I HAVE been writing about local politics for 22 years now.

In that time I’ve seen good administrations, not so good administrations and pretty poor administrations, but I have never witnessed one like the last one.

They took arrogance to a completely new level, and finally paid the price by losing overall control of Cheshire East Council for the first time in a decade.

Retiring leader Rachel Bailey said she felt ‘really proud about the improvements that have been made'.

I think she has failed to see the core reason for her party’s abject failure.

If there was one voter outside the Tory party who genuinely believed that CEC’s leadership was great then I never met them.

As a quick chat with residents in any local town centre would have revealed.

While leader Bailey’s cabinet saw nothing wrong in the extraordinary amounts of taxpayers’ money wasted on the suspensions of top management, residents certainly did, and expressed their outrage at the ballot box.

The relentless procession of police investigations, the false air quality data, the bullying culture (which according to a Local Government Association report came from ‘predominantly people who have power within the organisation’), the current need to spend £1,054 a day on a temporary replacement of a director who vacated his role 18 months ago drew not a single apology.

Not surprisingly Cllr Bailey chose to blame anything but the failure of her own administration for the disastrous election result.

Of course public dissatisfaction with political squabbling over Brexit was undoubtedly a factor, but her refusal to acknowledge the tsunami of public dissatisfaction does not bode well for the future of her party.

I doubt voters will be quick to forgive their arrogance.


Once they finish celebrating the death of the Tory stranglehold on Cheshire East the other parties need to take stock.

They must not replace arrogance with arrogance.

This is their opportunity to put the needs of residents before party politics.

If they fail they may not get another chance.

This is not a vote of confidence in Labour, Lib Dem, Independents or Ratepayers Alliance, it’s a vote against a delusional Tory regime bereft of humility.

The new Cheshire East must learn the lessons the previous regime failed to accept.

Voters were angry seeing their hard-earned money squandered on expensive executives who spent more time on garden leave than they did on the job.

CEC’s track record on senior recruitment was, to say the least, abysmal.

The new administration must do better.

Perhaps the most contentious issue has been that of ‘transparency’.

An immediate change to a named voting system instead of the beloved show of hands would go a long way to convincing residents that the new regime intended to open the door on local politics.

Councillors must not go to public meetings giving the impression that they support the views expressed by residents then vote against them in the council chamber.

Councillors need to know that their vote will be public knowledge from the minute it is cast.

No more hiding behind closed doors or they too will face the same rejection at the next election.

Above all communities need to believe that their council genuinely represents them and that the members are competent.

If you are a Lib Dem, Independent, Ratepayer or Labour councillor this is your moment. Your chance to prove how much better you are than the previous regime you have been criticising for the last four years.

Succeed and a new era in Cheshire politics begins... fail and you will be condemned by the same residents who put you in office.


Tatton MP Esther McVey is to stand for the leadership of the Conservative Party when Theresa May finally leaves office.

Well-well, who would have thought it?

Me... that’s who.

I asked her directly at our last meeting if she intended to run, and while she didn’t say it straight out it was obvious she fancied her chance.

She’s a feisty lady is Esther, I didn’t really see her winning over the Tory big-wigs if I’m honest.

Esther would definitely attract disenfranchised voters who want to see politicians they can relate to in Westminster rather than the political elite with whom they have lost faith.

Esther is a smart lady of that I have no doubt.

Whether she can deliver what she promises I know not.

What I do know is the massive disillusionment of the British public of all politicians following the Brexit shambles creates an opportunity for someone like Esther to write a new chapter in our history.

Would I vote for her?

Watch this space…

You can contact Vic by email at vicbarlo@icloud.com

By Guardian columnist Vic Barlow