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Council leader changes approach to chief executive recruitment review

Opposition to an independent review into the recruitment process of Slough Borough Council’s (SBC) chief executive and senior officers has led to the council leader changing his approach.

On Monday, SBC leader Sohail Munawar announced he had ordered an independent review by Gravitas Consultancy.

SBC said it follows ‘political volatility’ and that the review will also examine its whistle-blowing policy.

The council is currently hiring a new chief executive following the departure of Ruth Bagley in December last year.

Roger Parkin currently holds the role on an interim basis and his permanent appointment was set to be voted on by full council on Tuesday, November 28.

Slough Labour Group interim leader and former SBC deputy leader Cllr Sabia Hussain wrote to Cllr Munawar on Tuesday with numerous objections to the review, questioning the investigation’s cost, how it was commissioned and who was notified and consulted before the decision was taken.

Cllr Munawar has been suspended from the Labour party over bullying and sexual harassment allegations but remains as SBC’s leader.

He stripped Cllr Hussain of her deputy leadership earlier this month after she launched a scathing attack on Roger Parkin’s appointment.

Today (Friday) Cllr Munawar said he had taken concerns over the Gravitas Consultancy review on board and had changed his decision.

He said: “As the leader I took the decision an independent review was the way forward; I wanted an external and balanced judgment.

“However, I have reflected on the comments made by my fellow councillors about my making the decision on who should to carry out the review and I have now decided to involve members in a full review - including the selection and appointment of the independent reviewer.

“This will bring the openness and transparency I have always sought.

“It is important councillors from all parties have confidence in the review right from the start; only then can the findings be accepted and its recommendations acted on with whole council support.

“I intend to step aside from the process completely and allow wider input from other councillors.

“I have asked the council’s five directors to manage this process on behalf of the council and expect this to start immediately.

“I do not want political differences in personalities or opinions to tarnish the excellent work the council has done and continues to do.

“The job of the council now is to deal with these internal difficulties so we can concentrate on continuing to work to ensure a prosperous future for our residents and our town.”

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