A report has been released that raises a host of very serious issues within Derby City Council and further demonstrates the lack of governance and transparency that Conservatives in Derby have repeatedly said is lacking under the current Labour administration.
The damning report states that:
Councillors have threatened to dismiss the employees if they fail to comply with their demands.
Councillors did not understand the roles and boundaries between elected members and council officers, which led to “inappropriate interference in decision-making.
Councillors did not accept or understand the gravity of the situation when members’ behaviour was flagged up in a damning public interest report by external auditors last year.
A poor attitude towards women by some Councillors, including some female Councillors.
Derby Conservative Group leader, Cllr Matthew Holmes has made it clear that none of these issues involve his group members.
The report also warned that if action was not taken, “the already fragile levels of staff morale will be affected further”
There are also warnings that the council should be careful that it has the money to deliver on “the large number of ambitious capital projects being proposed” such as the ‘£35 million’ (construction) cost of Moorways swimming complex and the proposed replacement for the Assembly Rooms which could cost at least £32 million – but it likely to be far higher than that overall.
The review team recommended that the council needs to strengthen its officer capacity at most senior levels, following voluntary redundancies, and positions not being replaced and is something the Conservatives are highlighting as a significant risk.
On that Conservative leader, Cllr Matthew Holmes said, “Moving forward, we are also very concerned about the lack of strategic leadership within the council and the significant exits that have occurred and are to come. That leaves a vacuum that could easily be filled with more overt or direct control from the politicians rather than professional officers.”
It is also understood that the report was sent back and forth to the Local Government Association several times by Labour Council leader, Ranjit Banwait before the final version was produced. Cllr Holmes commented, “This report has been amended several times over the last six months and we understand the original draft was even more damning compared to what was released. You really do have to wonder just how bad that original draft was if what has been released is the sugar coated version.”
The full report can be read here.
Derby Conservative Group leader, Cllr Matthew Holmes has also released a statement on the report:
This report confirms many of the serious governance issues that exist under the current Labour administration, many of which we have been highlighting and challenging through scrutiny commissions and in public for some time now.
But challenge from the opposition won’t change Labour’s approach if, ultimately, they aren’t willing to change it themselves.
Finding ways to force that change is the only way.
It’s my long held view that Labour imposed a culture of political bullying of council officers from day one of their administration. Their current leader, Ranjit Banwait has failed to deal with it and clearly does not have control of or authority over his councillors.
That culture has impacted negatively in so many ways. It is totally unacceptable and tarnishes every elected member and the councils reputation.
Under my leadership, I hope that it’s recognised that the Conservative group strongly upholds the standards expected of elected members and respects council officers.
As our last local election manifesto stated, we are committed to transforming the governance and transparency of this authority. It will be fundamental part of a future Conservative led Council. We believe that the whole organisation and its culture needs a reboot and that has to start with the political group in control.
We will be considering the report and taking the issues forward in the coming weeks and months.
Cllr Matthew Holmes
Leader of Derby City Council Conservative Group