Council leader faces no confidence motion over whistle-blower claims
Elgan Hearn, local democracy reporter
The leader of Blaneau Gwent County Borough Council is to face a motion of no confidence – just weeks before the local elections.
All 17 opposition councillors from the Labour and Minority Independent group have signed a motion calling for a vote, which will be discussed at a meeting on Wednesday (9 March).
The reason behind the move is that councillors believe that Cllr Daniels has withheld vital information from them regarding the investigation into the governance and oversight of Silent Valley Waste Services.
At a meeting in February to discuss the Audit Wales report into the problems at Silent Valley, managing director Michelle Morris confirmed that Cllr Daniels did receive the original letter from a whistleblower in August 2017 which started the investigations.
The retirement of one officer was discussed at a meeting in March 2018 meeting and the opposition councillors feel that Cllr Daniels should have explained that this officer was part of the probe.
Cllr Daniels has been contacted for a comment.
Following the discussion of the Silent Valley report last month, councillors agreed that the company would be taken back “in house” and wound up.
The motion reads: “This council no longer has confidence in the current leader, Nigel Daniels.
Lack of transparency
“Because of the lack of transparency, inclusion and respect being shown to colleague councillors during a Council meeting on March 22, 2018.
“At the meeting, a report was tabled to seek agreement on the managing director’s proposed senior management structure.
“One area of the report detailed the retirement of the chief finance officer; this included access to his pension, annual payment and flexible retirement, a
very attractive package whereby he would remain with the council in a different role.
“The report was agreed upon by all thirty-four members present on the day.
“The recent council meeting of 7 February dealt with the long-awaited report by Audit Wales into, ‘Deficiencies in Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council’s governance and oversight of Silent Valley Waste Services.’
“It followed claims made by a former employee of the council acting in a whistleblowing capacity in August of 2017.
“The findings disclosed behaviours by senior officers that have since been described as appalling and labelled with such descriptions as flawed, self-serving and unlawful.
“The chief finance officer was one of those named by the whistle-blower; his name or title features some seventy times throughout the damning information laid before council.
“When questioned on 7 February the managing director, Michelle Morris, revealed that Cllr Daniels had been a recipient of the original whistleblowing letter where the officer was named.
“This means that on 22 March 2018, Cllr Daniels had known that the recipient of the proposed flexible retirement was amongst those being investigated by both Gwent Police and Audit Wales for seven months before the meeting.
“He deliberately withheld this information from his council colleagues, who were completely ignorant of those involved in the investigation.
“We have no confidence in council leader Nigel Daniels for these reasons.”
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