We need to know we can trust our councillors and council officers at Guildford Borough Council, after all they are meant to look after all of our interests and the proper governance of the borough.
One particular aspect of this case really bothers me. The council admits that its reputation has been damaged by this sorry affair but Juneja has escaped without a prison sentence.
What message does this send out to GBC employees when staff have been dismissed for much less than Juneja has done?
What misdemeanour had Jim and Elaine Miles* committed before they were marched out of their offices? It certainly didn’t involve the underhand behaviour and lies of which Juneja has been found guilty.
I also understand that another member of staff was dismissed for alcohol related problems following real personal distress. Is this the way to treat staff? What is the likely effect on staff morale?
If employees are guilty of misconduct then, of course, they must be dealt with, but fairly. It must not be a question of one rule for employees and another for councillors?
When applying for a post within GBC that demands specific qualifications for that post, what would happen if they are found to be false: it would be instant dismissal. So why was Juneja allowed to continue as a councillor, drawing her allowance, once it was known her qualifications were bogus?
The culture certainly has changed with the removal of David Hill and I do believe we have Stephen Mansbridge to thank for that. There is much more openness and a better working culture within GBC helped by such things as weekly newsletters to staff.
Sue Sturgeon has shown that she is very capable and competent as the managing director and is determined to keep staff onside. She has won their respect in the process.
However, it was sad to see that both gave a character reference for Juneja in court.
I agree that we need to move on from this case but I share Martin Giles’ hope that first responsibility is acknowledged and then that the lessons, are indeed, learned.
Jim and Elaine Miles were senior council officers who were suspended and then resigned without the case against them ever being made public.