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Councillor resigns over Lyme Green fiasco

A councillor has resigned following the investigation into aborted plans for a recycling facility at Lyme Green in Macclesfied.

Rod Menlove, portfolio holder with responsibility for environment, is the latest casualty of Cheshire East Council’s scrutiny of how the proposed scheme for a waste transfer station had breached planning regulations and wasted £800,000.

Two senior staff members resigned before Christmas and the local authority said it would discipline workers responsible for the debacle.

Menlove cheshire

Rod Menlove

In a statement, Menlove called it a “wholly regrettable incident” which had damaged the local authority’s reputation. He said that leaving his post was the “honourable” thing to do but blasted council officers.

He said: “I work on the basis that officers discuss issues with me, we agree a course of action and I then trust the officer to follow due procedure and process in carrying out the action. 

“All decisions I make are for the good of the taxpayer, and are done so using the information that I get from officers. I expect to be given all information and issues, no matter how unpalatable, so that together we can agree a course of action. 

“However, as I have consistently stated, at no time was I informed of the gathering issues regarding the potential waste transfer station in the north of the Borough.

Cheshire East Council leader Michael Jones thanked Menlove for his work over the past three years.

He said: “It is with great regret that I accept his resignation but I look forward to using his vast knowledge and experience in the future.”

The council launched an independent investigation into the Lyme Green project when an internal audit revealed that work on the development started in October 2011 before appropriate planning permission had been obtained, with the planning application only considered in the middle of November.

The approved capital budget for the scheme had been £650,000, although the value of the works based on feasibility costs was approximately £1,500,000. Last May, the total anticipated spend for the scheme was around £810,000. The council’s audit concluded that Finance and Contract Procedure Rules had been breached. EU regulations on procurement had also not been complied with.

Cheshire East Council said that it would shortly publish its own report and make “bold and sweeping” changes to its way of working.

Jones said: “Lyme Green has exposed serious weaknesses in our organisational culture, which are a product of the separate professional silos in our current management structure. These have caused confusion and inefficiency and have led to poor decisions by some senior staff, because it was not clear who had authority to act and who was ultimately accountable for the success or failure of the Lyme Green development project.”

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