Jacob Williams
Thursday 22nd July, 2021

Senior council officer disciplinary move

Senior council officer disciplinary move

New disciplinary processes to consider misconduct allegations against Pembrokeshire County Council’s most senior officers have been announced.

Papers published this afternoon summon members to a meeting of the authority’s constitutional review committee on Wednesday, 28th July.

The legal minimum of notice has been given to the committee’s thirteen councillors – your author included – who are asked to consider a “Draft Statutory Officer Disciplinary Procedure.”

The hastily-convened meeting is told that this is: “for the purpose of dealing with disciplinary, capability and similar issues including where a breakdown of trust and confidence between the Council and a Statutory Officer arises.”

With council meetings rarely held during summer months, the unexplained origins and interesting timing are both likely to raise questions.

The lengthy report to the 10.30am meeting suggests that the disciplinary protocol should be a ‘standing’ arrangement.

It does not address whether it is coming forward now as the result of active – or anticipated – allegations against an officer, or officers.

It does however specify that at PCC the protocol could only apply to holders of the following statutory posts:

– The Head of Paid Service (the Chief Executive)
– The Monitoring Officer
– The Section 151 Officer (the Director of Resources)
– The Head of Democratic Services (the Head of Legal and Democratic Services)

The respective incumbents, at the time of typing, are: Richard Brown (interim,) Claire Jones, Jonathan Haswell and Claire Incledon.


The constitutional review committee meets at 10.30am on Wednesday, 28th July, and will be live-streamed (and subsequently archived) at this link.

The meeting’s paperwork can be found at this link.


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15 Comments...

  • John Hudson

    While all councillors and officers have a general duty to ensure council decisions are lawful, the officer posts referred to have defined specific statutory duties and procedures to cover this duty.

    Didn’t the council undertake a similar disciplinary process some time ago?

    This fizzled out after somehow being highjacked with a settlement being agreed, which included an unlawful element being identified by the external auditor.

    Have councillors access to independent eternal advisors, who do not have an interest to declare?

    I bet there have been some interesting officer only meetings.

  • Flashbang

    This sounds like it might be interesting, will it achieve a cleanout though? It never has in the past.

    Going on past form there’ll be retirements with a hefty payout for those facing accusations.

  • Michael Hart

    Jacob is there any possibility of a connection between the agenda item number 8 scheduled for last Thursday’s senior staff committee and your meeting next week, or was the senior staff committee item abandoned?

    Whilst the committee voted to exclude the public and press for “the following items”, an explanation was given for item 7 (post of head of school improvement and commissioning) but total secrecy seems to surround the exclusion of the public and press for item 8 “Head of Legal and Democratic Services – Interim Arrangements” and the webcast shows no evidence the item was even discussed.

  • Jon Coles

    Coincidence is no correlation.

    Nevertheless…

  • John Hudson

    So it is only now, that this “gap” in the council’s constitutional arrangements has been noticed by officers, even after previous experience.

    By now, some named senior officers involved in the auditor’s investigation would have been provided with a draft of the report for comment. Is it a coincidence that this gap has only just been identified and needs to be plugged urgently?

  • Barrie Smith

    Local authority employees from the top to the bottom must be totally accountable. There is far too much secrecy in PCC and under the table conversations.

    Anyone who is found to be in any breaches must be investigated and appropriate disciplinary action taken, the days of pay offs need to be stopped.

  • Keanjo

    How can you expect senior officers to work in this climate?

    I would think a number will be looking elsewhere for employment.

  • Mark

    You’re right Keanjo, but this heatwave will pass!

    Joking aside though, I agree with you but not in the argument I think you come at this from.

    I think your point mainly is a sad reflection of the character and ability of many public officials, particularly the aversion to accountability which is by no means limited to PCC and in general is heavily influenced by senior officer unions whose members can never do any wrong.

    On your last point, if that results (here’s hoping) then it may be forced or by choice.

    If the latter you know what they say, if you can’t stand the heat…

  • Michael Hart

    Jacob, the draft procedure you are considering is in many ways superior to the procedure used for mere council employees in that it provides an option for persons who are independent of the council to be appointed as preliminary independent iInvestigators, independent advisers and independent nominees to support in fulfilling administrative and procedural responsibilities.

    As a draft, this procedure could be strengthened for sections 12 and 13 by making such independent persons obligatory at all stages preferably from a preselected list that can be chosen from by the person under investigation.

    This would reduce the risk for accusations of prejudice and predetermination.

  • John Hudson

    What is the position on indemnities provided by, and legal advice sought by the council (corporate body)?

    I expect I can guess who picks up the tab. Do the relevant professional bodies have a role in this?

  • Mayday

    Not sure how you can take disciplinary action where there is a breakdown of trust and confidence. That usually results in a separation agreement.

    Interestingly this proposed procedure is retrospective (and doesn’t appear to be time bound) so could be used against both of the former CEOs?

  • Malcolm Calver

    Still waiting to hear what these high ranking well paid council employees could have done that might justify disciplinary action.

    Could it be that the council leader David Simpson took the advice given to him by council employees over the departure of Ian Westley as being incorrect or biased in some way?

  • Flashbang

    Your blog is the only place I’ve seen anything about this even though it’s a month old now.

    Nothing in the Western Telegraph or Wales Online. The WT isn’t a surprise as any comments critical of PCC have a very short online presence. Has PCC managed to bury yet another scandal without any scrutiny or oversight?

  • John Hudson

    The current online version of the council’s constitution includes an updated (undated?) version.

    Is it at all possible to see the constitution as it was when this matter was under active consideration?

    That version would have been the council approved rules applicable at that time.

  • Welshman 23

    Old Grumpy has not posted on his website for over a year, has he been sanctioned?

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