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Chief resigns at police probe unitary

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Cheshire East Council’s chief executive Mike Suarez has resigned after being suspended last year while police investigations into the council continue.

A Cheshire East statement issued today said: “The council’s chief executive, Mike Suarez, has tendered his resignation with immediate effect.

“Mr Suarez’s resignation has been accepted.”

This comes after monitoring officer Bill Norman resigned in December after having been removed from his duties last May.

Chief operating officer Peter Bates was suspended in December after having his section 151 officer duties removed last May.

Cheshire Police last year launched probes into allegations Cheshire East manipulated air quality data, concerns over land purchases and the allocation of public funds to the Berkeley Academy.

In March, acting chief executive Kath O’Dwyer said two further allegations had been referred to police. One relates to the acquisition of land subsequently used to provide the council’s Cledford environmental hub project and the other matter was not disclosed.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government said in October it would monitor Cheshire East but would only intervene were there enough evidence of “widespread, systemic and extremely serious failure”.

Cheshire East’s investigation and disciplinary committee found in January there was a problem with staff feeling bullied, after a Local Government Association review of its internal culture.

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