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Cheshire East Council chiefs say they did all they could to get to the bottom of the air quality scandal before handing it to police, writes Stephen Topping.

Cheshire Police has been looking into the deliberate manipulation of Cheshire East Council’s air quality data over the past year after it was revealed that some figures between 2012 and 2014 were changed.

At this week’s Cheshire East Council audit and governance committee, councillors discussed events from the past 12 months – including a previous report which said measures had been put in place to ensure the data manipulation could not happen again.

But Cllr Sam Corcoran, Labour group leader at CEC, suggested more work needed to be done to get to the bottom of the matter in case evidence of collusion “to bypass the effective systems of control” is found.

“If action is being taken against individuals then I accept that that is not a matter for this committee,” the member for Sandbach Heath and East said.

“But to say to this committee ‘well we have sorted out the problem’ – I don’t think that you can properly say that while you don’t know who did it or why they did it.”

Cllr Nick Mannion, Labour member for Macclesfield West and Ivy, added: “I think we need to go as far as we can to provide reassurance to the public.

“I think we do need to go that extra mile to provide that reassurance that what has happened in the past has been thoroughly investigated, the circumstances around it have been stopped and the processes have been improved.”

CEC reviewed planning applications which could have been affected by the data manipulation as well as its internal systems after apologising for the failure last July.

Jan Willis, interim section 151 officer at CEC, told the committee that the council had been unable to find out who was responsible for the manipulation.

“My understanding is that we have investigated to the full extent of our powers,” she said.

“The police have broader powers than we do and it may be that through that investigation we do get to the bottom of what happened.

“We have investigated this as fully as we can and have not been able to establish exactly what happened.

“Regrettably we feel there is nothing further that we can do to uncover the full truth, but perhaps the police investigation will.”

Conservative Cllr Gordon Baxendale, chairman of the audit and governance committee, added: “I don’t think there is any more action that the audit and governance committee can take on this.

“It was fully audited, the action plan went in, and it was referred to the police.”

One Comment

  1. and how much will the tax payers have to fork out for a police investigation because the councillors are inept at keeping their own house in order and as if the police have enough time to clear up the mess they have made its basic record keeping

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