Coun­cil con­tro­ver­sies

‘ 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

Macclesfield Express - - TWEETGATE -

●● 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.

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