Agenda and minutes

Council - Wednesday, 1st February, 2023 4.00 pm

Venue: The Assembly Room - Town Hall, Macclesfield SK10 1EA. View directions

Contact: Katie Small  Tel: 01270 686465 Email:

Link: audio of meeting

No. Item


Apologies for Absence


Apologies were received from Councillors M Addison, M Asquith, R Bailey, J Barber, M Benson, J Bratherton, S Brookfield, A Critchley, B Evans, A Gage, L Gilbert, S Handley, G Hayes, S Holland, C Leach, D Marren, C Naismith, K Parkinson, M Simon, J Smith, L Smith, L Wardlaw, J Weatherill and N Wylie.


Declarations of Interest

To provide an opportunity for Members and Officers to declare any disclosable pecuniary and non-pecuniary interests in any item on the agenda.


In the interests of openness, Councillor A Gregory declared that the former Head of Internal Audit was a personal friend of his.


Public Speaking Time/Open Session

In accordance the Council Procedural Rules, a total period of 30 minutes is allocated for members of the public to speak at Council meetings. Individual members of the public may speak for up to 2 minutes, but the Chair will have discretion to vary this requirement where they consider it appropriate. 


Members of the public wishing to speak are required to provide notice of this at least three clear working days’ in advance of the meeting and should include the question with that notice.  Questions should be submitted to: or


Mr Stuart Redgard stated that he had asked the Council in December 2017 to investigate the Corefit incident and other incidents that related to Councillor Jones.  He was pleased that the Council’s governance had changed to a committee system but was concerned about what he saw as failings of the Council to deal with the performance of the Highways Department and asked that an investigation be carried out. 


Councillor Craig Browne, Chair of the Highways and Transport Committee, undertook to provide a written response. Councillor Browne commented that the Council was responsible for over 2700km of roads, 1,129 bridges and structures, over 40,000 street lights and 98,000 gullies. The current gross replacement cost for the local highway network with its associated assets and land values, stood at over £6 billion.   Although there was a continuous programme of maintenance, the grant received from the Department of Transport was only £15m for this purpose.  The Council had chosen to borrow £7m this year and a further £7m in each of the next two years but it was not sustainable to borrow to repair the roads especially as construction inflation was rising annually.   Councillor Browne believed that the real issues was the severe lack of funding rather than a governance issue.


Councillor S Corcoran stated that the Labour Councillors had repeatedly demanded an external investigation into the culture of the Council.  A Local Government Association review did eventually take place and in 2018 they reported and revealed a bullying culture.  A Peer Review was undertaken in 2020 that reported on a transformed culture and that the improvements in culture were allowing challenges to practices when appropriate.


Alsager Town Councillor Michael Unett asked what lessons had the Council learnt from the Public Interest Report, what had the political groups learnt and would the current administration do all that it could to ensure that the Council remained a council transformed and would never slip back into the dark days highlighted in the Report.


Councillor S Corcoran responded that he had already referred to the Local Government Association report and was confident that the Council had changed, and that such behaviour would be called out now.    Councillor C Browne responded that the Council had moved forwarded since the period referred to in the Report.  The Report itself had made reference to an openness to share, to hear and to learn from good practice and the LGA Peer Review had commented on the progress made in improving workplace culture as well as changes to internal assurances and encouraging officers to provide professional challenge.   Councillor J Clowes responded that she agreed with what her colleagues had already said.    Councillor P Williams stated that things had moved on since the events in the report with improvements in the culture at the Council and the introduction of the committee system.


Public Interest Report pdf icon PDF 456 KB

To consider the Public Interest Report provided by Grant Thornton.

Additional documents:


Council received a report of the Chief Executive that responded formally to the Public Interest Report recently issued by Grant Thornton, who acted as the external auditors for Cheshire East Council from 2012/13 to 2017/18.


Following an introduction by the Chief Executive, Members were invited to ask questions of the representatives of Grant Thornton, who were in attendance at the meeting, in relation to the factual content of the Public Interest Report.   The questions and responses given are appended.


On conclusion of the question-and-answer session the Leader and Deputy Leader proposed and seconded the recommendations contained in paragraph 3 of the report of the Chief Executive.


Members debated the report and recommendations. During the extensive debate various comments were made, including the following.  Members:


  • welcomed the report and stated that it was right that the public had insight into the events of seven years ago.
  • asked why the report was being released now and who would be meeting the cost of the report.
  • expressed concern that some former officers had not been contacted by Grant Thornton as part of their investigation.
  • made a comparison with the Lyme Green report, which had been heavily redacted when the Council had published it.
  • expressed concern that Cabinet members at the time failed to act in response to bullying behaviour and that this behaviour was adopted by other members.
  • noted that bullying behaviour had not just been experienced by officers, but had also extended to members of the public.
  • expressed concern action had not been taken sooner to remove the then Leader.
  • made reference to the LGA report of 2018 which had highlighted a bullying culture, and that the LGA Peer Review report of 2020 which reported that the culture of the council had been transformed.
  • stated that the events complained of would not happen again, as officers were now empowered to “call-out” and challenge poor behaviour.
  • noted that there was a lasting impact on staff, past and present, of the bullying behaviour and the legacy of the actions.
  • expressed support for Internal Audit officers’ action at the time but raised concern that their then line mangers were the Statutory Officers who were performing poorly during the period of the report.
  • expressed concern that the standards regime was inadequate in terms of how it would have dealt with behaviours of the former Leader and that the standards regime should include sanctions against those who broke the code.
  • noted that the revised Code of Conduct included the declaration of personal interests.
  • the Council needed to learn from the mistakes identified to avoid them being repeated.
  • noted that the Council had changed politically, culturally, and structurally since the period of the report.


On conclusion of the debate, a request for a named vote was made.  


The Deputy Mayor proposed that a vote be taken on Recommendations 3.1 and 3.2 together, and a separate vote be taken on Recommendations 3.3 and 3.4 together.


A named voted as taken on Recommendations 3.1 and 3.2 with the following results:  ...  view the full minutes text for item 64.