Andrea Hill, Suffolk County Council’s controversial chief executive, is on extended leave for “personal reasons”. This evening a council statement confirmed the leave had been agreed by Jane Storey, the acting leader of the council.
Radio Suffolk was reporting that Mary Orton, of the Association of Local Authority Chief Executives, said the extended leave was at the request of the council. Ms Hill was keen to return to work but had been under a lot of stress according to the union.
This evening the Guardian says:
The chief executive of Suffolk county council may be forced to resign her position after the council’s U-turn over outsourcing all of its services and becoming a “virtual council”.
Ms Hill began a planned holiday on April 18, the same day as the Conservative group chose Mark Bee as the leader-elect, following the resignation of Jeremy Pembroke. He immediately promised a review of policies and excluded the term New Strategic Direction which originated with Ms Hill.
Cllr Pembroke’s resignation followed immediately after those of two officials, Graham Dixon, director of resource management, and Eric Whitfield, the monitoring officer. The following week the interim head of legal services, David White, who had taken on extra responsibilities, was found dead in Butley Woods. An inquest is yet to be held.
After an anonymous letter was sent to several councillors, including the council Chairman Eddy Alcock, raising concerns about the welfare of staff in the legal department. Cllr Storey confirmed that an external enquiry would be held. No furher announcment has been made and it is unclear whether it is completed or underway, or who is carrying it out.
Yesterday the Guardian reported the “inquiry was begun into morale at the council’s legal department after an anonymous whistleblowing letter, sent to councillors, and believed to be from an employee, alleged staff there had been put under ‘unbearable pressure’. The letter refers to ‘the poisonous atmosphere that exists at present’ in the council.”
In mid April the Municipal Journal speculated that Ms Hill could come under pressure to leave the council although a council spokesman denied that she was under pressure to leave.
Ms Hill wrote a 1,850 word message in the council’s Inside SCC newsletter last month which was seen by many as suggeting that she was under stress.
The Evening Star reported on speculation earlier today.
An item on Wordblog written a month ago and headed Andrea Hill was warned about the sensitivity of her spending has been receiving an unusually high number of hits in the past 48 hours.
Post history: Edited shortly after writing to correct date of start of Ms Hill’s holiday.