My KCC Election Manifesto & Video

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Thanet Council Chief Exec Under Fire, Government and Cops to be Called In?

On 1 May Thanet Council’s Monitoring Officer, Mr Harvey Patterson, was made redundant, with immediate effect, by Council Chief Executive Sue McGonigal. There is doubt about whether  McGonigal had the constitutional or legal authority to take this action. Patterson’s redundancy notice period was still running and it is understood he had not indicated  he wanted to take “gardening leave”. The Council General Purposes Committee which deals with staffing matters had previously rejected McGonigal’s efforts to facilitate  Patterson’s early departure from the Council.
 
Several councillors have openly criticised Chief Executive’s McGonigal’s action. One councillor e-mailed McGonigal saying that the  “monitoring officer should be a Council appointment since it is a statutory role, or does that not matter to you? … Your e mail indicates that Mr Paterson leaving suddenly yesterday is somehow normal, rubbish!”.  Another wrote her that  “you have now set a collision course with many of the more senior Councillors, from all sides of the chamber, who have a strong sense of fairness and justice, and know how these things should be properly undertaken”.
Patterson’s accelerated redundancy is being linked to allegations that an investigation into a complaint by Green Party Councillor, Ian Driver, appears to have been undermined by senior council officers and political leaders.

Driver’s  complaint alleges that McGonigal attempted to improperly influence a planning application to build 550 houses at New Haine Road Ramsgate. The planning application was submitted to Thanet Council  in 2013  by East Kent Opportunities LLP  a partnership jointly owned by Thanet Council and Kent County Council. Chief Executive McGonigal and Council Leader Clive Hart are members of the EKO management board.
Following the submission of Driver’s complaint  Monitoring Officer Patterson  became concerned by the actions of  Chief Executive McGonigal, Human Resources Manager Juli Oliver Smith, Council leader Clive Hart and Cabinet Member Michelle Fenner which, he alleged, may have  undermined the investigatory process.

Patterson also expressed his concern  that the external complaint assessor appointed by the Council had not interviewed planning officers in relation to Driver’s concerns  about 2 meetings in 2013 at which Chief Executive McGonigal said that she intended to meet with planners and illustrate the argument I want them to use to support the (EKO)  application”, even though she had previously been advised by the Council’s Planning Manager that the application was contrary to  Thanet Council’s planning policies and could not be approved.
These concerns prompted Patterson to take the unprecedented step of issuing, on 28thApril,  a 13 page letter  supported by 20 pages of documents, identifying actions of McGonigal, Oliver-Smith, Hart and Fenner which he alleged had undermined the proper management of Driver’s complaint. The letter was copied to elected  members of  Thanet Council’s General Purposes Committee who are overseeing  the management of Driver’s complaint. So shocked were the committee members that at their meeting on 29th April, they  passed a vote of no-confidence in committee Chair, Councillor Fenner, who refused to vacate her post. They went on to vote  to seek legal advice on the implications of rejecting  the  external complaint assessors report, which recommended that no further action be taken into Driver’s complaints.

Less than 48 hours later, Monitoring Officer Patterson’s redundancy, of which there was still 8 weeks notice to run, was brought forward by McGonigal to become  effective immediately (from 1 May). It is understood that Patterson was given 20 minutes to clear his desk under supervision and was then escorted from the building.
Said Councillor Driver  “I am astounded that someone who faces extremely serious allegations of misconduct was able to dismiss the person who was overseeing the investigation into her conduct. Furthermore, it’s utterly unbelievable that when  the Monitoring Officer reports on alleged actions by senior people which he believes might   subvert and undermine investigations into my complaint;  the person I have complained about then terminates his employment with immediate effect. It appears to me that efforts might be being  made at the highest level of Thanet  Council to prevent a proper and  independent investigation into  my allegations against Chief Executive. I now have absolutely  no confidence that senior council officers and politicians will manage the complaint process fairly or honestly. The only way to deal with this extremely serious situation and to reassure the public that Thanet Council is an honest, open and transparent organisation, is for a full independent enquiry to take place as quickly as possible.

Driver said that he is so concerned by the possibility of a “cover-up” of his complaint that  he is seriously considering contacting the  Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles and the Kent Police to ask them to intervene to “prevent what some people might believe to be potentially criminal activities  from being swept under the carpet at Thanet Council”.
 

6 comments:

  1. Well done Ian. Police required for this and 0% fraud. Is the 13 page letter available.

    And filming etc allowed now at tdc?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So sayeth the future mayor of Ramsgate, but wait a minute, Ian only said he was considering contacting Kent Police. They have not actually been called in yet. 0% fraud is an historic matter from the far past about which nobody seems bothered other than you. 18:18. Best support Ian on the current issue, which seems to have some momentum and avoid clouding the water with other matters at this time.

      Delete
  2. So does this mean Harvey won't be answering about the lack of Statutory Duties to Report policy at TDC ? Harvey Patters Gone. You couldn't write it as fiction.

    ReplyDelete
  3. LGA report description of toxic and dysfunctional and corruption at TDC means Police have to investigate. Who will call them in and when?

    ReplyDelete
  4. No one shall be judge in their own cause. Principle of law. Long ignored by Standards Process at TDC which has a history of concealing evidence and conveniently losing records (On Harvey's watch as well). But now a principle breached at a dictatorial height by Herr Cockupenfhurer McG. How close to implosion is TDC ?

    ReplyDelete
  5. I am aware of a local researcher who has gathered a great deal of information/evidence of corruption by certain councillors in TDC. When this person took their evidence to the police to make a complaint, they were not far short of laughed out of the police station. When a member of the public goes to the police with a complaint, backed up by evidence from in depth research, surely the police have a duty to investigate? Please Ian, do go to the police. Unfortunately, they do not take "normal" people seriously and we are powerless. We need someone in a position of authority to act in our interest above that of their own, it looks like you are the only councillor willing to do that.

    ReplyDelete