Nearly a third of a million people in Cheshire West and Chester wake up today to find their local government in the hands of a new council. DAVID NORBURY reports.
FEW expressed an opinion on whether Cheshire County Council and the county’s six district councils should be abolished, but the late Crewe and Nantwich MP Gwyneth Dunwoody (Lab) was an ardent critic.
County Hall chief executive Jeremy Taylor exhausted himself in trying to raise awareness, arguing against splitting the four star county council.
Last May, 36% of voters turned out to elect the 72 councillors who will run the new half billion pound authority which will have 14,500 staff and will be the fourth largest in the North West.
In West Cheshire, it will replace the county council, Chester City Council and Ellesmere Port and Neston and Vale Royal Borough Councils.
Cheshire wards turned blue as the Tories, who were against reorganisation, gained seat after seat across the area, ending with 55 of the 72 seats.
Although two of the Tories now sit as Independents, the Conservatives still have a comfortable majority.
Labour leader Cllr Derek Bateman from Ellesmere Port is in charge of just 13 councillors.
The Lib Dems, in recent years the largest party at the Town Hall, are reduced to just four councillors.
Chester’s Mike Jones (Con) has been leading the new authority, with Vale Royal councillor Les Ford (Con) as his deputy. Chester’s Cllr Brian Crowe is the chairman.
The 10-strong Executive has brought in chief executive Steve Robinson and resources director Julie Gill from Stoke City Council, Charlie Seward (regeneration and culture) from Chester City Council, Steve Kent (environment) from Cheshire County Council, Ian Whitehead from North Tyneside (adult care & health), John Stephens (children & young people) from Salford and Mike Lewis (community services) from Warrington.
The council is to have a ‘can do’ approach and has streamlined layers of management with 200 staff stripped out.