Cheshire West and Chester is a unitary authority with borough status in the ceremonial county of Cheshire, England. It was established on 1 April 2009 as part of the 2009 local government changes, by virtue of an order under the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007. It superseded the boroughs of Ellesmere Port and Neston and Vale Royal and the City of Chester; its council assumed the functions and responsibilities of the former Cheshire County Council within its area. The remainder of ceremonial Cheshire is composed of Cheshire East, Halton and Warrington.
The decision to create the Cheshire West and Chester unitary authority was announced on 25 July 2007 following a consultation period, in which a proposal to create a single Cheshire unitary authority was rejected.
In line with every other district in Cheshire, the cabinet (formerly 'the executive' between 2009 and 2015) is composed of elected councillors. From its establishment in 2009, Cheshire West and Chester was governed by the Conservative Party, with Mike Jones as leader. Since the 2015 elections it has been governed by the Labour Party, with Samantha Dixon becoming the first female leader of the council upon taking office.
The leader presently oversees a cabinet of eight, with each member holding a specific portfolio. Opposition parties can also elect to appoint shadow cabinet members, though they have no executive power.
All councillors vote to appoint a chairman for the following municipal year (May) at the council AGM. Traditionally, this role was combined with that of the apolitical and ceremonial Lord Mayor of Chester, but in 2015 these roles were separated and the role of chairman was politicised.
The cabinet is scrutinised by one general committee and four district committees made up of councillors, which replaced six dedicated scrutiny committees for different topics in May 2015.
Upon its establishment in 2009, Cheshire West and Chester Council inherited a number of buildings from the local authorities it replaced in every town in the borough. However, despite Cheshire County Council vacating its headquarters (County Hall, Chester), the new authority spent £21 million purchasing and furbishing a new headquarters, also in Chester. The former County Hall was later sold for £10 million to the University of Chester, who now use it as a campus.
The annual meeting of the council takes place at Chester Town Hall, on the same night as the investiture of the Lord Mayor and Sheriff of Chester. Other meetings of the full council are held at Wyvern House in Winsford, where the council chamber formerly used by Vale Royal Borough Council was changed to increase the seating capacity for councillors. Other than district or area meetings, most committee meetings, including the Cabinet and Planning, take place at the HQ building in Chester.
The first elections to the authority took place on 1 May 2008, with the electoral wards being the same as those used in the former Cheshire County Council elections, each ward electing three councillors. There were twenty-four wards in total, meaning that seventy-two councillors were elected.
An electoral review by the Local Government Boundary Commission for England was put into effect prior to the 2011 elections, meaning that three additional councillors were created, making a total of seventy-five in the borough. The ward boundaries were also comprehensively re-drawn, with their number being increased by twenty-two to forty-six. The new wards were mostly single-member wards, with two and three-member wards for the more populous areas.
|Last election||By-elections||Next election|
|2019 (all-out)||2023 (all-out)|
Council wards, Civil parishes and House of Commons constituencies
There are ninety-seven parish councils in the borough, despite there being a total of 166 civil parishes before a community governance review was undertaken by the borough council in 2014 under section 82 of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007.
- 3: Civil parishes highlighted in bold have unilaterally declared town status under section 12A of the Local Government Act 1972.
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Members of Parliament
|Constituency||Member of Parliament||Political party||Year first elected||Notes||Website||Parliamentary profile|
|City of Chester||Chris Matheson||Labour Party||2015||Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office)||Website||Profile|
|Eddisbury||Edward Timpson CBE||Conservative Party||2019
|Ellesmere Port and Neston||Justin Madders||Labour Party||2015||Shadow Minister (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), (Health and Social Care)||Website||Profile|
|Tatton||The Rt Hon. Esther McVey||Conservative Party||2017
|Weaver Vale||Mike Amesbury||Labour Party||2017||Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions), (Employment)||Website||Profile|
|Election||2005[Note 6]||2010[Note 7]||2015||2017||2019|
|City of Chester||Christine Russell||Stephen Mosley||Chris Matheson|
|Eddisbury||The Rt Hon. Stephen O'Brien||Antoinette Sandbach||Edward Timpson CBE|
|Ellesmere Port and Neston||Andrew Miller||Justin Madders|
|Tatton||The Rt Hon. George Osborne||The Rt Hon. Esther McVey|
|Weaver Vale||Mike Hall||Graham Evans||Mike Amesbury|
Current MPs are highlighted in bold.
