It’s reported that the former West Lancashire Borough Council Economic Development, Estates and Regeneration Manager Heather McManus has been formally dismissed from her post as the Chief Executive of South Ribble Borough Council.
Ms McManus quit the top job at the authority around six weeks ago. She had been on ‘special leave’ for just over a year, but was not due to formally depart until the expiry of her notice period at the end of August. But it’s reported she has been sacked in spite of her earlier resignation from her post.
Last month, an internal audit report detailed how rules and procedures at the district council had been “consistently breached” often by its most senior employees. But apparently the reasons for Ms McManus’s dismissal relate to the findings of a separate independent investigation, which found that she had made “significant errors of judgement” and raised concerns over the treatment of staff.
That investigation recommended that she should be issued with more than half a dozen written and final written warnings, but the council’s own cross-party internal disciplinary committee suggested that she should be instantly dismissed for “serious misconduct” a step subsequently endorsed by the full council.
Independent Panel Process counts for nothing!
Ian Miller, honorary secretary of the Association of Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers (ALACE), which represented Ms. McManus during the disciplinary proceedings, said “This is the first occasion the independent panel process has been used and South Ribble has shown it counts for nothing. The severity of the penalty is both greater than anything recommended by the independent investigator and entirely against the unanimous views of members of the independent panel. ALACE will approach the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to explore how the so-called statutory protection can actually offer protection for its members in light of this case”.
South Ribble’s annual governance statement, published last month, acknowledged that there had been a “significant breakdown in governance arrangements” at the authority but set out an action plan designed to put the council back on the right path.