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Trouble at the top of the District Council

  • by JW


The Leader and the CEO of the District Council do not get on, as reports from June last year testify: Calls for district council leadership to ‘consider positions’ in heated dispute over staff bullying claims | Local News | News | Honiton Nub News and Dysfunctional relationship of senior leaders comes to light following leaked report – East Devon Radio

Much of it is politically-fired: East Devon’s current political leadership “are seriously mistreating officers” according to council staff survey. | Tiverton and Honiton Conservatives

Things have become so fractious that, particularly in the light of the case of former Cllr Humphries, the Leader has written to the Communities Secretary: 

“The failure to resolve this issue properly is leading to a corrosive set of relationships between the controlling partnership of councillors and staff which is proving difficult to resolve,” the letter, dated 23 June, said. “We are writing to you at this point because the LGA Conference is occurring early in July, and we would like to take the opportunity [to] meet up with your senior staff who will be present at the conference to discuss the proposals that councillors are making to redress the problems and move forward.” Devon council requests government help after abuse case – BBC News

The council has called an extraordinary meeting tomorrow to consider the Humphreys report: Agenda for Council on Tuesday, 11th July, 2023, 6.00 pm – East Devon and 110723 Council Covering Report – July Report.pdf

This in turn has led to calls for the CEO to step down:

East Devon chief exec urged to resign

The chief executive of East Devon District Council has been called on to resign after the publication of a report into the council’s handling of serious allegations against a councillor. The independent report by Verita said that it had found ‘no reliable evidence’ that Mark Williams was aware of an investigation into the former councillor John Humphreys.

However, the council’s Labour Group argues that a line from a 2016 meeting that states that Mr Williams had been ‘alerted to the situation’ proves that he is ‘guilty of serious failings’. ‘As a result, the EDDC Labour Group no longer has confidence in your ability to perform the role of CEO and we urge you to resign with immediate effect,’ reads an email sent to the CEO by the Labour Group.

Former Exmouth mayor and EDDC councillor Mr Humphreys was convicted in 2021 of three counts of serious sexual assault and seven of indecent assault against two boys in the 1990s and 2000s. He was jailed for 21 years.

Mark Williams has been contacted for comment. – Your authority on UK local government – East Devon chief exec urged to resign

Meanwhile, the Leader has asked for clarification:

The leader of the council, Liberal Democrat Paul Arnott, said the extraordinary meeting “will be an historic debate for East Devon”. He said: “I must not predetermine it, but members’ comments to me already suggest that councillors will seek to clarify senior officer statements about who knew what when, and to understand the reason for the inertia in a process we began in April 2022 which has taken until July 2023 to make the next step. Why?” Calls for East Devon District Council chief executive to resign – BBC News