It will come as no surprise to most residents that the Police have decided that there is no case to answer following an allegation made by Council Leader Carr regarding the conduct of two Executive councillors (Aspden and Ayre).
He arbitrarily suspended them from their offices in September. The power he used was designed to give elected Leaders an opportunity to change Cabinet placements but – when a coalition existed – needed to be exercised with caution, tact and agreement.
His action was none of these.
His public claim that the allegations against the two Councillors were “serious” was highly prejudicial (and likely in most residents eyes to be viewed as untrue)
The Police decision will hopefully bring Cllr Carr’s resignation forward by a few weeks. A fresh start could then be made in time for the important budget Council meeting on 22nd February.
The Councils Standards Committee could now decide to extend the period of uncertainty which has descended on West Offices.
They already have had had the opportunity to consider a report produced by, what officials at the time claimed to be, an independent third party, into allegations linked to the leaking of “confidential” information to residents. This, in turn, arose from a further confidential report into “contract” issues.
But the Standards Committee failed to use the autumn profitably to test the issues raised. Several members of that committee themselves have also issued public statements which could be regarded as prejudicial to the fair and impartial assessment of any allegations.
The water is further muddied by another report which the Council Leader has been pressurised to make public. It also referred to the actions of Councillors and officials at a stormy Audit committee meeting earlier in the year.
The Councils Chief Executive has been indecisive and ineffectual in dealing with the issue. There is no obvious way forward.
However, what is clear is that there needs to be more transparency in the Council with all reports routinely published unless there are real, pressing and justifiable reasons not to do so.