst the Leader of the Independent Group, Craig Browne, will be Deputy Leader of the Council. 

The two groups will share the responsibility of running the transition cabinet with Labour taking the majority of the cabinet places after negotiation with the Independent Group. The Conservatives will fulfil the scrutiny function, which oversees how each department operates.

This announcement means the current system where eight Cabinet members run the council will be scrapped and replaced with a committee-based system in May 2020, the start of the next municipal year. The transition agreement with Labour and the Conservatives will then end.

Sam Corcoran, Leader of the Labour Group on Cheshire East Council, said; 'The electors of Cheshire East clearly rejected the previous rotten Conservative administration in the elections on 2nd May. Labour recorded its highest ever number of votes, share of the vote, and the number of Labour councillors elected - 25.

"Therefore, we have put into place a transition arrangement for the governance of the Council for the next twelve months with support of the largest Independent group.

"The agreement with the Independent Group will ensure that services continue to be delivered, provide re-assurance to staff and partners and enable us to start work on delivering Labour's manifesto for Cheshire East, whilst replacing the shambolic Conservative regime that has brought so much discredit and criticism upon Cheshire East Council."

The Leader of the Independent Group, Craig Browne said "We would like to thank the residents of Cheshire East for their votes and for trusting us to deliver the change they so desperately want to see. They gave us 25% of Cheshire East Councillors and with no party in overall control we have had to make the very difficult decision of who will deliver its vital public services AND reform how it is run in the future.

"There are aspects of working with both major parties which give us cause for concern and we have not taken this decision lightly. However, this 12-month agreement is necessary to bring about the vital changes needed to ensure Cheshire East operates in an open and transparent manner for the years to come.

"The transition agreement means we can deliver this change within 12 months. We have asked the Conservatives to act as watchdog over our daily management of the council, but they will not be able to block key reforms.

"We think this is the most sensible way to ensure we deliver key services and the vital changes our voters asked us to introduce."

Photo: Craig Browne and Sam Corcoran.

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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.

Keith Chapman
Tuesday 14th May 2019 at 12:41 pm
A case of vote Independent - get Labour.
Nick Jones
Tuesday 14th May 2019 at 1:01 pm
The lesser of 2 evils no doubt ! ... Time for change !
David Jefferay
Tuesday 14th May 2019 at 1:42 pm
No Keith, it is a case of vote for change, actually get change. Not four more years of the same.
Oliver Romain
Tuesday 14th May 2019 at 3:30 pm
Whether you agree with the policies or politics of this set up or not. If the 'Lab-Ind' delivers on openness and transparency we are likely to see better decision making in the future. It only leaves us to decide what to call the coalition? Labind maybe. Or for a touch of french 'La Bind'?
Keith Chapman
Tuesday 14th May 2019 at 3:51 pm
There is minimal support for the Labour Party in Wilmslow and for ROW to work in coalition with Labour is an immediate betrayal of what I suspect are the vast majority of ROW supporters - disillusioned Conservative and Libdem voters. Transparency is a worthy aim, but to stand as an independent, to win votes on that basis, and then to join with a party which has no local support is far from transparent.
David Jefferay
Tuesday 14th May 2019 at 4:43 pm
Keith, as you've probably read elsewhere, the Independent Group's preference was for the transition cabinet to be completely cross-party but, as the two main parties were unable to work come to an agreement, we had a choice to make. We chose the option which gives us the best chance of achieving the changes we said we would make and the changes for which the residents voted.
If we had chosen the Conservatives, that would have been an immediate betrayal of the people who voted for us.
Nick Jones
Tuesday 14th May 2019 at 4:47 pm
Thanks Cllr Jefferay for the explanation.
Jonathan Follows
Tuesday 14th May 2019 at 4:49 pm
I knew exactly what I was doing when I voted, and I both predicted and welcomed the Labour+Independent coalition on these pages. I also didn't fail to vote Conservative "because of Brexit" and all these people trying to tell me how misguided I was don't get my favour. However I say this because I believe there are many people who feel the same as me and voted similarly, and are happy with the outcome.
Manuel Golding
Tuesday 14th May 2019 at 5:45 pm
Keith Chapman us playing the oldest "game" in politics, scare the voters with distorted propaganda. We have had more than enough worthless political scares over the past 3 years, all proven without substance. I suggest Keith takes a look at the reality of the situation at CEC today. The CEC Conservatives are suffering from a culture shock, looking forward to life on the council chamber back benches.
Wilmslow's voters overwhelmingly voted for RoW and change to the way in which his party arrogantly used Wilmslow as a cash-cow, consistently ignored voters' concerns and ploughed their own myopic path. Things are going to be changing at CEC but it was his Conservatives were not willing to work with the three political groups and the Conservative's undertakings to the Independent group fell short of what was requested to meet the expressed wishes of our voters. In that case it was Labour who agreed with the Independent Group to honour its commitment to change from the Conservative dictatorial Cabinet only system to the open & transparent Committee system (which will be enacted next April/May). It is a matter of trust in the word of the other. It most certainly will not be a pseudo socialist administration, decision making will be shared between the two groups.
Cllr David Jefferay, above, sums the situation you are trying to complain about perfectly adequately.
Keith Chapman
Tuesday 14th May 2019 at 9:15 pm
Manuel, Labour will take the credit for any successes, and the independents will take the blame for the failures. In the meantime the electors of Wilmslow have had a Labour administration foisted upon them which they did not and never would vote for. Next time ROW candidates should have the courage of their convictions and stand as Labour candidates. Let’s see how many are elected.
Toni Fox
Tuesday 14th May 2019 at 10:53 pm
Dear Keith,

