We reported earlier this month that Cheshire East Chief Executive, Mike Suarez, had been suspended – on full pay of £246,000 per year – pending investigations within council over concerns regarding senior officer conduct.
It has now come to light that a temporary senior officer has been hired by the council at an initial rate of £1025 per day.
The decision to take on an interim section 151 officer, so chief operating officer Peter Bates can "focus on other responsibilities within his remit" was announced at a meeting of the council's staffing committee last week.
According to the BBC, an internal email said that the authority's decision to transfer the roles had been taken using "emergency powers".
The £1,025 daily rate will initially be paid to a manager brought in to replace Mr Bates as Section 151 officer. This is the post responsible for the council's financial affairs and reporting unlawful activity under Section 151 of the Local Government Act. The role will 'eventually' be paid at a reduced rate of £10,626 per month.
As the investigation into officer conduct at Cheshire East continues this interim appointment leaves the three chief roles at the council – Chief Executive, Monitoring Officer and Section 151 Officer – to be performed on an interim basis by other staff members.
Significantly, the council's cross-party disciplinary and investigation committee can only authorise investigations into those three roles. The roles are designated by law and afford the post-holders special protection from disciplinary action and dismissal.
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