Concerns raised after council chief executive handed top role in combined authority

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Concerns raised after council chief executive handed top role in combined authority

Postby dutchman » Wed Mar 02, 2016 11:04 pm

Questions have been raised over the ability of Martin Reeves to adequately perform both roles

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Questions have been raised over the ability of Coventry City Council’s chief executive to continue in his role effectively after it was announced he has also been handed the top role in the West Midlands Combined Authority.

Coun John Blundell, the leader of the Conservative opposition on Coventry City Council, has spoken of his concern at the appointment of Martin Reeves to the role of chief executive of the WMCA.

But council leader Ann Lucas defended the move, saying Mr Reeves was the clear choice and would be championing Coventry in the role.

The WMCA is a partnership between seven metropolitan councils, including Coventry and Birmingham, who have come together in a bid to secure more funding and powers from central government.

Mr Reeves has taken up the position as the organisation’s interim chief executive with immediate effect and will split his time between the new position and his existing role with the council. It is not yet clear how long the interim appointment will last for, or if Mr Reeves might look to continue in the role more permanently.

As city council chief executive, he had been working on the creation of the WMCA – helping to conduct negotiations with the other Midlands authorities and advising councillors on the progress of those talks.

A WMCA statement confirmed the appointment today, but clarified that the role would not be paid. But Mr Reeves will continue to pick up more than £210,000 a year in pay and pension benefits for his role as chief executive of Coventry City Council.

Coun Blundell, who has taken a long-term position of opposing the formation of the WMCA, has raised concerns over the amount of time the new position would take up.

He also pointed to Mr Reeves’ decision to step down as a director of Ricoh Arena firm ACL in 2014 - citing the need to focus more time on his role with the council.

Coun Blundell said: “We always knew the combined authority would take more and more of Martin’s time, it’s a concern. We have had this issue before when he was a director of ACL.

“The role is not paid, but Martin’s time is at a cost to the Coventry taxpayer. With ACL, something that was meant to be easy managed to occupy every waking hour. The WMCA is a much bigger fish to fry.

“As the WMCA progresses it’s going to take more and more of his time up. How can he do both jobs?

“We will certainly be expressing our concerns in the Conservative group that Martin Reeves is taking over.”

But council leader Ann Lucas defended Mr Reeves and the decision to allow him to take up the role with the WMCA.

Coun Lucas said: “Of course he is going to be able to do both roles. Do you think I would have allowed him to be considered if I thought he couldn’t?

“For the last 18 months Martin Reeves has been working 18 hour days doing the two jobs anyway. It’s just formalised now.

“I have no doubt we have got someone, not only with capability, but someone who will be championing Coventry at the same time.

“He was the clear choice of all the leaders in the region.”

Asked about the concerns Mr Reeves could find himself in a similar position to when he was on the board of ACL, Coun Lucas said: “I don’t think that’s a fair comparison.

“With ACL there was always a point where it was going to be the right time, and the right timing, to step down.”

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Re: Coventry set to join 'Greater Birmingham' super authority

Postby rebbonk » Thu Mar 03, 2016 10:07 am

IMO he can't do one job properly, never mind letting him loose on two :fuming:
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Re: Coventry set to join 'Greater Birmingham' super authority

Postby dutchman » Fri Mar 04, 2016 1:33 am

Council chief hits back at 'conflict of interest' claims over new WMCA role

Coventry City Council’s chief executive has dismissed suggestions of a conflict of interest after agreeing to take up the top role with the new West Midlands super council.

As city council chief executive, he had been working on the creation of the WMCA – helping to conduct negotiations with the other Midlands authorities and advising councillors on the progress of those talks.

But Mr Reeves insists he was not eyeing up the top job while briefing councillors.

He said: “The discussions about the WMCA were led by the leaders. Those discussions about what would be right for Coventry came much earlier than the decision to put myself forward for this role. Those two time lines haven’t come together.

“But even if they had, it’s far from being a conflict, I don’t understand any suggestion that it’s a conflict.

“Surely the best way of achieving the objective of securing the best deal for Coventry is to have the chief executive of Coventry in this role to ensure the combined authority delivers for Coventry and for the West Midlands?”

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Re: Council chief's Rugby World Cup trip with Jaguar Land Rover a 'technical breach' of code of conduct

Postby dutchman » Thu Apr 21, 2016 11:13 pm

Leak casts doubt on Lucas claim £175k-salaried council chief Reeves is doing his job

COVENTRY council is facing questions over whether chief executive Martin Reeves is doing his job for which city taxpayers pay him £175,000 salary and whether the public has been misled – as a leaked email revealed underling Martin Yardley was quietly appointed ‘acting chief executive’.

It follows Mr Reeves’ appointment last month (March 1) as temporary interim chief executive of the interim West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), when council leader Ann Lucas insisted in BBC and other media interviews he would be able to perform both roles, saying she would not have approved otherwise.

