Cheshire East’s deputy chief executive John Nicholson and two other senior directors will face an external investigation in a dispute about the council’s plan to build a new waste station, LGC understands.
The investigation, to be carried out by public sector lawyer Malcolm Iley, will look into allegations relating to “procurement, public finance and planning and related governance matters,” according to a statement sent on Mr Iley’s behalf. The statement says his inquiry will focus on “allegations in respect of three senior officers.”
LGC understands the other two officers are finance director Lisa Quinn and borough solicitor Caroline Elwood. All three report directly to chief executive Kim Ryley, who started a three-month secondment in the role from Shropshire Council last month.
The investigation follows a controversy over the council’s decision to build a new waste transfer site at Lyme Green, Macclesfield. Local newspaper the Macclesfield Express reported that the council started work at the site without getting planning permission, and broke EU competition rules and “numerous council procedures.”
The newspaper said the “failed bid” to build the site would cost the council more than £800,000 and that the independent investigation would cost £1,500 a day.
A spokeswoman for the council said it could not confirm the names of the three senior figures that would be investigated. She said, however, that the £800,000 and £1,500 figures reported in the local newspaper were accurate and that the council acknowledged that EU rules and council procedures were broken. She said she was unable to comment on whether the three senior figures would be suspended or dismissed based on the outcome of the investigation.
The council declined to issue a more detailed response to the allegations.