“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.”

2 thoughts on ““Bust up at top” – Paul Arnott responds

  1. Actually I think this article actually raises far more questions than just “who broke confidentiality and leaked the original story, and why?”.

    Mr Arnott’s comments actually call into question the entire veracity and believability of the report from the East of England Local Government Association.

    Mr Arnott states “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.”, and goes on to state that the report was blatantly false in stating that the LGA was not involved.

    So now we have to wonder just how “independent” this report was and brings into question the integrity of the East of England Local Government Association. And if they are willing to produce biased reports, who at EDDC told them what bias to include?

    But regardless of who commissioned the report and apparently instructed the EoELGA on what to write, such behaviour by an officer or councillor at EDDC would be IMO gross misconduct and should without doubt be subject to accountability and consequences. So I do hope that both the commissioning of a false report and the leak will be fully investigated and consequences incurred.

    Finally, this saga also brings into question the reporting processes and possible bias of both Joe Ives and Radio Exeter. There is no doubt that the leaking of this report to Radio Exeter should have been reported upon, but unbiased reporting normally requires the other side to be given the opportunity to give their side before the hatchet job is published. Did Joe Ives contact Mr Arnott before publication to get his response, or did he simply get suckered into publishing a false and defamatory report without attempting to get a response?


    • And the real scandal of the £20,000 is apparently NOT whether the report was “hushed up” but instead why £20,000 of council tax money was spent on a blatantly biased report for political aims?


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