An independent monitoring officer originally appointed by Thanet council following a damning report into the “inadequate” governance arrangements around whistleblowing, grievances and disciplinary procedures at the authority has not taken up the role.
Instead, a replacement officer has been appointed for tasks including the examination of all outstanding grievance and whistleblowing complaints at the authority.
A Thanet council statement says: “The council previously announced the appointment of an Independent Monitoring Officer, in line with the statutory recommendations to help the council improve governance.
“Due to unforeseen circumstances, the Monitoring Officer who initially agreed to do the work is unable to take on the role. As such, the council can confirm that Quentin Baker, Director of Law and Governance for Hertfordshire County Council has been appointed to the position. Mr Baker started in the role on Wednesday 8 December.
“Progress against the statutory recommendations will be shared regularly with the General Purposes Committee and Full Council.”
In October external Auditors Grant Thornton branded relationships between the authority’s top officers as in “serious breakdown” and listed a catalogue of failures within the council, including using disciplinary action against staff raising complaints; attempting to discredit criticism in independent reports; draining finances due to disciplinary and tribunal actions and causing significant reputational harm to those involved in prolonged grievance processes.
On November 2 Thanet District Council unanimously agreed to Grant Thornton’s four statutory recommendations – including bringing in the independent Monitoring Officer from a large local authority to carry out a risk assessment of the current employment tribunal claims and proposed actions including a detailed financial analysis of the options available to the council.
The independent officer will carry out an assessment of the status of all outstanding grievances, alleged whistleblowing complaints and any continuing suspensions and propose a plan of action to address them.
A lessons learnt report will be produced and current Investigations and Disciplinary Sub Committee business will be brought to a conclusion with clear actions that are reported and monitored.
The council must re-examine financial plans and identify additional savings to deal with costs created in resolving grievances and whistleblowing complaints.
An action has been developed and includes activity that will be undertaken and what stage each is at.