The Full Council meeting on July 1st 2016 discussed the conclusions from the Grant Thornton report issued in late June; it strongly implicated 4 Labour Councillors. The Conservative group in the Council demanded that the 4 Councillors be referred to the Standards Committee for full investigation; they suggested that if such action was not taken by Cllr Banwait they would highlight and escalate externally. The non-Labour Councillors took the opportunity in the July meeting to name names, reinforce messages about the negative nature of the culture in the Council promoted by the current political leadership, and to make as much capital out of the opportunity as possible.
By Monday July 4th Cllr Banwait had decided to inject some political “balance” into the standards committee “nominations” process, by referring 4 non-Labour Councillors; none of whom had been the subject of any discussion the previous Friday and none of whom were implicated in the Grant Thornton report.
Cllr Ruth Skelton and Cllr John Keith were referred because they were members of the committee that granted taxi licenses to people who were subject to question in the report. They were nominated as Cllr Balbir Sandhu, who was 1 of the 4 Labour Councillors highlighted in the report, had been implicated.
Cllr Alan Graves was referred on the basis that he was, himself, referring too many people (3) to the Standards Committee; this was considered by Cllr Banwait to be an abuse of resources. The irony was that Cllr Banwait submitted 8 complaints in the space of 1 day.
Cllr Mike Carr was referred, based on his role in the procurement stage of the pay review project.
Subsequent to this Janie Berry, Director of Governance, carried out a preliminary review to assess whether there was any case to be answered, or further investigation required, prior to the Standards Committee. She found that for :
Cllr Alan Graves
I am not satisfied that Cllr Graves’ submission of three complaints during the said municipal year, out of a total of 25, constitutes an abuse of the Standards Committee complaints procedure. I am therefore of the opinion that:
3 (b) the complaint does not cross the threshold of seriousness to warrant an investigation.
Cllr Mike Carr
In the absence of evidence to support or implicate Councillor Carr in the procurement process for the job evaluation project in the period leading up to April 2012, and in the absence of a constitutional obligation for a Cabinet Member to be involved in a procurement or contractual process, I am of the opinion that:
3 (a) the complaint does not come within the remit of the Code of Conduct
Cllr Carr pointed out that, had an investigation been conducted, it would have established that he asked all of the right questions and formulated a decision on the basis of the answers he was given.
The complaints on Cllrs Skelton and Keith will proceed to full investigation and, unusually, will be conducted by external solicitors who, no doubt will be levying an extortionate daily rate charged to the Council Tax payers of Derby.
The Grant Thornton report was clear about those Councillors who needed to be held to account – they were 4 Labour Councillors. Cllr Banwait is prepared to waste scarce Council Tax payers money to stain the names and reputations of 4 opposition members, and blur the clarity of the Grant Thornton report, in order that he can score cheap political points….and with no advantage whatsoever to the voting public!
Why is he trying to divert public attention, what is he trying to cover up,….and as one Councillor said in Full Council on July 1st, to Cllr Banwait “Stop lying about me!”
Perhaps Cllr Banwait should be referred to the Standards Committee for his abuse and misuse of Council resources?
Categories: Derby City Council