Former Chairman Worried For Future Of Scilly’s Council

Councillor Roy Duncan

A former chairman of the islands’ Council says he has never been so worried about the future of the authority.

In a letter to vice chairman Amanda Martin, following the suspension of chief executive Philip Hygate, Roy Duncan doubts whether the Policy and Resources meeting had the authority to act as it did.

Roy says, with the islands being scrutinized by government, Scilly could end up part of Cornwall Council with as much influence as parishes like Stithians.

In last week’s meeting, Philip Hygate’s lawyer challenged the Council’s authority to hold the meeting to suspend him. Some Councillors argued that was a scare tactic to stifle debate, but Roy says Mr Hygate would be likely to hire a good lawyer who knew his stuff.

He says he imagines he has a lot of experience, and assumes he has been chosen for expertise in that field.

Councillor Duncan added that it was “bordering on reckless” to ignore Mr Hygate’s lawyer’s protestations.

He’s written to all councillors warning that the chief executive may seek legal compensation. As only a quarter of councillors voted for the suspension, if legal costs mount, Roy believes those councillors should pay personally and not the ratepayer. He also wants the costs of Council officers’ time in this matter to be calculated separately.

Roy says some council staff have told him they are now demotivated and some workers have approached him to say Mr Hygate is not a bully.

Councillor Duncan feels Mr Hygate has achieved a great deal – the new school funding would not have been secured without him, he says, and the authority is doing well now because of his leadership.

Roy says he won’t go with a crowd that “is baying for blood” and he wants to speak out because he is following his own conscience.

Cllr Duncan says he would rather have had allegations dealt with through informal discussions, to allow Mr Hygate to explain his position. And he adds that none of the last seven Council chairmen have voiced these concerns about the chief executive.

He is worried that the matter could drag on for many months.

Mr Hygate remains suspended today, as part of a neutral act while investigations into the allegations can be carried out.

 



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