May 21 2013 Latest news:
Saturday, November 10, 2012
More transparency is needed in disciplinary cases at Haringey Council after it emerged a top finance officer has been suspended on full pay since July, a leading Haringey politician has said.
Cllr Richard Wilson, leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition, obtained figures revealing that 12 public servants are suspended on full pay for a variety of allegations, from assault and negligence to behaviour and theft.
Of those, three have been suspended for eight months while investigations take place.
One officer, a senior member of the council’s finance unit, has been suspended following allegations of “misuse of resources”.
They were suspended at roughly the same time as problems were discovered with last year’s accounts, said Cllr Wilson, leading them to be signed off by auditors at 10pm on the last possible day.
He said: “It is shocking that such a senior person in finance has been accused of such a serious thing, and it paints a very worrying picture of how taxpayer’s money is being spent and looked after in Haringey.
“For somebody this important, the public’s right to know should trump [the officer’s right to] confidentiality. This is a very senior member of staff with a very responsible job.
“When things like this happen then more details need to come out. I think Haringey needs to come clean about what has happened.”
The cost of paying suspended staff has dropped over the past four years as the council has cut the average investigation time from more than 100 days to 55 days, but the number of directly-employed staff in Haringey has also fallen, which may have had an effect.
In 2009/10 suspended staff salaries cost taxpayers £718,484, in 2010/11 it was £531,597, and in 2011/12 it fell again to £324,495.
The costs have levelled out, with the first six months of this financial year costing £146,126 in salaries to suspended staff.
A council spokesman said: “Everyone is entitled to a fair hearing and in accordance with our disciplinary policy, we do not comment on individual cases.”