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Officers to leave though dismissal unjustified ...
Officers to leave though dismissal unjustified

By Kerry Lorimer

Two directors at Stoke-on-Trent City Council are to have their contracts terminated following the collapse of a high-profile cultural regeneration project.

Director of corporate resources Paul Brindley and city secretary Mark Winstanley were suspended in January 2004 over the spiralling costs of redeveloping two theatres in the city's cultural quarter.

Independent person Rodney Brooke criticised Mr Brindley and Mr Winstanley for inadequate reporting to members on the risks of the project.

Although he found the misconduct was insufficient to justify dismissal, early retirement should be considered in both cases, he said.

Following Mr Brooke's report, council manager Ita O'Donovan decided neither officer should return to his post. 'Discussions with the officers are taking place,' she said.

Neither Mr Brindley nor Mr Winstanley had been a prime actor in the fiasco, Mr Brooke said.

Of the two, Mr Winstanley received the greater censure for allowing a 'seriously misleading' report to be given to members.

'He should have at least played a part in drafting the report,' said Mr Brooke.

He added that he found Mr Brindley guilty of misconduct 'with some reluctance', and recommended that no disciplinary action should be taken against him.

The potential difficulties created by Mr Brindley's return to work meant mutual termination of Mr Brindley's contract should be considered, if possible through early retirement.

Andrew Johnson, regional officer at Unison West Midlands, confirmed Mr Brindley was in negotiations with the council. 'But he hopes to return to work, and because the independent person recommended no disciplinary action, he can't be forced to go,' he said.

Mr Winstanley was unavailable for comment.

The verdicts

Paul Brindley

>> Guilty of misconduct

>> Dismissal would be unjustified, and no disciplinary action should be taken

>> Recommendation: mutual termination of contract, if possible by early retirement.

Mark Winstanley

>> Guilty of misconduct

>> Dismissal would be unjustified

>> Recommendation: early retirement.

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