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Member makes statement on CEO legacy

An Isles of Scilly Councillor read out a personal statement about the recently departed Chief Executive in yesterday's Full Council meeting.

Cllr Avril Mumford said she had been unable to attend the meeting on January 22nd that preceded the announcement of Theo Leijser's departure but that she had since had time to reflect on his tenure at the Authority.

She then asked that her comments be recorded verbatim for the public record.

However, her speech was halted when Monitoring Officer Stephen Taylor said he wanted to know what was going to be said as some matters should be discussed in the absence of the press and public.

After some debate, it was agreed that the statement would be shown to the Monitoring Officer and the Chairman. After it was deemed acceptable, Cllr Mumford read it out in the meeting.

Read Cllr Mumford's statement in full below:

I regret being able to attend the Special Meeting on 22 January and have had an opportunity to reflect on Council's decision and the departure of the Chief Executive. I have prepared a personal perspective on the Chief Executive's time on the islands and what a positive influence I found it to be, and would like this recorded verbatim in the public record.

During Theo's time as Chief Executive, we have achieved an awful lot, including the removal of a structural deficit. Despite Members' savings commitments in the last three years totalling £1.4m, with Theo's leadership and guidance we have been able to protect our adult social services budget and for the most part that for children's services.

The Airport was preciously placed in Special Measures, but no longer. Park House faced closure, but a solution was found. Concessionary boating fares are retained for eligible residents on the off-islands, as well as boating costs for children to access services on St Mary's. Park House is now transformed and was the winner of Outstanding Residential or Nursing Home Care Team at the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Care and Support Awards 2018.

The waste site redevelopment has seen a major change, from removal of a dangerous incinerator and the eyesore of the Moorwell Alp to having a purpose-built facility and improved recycling.

Thanks are due to all Senior Officers and all staff, past and present, who helped make these things happen after a major reshaping exercise.

It is important to make sure we are honest and open in where we can improve and communicate this. This was fundamental to my own discussions with Theo and it is essential that the Council is seen as a trusted organisation by the public and others. Theo has put in place improved reporting to support our decision-making and make sure our published reports are comprehensible to the public.

Alongside this assurance he has supported the independence of a democratic & corporate service to provide constructive support and challenge to Members and Officers.

A major focus has been improving water and sewerage and the progress is hugely encouraging, with the appointment of an Isles of Scilly Water Manager from South West Water.

The Smart Islands Programme has put the islands on the map, being featured in the government's business strategy, and we are working with a globally respected partner in Hitachi and supporting full-time, year-round jobs on the islands. Also, we have demonstrated benefits of collaboration with Cornwall Council while retaining our independence and sovereignty, and we are working towards a landmark health and care integration project.

Theo negotiated £1.8m with the Minister of State for Transport for the roads renewal project.

Finally, as Members we represent the community, and that informs the strategic vision in our Corporate Plan that we require Officers to deliver. A new Corporate Plan and Local Plan are in development. With changes at the top it is vital that we recognise and support all the Council's workforce during this period of transition, with a special mention for Craig [Dryden] as acting Chief Executive.

Theo, like all of us, is human and I am reminded that perfection is not this side of heaven. In his time here he has left the Council in a far better place than it was, and I thank him. We all need to continue to build on this.

Cllr Francis said afterwards: "I would like to remind Members as I did at the last Full Council that we have to stick to the relevance of what we are being asked to talk about and we are talking about Member Updates. Councillor Mumford, you are the Chair of Scrutiny and the Members around this table have vastly different views about some of the items you have talked about. And the items you have talked about, Councillor Mumford, are not relevant to this agenda item.

"I do not propose to continue on this subject any further at the moment because we are not debating the rights and wrongs of what was agreed at the last Council meeting. However, I would say in the future, if there's any items to be discussed at Full Council that are not relevant to the agenda items, they need to be brought before me first please. Thank you."

Cllr Mumford later told This is Scilly that she made the statement because she felt "Theo's positive work for the islands’ community should not go unrecorded".


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