Very odd behaviour by Ray Morgan, Chief Executive of Woking Borough Council:
In his email, accidentally copied to a member of the public, Mr Morgan said: “With elections in May do you [Cllr Bittleston, Conservative leader of the council] need a positive explanation if [sic] all that we are doing that you can use both administratively when presenting the budget and politically in election material?”
Senior council officers like Mr Morgan are required to be politically neutral, a requirement this offer could have breached. [Get Surrey]
Ann-Marie Barker (Lib Dem), leader of the opposition on the council, has not surprisingly asked the council’s lawyers to look into this:
Mr Morgan has every right to supply information and facts to the Conservative party. He is also happy to provide this to opposition parties.
However, in this case a line has been crossed.
The chief executive appears to be offering material for political purposes. This suggests he may favour one political party over another and fails to maintain the neutral political stance required by his office.
The public expect officials to rise above party politics. We don’t need the chief executive acting as a spin doctor for the Conservative party.
Ray Morgan has responded saying,
As to providing the leader of the council with information for his budget statement, or for his election material, it is my job.
An investigation into emails sent by Woking Council chief executive Ray Morgan has found that he “acted properly” …
Responding to the decision, Cllr Barker said she was concerned it had taken so long for the decision to be made public, saying: “I have been given little good reason for the lengthy delay”.
She also said the timing of the announcement, late in the afternoon on the day before the Easter break, might look like an attempt to “bury bad news”.
She added: “The complaint was raised because Mr Morgan’s email to Cllr Bittleston appeared, to many of the public, to be offering political assistance to the Conservative party.
“As it seems clear that this impression was given I would have thought that was grounds to at least ask the chief executive to apologise to council tax payers of Woking. Is that too much to ask?” [Get Surrey]