Cheshire East is the name for a new unitary authority area in the ceremonial county of Cheshire. It will come into force from April 2009 as part of the 2009 structural changes to local government in England, when the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act is enacted, and will replace the boroughs of Macclesfield, Congleton and Crewe and Nantwich. The equivalent unitary authority in the other half of the county will be called Cheshire West and Chester. The decision to create the Cheshire East unitary authority was announced on 25 July2007 following a consultation period, in which a proposal to create a single Cheshire unitary authority was rejected. The new unitary authority will have a population of around 358,900 (2006 population estimate) and an electorate (i.e., those able to vote in its elections) of around 285,000. Cheshire East's sister authority, Cheshire West and Chester, has an electorate of around 255,000 and is 116,638 hectares in size.
The electoral wards for the new unitary authority currently use the same boundaries as the outgoing Cheshire County Council's electoral divisions, with each ward electing 3 councillors and representing between 8,800 and 12,000 people.. At the last Cheshire County Council election in 2005 there were 15 Conservative controlled wards, 6 Labour controlled wards, 5 Liberal Democrat controlled wards and 1 ward controlled by an independent within the unitary authority boundaries.
The first elections for the new council took place on 1 May2008, with the Conservative Party taking overall control. The Conservatives took 59 of the 81 seats with the others being held by the Liberal Democrats (12), Labour (6) and four Independents. The leader of the new authority is Wesley Fitzgerald who was elected at Cheshire East's inaugural meeting on Tuesday 13 May2008. Wesley Fitzgerald is a Councillor for the Wilmslow South ward. The council will act as a "shadow" council until 1 April 2009, with the initial 11 months being used to establish the structure of the new authority. The next elections for Cheshire East will be in 2011 when it is anticipated that the current three Councillors per ward system will be replaced by smaller wards (consisting of 3,000 - 3,500 electors) each represented by one Councillor .
The administrative centre will be at Westfields in Sandbach, formerly the Head quarters of the Borough of Congleton. The site Could be expanded if needed as there is space around the newly built centre.