“Bust up at top” – Paul Arnott responds

Owl reported the original story, East Devon Council bust up at top, and two comments: a correspondent on bust up at top and bust up at top the context speaks volumes

Now Paul Arnott responds, within the limits imposed by the need, under “Part B” confidentiality, to protect a former employee.

This raises the questions again about who broke confidentiality and leaked the original story, and why? – Owl

East Devon leader responds to critical report

Radio Exe News www.radioexe.co.uk 

East Devon District Council’s leader has responded to criticisms in a Radio Exe article, based on an independent report commissioned by the council about the circumstances relating to the redundancy of a member of staff.

Cllr Paul Arnott, who leads the council as part of the Democratic Alliance, last week joined the Liberal Democrats nationally in order to throw his support behind its candidate for the Tiverton & Honiton by-election Richard Foord.

The report was highly critical of issues which arose after the current administration took over from the Conservatives. As part of its conclusions, it said” It cannot be stated strongly enough the damage that has been done to the council, its reputation, its officers and members and its ability to reach its potential.”

Mr Arnott has politely asked to respond to the content of Radio Exe’s article, and we are publishing his comments in full here.

He writes: “Because this leaked report was made to a Part B meeting [the confidential part of a council meeting] – in order to protect the former employee – there is a limit to what I am able to state. However, I am able to correct with thanks to the editor that which was stated in the article which I have already reported at Council in Part B.

“First, this is framed as a dispute between me as the leader and the CEO. This is simply wrong.

“At every meeting discussing the matter I had four other senior councillors with me, the majority of whom did not consider this was a redundancy matter after a number of meetings. Unfortunately, the report claims to have interviewed one of the three councillors who were also statutory consultees and simply the authors did not do so.

“I have no doubt that if they had they would have not written the report as they have.

“Second, it is said that when the new administration came in back in May 2020 we declined Local Government Association (LGA) advice. The opposite is the case. With other senior councillors I had many meetings with the most senior possible LGA officers both before this matter, during it, and after it.

“Third, the report offers a view, paradoxically, that my involving the UK’s most senior LGA employment officer in attempting to settle this matter was “inappropriate”. This is a subjective view which I do not accept.

“Fourthly, as to any costs to the council, I am not personally responsible for a penny of that. I did not choose or commission legal advice taken by officers, and any costs of the report were agreed by full council cross-party.

“Finally, some concerns are raised about the working relationship of me as the leader and the CEO. It is very common when such a seismic political change as the Conservatives losing power at EDDC for the first time in 45 years for this relationship to require careful nurturing.

“This work has been fully done, ironically with the good offices of the LGA, and the people and members of East Devon can be assured that the council is firing on all cylinders.”

BoJo spotted in Seaton in bullish mood

According to reports in today’s Western Morning News:

The Prime Minister says he is “confident” in the Conservative candidate contesting the forthcoming by-election in Tiverton & Honiton.

Speaking on a visit to Cornwall yesterday to launch the Government’s new food strategy, Boris Johnson said he had been in the Devon constituency over recent days and “attracted a good deal of support” while visiting Seaton on the coast.

A by-election is being held on June 23, following the resignation of Conservative MP Neil Parish, who admitted watching pornography in the House of Commons.

The constituency has been Tory since it was created in 1997 and in the 2019 general election Mr Parish won the seat by 24,000 votes over second placed Labour, with the Liberal Democrats nearly 3,000 votes further back.

However, the Lib Dems have billed themselves as the “real challengers” in the by-election, while polls suggest Labour could take back the Wakefield seat in Yorkshire from the Conservatives in another by-election being held on the same day.

Asked by the WMN whether he was anxious about the possible outcome of the Tiverton & Honiton by-election, Mr Johnson said: “It takes an awful lot to make me anxious about anything.

“We are very confident that we have a fantastic local candidate in Helen Hurford, and she would be a wonderful MP for Tiverton & Honiton. I was there all weekend and it struck me there was a very positive mood.”