Yet, in an email now leaked to us, written to councillors by Mr Reeves on March 11, he informed them of Mr Yardley’s ‘appointment’ by him and Coun Lucas as acting chief executive as cover for him while on WMCA duties.

Any such appointment was not voted on by democratically elected councillors – who are supposed to be in charge of unelected officers.

It has prompted accusations that while voters and taxpayers were being told one thing, the opposite was happening privately.

It raises further questions about Mr Reeves’ future as Coventry council’s chief executive, a position he took in 2009.

The Coventry Observer has also learned that, while Coun Lucas implied publicly Mr Reeves would be performing ’18 hours days’ to perform both roles, councillors were briefed in private by Mr Reeves that he would be doing an estimated two days a week for the controversial emerging WMCA.

Mr Yardley, another senior executive, declared on professional networking website LinkedIn that he has been ‘Coventry City Council’s acting chief executive’ for two months since March. His new role is not mentioned on the council’s website listing of senior executives. Some councillors told us his new job was news to them.

Mr Reeves is paid more than £200,000 a year – comprising £175,000 salary as Coventry council chief executive, pension contributions and varying annual remuneration as the returning officer overseeing elections.

Informed of latest developments, Conversative opposition leader councillor John Blundell said: “This all raises further questions. It needs clarity.. If you state there is an ‘acting chief executive’, it says the ‘chief executive’ is not there.

“No such decision has been taken by council. The public and councillors had been told Martin Reeves is continuing as chief executive for Coventry City Council, where taxpayers pay his wages.

“We have already questioned the assertion that Martin Reeves or anyone else could, or should, be performing ’18-hour days’ to fulfill both roles.

“More clarity is also needed on the financial arrangements. Is Coventry going to be compensated for hours lost while Martin Reeves performs his role for the combined authority?”

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Re: Council leader and chief executive treated to almost £2,000 of gifts and hospitality in six months

Postby rebbonk » Fri Apr 22, 2016 10:05 am

Something stinks to high heaven! :fuming:
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Re: Council leader and chief executive treated to almost £2,000 of gifts and hospitality in six months

Postby dutchman » Sat Apr 23, 2016 9:47 pm

Lucas under fire as councillors call for emergency meeting after £175k top job leak

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SOME councillors are demanding an emergency Coventry City Council meeting into who is running the local authority and whether rules have been breached, following this newspaper’s revelations from a leaked email concerning the chief executive’s job.

Conservative councillors have called for a rare emergency Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) of the full council ahead of elections on May 5, including over whether the public was told the truth, as the council’s Labour leader Ann Lucas today sought to defuse the growing controversy.

Some councillors in Coun Lucas’s own Labour group – who were already mounting a leadership challenge in a plot to oust Coun Lucas next month – are furious with the lack of transparency with the Coventry public. One source also said some are questioning whether the appointment breached the council’s protocols, as the decision taken by Mr Reeves and Coun Lucas did not go to the Labour group, let alone to the full council of democratically elected councillors.

One Labour councillor said: “Many of us knew nothing about it until we read it in the Coventry Observer this week, and some Labour councillors believe it is unconstitutional that such a key decision did not in the first instance go before the Labour group.”

The council’s website failed to notify taxpayers and voters that an acting chief executive had been appointed, or update senior management roles, and there was no public or media announcement via the usual press release.

The leaked email revealed Mr Yardley, also the council’s ‘executive director of place’, had been appointed by Coun Lucas and Mr Reeves as ‘acting chief executive’ as cover when Mr Reeves was doing WMCA work.

The saga has left many to question why the public was being told one thing, while something else was happening in private.

In response to our story on Wednesday, the council has now re-iterated Mr Reeves’ claim that, as we revealed, he is working approximately ‘two days a week’ on developing the emerging WMCA before it is supposed to be fully operational in June after Parliamentary approval, after which it is not known whether he will stay on in the role.

Tory group leader, councillor John Blundell, interviewed by BBC Coventry and Warwickshire’s Phil Upton last night in response to our revelations, said an EGM was necessary to establish how the council was being governed, how many hours Mr Reeves was fulfilling in his council role paid by city taxpayers, and whether the interim WMCA should reimburse Coventry council for hours lost. He also questioned Coun Lucas and Mr Reeves’ handling of the entire affair, and whether councillors and the public had been misled.

An irate-sounding Coun Lucas, invited to explained why Coventrians were not informed of the acting chief executive appointment, told BBC Coventry and Warwickshire’s breakfast show this morning: “Are we having a re-run of the conversation we had weeks ago?”

Asked if she had misled the public when saying Mr Reeves would be able to continue performing his Coventry job, she said: “No, you know me well enough to know I am very straight in what I say, and I stand exactly by what I said.”

