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Reporting Back: Extraordinary Council Meeting

by burylibdems on 22 July, 2017

Last week Bury’s Councillors met together for an important extraordinary meeting. This was to consider the outcome of an investigation in to senior staff, which had resulted in the resignation of the Council’s Chief Executive and Executive Director of Children’s Services.

This is an important and serious issue, and one which you will probably have seen reported in the media.

An investigation was initiated by the Council at the start of this year around an incident which took place in April 2015. The Council commissioned an independent report into the incident, which resulted in the suspension of senior staff. This was followed by a formal Human Resources Panel and legal investigation which has resulted in the two members of staff mentioned above resigning from the Council.

The details of the case have been reported extensively in the press. Essentially they relate to how senior people in the Council did not follow proper procedures when informed of a criminal investigation of a then Labour councillor for possession of child sexual images. The incident occurred in the run up to the 2015 General Election, and the information was incorrectly kept out of the public domain until after that General Election.

Two very senior members of staff (Chief Executive and Executive Director of Children’s Services) have resigned and are no longer employed by the Council.

It is important to stress that the Council, at the start of this process, put in place strong interim management arrangements to ensure that the important functions of the Council are working as they should be.

The Future
Councillors met to consider a joint motion agreed by all three political parties on how we need to move forward from this very serious incident. This has now been agreed by all councillors.

For us there were three things we particularly wanted to ensure happen:

1 – Learn from what has happened
The external experts have made recommendations on how some of the rules that determine how the Council operates are strengthened (particularly the Members Code of Conduct), and there are a number of actions that are recommended coming from the report. We are very keen to make sure that any changes, actions or improvements are taken, and as quickly as possible.

2 – Investigate Elected Member involvement
The investigations so far have been into the paid staff of the Council. There remain questions which are unanswered about whether or not any elected Councillors knew, or were involved, in this process. It has been agreed that there will be an independent investigation into these councillors which we fully support. You may have seen in the press that the former Leader of the Council has been suspended by the Labour Party, pending these investigations.

3 – Review the Culture of the Council
At a senior level it is very important that the different roles of councillors, and the professional paid staff we employ to run the Council are understood. They need to work closely together, but there also need to be clear boundaries in place. We have asked for an all-party review of the culture of the Council at a senior level, which has now been agreed.

This is a very serious issue so if you have any questions you want to ask the Liberal Democrat group at the Council please do not hesitate to get in touch with our Group Leader tim@burylibdems.net.

The papers for the Council meeting are here.



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