Another month, another Cheshire East Council controversy. In an earlier article, I informed you of the suspension of the councils Chief Executive Mike Suarez on his full pay and pension of £200,000 plus. Since then, he has caused yet more controversy, with his resignation being announced just days before his disciplinary hearing. I attended the Council Cabinet meeting on the day his resignation was announced, and Cllr Rachel Bailey, Leader of the Council, angrily attacked Leader of the Labour group Sam Corcoran when he made a plea for transparency.
What soon followed this caused further anger among Cheshire East residents, as it was announced that following Suarez’ resignation, the investigation into him had been conveniently terminated. The Council claimed that they could only investigate ‘officers on the payroll’ and as Suarez no longer was, they saw no need to continue the investigation. A coincidence? I don’t think so.
Council tax will have increased by 5.99 % over the period of 2018-19, and interestingly, the investigation into Suarez and two other senior officers cost over £1 million. Taxpayers money has been thrown down the drain as this Conservative Administration ‘lurches from scandal to scandal’.
Having already won the Private Eye magazine’s ‘Filthy Liars of the Year’ award, it looks like CEC want even more. They’ve just this week been the subject of a new article in the infamous satire magazine, this time entitled ‘Rotten Boroughs’. With former Leader Michael Jones awarding council contracts to his close friend and personal physiotherapist Amanda Morris, a bullying scandal running rife within the council and a number of ongoing police investigations, the ongoing refusal of the executive to actually deal with the issues shows a complete lack of competence.
The Labour Party see the current council controversies as the perfect opportunity to win Cheshire East. The clear message within the party is “If not now, then when?” For the first time in recent memory, Labour have nearly a full slate of candidates, and confidence is high amongst the local parties.
On the doorstep, residents are telling us that they’re ‘fed up’ with the council not fixing their problems. Road maintenance is crumbling, graveyards not having enough spaces, a controversial greenbelt development off Chelford Road that would eventually cost millions of pounds, and the recent scrapping of the Macclesfield Town Centre Development have left residents across the county reeling. People aren’t seeing a return for their hard earned money that goes towards council tax. Labour are the only viable option to restore order.