Thanet council’s deputy chief executive is back at the authority from today (September 25) following his shock suspension.
Tim Willis, who oversees the Housing and Planning service, Communications and Digital, Finance and Procurement and leads digital transformation across the council’s services, was stood down from his role last month.
The reason for his suspension was not been confirmed by Thanet council. Mr Willis has been with the authority since 2015.
The suspension resulted in an outcry and condemnation from many councillors, Ramsgate Action Group.
Cllr Karen Constantine, who has a background in employment law, was threatened with being reported to the Standards Committee after the suspension prompted her to say councillors need to have an overview of staffing matters and a policy that promotes impartiality and clarity needs to be implemented.
A number of councillors have been calling for a complete change of hands at the top of the management structure at Thanet council.
Thanet’s head of operations Trevor Kennett also left the authority on September 13.
This followed his lodging of a grievance naming both chief executive Madeline Homer and Director of Operational Services Gavin Waite in a list of 10 complaints including bullying and harassment.
He then lodged an appeal over the way his grievance was dealt with, including being unable to see an independent investigator’s report, having the case handled by a current TDC top officer, and no formal action being taken despite one grievance of bullying and harassment being partly upheld, one of a breakdown of working relationship being upheld, and one of suffering work-related stress due to the situation being upheld.
The appeal was submitted to Deputy Chief Executive Tim Willis, who had not been involved in the grievance, but he was then suspended from his role.
The process of dealing with this grievance, and another submitted by another officer, prompted the GMB union ito call on Thanet council to implement a new, independent system for dealing with bullying and harassment complaints against senior officers, saying the current methods are ‘compromised beyond further use.’
GMB, the union for staff in local government, asked councillors to replace the current system with a new independent one so that senior officers are held properly accountable when complaints of bullying and harassment are made against them. They say any new system has to be fair for the staff making the complaints but also for the senior staff involved as well as protecting the integrity and good running of Thanet council.
So…a new venture for me, a new day and a new chapter. @ChaucerForbes are simply Investigators, investigating all types of crimes, workplace allegations and providing digital forensic solutions. New company so would appreciate a follow ?
— Trevor Kennett (@TrevorMKennett) September 17, 2019
Mr Kennett had been with the authority since 2016. He has now opened forensic investigators firm Chaucer Forbes.