Havering Resident’s Associations (H.R.A) have just received a letter from officers today saying, despite their objection, the Council is still appointing Mr. Fenwick as the Investigation Officer.
The HRA maintains their objection and is calling upon the Council to think again. Mr. Fenwick was once Havering’s Monitoring Officer under the present Chief Executive. He is also a director of OneSource which provides services to both Newham and Havering.
Havering Residents Association Councillor Graham Williamson said: “Whilst the newly appointed Investigation Officer is rightly not a politician, neither he/she have any links to the Council. It should be noted that part of the accusations involves officers allegedly breaching their own rules of political neutrality and impartiality. He added “Not only do we deserve a fair and balanced investigation and ultimately a report, but it must also be seen to be fair and impartial. The appointed officer must give the people of Havering confidence that no stone will be left unturned and no-one will be ‘protected’. Our suggestion is that these serious concerns be investigated by a total outsider with no prior connection to Havering in any way.”
On behalf of the H.R.A members, Chair Councillor Gillian Ford submitted a formal complaint to Havering Councils monitoring officer on the 21st July, in relation to the audio recording that had been passed to the H.R.A of Council Leader Damian White explaining to Conservative Party members, how he had taken control of Havering’s submission, as part of the Local Government Boundary Commission of England review.
An initial acknowledgement of receipt was received by the H.R.A on the 22nd followed up later that day with details on the decision to undertake and external review, with the name and authority of the reviewing officer.
Recognising the name of the proposed reviewing officer, Councillor Ford responded to the Monitoring Officer declining the appointment, as it was a former employee of Havering Council, when the current Chief Executive was in post. It was also clear that independence was further compromised, as the proposed officer was part of One Source partnership between Havering and Newham.
The initial response to the challenge suggested there would not be an issue as the officer had not had any dealings with Havering’s Boundary Commission Process. The H.R.A were not satisfied with this and have once again gone back to the Monitoring Officer with the following:
Thank you for your email and explanation. As you will be fully aware, this is a matter of significant public interest. However, by looking at this from the residents perspective, an independent review would require the reviewing officer and the subject of review to be independent of each other.
As Andrew Blake-Herbert was the Chief Executive and employer of Daniel Fenwick, with an ongoing relationship through OneSource, the public is therefore unlikely to consider this as an impartial appointment or in the public interest.
I, therefore, ask on behalf of H.R.A, that the Monitoring Officer selected to oversee the review, be demonstrably independent and not connected to Members or Officers of Havering.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Councillor Gillian Ford
Chair of H.R.A
Havering’s Residents Associations
The H.R.A are currently waiting to hear the response from the monitoring officer.