Thursday 11th July 2024,
North Yorks Enquirer

WTC: Yet Another Resignation

June 28, 2024 Whitby Town

WTC: Yet Another Resignation

  • – an “In My View” article by NIGEL WARD, reporting on a curious omission from the Whitby Town Council website.


Keen followers of the antics of Whitby Town Council – few though they are – will perhaps have noted an unusual (though unsurprising) entry in the draft Minutes of the Full Council (AGAR) Meeting held on Tuesday 25th June 2024:

I say “unsurprising” since it is some weeks now since it was reported to me that the incumbent Clerk/RFO, Mr Michael KING SAAA SLLC, had apparently been asking for a job reference.

At 13:37hr on Tuesday 25th June 2024, following a meeting of the Human Resources Committee on that date, at which Mayor DALRYMPLE had announced – stressing the strict ‘Confidentiality’ of his announcement – the resignation of Mr KING, the following email was circulated to all Councillors – with no stricture of ‘Confidentiality’ applied (it was apparently not so ‘secret’, after all – and, indeed, a matter of public interest):

The timing of Mr KING’s departure has, amongst the more ‘switched on’ Councillors, raised eyebrows. One of the duties of the Clerk/RFO is to prepare the Annual Accounts for the financial year 2023/24, which include the Annual Governance & Accountability Return (AGAR) and the crucial Annual Governance Statement (AGS), which is intended to assure the public and the External Auditor that the Council has complied with proper practice and has acted, in all its activities, within the limits of the powers conferred upon it by statute.

Readers will recall that,  in respect of the AGAR for 2022/23, the Council fell foul of the External Auditor with 3 (out of 9) Assertions deemed ‘false’, thus incurring additional Audit Investigation Fees of approaching £9K. This unbudgeted expenditure is not an encouraging example of the Council’s performance in respect of safeguarding the public purse; a properly managed Council should NEVER incur such fees.

On Tuesday evening (25th June 2024), Full Council voted to Approve Mr KING’s draft AGAR/AGS Returns for 2023/24, despite pertinent words of caution from some of the members who had wisely (and correctly) voted AGAINST the Approval of the fatally flawed 2022/23 AGAR/AGS. At first glance, the 2023/24 Returns appear even more susceptible to Auditor censure, riddled as they are with many potential ‘weaknesses’ (somewhat euphemistic Auditor-speak for falsehoods and/or failures).

Unfortunately, I am sorry to say, lessons would appear not to have be learned.

And this is not the only outstanding minefield facing the Council later in the year. There is a Casual Vacancy in Town North Ward, occasioned by the resignation of former-Councillor Hero SUMNER, victim of a totally unsubstantiated (and unsubstantiable) Code of Conduct Complaint lodged against her by Mr KING, a mere employee of the Council. Mr KING’s Formal Complaint was rejected by North Yorkshire Council.

Mrs SUMNER’s Letter of Resignation is damning in the extreme in its condemnation of the Clerk/RFO, in particular, and the Council, more generally. The recent resignations of former-Councillors Noreen WILSON and Asa JONES suggest a wider disquiet. And I have it on very good authority that another resignation is in the pipeline. The House of Cards is in the throes of a slo-mo collapse.

Moreover, the outgoing Clerk/RFO is in the middle of an outstanding Code of Conduct Complaint against a recently co-opted Councillor, whom he has accused of “harassment” and “bullying” for seeking clarity over the Mayor’s (on advice from the Clerk/RFO) apparent departure from the requirements of the Council’s Standing Orders.

And, according to correspondence from NYC, the outgoing Clerk/RFO has made a serious GDPR faux pas in respect of the personal data of one of the Councillors – a matter that will surely be brought to the attention of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) as well as the External Auditor. Oh, dear. That alone makes a dog’s breakfast of Q3 of the AGS.

Furthermore, the outgoing Chair of Human Resources, Councillor Linda WILD, has been dodging a veritable raft of detailed and well-documentedCorporate Complaints against the Clerk/RFO since 26th September 2023, claiming that she cannot seek the necessary legal advice to process the Complaint, as to do so would breach GDPR. This pitiful excuse is, of course, utter nonsense, since Legal Privilege applies –  defined by the Law Society as follows:

“The purpose behind this legal principle is to protect an individual’s ability to access the justice system by encouraging complete disclosure to legal advisers without the fear that any disclosure of those communications may prejudice the client in the future.”

So, despite the Mayor’s platitudinous “thanks” to Mr KING for his “immense contribution” (To what? The burden on the Whitby Precept-payers?), my own response accords only with the latter part of the Mayor’s remarks – i.e. wishing Mr KING success in his new employment. As the late, great Irish comedian Dave ALLEN might have said, “May your god go with you!”.

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