Earlier this week news of the departure of Bill Norman, the Council’s Head of Legal Services and Monitoring Officer, was quietly slipped out by the Council’s communications team.
Mr Norman had been suspended for several months, for reasons that were not made public, nor were the reasons for his resignation or details of any financial package surrounding his departure.
Cheshire East Council has estimated that the cost, this year alone, of suspensions and investigations into senior officers will be £800,000. This is in addition to the costs of less senior officers currently away from their desks either suspended, on ‘gardening leave’ or assigned to other duties.
Sam Corcoran, Leader of the Cheshire East Labour Group and Labour & Co-operative Councillor for Sandbach Heath & East said,
“As with the Lyme Green fiasco, we see senior officers at Cheshire East Council leaving, but the root of the problem is not disclosed and no Conservative councillor admits any wrongdoing. Since it was formed 8 years ago, Cheshire East Council has had 7 different people in charge of its legal department. There is something very rotten in Conservative-controlled Cheshire East Council and repeatedly changing the Head of Legal is not solving the problem.”
Nick Mannion, Labour Councillor for Macclesfield West & Ivy said,
“Labour Councillors have repeatedly raised concerns about the culture at Cheshire East Council and its impact on staff. After the departure of Michael Jones it was hoped that the culture of the organisation would be addressed, but the level of staff turnover suggests that the problems have not been resolved.”
Cllr Dorothy Flude, Labour Councillor for Crewe South said “Yet another senior officer has walked away from Cheshire East Council, for reasons about which we are not told, and with a severance package the details of which will presumably be subject to a confidentiality clause. Yet we appear to be no closer to getting to the bottom of the rotten and chaotic management culture at the council.”
Cllr Suzanne Brookfield , Labour Councillor for Crewe East said, “Local residents must be wondering ‘what next’ as no less than FIVE ongoing police investigations are swirling around Conservative-controlled Cheshire East Council. Whilst the money tree can be shaken to find thousands of pounds to pay for expensive consultants yet our vital community libraries and bus services are butchered in the mantra of austerity.’’