|Summary of 'Charges' Against Councillor Murphy|
and his Responses
Recruitment of Chief Executive|
(This refers to events that happened over a year ago!!)
1. "(He) refused to allow a cross party selection group"
I am not sure this should be regarded as a 'hanging offence' but in any case, it is plainly untrue because the composition of the selection panel was a matter for council itself, not for an individual councillor. In fact, I had proposed an all-party selection panel. Ironically, Cllr Burns had initially wanted to exclude other parties at every stage.
2. "(He) excluded three members of the panel from taking a full part"
This allegation is hard to understand. There were four members on the Preliminary Panel which I had been asked to chair. The other three members were chosen on my recommendation to the Leader because I valued their business experience. They each had specific responsibilities and regular meetings were held.
3. "(He made) scurrilous criticism of the recruitment agency"
I criticised the agency for elementary spelling, grammatical and other errors in the 'info' pack the agency sent to prospective candidates. Is criticism of this kind a crime?
Structure Review Panel
"...authoritarian approach ... alienated fellow members ... "
Even if true, this hardly amounts to a 'hanging offence' But what really prompted this 'charge' was a decision by three Conservative colleagues to embark on a bid for the leadership of the group and in so they wanted to neutralise any potential opposition.
Chairmanship of the A&R Committee
1. "... refused to allow the leader to attend his officer briefing meetings ... "
This is an absurd allegation. If the leader wanted a briefing meeting with officers, he could arrange that at any time.
2. "... criticised the Conservative administration for (reducing) the play scheme budget"
This proposed cut in services had not been discussed by the Group, it was politically insensitive in the run-up to an election and it was no longer required for budgetary purposes. I argued for its reversal. Subsequently, the Group did reverse it!
3. "... without consultation with the Leader or the Group, he promoted a plan ... for the Danegate site "
As chairman of the A& Recreation committee, faced with a major financial crisis in our Leisure Centres, I circulated a paper for an alternative use of the council-owned part of Danegate, viz a Private/Public Partnership for a Leisure/ Health/ Education complex on the site - a scheme that would meet with local community approval - and of a kind now being proposed by the Learning and Skills Council and Macclesfield College!!!
In the first instance this paper was circulated confidentially to the Group Leader, the Chairman of Planning and the Conservative members of the A&R Committee in order to gauge the political acceptability of the idea. It was also circulated to the Chief Executive, Chief Leisure Officer and Chief Planning Officer for technical appraisal.
The Leader chose not to respond but the response from others was supportive. The paper was then given on a confidential basis to the CPRE for advice and comment.
The Chief Executive asked that the proposal be not tabled until after the Danegate planning application had been made. At that point, no application had been made.
After discussion and as a compromise, I accepted the representations made by the CE and Leader and did not table the Leisuregate plan.
Danegate Planning Application
1. "He ignored officers advice not to comment publicly on this ... he abrogated the role of leading spokesman ... he stated 'Danegate is dead in the water'."
The officers advice was not "not to comment" but was "not to show support or opposition to the planning application before the all the information on it was available." I continually made the point that I would judge the planning application on its merits as and when the application was made.
2. "He took a pre-eminent role at the planning meeting .. despite having received advice that he had disqualified himself from the proceedings .."
I was not given such advice and such advice would not have been given because the code makes it quite clear that it is for the individual to decide whether or not they have an 'interest' to declare. I had no 'interest' to declare.
3. "Councillor Murphy is now the subject of a complaint to the Ombudsman. Whatever the outcome, (it will) impact upon the Conservative Group's reputation."
This refers to a complaint by a local company that stood to benefit from the Danegate development. It remains to be seen whether the complaint is upheld. At this point, the ombudsman has referred the complaint back to the council. I do not believe the complaint would be upheld but clearly it is highly prejudicial of the Group Leader to presume "guilt" before the outcome is known.
4. "Councillor Murphy has been in contact with the District Auditor, inviting her to undertake a separate inquiry into the Council's actions."
During 2001, the Council Leader persistently refused to allow either the Group or the Council to consider important Danegate issues, including changes being made without Council approval. When I discussed these with the Chief Executive, it was he who suggested I should consult the District Auditor.
"Councillor Murphy moved at the last meeting (of the Disley Conservative branch of which he is a member) that Councillor Margaret Duddy should be de-selected ."
The minutes of that meeting show that statement is untrue. CLICK HERE to view the relevant extract from the minutes.
Voting Against the Whip
"... he voted in support of a Labour motion, against the whip."
I have never voted against the whip and no whip was notified to me.