Appearing to contradict a council statement yesterday that Mr Reeves was performing two days a week for the interim WMCA, she added: “..Only on the very rare occasions when Martin (Reeves) is not contactable, as happens now sometimes, then the ‘go-to’ person will be Martin Yardley.

“We’re talking as if there is another business somewhere away from Coventry. This (WMCA) is integral to what happens to Coventry over the next few years.”

She claimed all chief executives of councils involved in the WMCA were doing “extra work”. However, only Mr Reeves and one other were appointed to executive WMCA roles last month.

Asked by BBC’s Trish Adudu why the public was not informed of the acting chief executive appointment and why people including councillors only found out from the Coventry Observer front page and Mr Yardley’s LinkedIn profile, she said: “It’s an operational management move just for the moment.”

Appearing to oppose having an emergency EGM, she said the matter should be discussed in council after the elections.

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Re: Council leader and chief executive treated to almost £2,000 of gifts and hospitality in six months

Postby Melisandre » Sun Apr 24, 2016 9:46 am

Sounds like what they are accusing Brussels of Ann now is becoming an embarrassment not only to our city but to the Labour council and her party .
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Re: Council leader and chief executive treated to almost £2,000 of gifts and hospitality in six months

Postby rebbonk » Sun Apr 24, 2016 10:01 am

I believe it is time for Lucas (and a few others) to go. The people of this city deserve a far more transparent and representative council than they have at present.
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Re: Concerns raised after council chief executive handed top role in combined authority

Postby dutchman » Sat Apr 30, 2016 5:38 pm

New leaked email shows council forced into rare EGM debate on £175k chief’s job saga

ANOTHER leaked email states council leaders have been forced into holding a rare Extraordinary General Meeting, following this newspaper’s revelations concerning the £175,000-salaried chief executive’s job.

Our exclusive story last week uncovered one internal council email, written by chief executive Martin Reeves last month, which revealed underling executive Martin Yardley had been quietly ‘appointed’ as acting chief executive by Mr Reeves and beleaguered council leader Ann Lucas – as cover for Mr Reeves when he was working for the emerging controversial West Midlands Combined Authority.

A second email leaked to us, written by Coun Lucas yesterday to fellow Labour councillors, highlights the council’s and her reasoning for agreeing to the EGM.

It states: “You will be aware that the Conservative opposition has put in a formal request for an EGM to be held in order that the operational issues related to the senior management of the West Midlands Combined Authority can be discussed.

“I am assured by Chris West as Proper Officer that this request is legitimate and so an EGM must be called at the earliest opportunity.

“.. I wanted you to hear this from me first. The request was appropriately signed and in line with the constitution and so due process must be followed.

“I know that in the meantime you will all continue to focus on what really matters, which is the local elections next Thursday. Kind regards, Ann.”

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Re: Concerns raised after council chief executive handed top role in combined authority

Postby dutchman » Mon May 16, 2016 8:41 pm

Public debate on £175k council top job, combined authority and secrecy is SCRAPPED

A RARE extraordinary meeting of Coventry City Council agreed after controversy raised by the Coventry Observer about the £175,000-salaried chief executive’s role has been scrapped.

It has also emerged for the first time that the controversial West Midlands Combined Authority is now taking up to THREE days – not just two – of chief executive Martin Reeves’ working week – despite him being paid by Coventry taxpayers to be Coventry council’s chief executive.

The claim is made in a council press release issued on Friday (May 13) which announced that incoming new council leader George Duggins and Tory group leader John Blundell had agreed to cancel the Extraordinary General Meeting scheduled for tomorrow.

The latest council press release claims for the first time that the WMCA was not just taking up two days a week but ‘two to three days per week of his (Mr Reeves’) time’.

The council agreed to hold the EGM, with Coun Lucas stating in another leaked email revealed by us that it was necessary to hold it because it had been a valid request.

But the council has now announced the EGM had been cancelled as incoming leader Coun Duggins had ‘promised regular updates to all councillors on the West Midlands Combined Authority.’

Cllr Duggins said in the press release: “As incoming Leader, I have requested a review of all officer time being spent on the combined authority, to ensure it is appropriate and effective, and I will continue to keep these arrangements under review because, for me, the business of Coventry City Council is the priority. This information will be made available on request to councillors through the Scrutiny process.

“The Leader of the Opposition and I have agreed that holding an EGM on this issue is not an effective use of public money and there are better ways of ensuring that we keep councillors and Coventry residents updated and scrutinising the development of the combined authority.

“Given the significance of the issue, I intend to make a regular Leader’s statement on the combined authority at future Council meetings. This will allow councillors to get full and regular updates on a key area of work for ourselves and councils across the West Midlands.”

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Rotten to the core! :fuming:
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