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Calls made for leader and chief to quit

Malvern Editorial 17th Jan, 2014 Updated: 20th Oct, 2016

CALLS have been made for the district council’s leader and chief executive to step down, after a report revealed the administration was not ‘open and transparent’ when introducing wheeled bins.

Coun Anthony Warburton, a member of the Task and Finish group charged with investigating the council’s policy development, said the behaviour of both Coun David Hughes and Chris Bocock had been unacceptable and said council conduct could not improve with both still in charge.

The report headed ‘Lessons to be Learned from the Council’s decision making process’ was published ahead of being tabled to Overview and Scrutiny members as the Observer went to press yesterday evening (January 14).

It was commissioned by the same committee in September last year to improve the council’s practises following a decision to introduced wheeled bins in August 2012.

The report found discussions on the matter which included a decision to submit a bid to the Department of Communities and Local Government for funding, had been taking place behind closed doors for more than four months before all members of the council had been made aware of the issue.

The enquiry has also concluded subsequent discussions were merely to seek ‘retrospective justification’ of the move.

Some who gave evidence to the investigation said the council process had not been open and transparent and the decisions had been driven by an ‘elite’ group of officers and councillors leaving other members feeling they had been ‘bounced’ into a decision at the last minute.

The Task and Finish Group, made ten recommendations to improve council decision making and policy development.

Despite being part of the four-month investigation Coun Warburton admitted the final draft report lacked ‘bite’ and feared it would be ‘dutifully noted and subsequently ignored’.

The former Tory member, who is now part of the Democratic group, said: “The proposal to introduce wheeled bins and bid for funding should have come to councillors in March (2012).

“Councillors were manipulated into a position in which a majority felt they had no choice. That was as dishonourable as it was unforgivable.

“This above all was a failure of political leadership.

“The leader and executive of the council had a duty and obligation to reveal the proposal in good time to allow a full debate. In that they both failed.”

A spokeswoman from Malvern Hills District Council said: “It would not be appropriate to make any comment in advance of the meeting of the O&S committee.”

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