CE Investigation cost £456,000 to date

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The investigation into misconduct by senior officials at Cheshire East council have cost the borough £456,000 so far.

As we reported in December last year, the suspension of Chief Operating Office Peter Bates brought the number of senior officials currently subject to suspension with full pay to three, with Chief Executive Mike Suarez's having been suspended in April 2017 as well as the council's head of legal services, Bill Norman, in July 2017.

The council has repeatedly stressed that the suspensions are a neutral act taken in the interests of the council and the individuals.

Councillor Paul Bates, cabinet member for finance and communication emailed all councillors this month, saying: "The Investigation and Disciplinary Committee is being supported by external investigators and temporary staffing arrangements which, up to November 2017, had cost £110,000.

"In addition, as suspensions have occurred, it has been important to minimise the potential for these neutral acts to impact on service delivery, and to ensure that the organisation also continues to meet its statutory responsibilities.

"As we have said before, suspension is a neutral act and we have a legal responsibility to continue to pay officers suspended while investigations are completed. Up to November, 2017, the costs of acting up arrangements had therefore cost £346,000. The total cost to the end of November is, therefore, £456,000."

He added: "The estimated costs to the end of 2017/18 (Ed. i.e. up to the beginning of April this year), which reflect the resignation of the director of legal services and monitoring officer, are anticipated to be in the region of £720,000."

No agenda details for meetings of the Disciplinary Committee undertaking the investigation have been made public.

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