- 6: From the last election before the borough of Cheshire West and Chester was established.
- 7: From the first election following the most recent periodic review of Westminster constituencies, where boundary changes affected the constituencies.
|Last election||By-elections||Next election|
|2019||2024 (or earlier)|
Members of the European Parliament
Cheshire West and Chester forms part of the North West England constituency, which elects eight members to the European Parliament using the d'Hondt method of party-list proportional representation. The remaining length of their mandate is unclear after the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union in the membership referendum held in June 2016.
In line with nearly every local government district in England and Wales, the majority of the population describe themselves as 'white'. The exact figure - 97.5% - is comparable with metropolitan counties such as Merseyside, non-metropolitan counties such as Cumbria and principal areas throughout Wales. This would suggest that the figure is not a significant outlier nationwide.
The next largest ethnic group in the borough is Asian, who along with other ethnic minorities are supported by the Cheshire Asian & Minority Communities Council, a registered charity headquartered in Chester.
|2011 United Kingdom Census|
|Country of birth||Population|
The majority of the population of Cheshire West and Chester is British-born, with the percentage standing at 95.1% (2011), a figure significantly above that of the UK as a whole (88.7%, 2010). The largest overseas nationality is Polish, which is significant because of the World War II U.S. military base and subsequent Polish refugee camp in Cuddington.
The overwhelming main religion in Cheshire West and Chester is Christianity, with a percentage figure above the average for England and Wales (59.3%, 2011). The single largest church is the Church of England, with the borough being served by the Chester Archdeaconry, with six deaneries and an average of twenty parish churches in each deanery. Roman Catholicism also has a significant presence across the borough, with all its churches located in the Diocese of Shrewsbury.
Methodist churches in the borough form groups averaging ten, known as 'circuits' (the four in Cheshire West and Chester are all part of the Chester and Stoke-on-Trent District). More marginal churches include Assemblies of God, Baptist Union, Elim Pentecostal, United Reformed and the English Presbyterian Church of Wales in Chester.
Aside from churches, there are two mosques in Cheshire West and Chester - one each in Chester and Ellesmere Port - which were subjected to property theft and racially aggravated disorder respectively in 2014.
Local nature reserves
There are no passenger airports in the borough (a grass airfield exists in Little Budworth), with the nearest being Liverpool and Manchester which licensed vehicles provide transport to. Airbus' fleet of A300-600ST Beluga transporter aircraft are based at Hawarden Airport in neighbouring Flintshire, adjacent to their wing manufacturing facility.
Three disused railways in the borough have been converted to off-road cycleways, including:
- Birkenhead Railway: Contains sections of NCR56 and the Wirral Circular Trail and is now called Wirral Way.
- Chester & Connah's Quay Railway: Contains a section of NCR5 and is now called Chester Millennium Greenway.
- Winsford and Over Branch Line: Contains a section of regional route 71 and is now called Whitegate Way.
The Shropshire Union Canal towpath between Waverton and the National Waterways Museum is paved with asphalt and is a shared-use route between cyclists and pedestrians, for a distance of 12.5 miles. Between Tarvin Bridge and Blacon Avenue, it is also lit.
In 2009, Chester was awarded the status of 'Cycling Town' by Cycling England. To reflect this, a series of colour-coded signposted routes around the city were devised in 2012. The total length of new signposted routes created by the project was thirty-eight miles, bringing the overall total in the borough to 312.5. The total funding received from the cycling town project, which ended in 2011 when Cycling England was disbanded, was £4.4 million. A similar network of over thirty miles of cycle routes branded the Ellesmere Port Grenway has been proposed by the town's development board.
