The Chair of the Policy and Performance Committee stated that in relation to the sale of land at Redwood Crescent, no advertisement relating to the sale of the open space land was placed. This was a breach of proper legal procedure as a result of which disciplinary action had been taken. The person responsible for this had been dismissed for gross misconduct. Following this, a report would be produced to the next Council meeting on 19 December 2018 detailing what went wrong. The Council had purchased back an open space area in the middle of the development which was granted planning permission, in order to secure its future. On 9 August 2018 the Chief Executive wrote to you as follows:
‘The Council is responsible for actions which it through its officers have taken. I am satisfied that the appropriate steps have been taken to subject the actions which have been taken to a rigorous externally led analysis. The process that this has led to is not yet concluded. When it is I can assure you that the Council will be as transparent as it can within the constraint of the law as to anything that went wrong, and how those matters have been addressed. All necessary apologies will be made. I believe the Planning section is doing all in their power to work with the current site owners to achieve a resolution to the uncompleted nature of the development which was granted planning permission. I also know that informal discussions with you have been held regarding how the future of the amenity land might be secured to the satisfaction of local residents. I acknowledge the current situation is unsatisfactory and if any Council officer has committed blameworthy actions, I will apologise on behalf of the Council.’
In a report to the December meeting a public report would include an apology in relation to what went wrong. The Chair apologised on behalf of both himself and the Chief Executive, as the internal disciplinary process had now concluded.
The Chair of the Policy and Performance Committee stated that it would normally be good practice for a valuation to be obtained which was independent of both the Council and the purchasing party. However, all qualified valuers were bound by their professional codes of practice and should be expected to provide valuations which were fair and reasonable.
The Chair referred Ms Clay to the response given to question one.
The Chair referred to the response given to question one and stated that there were a number of things that had not been done correctly with regard to the sale of land at Redwood Crescent. These would be detailed in the report to Council on 19 December 2018. However, the Chair stated that he was now satisfied that the remaining open space was within the Council’s control.
The Chair responded that councillors agree the Constitution, scheme of delegation, financial regulations and contract standing orders, within which officers were expected to operate. These were underpinned by an Employee Code of Conduct, also approved by councillors, which employees were expected to comply with. The Chief Executive, as the Head of Paid Service, had overall responsibility for ensuring that employees operated within these rules, and if they did not, appropriate disciplinary action was taken.