might possibly have an adverse impact upon my complaints about the management of the East Kent Opportunities Planning Application.
Dear Mr PattersonI have received the report for the General Purposes Committee tomorrow, seeking authority to appoint a temporary Monitoring Officer. I am extremely surprised that the General Purposes Committee will be making this appointment. It is my understanding that the appointment of statutory posts such as the Chief Executive, the Section 151 Officer and the Monitoring Officer are decisions reserved for meetings of Full Council where all 56 councillors can exercise their choice, rather than a committee compromising of only 10 councillors.
As the Council’s current Monitoring Officer I seek your advice on the constitutional appropriateness of this appointment process. I would also be interested in knowing if the appointment of statutory officers has been conducted in this unorthodox way before, especially bearing in mind that it was Full Council which recently decided to un-couple the joint appointment of the Chief Executive and Section 151 Officer, not the General Purposes Committee.
I note that the report proposes that Madeline Homer the Director of Community Services takes on the role of Temporary Monitoring Officer. I would like to ask the following questions in relation to this proposal.
1. When did the proposed post holder pass her law degree
2. When did the proposed post holder qualify as a Barrister
3. When did the proposed post holder last practise has a qualified legal professional
4. What areas of the law did the proposed post holder practise in
5. What previous experience does the proposed post holder have in local authority/ public administration law and how recently did the proposed post holder have professional experience of working in this field
6. Is the proposed post holder carrying out Continuing Professional Development to maintain registration as a legal professional
As you are aware, the post of Monitoring Officer is very demanding from an intellectual and time point of view. I am extremely concerned that adding the statutory duties of Monitoring Officer to the already heavy workload of the Director of Community Services is an extremely high risk proposal. This is something which Councillors were worried about when they recently decided to remove the Section 151 Officer duties from the Chief Executive. I see this situation as no different and believe that it would be foolish to proceed with the appointment of the proposed post holder to this very onerous job because she already has an extremely demanding workload. To proceed with such appointment may well undermine our duty of care to safeguard the health and safety and of our staff and may perhaps lead to mistakes and omissions in her work as a result of stress and pressure resulting from this appointment.I am also extremely concerned about this proposed appointment because of the existence of major conflicts of interests.
Your are aware that the proposed post holder has submitted a complaint about me to the Council’s Standards Committee. I wonder how this complaint can be fairly and properly managed by a Temporary Monitoring Officer who’s role is to advise and support the Standards Committee in investigating complaint against members. I would be fearful that if the appointment went ahead I may not have a fair hearing at the Standards Committee.
As you know I have already complained to you about the proposed post holders role in the submission of the East Kent Opportunities planning application . It is my contention that she may have behaved in such a way as to contravene Thanet Council’s Constitution. In my opinion it would be entirely inappropriate for the General Purposes Committee to appoint to the post of Temporary Monitoring Officer someone who may have been involved in taking actions which it might be decided have breached the Council’s Constitution, or other laws and rules which she might be employed to uphold and advise on.
Finally, I am very concerned that the appointment of the proposed post holder to the Temporary Monitoring Officer post may well have a potentially adverse and unfair impact upon my ongoing complaint to you as the current Monitoring Officer, and to the Police, about the EKO Planning Application. As you know the proposed post holder has a very close working relationship with the Chief Executive against who I have complained in relation to EKO. I have also complained to you as Monitoring Officer about the proposed post holders actions in this regard. To appoint this person to the Temporary Monitoring Officer post means in effect that she will be overseeing the management of extremely serious allegations against herself and a close work colleague and line manager. This situation seems entirely inappropriate and leads me to speculate that if this appointment proceeds as suggested in the Committee report there will be a significant conflict of interest which could possibly mean that my complaints and allegations about EKO may not be treated fairly.I hope that as Monitoring Officer you can look into these matters and advise me what action you may be able to take.
Councillor Ian Driver