Cheshire East

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Thanet appoints Hynes as independent monitoring officer to review employment tribunal claims

Thanet District Council has appointed Mark Hynes, Director of Governance and Law and Monitoring Officer at the London Borough of Waltham Forest, as an independent monitoring officer.

The move comes after Grant Thornton, the external auditors to Thanet, urged the local authority in a report issued in October 2021 under Section 24 of the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014 and identifying "key deficiencies" in governance processes to bring in an independent monitoring officer to carry out a risk assessment of the employment tribunal claims it faces and draw up an action plan. This was one of four statutory recommendations made by Grant Thornton.

A meeting of the council’s General Purposes Committee will later this week (2 December) consider a proposed action plan. The plan will then go to full council on 9 December.

Cllr Ash Ashbee, Leader of Thanet District Council said: “I stood on the platform of good governance, and this is a chance for us to embrace opportunities for improvement. Publishing the draft Action Plan with individual programmes of work and timescales is part of our commitment to being open and transparent and we will keep councillors, staff and residents regularly updated with progress.

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“In addition to the Action Plan, I am pleased to say that we have appointed an Independent Monitoring Officer, Mr Mark Hynes. Mr Hynes is currently Director of Governance and Law and Monitoring Officer at the London Borough of Waltham Forest and will oversee progress on the recommendations, and we welcome his support and advice. There is a lot to do in a relatively short space of time but I’m confident that new ways of working can be adopted, allowing us to deliver on our ambitions for Thanet.”

Throughout 2019 and 2020, a series of interlinked complaints and grievances were raised at Thanet which included a number of officers and the four Senior Officers of the Corporate Management Team (the three senior statutory officers and the Corporate Director – Communities).

In its report Grant Thornton said its findings to date included that there had been a serious breakdown in relationships between the four senior officers from 2019 to the present.

It identified a range of consequences for the council including a direct financial cost of external legal advisers of £700,000 that had been accounted for in the council’s draft 2020/21 financial statements “together with the need for retrospective budget approval for a significant unbudgeted cost”.

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