Council announces resignation of another suspended senior officer

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A senior officer at Cheshire East Council has resigned today (Monday, 8th April) with immediate effect , 16 months after being suspended. 

Chief Operating Officer Peter Bates was suspended in December 2017 following a meeting of Cheshire East Council's investigation and disciplinary committee. At the time, an additional four officers within the organisation were currently suspended, to enable an investigations into allegations in respect of their conduct to be undertaken.

A spokesperson for Cheshire East Council said: "The council's chief operating officer, Peter Bates, has decided to leave his employment with Cheshire East Council with effect from 8 April 2019. As a matter of policy, Cheshire East Council does not comment on individual staffing matters."

Whilst Cheshire East Council would not provide details of how much each of their suspended officers was being paid they did confirm last year that they were all receiving their full salary, stating "As suspension is a neutral act, the Council continues to pay officers who are suspended at their normal salary."

The council's Director of Legal Services and Monitoring Officer, Bill Norman resigned in December 2017 with immediate effect. Mr Norman had been suspended since July 2017 - while an investigation into allegations relating to his conduct were undertaken.

Then in July 2017, Cheshire East Council confirmed that their former chief executive, Mike Suarez has resigned with immediate effect having been suspended since April 2017 after concerns were raised over his conduct.

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Cheshire East Council
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Comments

Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Allan Lunt
Tuesday 9th April 2019 at 4:22 pm
When are Cheshire East council going to make public the "truth" behind all these seniors leaving within periods of suspension ?

What an another absolute waste of our money !

I suggest we shouldn't hold our breath !
Simon Carden
Tuesday 9th April 2019 at 4:42 pm
I sincerely hope that the people who have left will not attract a council pension which dates back to their suspension -or any pension rights whatsoever .Or was this part of their golden goodbye package ?
Adrian Scott
Tuesday 9th April 2019 at 4:43 pm
I raised these long suspensions on full pay with Fiona Bruce last year.She raised the matter as a question in Parliament anmd has furnished me with a reply from James Brokenshire MP Minister of Housing, Communities and Local Government. the following is the transcript of part of that letter:

"Councils are bound by the usual employment legislation. Thus, the management of local government officer disciplinary processes is a local matter.My officials asked the Local Government Association (LGA) if they hold statistics about the length of time disciplinary procedures are taking nationally. They confirmed they do not. They also noted that the length of disciplinary procedures is not being raised as a common concern.

As you may be aware when there are allegationsof misconduct by senior officers these investigations are governed by national (statutory) procedures.This provides additional protection to those officers, because they work with and report to the council's elected members and discharge their responsibilities in a political environment, and these investigations involve the appointment of an independant investigator.

The Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC) for Chief Executives of Local Authorities (The national negotiating body for the pay and conditions of service of chief executives in England and Wales) and the LGA set out procedures in their chief executives national salary framework and conditions of service handbook which clearly states that all proceedings should be conducted expeditiously. Guidance on these timescales include a reference to reviewing the suspension of senior officers under investigation after two months which is to avoid investigations being overly protracted.

However , when the allegations are of a serious nature, where an individualis a potential witness or suspect in a police investigation, there is a likelyhood of matters being delayed as the civil investigation must allow the police investigations to be concluded to avoid any risk of compromising a criminal investigation.

I am aware your interest in this subject arises from the disciplinary investigations at Cheshire East Council, and I would reassure you that senior officials from this department have been in contact with the council to assess what transferrable lessons can be learned from the experience of Cheshire East in managing the process.
Signed by
Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP"

Make of that what you will. I'm sure you will come to the same conclusion, that the whole process is highly unsatisfactory.
Tony Haluradivth
Wednesday 10th April 2019 at 5:47 pm
And so it goes on. In Chicago in the 1930's you could join the 'Mob' and make a profitable living out of racketeering. In the current era you can join Cheshire East Council at a very senior level and make profitable living out of racketeering ...sorry I meant finance and admin. What is to stop these characters from joining another council and feigning work for 2 years then leaving with another generous severance package. I now feel that the "malfaisance" is fully intended and deliberate and really is a racket. At least Al Capone made no pretence about being a crook. Let's build an Alcatraz in the Dee estuary and chuck these senior council employees in there with no parole.
Jonathan Follows
Friday 12th April 2019 at 3:57 pm
Following up on Tony Haluradivth's question, Bill Norman (former Director of Legal Services and Monitoring Officer) previously worked at Herefordshire, Wirral and Torbay councils. He took early retirement from Herefordshire in 2015, and resigned with a £146,000 payment from Wirral council in 2012 after being under investigation, but it was found that there was no case to answer. His serial resignation habit was known when he was appointed by Cheshire East Council. He was earlier implicated in unfair treatment of a whistle blower at Torbay Council, who was subsequently awarded £200,000 compensation for unfair dismissal.

So it seems easy to move from council to council, even when fingerprints are all over the place and easy to find on the Internet.
Tony Haluradivth
Monday 15th April 2019 at 10:50 am
Thanks for the facts Jonathan Follows just as I suspected ...it is a kind of racket and these guys are serial abusers of the system (albeit at a very high level). So Bill Norman has been of full salary paid for by the good folk of Cheshire East so Mr Norman if you are reading this you are the "lowest of the low" even lower than dear old Al who at least was fairly honest about his Mob persona.
Manuel Golding
Wednesday 1st May 2019 at 2:00 pm
Sorry to come to this blog late in the day. In September 2017 Residents of Wilmslow (RoW) requested the Department for Communities & Local Government (DCLG)to place Cheshire East Council into Special Measures, The DCLG replied it was "...aware of a number of issues.... including governance & proprietary in the way has council has operated over
recent years". "These have led to suspensions....of senior officers & an ongoing police invention."
The DCLG then placed officials of the Local Government Association (LGA) in CEC to "advise & support" CEC. The Department did assure us it "will continue yo take a keen interest in CEC"
We subsequently asked for the DCLGs report on the LGAs progress to be told, in effect, it was a matter between the Department & the council. So no news!
Later the Leader of the Council in a private meeting lambasted RoW for having the temerity to request Special Measures for her council, stating such steps had cost CE tax payers a lot of money. She didn'ti mention the high costs of all the misdeeds wrought by her council, Lyme Green, gardening leave for numerous officials under investigation, police investigations etc.
As we have seen all too often nothing at CEC appears to have changed. The questionable culture, the arrogance of apparatchik official, the suspicious planning operatives recommendations etc; the culture of any organisation ALWAYS comes from the top and that is where change is so badly needed.
Hopefully Cheshire East can start afresh from tomorrow should the CEC elections start the clear-out of the duplicitous Conservative regime & its cohorts.

In Alderley you will hopefully be voting for Alderley First candidates as we in neighbouring Wilmslow will be supporting our numerators Residents of Wilmslow candidates for CE council and Wilmslow TC on Thursday, 2nd May.

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