Not only are you underestimating the resolve of the Independent Group to work first and foremost on behalf of residents but also the integrity of those of us who stood as representatives of Residents of Wilmslow.

As a re-elected RoW Independent Councillor can I re-iterate that this is a transitional cabinet for 12 months only until the new, more open and democratic, committee system of governance is introduced at Cheshire East Council at the earliest date achievable.

In support of residents views across the Borough the Independent Group has been campaigning for this change for 18 months. Leading up to the election residents re-iterated this change is what they wanted - and they meant it - which is why the Conservative Party lost so many seats at the election.

Let us not forget that at the Full Council meeting in February of this year when the Independent Group requested, again, for this change, the Conservative majority once again voted against the Committee system of governance whilst Labour members supported it.

Be assured, there is no binding contract between the Independent Group and Labour for the coming 12 months, the Independent Group will act on what it believes will provide the best possible outcome for residents.

Personally I would hope that both Labour, and the Conservative party, will now undertake to work together with the Independent Group to provide the best service we can for residents.

Given the vastly reduced resources available from Government this is not the time to squabble about politics and who has “control” - it completely misses the point residents have clearly made in the election.
Mark Toombs
Wednesday 15th May 2019 at 7:10 am
This is a long time happening! Gone is the old guard and in with the New. Well done to you all! As for those who point out to National Govt short comings as an excuse, well guess what We the Public are feed up with CEC scandals and Incompetence. So now starts a New chapter
Brian Tickner
Wednesday 15th May 2019 at 5:05 pm
Keith Chapman, I agree with your comments that "Labour will take the credit for any successes and the Independents will take the blame for the failures." I would be very interested to hear from ROW voters that previously voted Tory. How do they feel now that they have a Labour administration whose top priority appears to be climate change. A laudable aim for sure but aren't there other local pressing issues that are the top priority? I hope that Toni Fox is right with her response above but let's see what happens to ROW candidates at the next election.
John Duckworth
Thursday 16th May 2019 at 9:03 am
I recall in one of my comments leading up to the local elections saying "Be careful what you wish for" The people of Wilmslow voted for ROW I have no problem with that, we all should accept that and hope via the town council they can carry out the pledges made to the people of Wilmslow. It remains to be seen if the Independent Group and Labour will do more for Wilmslow than the Conservatives did - I hope that ROW voice will be heard. Let's see what happens over the next 12 months. Voters left the Conservatives because of Brexit - My message to such voters is not to vote in local elections if you do not understand the difference between local elections and general elections, or perhaps you want Labour to run the country after the next general election. My final comment when next voting "BE VERY CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR"
Pete Taylor
Thursday 16th May 2019 at 12:20 pm
Sour grapes already?
Richard Armstead
Thursday 16th May 2019 at 2:27 pm
I do understand that there needed to be an understanding established between Labour and the Independent Group in order to wrest Cabinet control away from the Conservatives for the next 12 months. I also understand that it may make some of the Wilmslow voters a little uneasy when Sam Corcoran talks about a 'Labour Manifesto' whilst holding control of the Cabinet system for the foreseeable future.
Terry Roeves
Thursday 16th May 2019 at 5:27 pm
Clear and detailed unbiassed article on p15 of Private Eye May 17th edition.
Main headline is Rotten Boroughs, Local Election Special.
Then see CEC Handed. Just read this to understand why the Conservatives were booted out.
Terry Roeves
Thursday 16th May 2019 at 5:37 pm
See Private Eye, Rotten Boroughs page 15 in May 17th edition. Makes it quite clear as to why Conservatives were booted out.
They have no defence. It was of their own making - beyond reasonable doubt. They know this but can never admit it to us voters.
