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.

David Hadfield
Wednesday 7th March 2018 at 2:51 pm
Sounds as though even more heads are going to roll ..........
Can't wait for Bastille Day ....
Craig Browne
Wednesday 7th March 2018 at 4:27 pm
“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”.

It is perhaps worth adding that the only reason this happened was because the Independent Group at CEC had requested a special meeting of council in order to debate and seek clarification of those issues in the first place.

As your Ward Councillor, I seconded the motion and spoke in favour of it. At the time, several members of the Labour Group spoke against it, whilst some members of the Conservative Group described it as a “witch hunt”.
David Hadfield
Wednesday 7th March 2018 at 5:20 pm
Well Done Craig Browne,
At least we have some honourable representatives who are prepared to ask questions and create investigations to find out exactly what has happened .......
Tony Haluradivth
Monday 12th March 2018 at 7:00 pm
"They(really) are all in it together" Thanks Craig for helping shine the searchlight on this. Our Council tax is going up by £15 a month and I do hope none of our money is going towards these investigations and subsequent "payoffs" . I have to pay the costs for all our social care so our luxury Council Tax just covers bins for us. And I noted that Essex Council (with Essex being more densely populated) put theirs up by 1% less. Greedy Cheshire East or should I say big Fat (Cheshire) Cats :(
Ian Cook
Wednesday 14th March 2018 at 12:52 am
Anyone know How many ex-Councellors are we still paying whilst on suspension?

Who, for how long and how much?, I saw an FOI request that said £39,000 a month, is this still the case?
John Clegg
Thursday 15th March 2018 at 4:20 pm
A witch hunt?
What - investigating alleged wrong-doing?
Pete Taylor
Friday 16th March 2018 at 9:29 am
How long before any results- any results at all, will be made public? The Michael Jones and Suarez investigations have been going on for almost a year I think.
Alan Brough
Friday 16th March 2018 at 11:40 am
High time that CE Council are sent the same route as Northampton Council
Craig Browne
Friday 16th March 2018 at 12:13 pm
Hi all,

Just to say, I do understand and share your frustration at the time the investigation is taking (and costing!), whilst accepting that in the interests of transparency, the process must be allowed to run its course.

I do not sit on the Investigation & Disciplinary Committee, so there is not much more information I can provide, other than to say that its work is ongoing and the results will not be published until all investigations have been completed.

As of the end of December 2017, the suspensions and investigations at CEC had cost the taxpayer c.£750,000 - it follows that by the end of the financial year, this will be closer to £1,000,000.

Kind regards,
Craig
Ian Cook
Tuesday 27th March 2018 at 7:01 pm
Thanks Craig for your honesty and investigation on this matter, £1,000,000 on suspensions and investigations in a year............

What could we have done in Cheshire East with this extra budget?

Let's hope these issues are all resolved without huge payouts to keep people quiet, most people who don't do their job properly are sacked following procedures, where did this suspension on full pay culture come from in councils?