SEN deficit - cheshire east council headquarters - pic by Mike Faherty

Cheshire East Council paid out £6,674 in compensation for five complaints upheld by the Ombudsman between August 1 and November 30, writes Belinda Ryan.

Cllr David Marren, vice chair of the audit and governance committee, said he thought the council took the matter “far too lightly”.

And he felt there should be “an element of shame” when its failings were highlighted by the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO).

Latest available figures (August to November 2021) show there were five decisions in which the Ombudsman found there was maladministration by Cheshire East causing injustice.

Three related to children with special educational needs, one was a children’s social care complaint and another related to licensing and noise.

The Ombudsman reports do not identify the people involved.

But Cllr Marren said he believed the licensing one referred to a Knutsford case he had read about in the press.

“It just went on for 10 years before Cheshire East… well Cheshire East didn’t get its act together because this is the local government ombudsman who’s finding against Cheshire East,” he said.

affordable housing - Shavington councillor David Marren
Cllr David Marren

He added he understood, from the article he had read, the family affected moved house in the end but they had spent a lot of money on noise assessments in the meantime.

“All I’m saying is, every single one of these can have a very significant effect on people’s lives,” said Cllr Marren.

“So just to say, well, OK the Ombudsman has given £430 or £1,500 – there should be an element of shame attached to an adverse report.”

He also suggested the Chief Executive should have, as a performance requirement, to try and reduce the amount of maladministration decisions.

Jane Burns, executive director of corporate services, said: “My view is that the council does take complaints seriously.

“We don’t go out of our way to get things wrong.

“Inevitably in any organisation things go wrong, what is important is that we put it right.”

She added the chief executive had been championing improvements in customer services.

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