Tonight, the full council will debate matters triggered by the Chief Executive’s seemingly unauthodox pay rise earlier this year.
In reality, there won’t be much time for debate – the whole meeting is scheduled to last just thirty minutes. Indeed, discussion about the terms of reference of the proposed investigation – as set out by the Deputy Chief Executive – may reduce to a ‘yes/no’ vote without any details being revealed.
(We might add that the meeting will apparently be asked to endorse the appointment of an investigator without being told of the cost. This won’t appeal to many tax-payers…)
The agenda has been drawn up with a rat hole or two, as often the case when diverting attention from the real issues. The meeting will be asked to agree that ‘the Governance Working Group [is] to review all terms of reference for the Standing Committees of the Council’. It will also be asked consider ‘the formation of an Employment Committee as an additional Standing Committee of the Council’. But these are ‘remedies’ for an undiagnosed disease; what were the actual failings that led to the pay rise? The meeting mustn’t be distracted from this central question.
(The committee also needs to understand the role of the existing INDEPENDENT remuneration panel (https://bit.ly/2lDs68D) -what does it do and what more should it do?)
But what really matters in this meeting is that ALL councillors should push for ‘the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth’ to emerge. As yet, no-one has claimed – or even suggested – that it has. It would be very easy to rely on an independent enquiry to discover all the facts, but unless it has power to probe, and unless it is instructed to probe, the lack of transparency that has brought the council into such disrepute will continue. The damage to the council’s reputation will continue too.