savings - Leader Cllr Sam Corcoran - mental health champions

Labour’s Sam Corcoran fought off a Tory challenge to be re-elected as leader of Cheshire East Council – but one of his own councillors refused to vote for him, writes Belinda Ryan.

Cheshire East has been run by a joint Labour/Independent administration since the 2019 local elections with Cllr Corcoran as council leader.

Before 2019, Cheshire East had always been a Conservative stronghold and the Tories are still the largest party with 31 councillors.

At the council’s annual meeting this week, the Conservatives put forward their group leader Cllr Janet Clowes to be council leader so a vote had to be taken.

Several councillors were absent from the meeting and Cllr Corcoran was re-elected as leader by 34 votes to 25, with three councillors abstaining.

One who abstained was Labour Cllr Anthony Critchley.

When asked why he had abstained, Cllr Critchley, who represents Crewe Central, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “I think my vote speaks for itself.”

He said he did not wish to make any further comment.

Cllr David Marren, as mayor, abstained because the mayoral role is not political and Handforth councillor Julie Smith, who is non-grouped, also chose not to vote.

Alderley Edge councillor Craig Browne (Ind) was re-elected as the council’s deputy leader unopposed.

Labour and the Independent Group agreed to run the council jointly after the Tories lost their majority in what was seen as a shock result in the May 2019 elections.

Conservatives currently have 31 councillors, Labour has 25 and the Independent Group has 18.

The Liberal Democrats have four councillors, the Real Independents two and there are two who are non-grouped.

The full council is up for election in 2023.

Meanwhile, former mayor Cllr Sarah Pochin has criticised Cheshire East’s lack of support for the role, saying the council recently decided it wanted to keep a mayor and now it needs to back the new one.

Speaking after the inauguration of new mayor David Marren, she said: “One of the reasons I accepted the role was to see for myself whether or not I thought the role of mayor of Cheshire East could add value to the community and to the council.”

Cllr Pochin, who raised more than £25,000 for one of her chosen charities during her mayoral year, said she believed the role did benefit the community but she found the lack of support from councillors and officers at the council frustrating.

“In my year I discovered that there is sadly little support from members (councillors) for the mayor.

“My fundraising at Dorfold Hall was attended by three members, my Polish event in Crewe was attended by one member and even the Ukrainian vigil was attended by only three members.

“Now, I know we’re all busy, luckily it didn’t make any difference to the success of the events -but that’s not really the point.

“I also discovered in my year as mayor that there is very little thought given to, or appetite for using, the mayor by our officers.”

She listed events the Cheshire East and town mayors had not been invited to but could have used to promote their towns and the borough.

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