Scilly’s Chief Exec To Retain Monitoring Officer Role

The Council’s Chief Executive, Philip Hygate, will retain his role as Monitoring Officer, the person who ensures the lawfulness and fairness of the Council.

That follows a narrow vote at Thursday’s Full Council meeting.

Earlier this summer, some Councillors had questioned whether he should hold that role, particularly involving standards issues following complaints against Councillors. Members of the public have also voiced similar concerns at the Heart citizen’s action group meetings.

Scilly is the only local authority where the Chief Executive is also Monitoring Officer. It’s illegal in all other local authorities.

A working party discussed the role during four meetings this summer and concluded he should maintain the Monitoring Officer role as changing it would require employing a new member of staff on a senior salary. However, the report also suggested delegating standards investigations to a nominee in Cornwall.

Cllr Richard McCarthy said he couldn’t support the recommendations. He said it was the equivalent of, “the captain of the team also being the referee,” and ran the risk of putting the Chief Executive in an impossible position.

He also didn’t agree with the assertion that the only alternative was to pay a full time solicitor at chief officer rates. He said if the job is so onerous that it warrants a top solicitor, then it’s difficult to see how the Chief Executive could do his day job anyway.

He thought the job could be done by someone working one day a week.

Cllr Julia Day said she had often had concerns about the role being combined but felt a lot of work had gone into the report and members should accept the recommendations. Both Cllrs Brian Lowen and Fred Ticehurst agreed.

And Cllr Savill felt the cost of employing an additional member of staff, similar to the current Chief Fire Officer, could cost around £35,000 a year.

But Richard McCarthy questioned whether the role was at chief officer level. He said the former monitoring officer of Penwith Council was at lower level than that.

Councillors eventually voted to accept the recommendations and retain the Chief Executive as Monitoring Officer by 10 votes to 8, with 2 abstentions.

The vote was recorded as follows:

Those in favour of retaining the Chief Executive in the Monitoring Officer role: Cllrs  Bennett, Day, Duncan, Hopkins, Lowen, Nelhams, Savill, C Thomas, S Thomas and Ticehurst.

Those against: Cllrs Banfield, Bilsborough, Goddard, Hicks, Martin, McCarthy, Mumford and O’Neill. 

Abstentions: Cllrs Peacock and Pearson.



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