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Oct 02 2013

Harrow Council’s Legal Team – “no resource”

harrow_council_logoBack in early June 2013, we submitted a Standards Complaint against a particular councillor to Harrow Council. Nearly two months later, the council replied to say that it would be investigated, and then… absolute silence for a further two months.

On chasing the council to see what had happened – and I wonder if this is a tactic to avoid actually dealing with complaints – I got told that “…unfortunately there has been some delay in contacting you…” and that someone “…appointed to conduct the investigation will be in touch with you shortly.”

Knowing that councils don’t move with the the greatest of speed, I queried what had taken so long, and exactly what ‘shortly’ meant. My enquiry was met with this reply:

“I have checked the reason for the delay and am informed that the Legal Practice has not had the resources to undertake this investigation.  As a result of unsuccessfully adverts for a governance lawyer, this complaint  has been sent to an external consultant who has been asked to complete the work as a matter of urgency.”

Fabulous.  Despite employing 80 lawyers and “flexible working practices which maximise staff efficiency” the council has to employ yet another consultant to figure stuff out. I’ve no idea what kind of salary such a consultant demands, but a job advert for a ‘Lawyer – Governance‘ offers something around the £40k p.a. Not a huge amount, which probably explains why they’re having such difficulties in recruiting someone for the role.

And the original complaint? If the councillor involved does get booted, or chooses to stand down, should he do so after mid-November, even that won’t trigger a by-election. Surely this isn’t a stalling tactic to avoid the cost of a by-election for a seat which only has a lifespan of eight months?

 

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1 comment

  1. David

    Susan Hall appears to give the impression of a strong Leader for now, let us see if she can actually deliver.

    Chief Legal Officer of Council have been known to proudly say that he is the only Officer no one can remove since he is the monitoring officer and therefore by implication very pwerful, which begs the question: Who monitor the monitoring officer really? With so many long standing complaints reported by iharrow in relation to FOI and other requests not being answered or ignored by Legal and now this. Can Susan Hall sort out the incompetence of Legal or is Chief Legal Officer untouchable?

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