In my last post, here, I said I would try to get to the bottom of who knew what and when. Having looked at who was on the community services committee last council compared to now, many have left for one reason or another. The opposition members I have spoken to have all said the first they knew of the proposals was when the papers came out for the June 21 Community Services Committee.
I noted, though, that Yvonne McNeilly’s depute last council was Kieron Green. It seemed a fair assumption to assume that the chair would have confided in her depute, so I asked Kieron what he knew and when.
He replied as follows:
It was brought to attention of Policy Leads on 9th March 2021 – from recollection there was a presentation to us then although I can’t remember the exact contents of it. I believe Cllr McNeilly might have mentioned it to me informally slightly in advance of that date.
I’m not certain what you would count as fully informed as it went along – but in terms of the documents released under the freedom of information request I do not recall being updated in that level of detail. I also didn’t receive those documents until they were released and sent to us by the community.
Kind Regards, Kieron Green
I replied to Kieron, copying in Yvonne McNeilly, as follows:
Thanks Kieron, it’s not like you not to recall the details I have to say. Actually, and please don’t take this as too much of an insult, your reply reminds me of the way Boris Johnson would reply.
Anyway, I have copied Yvonne into this reply because she made clear that she knew the story from the start. Why she would not confide in her depute is remarkable.
My view on this Kieron is that while I am not surprised by officers trying to keep this quiet for as long as possible (they have form you know) , I consider that any elected member who colludes with this deceit to be in breach of the code of conduct. Any sensible democrat, finding out what officers were up to, would have made this public immediately. The public has a right to know and the parent groups have an inalienable right to be involved in the plans right from the off. Cooking up this half-baked idiocy on the QT and then trying to sell it to everyone using a PR company adds insult to injury.
Taking your reply at face value Kieron, that means Yvonne stands accused by herself. This is deadly serious now. An elected member carrying out a deliberate deception on the public is a resignation matter and Yvonne might wish to consider this route before a complaint is made.
Resignations among the Tories are all the rage this weather.
So, it may be that the only councillor plotting with the officers to keep this secret was McNeilly. But, she may cry foul. Let’s wait and see.
Update on 8 July. Me copying in Cllr McNeilly may have persuaded Kieron to change tack. Here is is 2nd reply and mine to him after that.
I note your views on what would constitute a breach of the code of conduct. I would also comment that I regarded myself as being fully informed of the proposals – both by officers and Cllr McNeilly.
That some information released under FOI did not show absolute agreement with that provided to us as members later is in itself not unusual – from reading them these are clearly working documents that reflected the position being developed at that time, as opposed to what was put forward when this came to committee for decision.
I would observe that Cllr McNeilly as Policy Lead may have had a greater role than I in shaping what was taken forward to committee and subsequently out to public consultation. This may have included advising changes she felt were appropriate.
For avoidance of doubt, it is my belief that Cllr McNeilly acted in good faith at all times regarding this matter. I also stand by the proposals as were put out to consultation last year – as I have previously stated I acknowledge the public feedback received on those, which also must be viewed in light of the information presented in the FOI materials.
I reiterate my confidence that members of the Community Services Committee, including Cllr McNeilly as Chair, will consider all information and take a considered decision on the best way forward in light of the above.
Kind Regards, Kieron Green
This seems to be quite the change of tack Kieron.
I’ve accepted that things change during a project like this. What I will not accept is that there is zero documentation that we have seen, especially in the project progress briefs, that minutes what those changes were, other than a single item which changes nomenclature. I have asked Yvonne about this and she will not answer why this is.
I cannot be certain that any of this breaches the badly worded code of conduct but there is no question it breaches the key principles. From your new response it appears you’re in the frame as well Kieron.
I am making all of this public.
So, if I read what Kieron has now said, he did know. Let’s see.