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Authority ordered to release Lyme Green report by independent taskforce
CHESHIRE East Council has released a report into the Lyme Green scandal after an independent body ordered them to reveal it to the borough’s residents.
In November 2011 the authority submitted a full planning application for a waste transfer station off London Road, Lyme Green, Macclesfield.
But after work started on the site without the necessary permission the council withdrew its application despite already spending £800,000 on the project.
An internal audit revealed a catalogue of errors, including breach of EU regulations, work beginning three weeks before planning permission was even asked for, and finds councillors and the public may have been misled.
The council then spent £225,000 on an independent report to investigate allegations of misconduct against several senior officers. In the aftermath of the report top council officers John Nicholson, former strategic director of places and Caroline Elwood, former borough solicitor, both resigned from their roles citing personal reasons.
The next month, in February 2012, finance chief Lisa Quinn left her role by mutual agreement.
The authority refused to release the independent report into the fiasco for two years but last week the Information Commissioner’s Office ordered the council to release it after the Macclesfield Express asked them to do so in an application submitted in January 2013.
In June 2013 the council released a 28-page version of the report but continued to refuse to reveal the full document to the public.
Cheshire East had until January 14, 2014 to release the full report as a result of the ICO verdict but just 24 hours later decided to make it available to the public, however, parts of it were heavily redacted.
Before releasing the report, a Cheshire East Council spokesman said: “We have received a decision notice from the Information Commissioner’s Office. We are pleased the commissioner has accepted that a number of redactions need to be made to the report for a variety of reasons.
“At this early stage, we are minded to accept the findings of the commissioner and the leader of the council has given a strong commitment to openness and transparency on this issue.
“Due to the fact the full report is 100 pages long, the council previously published a version of the report to aide public understanding.
“However, it is likely a full version of the report will be made available once the recommended redactions have been agreed and a full and clear understanding of all the suggestions made.”
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