Letter to District Auditor
re: Danegate
Contents Page

A communication from
Councillor Brendan Murphy
Conservative Councillor for Tytherington
6 Hilton Road Disley SK12 2JU
Telephone 01663 763 120

Sheila Kilkenny
District Auditor
Sumner House
(Copy transitted by Fax; original by post

Dear M/s Kilkenny,

There are certain matters relating to a proposed development involving Macclesfield Borough Council which concern me both as a councillor and as a taxpayer. The development is of land known as the South Macclesfield Development Area in which the Council is a substantial land owner.

I attach a paper outlining the matters and, if required, will provide additional information or clarification. I must say at the outset that there is no suggestion whatsoever of criminality or corruption. It is a question of 'proper conduct' and 'best value'.

Given the statement of facts attached and assuming these facts are accurate and complete, I would ask the following questions:

  • Has the Council acted properly in not making any report back at all to the Council (or its appropriate committee) notwithstanding the huge public interest and controversy surrounding the development and the significant changes that have been made to the scheme that members had approved last October?
  • Is the Council acting with due financial diligence in not maximising its planning gain from the development and the best value return from its disposal of land, in particular with regard to the issue of the privately-owned ransom strip which now bars access/aggress to the east?
  • Has the Council been remiss in not implementing the 106 Agreement with Orbit (and thereby losing the financial contribution from Orbit towards the cost of bridging the railway line) and in failing to secure access across Orbit's ransom strip?
  • Is the 'Council' acting properly in prohibiting or preventing members from considering alternative changes to the scheme prior to the conclusion of a contract between itself and its preferred developer and in advising members that they should not discuss arrangements for the development of its own land until after a planning application has been made by a third party?
  • Is the Council acting efficiently in permitting its preferred developer to proceed so far without the terms of the proposed partnership being clearly stated and approved by Council members?
  • Should the Council make a clear and authoritative statement of any legal liabilities that have been incurred notwithstanding the absence of a contract or any other formal agreement?

I understand the Chief Executive has raised this matter with you but he has been unable to allay my anxieties and is quite happy that I should now write direct to you.

One of my concerns is that the Council may already have passed the point of no return or is very near to it. An early response, if possible, would be very helpful.

I appreciate this is a matter that would require detailed investigation before any judgement could be made but it would be of great assistance if you could give an early response to the following particular questions:-

1. Prima facie, is this a matter that comes within your remit? If not, who would address the issues raised?

2. Prima facie, is the council acting or not acting properly?

3. What action should a member of the council take if he/she believes the Council is acting improperly and in so doing is likely to damage the interests of the borough?

The principal reason for raising this matter with you now is not just to be sure that the Council is proceeding properly in this matter but also to avoid future repercussions that might lead to an elector challenging the next Audit of the Council's accounts.

Yours sincerely,


  Contents Page To Front Page Next Document