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The council has 9,329 full-time posts.

Secretary of State for local government Eric Pickles announced the extent of the Governmentordered cuts for local authorities on Monday.

For Cheshire East Council, in the next financial year spending power falls by 1.6%, or £4.6m, followed by a 2.07% drop the following year. The figures are being analysed and a budget report will

Council will cut 550 jobs By Chris Young More than 550 Cheshire East Council employees will lose their jobs because of Government cutbacks.

be released in the new year.

Two-thirds of the required savings will come from job cuts.

Coun Peter Mason, partly responsible for the budget, said the council hoped staff would come forward for voluntary redundancies.

while neighbouring

Staffordshire Moorlands District Council will lose 7.65% and Stoke-on-Trent Council 8.1%.

Worse hit Government critics pointed out that traditional Labour and Liberal Democrat supporting areas seemed to be worse hit than Conservative strongholds such as Cheshire East.

“The reduction in spending power was stated by the Secretary of State as 1.6%. However this figure includes elements of NHS funding. Local agreements over expenditure in this area have not been finalised with local healthcare providers, so it is not considered appropriate to include this as wholly available to fund local authority services at this stage.

He said of the numbers involved: “These are not hard and fast figures but more a projection of the reductions we might have to make to departments to fit in with this new budget. It isn’t cast in stone.

“We have already made redundancies as an authority and so far all but half a dozen have been voluntary.

“Over 500 jobs will go in the next few months.”

At 1.6%, Cheshire East has not been as badly hit as other authorities. The average percentage across the UK is 4.4%,

Council leader Wesley Fitzgerald played down the perceived leniency, saying: “This cut is lower than the average to English authorities, but the council already receives relatively low Government funding.

“The latest figures show that over 60% of our budget is paid by taxpayers compared to just over 40% nationally.

“The true impact on Cheshire East is still being analysed. Cuts to spending of this magnitude were anticipated and service delivery proposals are currently being developed in light of the further detail now being provided.”

He said the council was preparing a pre-budget report for January that would contain details about the cuts.

Teen walks free after attempted rape trial

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A teenage boy has been cleared of attempting to rape a woman in a Congleton park on New Year’s Eve.

Following a five day trial at Chester Crown Court, the jury took just under two hours to return a not guilty verdict on the 17-yearold, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

The complainant, a 35-yearold woman whose identity is also protected, told the jury she had met the boy, then 16, at a concert performed by local band The Rittz, held at the Beat Route pub on West Street, Congleton.

She left the pub with the teen, who she admitted kissing, shortly after midnight and was found an hour later outside Daven Park with facial injuries, including a bite mark.

The court was told that after the gig, she planned to attend a house party in North Rode, but could not get a lift. She claimed the teenager offered to find her a lift before walking her through the town centre and into the park. While there, she said he pinned her down and tried to rape her. He covered her mouth and nose while doing so, leading to her passing out. He then fled the scene after realising she was unconscious.

However, the defendant claimed he took the woman to the park while looking for a way for her to get to North Rode. They sat in a secluded area of the park, near Daven Primary School, because he said she “felt tired,” and began mutually masturbating each other.

Twenty minutes later they agreed they did not want the sexual encounter to go any further and went their separate ways. He then returned home and did not know how the complainant received her injuries.

During cross examination, the woman had told the court she could not be certain it was the defendant’s penis she felt try to penetrate her, but David Potter, prosecuting, said there was sufficient evidence to prove this was the case, including a blade of grass found during a genital examination of the defendant. There were also scratches and mud on his knees, which Mr Potter argued were caused when the defendant pinned the woman down. • —Turn to back page.

We three kings follow bright stars at Marton

Tiny tots at Marton and District Primary School nursery presented a play fit for a king, or three, this week. Pictured above are royal gift-bearers Theo Maddox, Rhys Shuker and Max Young with Mary and Joseph aka Holly Livingstone and Thomas Andow. See next week’s “Chronicle” for the full report and more photographs. To order reprints, visit (“Chronicle” photo. 5009b/10).

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