Sandbach residents group calls for independent enquiry

Cheshire East Council news. News for SAndbach, South Cheshire in The Saxon. The SAxon - community news for Sandbach, Cheshire

A Sandbach residents group has called on the Government to launch an enquiry into Cheshire East Council.

Members of the Hands Off Our Sandbach group have created an online petition to be handed in to Secretary of State Sajid Javid.

The petition, which had more than 1,700 signatures as we went to press, calls for an independent inquiry following the falsification of air quality data at the council.

In response the council’s acting chief executive Kath O’Dwyer and leader Rachel Bailey have penned an open letter to the Secretary of State on behalf of the council.

The online petition, created by HOOS member David Burnand, states: “The recent admission by Cheshire East Council that an officer or officers have deliberately and systematically manipulated and falsified air quality data readings between 2012 to 2014 has finally destroyed what remained of our confidence and belief in our council members and officers.

“This latest confession comes on the back of the: • Suspension of the CEO Mike Suarez, in April 2017 pending an investigation.

• Resignation of Mr Michael Jones over contracts awarded to his personal physiotherapist’s firm in 2015.

• Lyme Green Waste Transfer Station Fiasco in 2013/14.

• The suspension of Bill Norman, Head of Legal Services in July 2017.

“Cheshire East has now initiated yet another investigation into the behaviour of senior officers connected with the deliberately and systematically manipulation and falsification of air quality data readings.

“In addition Cheshire Police are also investigating the matter.

“We believe that Cheshire East Council has therefore lost all credibility with the residents and electorate of our region and we call upon the Secretary of State to initiate an independent enquiry into the actions and behaviour of the members and officers to restore public confidence.”

Sandbach councillor and Labour group leader Sam Corcoran said: “We have been calling since March for an external investigation, reporting within three months to group leaders, into the culture of the organisation and allegations of bullying.”

The council letter states: “The council faces some difficult organisational challenges in addressing what are legacy matters, relating to the period of organisational leadership of the previous council leader.

“Some of these matters are the subject of ongoing police and audit investigation and/or internal disciplinary or member conduct proceedings.

“Nevertheless, we have approached these matters in a robust and transparent way and will continue to do so, putting as much information as we can in the public domain as and when issues come to light, taking steps to ensure that any matters of concern are fully and independently investigated and that any recommendations are shared openly and acted upon without delay.

“It is important to note however, that these are legacy matters, not issues relating to the current leadership or management.

“It is disappointing that Hands Off Our Sandbach do not acknowledge the considerable achievements of this council and the considerable efforts of both officers and elected members to ensure we can continue to deliver high performing services despite the current difficult circumstances.”

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