Far far better for their remaining Cllrs to work conscientiously and diligently in the best interests of their constituents. Somehow I doubt it. They will continue to blame others and be destructive. Their new leader is already at it. Pathetic frankly.
John Duckworth
Thursday 16th May 2019 at 8:29 pm
Mr.Taylor "Sour Grapes Already" What a silly statement to come out with - Read and try and understand before making comments - Wishing that our local Councillors and Wilmslow Town council can achieve results from the new Labour Independent - It's a fact that lots of people voted based on Brexit - Advising people to be careful of what they wish, what on earth is wrong with that ? I assume you will be ranting on as usual - I have better things to do than indulging in stupid interactions with you.
Brendan Murphy
Thursday 16th May 2019 at 11:04 pm
This is another one of those conundrums: - “did people know what they voted for?” And the problem is that the so-called Independent Group is in fact a coalition of political parties and some genuine independents. It remains to be seen whether the genuine independents stay with the coalition when they realise whet the coalition group is really about.
Its one-plank policy of abolishing the cabinet system and replacing it with the old fashioned “committee system” is a puerile gimmick. And that’s not what “independent voters” voted for. After all the, the cabinet system incorporates about 30 committees (or similar bodies) incorporating opposition councillors pro rata. So how many committees do the opposition councillors want? And are we then going to have 4 years of Westminster-style squabbling and dithering? Heavens forgive! It will divert resources away from the legitimate needs of the electorate and be a further nail in the fragile vessel of Democracy!
I would urge the newly elected councillors to consider their position in the Coaltion Party andreturn to the Real Independent Group in its policy of steady, gradual reform as and when need for the benefit of the people we serve.
Alan Brough
Sunday 19th May 2019 at 6:31 am
John Duckworth,

You appear confident (some might say arrogant) in your assessment of why the Conservatives failed.

You cite Brexit as the motivator that turned voters away. That may have been a factor nationally but here there were other forces at work.

You conveniently dismiss the failure, mismanagement, misconduct and wasted money that has characterised the recent years of Conservative control at CE.

I’d credit local people with a degree more political savvy if I were you. The new lab / Ind alliance may bring a different flavour to local government, but it surely can’t be as bitter or sour as what we’ve had to endure in recent years.

The fact that large numbers of traditional, die-hard Conservative voters turned away speaks volumes - perhaps local Conservatives will be awoken, and will work to restore their damaged reputations sufficiently to mount a challenge next time around?
John Duckworth
Wednesday 22nd May 2019 at 10:42 am
Alan Brough

So that I can explain a little more clearly for you and all other contributors. ROW won the election (not the Independent Group) in Wilmslow, as I have said I have no objection to this and hope that ROW deliver as promised, a hope they will do well.

You will be unaware that I attended the first ROW stall at the Artisan market, at that time I believed in what ROW stood for, in over 5 hours I spoke to many people who expressed concerns on local issues, however, many mentioned Brexit.

I was going to vote ROW and NOT Conservative - the reason I did not vote and withdrew any interest in ROW was because of their involvement with the Independent Group. In fact, people representing the Independent group (From Bollington) had a stall outside Barclays Bank in Wilmslow protesting against Brexit and promoting Stay, and stating that the people of Wilmslow didn't want Brexit, this was before ROW joined the Independent Group.

Many people submit a protest vote at local elections including Wilmslow I believe the people of Wilmslow may have had a different view if they had known that Labour and the Independent group would be running CEC (albeit for a trial period of 12 months) their vote may have been different and possibly more would have voted for Lib Dems.

Your comments that I conveniently dismissed the failure, mismanagement, misconduct and wasted money that has characterised the recent years of Conservative control at CE. Why should I, isn't that why people voted ROW I don't recall disagreeing to this.

Not all people in Wilmslow are politically savvy as in many more areas

If you still feel I am being arrogant then so be it.

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