Park and Ride
Chester has four park and ride sites located adjacent to radial routes on the city's outskirts (Boughton Heath, Sealand Road, Upton and Wrexham Road) running on two lines which intersect at Chester Bus Interchange. A fifth site is proposed near Hoole Village.
|Chester Park and Ride services|
|Route||Terminus||Intermediate stop||Chester city centre||Intermediate stop||Terminus|
|Blue (PR1)||Upton (Zoo)||Countess of Chester Hospital||Delamere Street||Chester Bus Interchange||Foregate Street||Pepper Street||Grosvenor Road||Wrexham Road|
|Green (PR2)||Sealand Road||Sealand Road (Greyhound Park)||Canal Street||Boughton||Boughton Heath|
Chester is the hub of the railway network in the borough, with around 4.7 million passengers annually. Passenger numbers doubled to this figure in the ten years to 2015, making the station the eighth-busiest in North West England. Railway lines (and their associated franchise(s)) in the borough - not necessarily connecting to Chester - include:
- Borderlands Line (Wales & Borders): Connects Bidston in Wirral with Wrexham in Wales and includes a stop at Neston. Services are provided by Transport for Wales.
- Chester-Manchester Line (Wales & Borders): Includes stops at Helsby and Frodsham and is operated by Transport for Wales.
- Ellesmere Port to Warrington Line (Northern): Includes stops at Stanlow & Thornton and Ince & Elton before meeting the Chester-Manchester Line near Helsby and is operated by Northern according to a Department for Transport-set minimum service pattern.
- Halton Curve (Wales and Borders): Connects Chester - Liverpool includes stops at Chester, Helsby, Frodsham, Runcorn, Liverpool South Parkway and Liverpool Line Street and is operated by Transport for Wales.
- Mid-Cheshire Line (Northern): Leaves the Chester-Manchester Line near Mickle Trafford and includes stops at Mouldsworth, Delamere, Cuddington, Greenbank, Northwich and Lostock Gralam, with services provided by Northern. A single-track railway exists between Northwich and Sandbach, but it is only used for freight.
- North Wales Coast Line (InterCity West Coast and Wales & Borders): Originates at Crewe and passes through Chester, with services provided by Transport for Wales and Avanti West Coast.
- Shrewsbury to Chester Line (InterCity West Coast and Wales & Borders): The section between Wrexham and Chester is currently in the process of being reinstated as a two-track railway under the direction of the Welsh Government. Services are provided by Transport for Wales and Avanti West Coast.
- West Coast Main Line (InterCity West Coast): Aside from stops at Winsford, Hartford and Acton Bridge, the branch line to Liverpool Lime Street diverges at Weaver Junction - the oldest of its type in Great Britain. It is currently operated by Avanti West Coast, however High Speed 2 services to Liverpool using "classic compatible" trains are proposed to run along this section of the line.
- Wirral Line (Merseyrail): Chester is one of the terminus stations of the line which loops clockwise around Liverpool city centre in a tunnel. The line includes stops at Bache, Capenhurst and Hooton, with a branch line from the latter running to another terminus at Ellesmere Port, with stops at Little Sutton and Overpool. The line is operated by Merseyrail with this line and the WCML being the only two electrified railways in the borough.
Current and proposed improvements
The Crewe North Rolling Stock Depot serving High Speed Two is proposed to be built in the civil parish of Stanthorne and Wimboldsley. The line itself enters the borough in that location and leaves it again near the A556/A559 junction at Lostock Gralam.
|Motorways||A roads||B roads|
Motorways and primary routes in the borough which are maintained by Highways England (trunk roads de jure) include the M6, M53, M56, A55, A483, A494, A550 and a short section of the A41 in Hooton. Other primary routes which are maintained by the council (principal roads de jure) include the A41, A49, A51, A54, A56, A483, A530, A533, A534, A556, A5115, A5116, A5117 and A5268.
Chester and Ellesmere Port - both primary route destinations - form the hub of the road network in Cheshire West and Chester, with routes of national importance carrying traffic in all directions to locations including Flintshire, Halton, Wirral and Wrexham.
European Route E05 is routed via the M6, carrying international traffic between Scotland, North West England, the West Midlands and France via Southampton. European route E22 is routed via the A494 and M56, carrying international traffic between Ireland (the route in fact begins at the Port of Holyhead), North Wales, North West England, Yorkshire and the Netherlands. Both routes meet at Lymm Interchange, which lies in neighbouring Cheshire East.
