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Secrecy in Cheshire East

Information Commissioner Overrules Cheshire East Council AGAIN




A group of Macclesfield residents has successfully appealed to the Information Commissioner following Cheshire East's refusal to release information relating to the Council’s plans to re-develop Macclesfield town centre. The Information Commissioner has ruled that Cheshire East must disclose all the information requested. A pattern of systematic secrecy is clearly becoming evident in the way the Council chooses to conduct its business.


This is the second time in just a few months that the Information Commissioner has ordered the Conservative-controlled Council to release information that it has withheld from the public. In January the Council was ordered to release details of the proposed £5m ‘Bewilderwood’ development in Tatton Park.


In another, even more recent development, the Ombudsman ruled on 30 April that Cheshire East Council “knowingly and persistently misled the public” over a planning application. The Council was found to have withheld information from the public and then backdated documents on its website in an apparent attempt to cover up.


Furthermore, the Council is still refusing to release the independent report into the Lyme Green fiasco where over £1m was squandered.


After the Lyme Green débacle the Council leadership promised that “lessons had been learnt”, and that revised Council procedures would prevent such episodes happening again.  It looks, however, as if this learning process has not yet even begun.


Cllr Laura Jeuda, Labour Councillor for Macclesfield South said,

“There is a culture of secrecy that pervades Cheshire East. There is an arrogance amongst the Leadership of the Council that seems to believe that the very people who, after all, are paying for these expensive blunders do not have a right to know what has gone on. The Local Government Ombudsman refers to Cheshire East “knowingly and persistently misleading the public” and an “apparent attempt to cover up”. It is hard to imagine anything more serious than that in Local Government administration.

Michael Jones and his Cabinet are treating the electorate of Cheshire East with utter contempt. It is morally wrong that members of the public should have to go to these lengths to find out what is going on.

We know of some but what about the ones that have yet to be uncovered?”


Labour Group Leader, Cllr David Newton, said,

“The Lyme Green fiasco highlighted problems with the culture at Cheshire East Council. Rules were flouted and procedures were not followed.

Although these issues are currently being addressed it is clear that lessons have still not been properly learned. Until they are, money will continue to be wasted with the council lurching from one crisis to another.”

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