Response to calls for council boss to quit

PUBLISHED: 14:21 30 March 2013


DISTRICT council bosses have responded to a call for the authority’s chief executive to quit by saying: “We are not prepared to engage in a trial by hearsay.”

Sidmouth resident Tony Green told Mark Williams to resign at a Task and Finish Forum (TAFF) meeting last week – saying he had done “absolutely nothing” over the concerns that had been raised about the East Devon Business Forum (EDBF).

Mr Green claimed it seemed Mr Williams was “trying to prevent” the TAFF, set up to investigate the business group’s influence, “from getting to the truth”.

He also made accusations of minutes of meetings being “manipulated”, and “dubious legal advice” being issued on the TAFF not considering planning matters.

Mr Green told the meeting that comments made by the business forum’s former chairman, ex-councillor Graham Brown, to undercover reporters has portrayed EDDC to the nation as “a sort of banana republic”.

A council spokesman said a chief executive’s job is to provide advice to councillors, very often on procedural and legal issues.

He added that it is up to councillors to make decisions and that the TAFF has referred the question of its scope back to the council’s overview and scrutiny committee, to be considered in an open public meeting.

“We are not prepared to engage in a trial by hearsay conducted through the media,” said the spokesman.

“If anyone has a specific complaint about Mr Williams, or any other member of staff or a councillor, they should make a formal complaint to our monitoring officer.

“It can then be investigated properly as part of a process which allows for an independent review if the complainant remains dissatisfied.”

He added that Mr Green’s complaints “have been fully answered” and the council was not prepared to comment further.

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