South Somerset to launch investigation

The Leveller® understands that South Somerset District Council (SSDC) is to launch an investigation. That this “open and transparent” authority should do so is at first glance welcome.

Further investigation of corruption at the council would certainly be welcome.

However it seems that SSDC’s main priority right now is very different. It is to find out who leaked information to The Leveller®. This is a curious move for several reasons:

  • SSDC always claimed they were going to tell the public anyway. It is not a very credible claim, but it is what they say.
  • If you were going to tell the public, why be worried that the public have been told?
  • The information has now been published and is in the public domain.
  • Anyone who did leak information to us would always be able to claim public interest.

Still, it tells you quite a lot about where SSDC’s priorities lie. Currently it appears to be in preventing as much of the truth as possible from getting out.

8 comments

  • Very interesting

  • Usually with the bureaucrats ,self investigates self so all the answers can be manipulated , controlled and deleted ….so that nobody gets the blame ,no one is accountable, and nowadays nobody’s feelings are hurt.…then we get the usual bollocks of …..‘we have all learned from this and it is time to move on’. Obviously what has been going on is a disgrace, but then it is a council with no management and no leadership. Yes!

  • It gets murkier by the day. Clearly there are some very nasty things in the woodwork and having spent a lot of time on asking for answers and getting nowhere on subjects such as planning, the legal department and the investment policies and costs, I am looking forward to the revelations to come. I am sure the criticisms of The Leveller over the years are going to be vindicated in full however long it takes.

  • Not sure public interest will protect the employment of the person leaking the info 😿 (if indeed it is an employee). The law around whistleblowing gives a ‘prescribed person’ under the Act to whom reports of corruption can be reported to stop staff going to the press https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/blowing-the-whistle-list-of-prescribed-people-and-bodies–2/whistleblowing-list-of-prescribed-people-and-bodies

    Of course it is not ‘open and transparent’ to try to hound the whistleblower rather than focus on the allegations (unless made maliciously) but The Leveller might wish to consider how much use (and at what cost) is made by the council for so called ‘compromise agreements’ where staff may be ‘bought off’ in return for keeping stumm about issues. Part of the agreements provide that neither side can mention that there is such an agreement which is very convenient where used to cover possible wrongdoing. Many people feel the use of them should be outlawed in such circumstances.

    The pursuit of whistleblowers is common in organisations that value their reputation more than their probity however raising issues internally can blight careers so it’s not surprising if some resort to direct means to bring matters to light. It’s just a shame a safer route can’t be provided to make this unnecessary.

  • I hear SSDC has quite a bit of experience when it comes to compromise agreements.

  • “Freedom is the freedom is to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows”.

    My prior ‘comment’ should evince surely, at least ‘one’ response from the 60 ‘Elected-Members’?

    Whither the ‘rest’ of the ‘fourth’ estate?

    COMMENT 19 DECEMBER:
    “The power of the press is very great, but not so great as the power of suppress.”

    Yet again the ‘resurgent’ LEVELLER the ‘Shire-County’ largest circulation newspaper, holding ‘truth’ to power! Forensic ‘journalism’ not a ‘dependency’ on the ‘false’ algorithm’s, the perceived panacea of ‘digital-media’.* The continuing ‘expose’ of South Somerset District Council an indictment, pace the former lamented Paddy Ashdown, who recognised the ‘scrutiny’ of ‘bottom-up’ local governance, of which the local-authority sometime a ‘peer-authority’ alas inflicted, with contemporary ‘party-apparatchiks’ witnessed increasingly across local/national government, a ‘warning’ to future ‘constituents’ of Somerset ‘Unitary’ Authority?

    It further exposes a ‘deficiency’ in the ‘elected’ member’ per se. Local Councillors are elected by the community to decide how the council should carry out its various activities. They represent public interest as well as individuals living within the ward in which he or she has been elected to serve a term of office. Councillors have regular contact with the general public through council meetings, telephone calls or surgeries. Councillors are not paid a salary for their work, but they do receive allowances. All members of the Council are required to complete a register of interest’s form. South Somerset District Council is made up of 60 locally elected members – 40 Liberal Democrats, 14 Conservatives, 5 Independents and

    1 Green (as at 6 May 2020).
    Our Leader and Chairman
    Council Leader: Cllr Val Keitch (from 01/09/2018).
    Council Chairman: Cllr Paul Maxwell. Vice Chairman: Cllr Wes Read.
    Leader of the Opposition (Conservative Party): Cllr Linda Vijeh.
    Deputy Leader of the Conservative Party: Cllr Nick Colbert.
    Leader of the Independents: Cllr Dave Bulmer.

    Presumably a concern of Somerset’s ‘nine’ MPs?

    The writer sometime Chairman, Administration & Finance Committee, the adjoining Local Authority of Mendip, during the ’emergent’ Ashdown ‘renaissance’ subsequently withered on the vine!

    Graham E Livings
    sometime 611th Mayor of Wells/Prospective Parliamentary Candidate; YEOVIL
    *BURNING THE BOOKS: 1SBN 978 1529378 76 4 Richard Ovenden

  • I wonder how this investigation fits with ssdc’s whistleblowing policy at https://www.southsomerset.gov.uk/media/5231/whistleblowing-policy-2021-002.pdf

    • The whistleblowing policy is merely grandstanding, anyone caught leaking information exposing the “Corruption, fraud and bulling” allegations at SSDC can expect an attempt to bully them.

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