Thanet council’s deputy chief executive who was suspended in August over gross misconduct allegations has been cleared on all counts.
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 due to the allegations.
Yesterday (October 9) councillors on the General Purposes Committee unanimously cleared Mr Willis of all seven gross misconduct allegations laid out in a report by the authority’s chief executive.
Mr Willis is the council’s Section 151 officer. The Local Government Act 1972 requires every local authority to appoint a suitably qualified officer responsible for the proper administration of its affairs. Section 151 officers are required to ensure the legality and financial prudence of decisions. Officers must be a qualified accountant belonging to one of the recognised chartered accountancy bodies.
The Section 151 officer has a number of statutory duties, including the duty to report any unlawful financial activity involving the authority (past, present or proposed) or failure to set or keep to a balanced budget.
The Section 151 officer also has a number of statutory powers in order to allow this role to be carried out, such as the right to insist that the local authority makes sufficient financial provision for the cost of internal audit.
Mr Willis is one of a four person top team of officers at Thanet council. The others are chief executive Madeline Homer, Director of Operational Services Gavin Waite and Director of Corporate Governance and Monitoring Officer.Tim Howes.
Ramsgate Action Group campaigner Steve Coombes said the exoneration was good news and claimed it was a victory for RAG who had demonstrated against Mr Willis’s suspension.
He added: “Now the Section 151 officer has been exonerated where does that leave the chief executive who laid the charges against him? At the moment there appears to be no investigation into this and the charges that were unceremoniously dumped into the bin.”