Campaigners 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.

Graham Hall
Tuesday 12th September 2017 at 3:39 pm
Only a Conservative council with an overweening sense of entitlement could achieve this level of incompetence and questionable decision making.
Cheshire East - the Zimbabwe of the North !.
Duncan Herald
Wednesday 13th September 2017 at 10:13 am
Then again, you could get a Labour Council, with a Leader that changes his mind every few days !
By the way, you may care to recall that the Conservative Council was democraticly elected.
Claire MacLeod
Wednesday 13th September 2017 at 11:51 am
So, Duncan, a Conservative Council, even when it is in disarray, apparently incompetent and, arguably, corrupt is STILL preferable in your eyes to any other party alternative? Interesting.

Personally, I fully support Mr Golding and the Residents of Wilmslow, in the position they are taking. As someone who has been on the receiving end of some questionable decision-making by the CEC planning council officers (and I know I am not a unique case), I think it is high time that the high-handed way the Council operates should be challenged. As you correctly point out, the Council was democratically elected. This means they should be held accountable.
Graham Hall
Wednesday 13th September 2017 at 1:07 pm
Democratically elected like Kim Jong Un ,Vladimir Putin ,Robert Mugabe ,Basher Al Assad and Colonel Gaddaffy not to mention Donald Trump and Brexit . No need to worry then ?
Alan Brough
Wednesday 13th September 2017 at 4:43 pm
Let's not get into party politics, blue or rainbow coloured, this Council has some serious questions to answer.

If you like, and for the sake of political balance, can we also petition for the Office of Cheshire's Police and Crime Commissioner to be placed in special measures as there is a decidedly nasty whiff coming from there also.

These people have millions of pounds of our money passing through their hands and we need to know that they are acting (at all times) competently, transparently and in our best interests - sadly I believe that this is not the case.
Duncan Herald
Wednesday 13th September 2017 at 5:51 pm
Hi Claire.
your first sentance is not at all about what I wrote. Now is it? Be fair. My sole coment was that the Conservative Council was elected. If there is a change in the next election, I will accept that (I'd reserve the right to moan of course).

Hi Graham.
to compare democracy in the U.K. with the dictatorships you list is a strange thing indeed. In the U.K., we can remove a government, by voting. In all but one of the countries you list, any objection to the 'leader' will get you killed.

You seem to clearly disapprove of the present President of the U.S.A.
The American public elected him.
Arbitrarily insulting him, as you do above, is hardly fair. I do not approve of some of his policies (which will cause him no loss of sleep I imagine) but I can't see the point of other than reasoned arguement.

As Alan notes, there ia a chance (a very small one I imagine) of action against C.E. Can't see that happening in many countries eh ?
Manuel Golding
Thursday 14th September 2017 at 8:21 pm
As an outsider to Alderley, albeit in Wilmslow with a equi-mile between me and both centres,
I would remind Graham Hall that Donald Trump was elected by the US voters (it appears the US economy is well on the up as is unemployment figures since his election) and that the UK referendum on whether to vote In or Out was democratically won by the Out side. That is the nature of democracy, some of you lose, some of us win.
Back to the really important issue of our times, Cheshire East Council's highly questionable behaviour since its inception. RoW believes the time has come to at last say to the Government, enough is enough of this rotten borough's antics. We embarked on the political route some 4 years ago when we realised the CEC powers that be, both at council leadership & officer levels, were more than happy to push our concerns away. We won one CEC ward, Cllr Toni Fox in Dean Row, two years ago, only just lost out on East ward due to the intervention of a paper Green candidate - but that's the nature of our democratic system which we accept & do not whinge over. That's the name of the game Mr. Hall.
To further illustrate our concerns with CEC, a northern councillor was told by the Chief Planning Officer that the 300 plus responses against a 250 Green Belt housing plan were, his word "irrelevant". So now we all know, we are irrelevant to the Master Plan.
We have raised our concerns with the way the Police & Crime Commissioner has gone about appointing his deputy and CEO with our new MP, Esther McVey. She has spoken to the Home Sec and have to await further news.
Now we see CEC is being accused of paying its care workers below the minimum wage whilst it has continued to pay its third-rate executive officers exorbitant salaries, a number of whom are now tending to their gardens.
Residents of Wilmslow welcomes our Alderley neighbours' support. Please do write to the Leader of the Council expressing your concerns with the way this rotten borough is being run.
Graham Hall
Monday 18th September 2017 at 11:24 am
Just to avoid misunderstanding. My point in referring to Putin , Kim Jong Un etc was to illustrate that democratically elected does not automatically confer legitimacy. It's what you do with the power once you've got it that is the important thing . And if you are elected on the basis of a pack of lies and misrepresentation like Brexit and Trump and Cheshire East then I think I'm entitled to whinge.
Kathryn Blackburn
Tuesday 19th September 2017 at 3:42 pm
In my opinion Mr Herald this situation has arisen within Cheshire East Council as the result of a Perfect Storm of ineptitude and character flaws in some not all of the councillors that we the voter put our faith behind. Unfortunately the few black sheep seem to be leading the whole flock off the cliff edge. And Manuel is spot on it requires sorting.