Police to investigate air quality claims

Cheshire Constabulary has confirmed that it has launched a formal investigation into the manipulation of air quality data in Cheshire East between 2012 and 2014.

A statement issued by the police this morning said: “A meeting has now taken place with representatives from Cheshire East Council, who had raised their concerns in relation to allegations of manipulated air quality data.

“Having carefully reviewed all the information, we can now confirm that there are sufficient grounds to proceed with a formal investigation.”

This summer it was revealed that air pollution data in that period in Cheshire East was inaccurate, impacting on the success or otherwise of planning applications and development.

The council issued a statement at the end of July signalling its intention to deliver air quality improvements, admitting that data between 2012 and 2014 had been incorrect, saying that “it is clear that these errors are the result of deliberate and systematic manipulation”.

Applications in five areas – Nantwich, Congleton, Crewe, Holmes Chapel and Sandbach – could have been affected, the council said.

The air quality issue, it has emerged this month, is also behind a legal challenge from Muller Properties that could hold back the adoption of the council’s Local Plan Strategy – a document that has been seven years in the making to this point.

According to a statement from the council, Cheshire East has also referred concerns about allocation of public funds in making a grant to Berkeley Academy and also concerns about land purchases to the police.

Cllr Rachel Bailey, leader of the council said: “It is vital that these serious matters are dealt with fully and that if there has been any wrongdoing it is exposed. While a police investigation is a serious matter, I would like to reassure residents that the council itself has brought these matters forward in order to put things right.

“We will ensure that council services continue to be delivered to the high standards that residents have come to expect.

“As these matters are now subject to criminal investigation, we are unable to give more information at this time.”

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