South Kesteven District Council: Members gagged over chief exec departure

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Councillors have said they have been gagged over the departure of South Kesteven District Council’s chief executive.

The council suddenly announced Aidan Rave was leaving earlier this month, and members were set to discuss his interim replacement Paul Thomas at Full Council on Thursday.

However, at the beginning of the item, chairman Councillor Jacky Smith warned councillors that the debate was not about Mr Rave – saying the authority had already made a statement on the matter.

She instead asked them to “focus on the period ahead.”

Councillor Charmain Morgan said she had no issue with Mr Thomas, but said: “What’s completely unsatisfactory is the statement you made that we cannot discuss the departure of the previous chief executive. No debate whatsoever? No public full explanation? It’s staggering.”

Councillor Phil Dilks said it was “totally out of order to gag councillors from actually speaking about why we are in the position we are.”

“To lose one chief executive is unfortunate, but to lose two in as many years raises questions of the leader, not just from councillors but others,” he said.

He asked for more information on the cost to ratepayers.

Other councillors also raised issue at the lack of public debate around the departure.

However, Councillor Smith said: “We are duty bound as an employer not to discuss certain details about somebody who has resigned.”

It was also confirmed at the meeting that Mr Rave would be leaving his role as director in some of SKDC’s private companies. 

A statement released by the council at the time of his departure “to pursue new ventures” said: “Aidan has been with the council for two years and has steered the authority through a period of significant change.

“The council is very grateful for all of Aidan’s hard work in helping to transform SKDC and wishes him every success for the future.”

Council leader Matthew Lee moved to reassure members that due process was always followed by the council, adding that an employment committee would look into any HR issues.

He added that it was hoped a permanent chief executive would be found within the next nine months.

Daniel Jaines , Local Democracy Reporting Service