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.



13 Responses to Scilly’s Chief Exec To Retain Monitoring Officer Role

  1. Fred Colon October 3, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    And therein lies the trouble, perhaps the returning officer (Mr Hygate) could add an additional tick box at the bottom of the list of candidates in next May’s local elections…….None of the above

  2. Simon October 2, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    To vote them off Todd, we need someone to stand in opposition and you are the perfect man for the job. Not afraid to speak an opinion and take on those in authority. If you don’t, no one else will and we will be left with the same faces once again.

  3. Todd Stevens October 2, 2012 at 8:01 pm

    I cant beleive that any councillor voted for this!!!!!!!!!??????- We are paying for it regardless of who does it! As somone above stated-this is about ethics not money. This is NOT ethical. Its not good for anyone. This is the only time I have ever written any comment in anger or frustration.

    Those who voted for Hygate to retain this role must be voted off the council next may as those councillors are clearly part of the problem.

    NAME & SHAME them?

  4. Pat Hicks September 30, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    Thank you jonnym. just caught up with who is on the council.
    know i’m pretty sad in taking sooo long. but i get there in the end. now i hope the councillors do go on this sight to catch up with what is going on over here !!! . so here goes. now i am a noisy old bugger as some people know. and well it beggers believe that you all dont know what is going on under your noses.
    i really think some of you need to go out more…. i dont and i reckon i know more than some of you. i think you all ought to get together socialy more often and catch up with all that goes on here, instead of staying in your comfort zone…. gosh did not realise things were so bad…. [ AND NOT JUST THE SCHOOL]
    Know your doing some good , but you must not just concentrate on the good things. there’s some crap going on over here to. and the public need to speak up more with the councillors.. ii’v had people tell me they dont trust some of them, but eh the councillors need to know if things are not right wether you trust them or not… the more you tell the better. SO GET IT ON .
    Happy sunday’s

  5. Davidovich September 30, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    OK, so it’s not illegal for Mr Hygate to be monitoring officer as well.

    However, ethically, he has shown that his is not suitable for the position. Over the years he has been firm in maintaining that all council staff should not carry forward more than 5 days forward to the next year, and if they had to do overtime it was taken as time off in lieu (TOIL). Some staff even lost their TOIL because they couldn’t carry more than 5 days, yet he, was able to ignore this policy for his own benefit.

    One has to ask from whom does he need permission to earn TOIL? Who authorizes it?

    On radio Cornwall was it reported that Mr Hygate said that he had saved the tax payer many thousands of pounds by taking on this role? It shouldn’t be about money, that is totally irrelevant. It should be whether it is ethical. There is a reason why no other councils have adopted this! Those councillors who voted in favour of keeping Mr Hygate for monitoring officer must be have a really good reason for this! I just can’t see it.

    Yes it would cost more money to have a separate person doing it BUT it needs doing.

    Well done to the councillors who voted against.

  6. Pat Hicks September 30, 2012 at 3:27 pm


  7. Todd Stevens September 30, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    If it is illegal then it must be an invalid decision and rectified. Also, if we are paying Mr Hygate to do this then at that point he is not doing his own job which we are already paying him for. So are we paying him twice? If we are paying him to do it then we can pay somone else instead.

  8. Pat Hicks September 30, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    It goes to prove that the councillors are not working together. SAD BUT TRUE.
    and alot of the ones that agreed are the ones not intergrating with the public …. I DONT EXPECT THE COUNCILLORS COULD SIT DOWN AND DISCUSS A BAR OF CHOCOLATE!!!!

  9. Diane Cidade September 29, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    IanT, here is the link to Section 5 of the Local Government and Housing Act.

    If I may attempt to answer your question, firstly the Act states that “the officer so designated [as Monitoring Officer] may be the head of the authority’s paid service […] but shall not be their chief finance officer”, whom in this case, would be Mr. Peter Lawrence-Roberts, the 151 Officer.

    But then it stipulates that the officer designated as the Monitoring Officer “may not be the head of that authority’s paid service [in the] following relevant authorities in England and Wales –

    (a)a county council,
    (b)a county borough council,
    (c)a district council,
    (d)a London borough council,
    (e)the Greater London Authority, and
    (f)the Common Council of the City of London in its capacity as a local authority, police authority or port health authority.”

    As the Council of the Isles of Scilly is none of those, it’s okay according to the law.

    Or at least that’s how I interpret it!

    • IanT September 30, 2012 at 9:01 am

      Precisely! As I suggested, Scilly should have been listed as it is on other Acts. As a former parish councillor I remember noticing that Scilly was always listed separately to a) to f) in your comment.

      • Diane Cidade October 3, 2012 at 7:27 am

        I thought that might have been what you were implying.

        It could be argued that we seem to be dealing with a system governed by the “4 L’s”:

        Lies, Loopholes, Libel, and Legal advice

  10. Bill Hiner September 29, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    I’d like to know who was on the “Working Party”. Were any of the councillors who voted to accept the decision on it?

    Can no one else see WHY it is illegal to have such a situation anywhere else in the UK? I cannot believe that the person in charge of a large (relatively) body is also the Monitoring Officer!

    As for the two abstainers-what a waste of your right to vote that is-either you vote positively or you make way for someone who can!

  11. IanT September 29, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    If the CEO spends as much time as was suggested then the cost of employing another person could be offset by reducing his salary proportionately but, me being cynical, I expect he would expect an increase for having to manage another member of staff. Why is this situation illegal elsewhere? Is it a case of the Scillies having been missed off an Act of Parliament as has happened in the past? Strange it wasn’t picked up…