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Snub for Tesco earns rebuke for CEC boss and call to quit

An opposition councillor has demanded the resignation of Cheshire East leader Michael Jones over his revelation that ‘Tesco will be refused’.

An opposition councillor has demanded the resignation of Cheshire East leader Michael Jones over his revelation that ‘Tesco will be refused’.

Coun Jones told the last Make It Macclesfield business breakfast that the council would refuse the application for a new Tesco Extra store at Barracks Mill, to replace the Hibel Road store.

His announcement was welcomed by many residents who have campaigned against the plan. But Coun David Brickhill, a Shavington First member said he should not have revealed the decision before an official planning meeting.

Labour councillors Gill Boston, Ken Edwards and Laura Jeuda have written to planning officers to demand an investigation.

They say talking about the proposed refusal before it goes to committee could be seen as pre-determination.

It could influence members of the Strategic Planning Board – which has a Conservative majority – and makes the ultimate decision.

Coun Brickhill has contacted Tesco and emailed Coun Jones to demand his resignation.

He said: "I thought Tesco should know their application is being predetermined.

"I liken it to being on a jury. If you are up for murder and your jury hears information which influences them, they may be determined to vote in a certain way.

"What Coun Jones has done is wrong. There are legalities around the planning system.

"He has no experience of being on a council before.

"It’s like putting the corporal in charge of the army.

"He’s trying to be all things for all men, when he goes into a room he just agrees with everyone.

"I think Jones should resign, he’s totally unsuitable.

"I believe in justice for all, regardless that it’s Tesco. Each application should be heard fairly and without undue bias."

The council has said that Coun Jones was merely repeating the officers’ recommendation to refuse the application, based on a retail survey looking into the effects of the store on the town’s traders.

Coun Boston, the Hurdsfield ward member, said: "I’m dismayed the leader of the council would make a public announcement about a decision that is not in his or the officers’ power to make."

But Coun Harold Davenport, chairman of the Strategic Planning Board, said he was outraged anybody would question the integrity of the committee.

He said: "It’s independent and impartial, with cross-party representation from members who have the responsibility to assess all applications on their merits, with the recommendations from officers.

"Discussions between Tesco and planning officers are aimed at achieving a more acceptable scheme."

 

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