‘ Tweetgate’ is the latest row to hit Cheshire East Council, but it isn’t the first. Here, we look back at some of the other controversies to hit the council since it was formed in April 2009
●● LYME Green fiasco, (October 2011). ONE of the biggest fiascos that the council has endured was the botched bid to build a waste transfer facility at Lyme Green in Macclesfield.
The council broke its own rules by starting building work on the site before it had received planning permission for the work.
The scheme was scrapped leading to a £1m bill to taxpayer, while opposition councillors claim the bill is likely to top £3m. ●● DISABLED parking, (October 2012). CHESHIRE East apologised after reserving a disabled parking space for its able-bodied council leader. The space was reserved for Coun Michael Jones near the Municipal Buildings in Crewe.
Coun Jones did not use it and said he had no knowledge of it being reserved for him. ●● HS2 controversy, (January 2013). THE council was forced to backtrack after Coun Michael Jones claimed that Chancellor George Osborne had influenced the HS2 high speed rail link’s route.
Confirmation that it would avoid parts of George Osborne’s Tatton constituency was followed by the council leader’s claim the Chancellor had influenced that decision.
But after objections were raised the council was forced to release a statement denying Mr Osborne had played any part in the discussions.
A statement read: “In a press release, Cheshire East Council stated that George Osborne had fought hard to keep the HS2 rail link out of his constituency in Knutsford and Tatton.
“In fact, this is not the case and MP George Osborne had no say whatsoever over the proposed route of the HS2 link.” ●● CONSERVATIVE conference stall, (February 2013). THE council came in for criticism after it spent £1,000 on a stall at the Cheshire and Wirral Conservative Conference.
The council confirmed it exhibited a stand ‘to convey a specific message’ that Cheshire East ‘does not want speculative, unsustainable and unplanned housing developments.’
Council leader Michael Jones later paid back the £1,000 from his own pocket. ●● PLANNING row, (May 2013). COUNCIL officers were ordered to apologise and pay out £1,500 after an investigation found they had ‘knowingly and persistently misled the public’ about a planning application.
Residents had complained to the ombuds- man claiming the council should not have granted planning permission in relation to agricultural land in December 2011.
The ombudsman found the council had misled the public by falsifying dates when documents were made available during a consultation, and that key evidence had not been on offer for the public to comment on.
It also found maladmin- istration on the part of the council. ●● LOCAL Plan, (November, 2014). THE council’s long awaited local plan was delayed for another six months after planning inspector Stephen Pratt issued a damning report of it, saying it had serious failings.
In his report he criticised the way the authority earmarked green belt for development, and said it hadn’t included enough housing to meet needs in the plan, which governs where homes, roads and businesses will be built until 2030. ●● LEADER’S Easter message, (May 2014). COUN Jones apologised after an Easter message released through the council’s press office contained a political message.
In the message, written by the council’s press office, Coun Jones called on residents to ‘keep faith with the Conservatives’. ●● BATTLE of the bins, (June 2014). THE Local Government Ombudsman upheld a resident’s complaint over the way Cheshire East handled its decision to suspend garden waste collections during winter.
The council announced in October 2013 that it was to extend its winter suspension period by 11 weeks.
But a resident complained that the council had failed to tell him of the planned reduction before accepting his £45 annual renewal fee for an extra brown bin.
The Ombudsman’s report stated the council had known in June 2013 it was extending the winter suspension period, but only shared the information with residents more than three months later.
The council agreed to apologise and give the resident a partial refund of £15. It also agreed to give all other customers affected a discount of £15.
●● Cheshire East Council’s headquarters at Westfields, Sandbach.