Thursday, 15 November 2007

more from the Dail Post

Independent investigator to be brought in to probe claims of council officer’s ‘misconduct’
Nov 15 2007 by David Bartlett, Liverpool Daily Post
AN INDEPENDENT investigator is to be brought into a Merseyside council to probe claims of misconduct against one of the area’s top council officials.
It comes after Alan Moore, deputy chief executive of Sefton Council, was suspended earlier this week.
Last night, the Audit Commission confirmed a decision to suspend Mr Moore was made in consultation with the district auditor.
Sefton’s chief executive Graham Haywood met him to discuss his concerns prior to Mr Moore’s suspension, it emerged last night.
Meanwhile, Conservative leader Paula Parry last night said she hoped to meet Mr Haywood today to find out why Cllr Debi Jones had been reported to the Standards Board for England, a matter apparently connected to the investigation into Mr Moore.
Cllr Jones, a TV presenter, who represents the Manor ward and is also Tory Parliamentary candidate for Sefton Central, strenuously denies any wrong-doing.
The investigation into Mr Moore is the latest episode in a series of events that has rocked the upper tiers of Sefton Council.
This week, it was revealed how an offer of retirement or redundancy to Mr Haywood will have to be withdrawn because correct procedures had not been followed. It was part of a fraught review of management posts that saw Liberal Democrats clash with Labour and Conservatives over how far the “cull” of roles should go.
A Lib-Dem proposal to save £600,000 by deleting eight posts, including Mr Moore’s, failed after the two other parties teamed up. Their vote forced through the deletion of five jobs to save £300,000, but Mr Moore’s post was not included in the cuts.
Cllr Parry said: “This all seems too much of a coincidence to hap-pen at the same time. I have no worries about Debi at all, she’s a very honest and good councillor.”
Cllr Robertson said: “I think it is unfortunate these two issues have blown up at the same time. There is the separate issue of the senior management review, but that has nothing to do with this.
“My focus is on trying to keep the ship going along while acknowledg- ing that some serious issues have popped up – time will resolve them.”
In respect of the way Mr Hay-wood had handled Mr Moore’s suspension, he added: “The chief executive was sensitive enough that he knew he needed to run it by someone independent.
“The district auditor was the obvious person to approach. The chief executive has not been giving out details [of the suspension] because he doesn’t want to prejudice people who may have to sit in judgment. We need to appoint an independent investigator to look at these allegations [against Mr Moore].”
An Audit Commission spokes-man said Sefton Council’s chief executive had requested a meeting with the district auditor. “But this is not something we will be directly involved with,” he added.