Earlier this year, TPN reported on the scandals engulfing the Conservative-run Cheshire East Council. Now, police have confirmed that they have opened their SEVENTH probe into the council, bringing the running total of criminal investigations by Cheshire Police up to SIX.
With questions being raised over the transparency and legitimacy of the council, its perhaps no surprise that there was what Acting Chief Executive Kath O’Dwyer claimed was a ‘targeted, forensic audit of historical land transactions’. This comes as the latest in a long line of blows for the council, which has been described by the local Labour group as ‘lurching from scandal to scandal’.
Last week, Council leader, Cllr Rachel Bailey, appeared on the BBCs Sunday Politics North West, where she said that people know about the investigations into CEC ‘because we’ve told them in an open and transparent way’. There you have the leader of the council covering her own back and making out that because we are all aware of the police investigations it’s all okay. To (misquote) Jim Callaghan, “Crisis? What crisis?”.
The fact of the matter is that Cheshire East Council has been far from ‘Open and Transparent’. Air quality figures manipulated, staff accusing them of bullying, land transactions being investigated and more. You simply couldn’t make it up.
Leader of the Labour Group, Sam Corcoran, recently wrote to the counties 5 MPs to call upon them to look into the concerns raised by the residents of Cheshire East, explaining how the bill to the taxpayers (£1 million for disciplinary processes and temporary appointments) and the scandals are negatively impacting the county. Its clear that only by changing the Tory leadership of the council can we achieve an ‘open and transparent’ council as Cllr Bailey claims we already have.
This is why the Independents have launched their own campaign, appropriately named ‘Change Cheshire East’. Their aim is to overhaul the cabinet system in a bid to put the power in the hands of the public. Naturally, this campaign is separate from the Labour Party’s campaign, however, a source from within the local Labour group says that ‘We welcome them joining our campaign to clean up Cheshire East Council’. Currently over 2700 people have signed the groups petition, and if 15,000 residents sign (5% of the electorate), the council must hold a referendum over the cabinet issue. While it looks like an unlikely figure for the petition, the fact that its already got over 2700 signatures should show the council just how serious residents of the area are taking the matters.
As Private Eye so aptly put it, the Tory-run Cheshire East Council are a ‘Rotten Borough’ and only by changing the leadership to Labour can we get an ‘open and transparent’ council.