Cheshire East to discuss reunification

Jessica Middleton-Pugh

Cheshire East Council is to decide today whether to support leader Cllr Michael Jones' call for the reunification of Cheshire, after he described the division of the county in 2009 as "a bad decision".

Jones issued a statement in September outlining "his own personal view" on how to improve Cheshire's offer to its residents, saying that the creation of the Cheshire East and Cheshire West & Chester councils "didn't make much sense then and still doesn't!

"The two authorities were made weaker as a result, yet mirror one another in terms of their people and aspirations.

"What I'm calling for today is a review of our separated and divided local government as I set out my ambition for a unified Cheshire Council that serves the needs of all Cheshire residents."

The decision to form the Cheshire West & Chester and Cheshire East unitary authorities was announced in 2007 following a consultation period. The first elections took place in 2008.

Cheshire East replaced Congleton, Crewe and Nantwich, Macclesfield, while Cheshire West & Chester incorporated Ellesmere Port and Neston, Vale Royal and Chester District, and took on function of the former Cheshire County Council.

Cheshire West & Chester was not consulted ahead of Jones' comment, and told Place North West that they did not know about the plan.

Cheshire East Cllrs Brendan Murphy and Lloyd Roberts put forward a motion supporting Jones at a council meeting in October, which will be discussed by the cabinet this morning

If reunification was to occur, the motion called for powers such as strategic planning and economic development to be transferred from the borough councils to the new authority, but with maximum devolution of commissioning powers and freedoms to the town and parish councils.

The motion said: "In the light of the proposed escalation of power for combined city authorities, this council welcomes the leader's proposal for the restoration of a Cheshire-wide authority to ensure the county is not disadvantaged or threatened by city region growth, provided that the new authority consists of elected members appointed 'proportionally' by the existing borough councils."

The cabinet will consider whether to develop a long-term policy on reunification.

Cheshire East and Cheshire West & Chester were unavailable to comment.

Your Comments

Who will be in charge? Michael Jones?

By Joan Michaels

This is a very good idea. There are many services that suffer as a result of the two authorities. There ought to be significant improved efficiencies to a number of services brought about through re-unification.

By Andrew

A Mr M Jones is almost a certainty for the role I’d suggest. Leader of Cheshire West is Mike Jones and for Cheshire East it is Michael Jones. Unless of course the electorate decide otherwise!

By Mark A

I am not clear from this piece whether what is proposed is a further tier of local authority at Cheshire-wide level – or a single Cheshire wide local authority. The original creation of Cheshire East Council and CWAC Council was well founded at the time.

By Cedric Knipe

A theme to some of these comments, which I endorse. I have NEVER seen a Council so forceful in hammering home a pre-determined pre-app position or leading developers towards their ‘preferred’ consultants/architects. Look at First Street. Very many student housing schemes resisted tooth and nail, yet one arrives on council owned land with pet developer and planning consultant and it could not have been approved fast enough.

By Honest Bob

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