03:11PM, Tuesday 31 October 2017
A scathing account of foul language, aggressive behaviour and poor performance from Slough Borough Council’s (SBC) chief executive in-waiting was unleashed by the council’s deputy leader last night (Monday).
At an SBC appointments sub-committee meeting at The Curve, Cllr Sabia Hussain (Lab, Central) revealed her long list of objections to Roger Parkin’s potential appointment to the role by council leader Sohail Munawar (Lab, Elliman).
She accused Mr Parkin, the current interim chief executive, of calling Slough’s Labour Party chief whip and planning committee chairman, Cllr Haqeeq Dar (Lab, Wexham Lea), a ‘f*** wit’ before pretending he did not say it and later apologising.
She also said Mr Parkin called the former SBC deputy leader Cllr James Swindlehurst (Lab, Cippenham Green) a ‘fat f***’ in front of her, SBC’s current leader Cllr Sohail Munawar (Lab, Elliman) and external parties.
Another message seen by The Express and discussed in the meeting appears to show Mr Parkin referring to a member of staff as a ‘little s***’ to junior staff.
Cllr Hussain asked: "As members, how can we trust that Roger respects us when he openly talks about us in this fashion? What else has he said that has not as yet come to light?”
The deputy leader said whistle-blowing complaints made against Mr Parkin ‘have not been investigated with any kind of rigour’.
“I was sent the whistle-blowing complaints so I know what it says, as does the leader,” she added.
“We know the matters are very serious and need to be investigated thoroughly.
“We also know the leader sent Roger the whistle-blowing complaint to Roger’s personal email address.
“Whether the leader was asked to do this by Roger or not we will never know.”
Cllr Hussain said SBC’s former head of legal services Amardip Healy and monitoring officer Gurpreet Anand both raised grievances against Mr Parkin.
“We need to know what those grievances relate to, and why the council paid one off [Mr Anand] and the other is bringing an employment tribunal against the council.
“The council has been subjected to one scandal after another for the last year and they have him [Mr Parkin] at the centre of them.”
Cllr Hussain criticised Mr Parkin for not doing enough to update SBC’s constitution after former chief executive Ruth Bagley left in Christmas 2016.
She said changes to SBC’s whistle-blowing policy have done little to build necessary confidence.
In a report submitted by Cllr Hussain at the meeting, she says Mr Parkin was ‘abusive and physically aggressive’ towards Ms Bagley and was referred for anger management.
Cllr Hussain said she understood that Mr Parkin’s performance assessment by external advisors to the council’s recruitment panel was the poorest of all candidates for the chief executive role, which was not revealed to cabinet.
"Certain members of the panel have prejudged the outcome of this recruitment process,” Cllr Hussain added.
Other accusations against Mr Parkin included watching football on his phone during council meetings and making inappropriate jokes in public forums.
Cllr Hussain’s objections were then discussed in part two of the meeting, which was closed to press and public.
Sub-committee member Cllr Wayne Strutton (Con, Haymill and Lynch Hill) walked out mid-way through, calling the meeting ‘farcical’.
“I will not be a part of an organisation that supports bullying,” he said.
“If you accept one form of bullying and sexism or whatever, you accept it all and unless you stand up against it, nothing will change. Slough needs to change.”
Following part two, the panel dismissed all of Cllr Hussain’s objections.
Cllr Munawar said the council had examined Mr Parkin’s records and found no evidence of him attending anger management but that he would be kept on an informal probation agreement to help stifle inappropriate behaviour.
Cllr Munawar denied Cllr Hussain’s objection that members of the Appointments Sub-Committee had not received any formal training.
Full council is expected to vote on Mr Parkin’s appointment at a public meeting on Tuesday, November 28, at The Curve in William Street.
Mr Parkin and Cllr Munawar have been contacted for comment.
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