Three Roman roads exist in Cheshire West and Chester, Two originating in Chester (Deva Victrix) and running to Northwich (Condate) and Whitchurch (Mediolanum) respectively. The Roman road of kings street in Northwich which runs from Middlewich to Warrington.
Three local MPs - Graham Evans, Justin Madders and Chris Matheson - raised safety concerns about the M56 between J12 and J14 in parliament after more than one hundred-and-sixty incidents were recorded since 2011. In response, Andrew Jones, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, confirmed that an upgrade to smart motorway will only take place after 2020.
Navigable waterways in the borough include the Manchester Ship Canal, Shropshire Union Canal, Trent and Mersey Canal and the Weaver Navigation, the latter two being connected together by the Anderton Boat Lift near Northwich, the only caisson lift lock in the United Kingdom.
Places of interest
|Accessible open space|
|Museum (free/not free)|
- Abbeywood estate
- Aldersey Green Golf Club
- Anderton Boat Lift
- Beeston Castle
- Bickerton Hill SSSI
- Blakemere Craft Centre
- Blue Planet Aquarium
- Bluebell Cottage Gardens
- Bolesworth Castle
- Burton Mere Wetlands (part of Dee Estuary RSPB reserve)
- Carden Park Hotel
- Cheshire Military Museum
- Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet
- Cheshire Workshops
- Chester Castle
- Chester Cathedral
- Chester city walls
- Chester Racecourse
- Chester Roman Amphitheatre
- Chester History and Heritage
- Chester Rows
- Chester Zoo
- Craxton Wood Hotel
- The Crocky Trail
- Delamere Forest
- Deva Stadium
- Dewa Roman Experience
- Grosvenor Museum
- Grosvenor Park
- Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre
- The Groves
- Harlequin Theatre
- Hoole Hall
- Ice Cream Farm
- JF Polo Academy
- Lion Salt Works
- Little Budworth Country Park
- Manley Mere
- Marbury Country Park
- Mersey View
- National Waterways Museum
- Ness Botanic Gardens
- Northgate Arena
- Oulton Park
- Parkgate salt marsh (part of Dee Estuary RSPB reserve and SSSI)
- Parkgate sea front
- Portal Hotel, Golf and Spa
- Pryors Hayes Golf Club
- Rowton Hall
- Rowton Moor battle site
- St John the Baptist's Church, Chester
- Stonyford Cottage Gardens
- Stretton Watermill
- Tirley Garth
- Vale Royal Falconry Centre
- Walk Mill
- Weaver Hall Museum and Workhouse
- Willington Hall
- Wincham Park
- Wirral Country Park
There is only one full-time professional football club in the borough - Chester FC - who play in the National League. Northwich has four semi-professional teams - Barnton, Northwich Victoria, Witton Albion and 1874 Northwich - all of whom play in regional leagues. Winsford is also represented in the non-league pyramid by Winsford United.
Below level ten of the English football league system are county-wide amateur leagues, with two covering the geographic area of the borough - the Cheshire Association Football League and West Cheshire Association Football League. Although several clubs are members of the former, many more compete in the latter - most notably Vauxhall Motors, who de-professionalised themselves in 2014. Below that is the Chester & Wirral Football League, and also the Mid-Cheshire district leagues who cater for the areas of knutsford, Northwich, Middlewich and Winsford where teams representing neighbourhoods/villages and/or pubs/social clubs ('pub teams') compete.
Whilst the borough per se does not have any twinning agreements, several of its settlements have agreements predating its creation in 2009, listed below:
|Upton by Chester||Arradon|
- Cheshire County Council
- Cheshire East Council
- Chester City Council
- Ellesmere Port and Neston Borough Council
- Weaver Vale Borough Council
- "The Cheshire (Structural Changes) Order 2008 - Article 4". www.legislation.gov.uk. Legislation.gov.uk. Archived from the original on 3 January 2011. Retrieved 15 January 2009.
- "County split into two authorities". BBC News. 25 July 2007. Archived from the original on 7 January 2009. Retrieved 25 July 2007.
