Macclesfield Liberal Democrats are calling for Cheshire East council to be placed in special measures immediately.
After the resignation of the Council’s deputy leader David Brown from the Cabinet, with several senior officers of the council suspended, and the announcement that four police investigations into the Council are ongoing, local party leader Andrew Haldane said: “It is time for the Commissioners to be called in. We have some very good opposition Councillors – Liberal Democrats, Labour and Independent, but the Conservatives are dominant and have centralised power so much; even the most diligent of opponents can’t scrutinise what they don’t have access to.”
The Council, who admitted last month that its air pollution data was deliberately manipulated for three years to make it look cleaner, is currently the subject of three new police investigations, which also cover a £70,000 grant which was given to a local school without going through the correct procedures, and “concerns over land purchases”. This is in addition to the ongoing police misconduct probe into the awarding of contracts in 2015.
Several senior members of the Council have been suspended for a variety of reasons, and the current allegations are just the latest in a series of major fiascoes which have cost the Council hundreds of thousands of pounds at a time when many services are being cut to manage finances.
With a major scandal every two years, things have not improved and are not going to improve. Can a Council that has gone from wasting £800,000 of money on Lyme Green in 2013, to bypassing the rules on awarding contracts in 2015, to now admitting falsifying data for three years, really be expected to put its own house in order? We cannot wait any longer for something to happen.
Richard Flowers, the Liberal Democrats candidate for Macclesfield in 2017, said: “We don’t call for this lightly. Liberal Democrats want local people to have power over their local council. The sooner this mess is cleaned up, the sooner we can get back to that. The Government were quick enough to send in the Commissioners in Tower Hamlets. I hope they’re not ignoring this because Cheshire East is too far from Westminster.”