Chief Executive To Retain Monitoring Officer Role

Council chief executive, Philip Hygate

Councillors have voted to retain the chief executive’s monitoring officer duties.

Some councillors have questioned whether it is appropriate that the council boss has powers to investigate complaints against the authority. Members of the public voiced similar concerns in the recent Heart citizen’s action group meeting in the Town Hall.

The monitoring officer position is a statuary role which gives a senior staff member, currently Philip Hygate, responsibility to report to members any decision or proposal which could be illegal or against council rules. Reporting to the standards committee, he has the right to attend and speak at any meeting before binding decisions are made.

The position requires liaison with the auditors who can investigate complaints or rule breaches.

A working party discussed the role during four meetings this summer and, on Tuesday night, members accepted Sue Pritchard’s report, which summed up the findings.

It says that most councils had a senior officer in this role, often a solicitor. But it would be too costly to create that post here, so members felt it was better that Philip Hygate retained the responsibility.

Director of Finance Peter Lawrence-Roberts can’t do it because he has conflicting duties as Section 151 officer.

If a complaint comes in, the chief executive will declare an interest and Cornwall Council, who have expert knowledge in the legalities, will handle it while liaising with Sue Pritchard who can offer local knowledge.

Complaints can then be brought to the standards committee.

Members backed that procedure and full council will have the final say in their meeting on 27th September.


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