- "Committee structure". www.cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk. Cheshire West and Chester Council. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
- Holmes, David (26 May 2015). "Cheshire West and Chester Council have bad-tempered first meeting under Labour control". Chester Chronicle. Trinity Mirror. Archived from the original on 31 July 2015. Retrieved 26 August 2015.
- Holmes, David (23 September 2010). "Cheshire West and Chester Council HQ is 21st century workplace". Chester Chronicle. Trinity Mirror. Archived from the original on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
- "Election 2011 Live Results". www.cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk. Cheshire West and Chester Council. 5 May 2011. Archived from the original on 11 May 2015. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
- "Your Councillors by Ward". www.cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk. Cheshire West and Chester Council. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
- "Labour take control of Cheshire West and Chester Council". Northwich Guardian. Newsquest. 9 May 2015. Archived from the original on 25 May 2015. Retrieved 13 May 2015.
- "Town and parish councils". www.cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk. Cheshire West and Chester Council. Archived from the original on 22 May 2015. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
- "Parish and Town Councils in Cheshire" (PDF). www.chalc.org.uk. Cheshire Association of Local Councils. Archived from the original (PDF) on 31 May 2015. Retrieved 30 May 2015.
- "Community governance arrangements". www.cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk. Cheshire West and Chester Council. Archived from the original on 7 May 2015. Retrieved 6 June 2015.
- "Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 - Section 82". www.legislation.gov.uk. Legislation.gov.uk. Retrieved 6 June 2015.
- "2011 Census, Key Statistics for Local Authorities in England and Wales". www.ons.gov.uk. Office for National Statistics. 11 December 2012. Archived from the original on 5 January 2016. Retrieved 27 June 2015.
- "Population and social conditions". www.ec.europa.eu/eurostat. Eurostat. Archived from the original on 3 April 2015. Retrieved 11 July 2015.
- Flint, Rachel (28 July 2014). "Heartless thieves steal plants from mosque during Ramadan". Chester Chronicle. Trinity Mirror. Archived from the original on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
- Flint, Rachel (23 October 2014). "Ellesmere Port man arrested after pig's head placed outside Islamic centre". Chester Chronicle. Trinity Mirror. Archived from the original on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
- "Statutory Sites". Cheshire West and Chester council. Archived from the original on 3 January 2011. Retrieved 28 January 2011.
- "Complete Library of Free Chester Cycle Route Maps". www.chestercyclecity.org. Chester Cycling Campaign. Archived from the original on 29 May 2015. Retrieved 29 May 2015.
- "Cheshire West and Chester Council Cycling Strategy" (PDF). www.cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk. Cheshire West and Chester Council. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 March 2017. Retrieved 19 March 2017.
- "Ellesmere Port Greenway". www.ellesmereportdevelopment.co.uk. Invest in Ellesmere Port. Archived from the original on 19 August 2017. Retrieved 19 August 2017.
- "Hooton". www.merseyrail.org. Merseyrail. Archived from the original on 25 August 2017. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
- "Estimates of station usage | Office of Rail and Road". orr.gov.uk. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
- "Chester Railway Station sees passenger numbers double in 10 years". www.chesterchronicle.co.uk. Chester Chronicle. 29 January 2016. Archived from the original on 30 January 2016. Retrieved 30 January 2016.
- "Electrification Task Force Final Report Revealed". www.railnorth.org. Rail North. 5 March 2015. Archived from the original on 14 June 2017. Retrieved 29 May 2015.
- "High Speed Two property schemes, July 2017, phase 2B: Crewe to Manchester, Volume 1: Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chester key plan" (PDF). www.gov.uk. High Speed Two (HS2) Limited. 17 July 2017. Archived (PDF) from the original on 21 August 2017. Retrieved 20 August 2017.
- "Chester Road one of most congested outside London". www.chesterstandard.co.uk. The Standard. 25 August 2015. Archived from the original on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 3 September 2015.
- "Weaver Vale MP raises M56 issues in House of Commons". www.chesterchronicle.co.uk. Chester Chronicle. 18 November 2015. Archived from the original on 24 November 2015. Retrieved 5 December 2015.
- "M56 Smart Motorway won't happen". www.chesterchronicle.co.uk. Chester Chronicle. 21 November 2015. Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 5 December 2015.