In response to the letter published on behalf of Worthing Labour’s Jim Dean, I have not apologised because I did not agree to the terms of the NCP contract or the variation signed in 2009.
What councillors did agree to, in 2009, was for a tariff trial limited to 12 months and a maximum financial risk
This action was meant to help town centre businesses desperate to survive the terrible recession which saw our shops closing down in large numbers.
Like other councils we employ officers to deliver our policies and decisions. In this instance, officers acted without the authority of elected councillors.
Whilst this could have been a genuine mistake it was made worse because it appears to have been covered up for around 20 months during which time the liability to taxpayers snowballed. Our current chief executive, who was not present when these actions took place, apologised to councillors who had been badly let down by their employed officers.
Unlike Mr Dean’s Labour Party colleagues, I will not be holding officers to account without following due process.
Whilst some may be pleased to see politicians taking such a tough line the result some five years later was a finding of unlawful dismissal at a reported cost to taxpayers of £600,000.
Readers can be assured that their councillors have demanded accountability for this unacceptable loss of public money.
However, we will not risk even more taxpayers money by failing to respect employment law.
Finally, I agree with Mr Dean that an external investigation is needed and I expect the district auditor and her team to report publicly with their findings later this year.
Cllr Paul Yallop
Leader, Worthing Borough Council
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