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PROVOST RULES OUT MOVE TO DEBATE EDUCATION DIRECTOR’S DEPARTURE

>> 23 November 2010

A Motion tabled by an Aberdeenshire councillor on the departure of the local authority’s Director of Education will not be discussed at the meeting of the Full Council this Thursday after the Provost ruled it out of order.

SNP councillor Bryan Stuart (Inverurie & District) had put forward the Motion with the support of the SNP Group for debate on Thursday which sought to refer the matter of the events up to and including the departure of the former Director of Education to Audit Scotland for investigation.

Cllr Stuart had previously tabled questions on the costs incurred by Aberdeenshire Council for the investigation which the Chairman of the Education Committee Lib Dem councillor Richard Stroud responded to at the last meeting of the Full Council on 30 September. Attempts at follow-up questions by Cllr Stuart – which are allowed under Standing Orders – were ruled not competent by the Lib Dem Provost, Bill Howatson. At a previous meeting of the Education Committee, a request by Cllr Brian Topping (Fraserburgh & District) for a statement on the matter from the Chairman was declined.

Commenting, Cllr Bryan Stuart said:

“I am extremely disappointed that the Provost has taken this line when all I am seeking to do is to have an independent body scrutinise the circumstances of this matter and ensure that council policy was followed and, more importantly, the council taxpayer as well as the council received best value.

“As elected members, we have a duty to scrutinise the actions of the council’s officials but, on this matter, we have been given no information whatsoever. My constituents are understandably concerned by what they have read in the press and involving Audit Scotland will, in my view, provide some assurance.

"It is particularly concerning that my notice of motion has not even been included with the papers issued for the Full Council meeting on Thursday, as this would at least have allowed all other councillors and members of the public to be aware that it had been submitted."


SNP Group Leader Cllr Joanna Strathdee (Huntly, Strathbogie & Howe of Alford) added:

“I understand the concern which exists among members of the council and the general public.

“It is interesting to note that the Audit Scotland report which has been tabled for this week’s Full Council makes some reference to reviewing the circumstances of the Director’s departure as part of the 2010/11 audit. While that stops short of a full investigation, I hope that Audit Scotland will be able to assure councillors that due process was followed.”



Notes:

1) Details of the questions tabled at the meeting of the Full Council on 30 September can be found at: http://www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/

2) The wording of the disallowed Motion is as follows:

That Aberdeenshire Council asks Audit Scotland to conduct an investigation and prepare a report into the events up to and including the departure of the former Director of Education, Learning and Leisure, Bruce Robertson. This to include:

1. The handling of the situation by the Council and the Chief Executive and whether due process and Council policy was followed, and whether this accords with best practice.

2. The full costs of all aspects of this matter from start to finish, and whether these met the Best Value criteria to which the Council is required to operate.

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