Letter: I Proposed Changes To the Council’s Governance Arrangements
From Susan Parker
Leader of the Guildford Greenbelt Group
In the wake of the Juneja case, at Tuesday’s [June 16] joint scrutiny committee meeting I made the following suggestion…
I propose a detailed structural review of internal governance arrangements. I believe this is necessary because:
a) the previous lead councillor for governance and planning has just received a suspended sentence for forgery and fraud. She had some considerable input into the governance of this council;
b) the council chose to appoint Dr Robin Hooper, in order to lead the review into Ms Juneja. Dr Hooper was advising Guildford Borough Council on its governance arrangements, apparently reporting in part to Ms Juneja. I believe that appointment commenced in December 2013, apparently at the same time as Dr Hooper was conducting the review into public complaints about Ms Juneja’s qualifications. Dr Hooper had previously done work on the constitution for this council.
This might lead members of the public to conclude that there was a conflict of interest – or that at least Dr Hooper knew Ms Juneja and other senior councillors well, and therefore could not be said to have been wholly independent.
c) the Bar Standards Board wrote to Guildford Borough Council to note that a crime had been committed and suggested they reconsider their review. However, the council referred the matter to Dr Hooper who justified his previous conclusions rather than reviewing the issue again.
d) I understand from the press that the judge at the Old Bailey noted that there has been a breach of the councillors’ code of conduct. This supersedes the Managing Director’s report which clears the council. It makes it clear that this is indeed a matter that Guildford Borough Council should consider.
e) perception among the community is that because of the seniority of the lead member, there was an attempt at a whitewash which was in fact inappropriate.
As a result, I propose that there is an independent review of all governance arrangements at Guildford Borough Council, involving a specialist in local government who has not previously done any work for the council and is unconnected with any members or officers.
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