Today I publish in full a copy of a grievance submitted by TDC’s former Deputy Chief Executive, Tim Willis in which he claims that he was bullied by his boss, council Chief Executive, Madeline Homer.
Mr Willis left his job at the council in October 2021 with a £280,000 non-disclosure agreement (NDA). Council leader Ash Ashbee said at the time of his departure that:-
“Tim Willis was suspended by the council in August 2019. This should not have happened and on behalf of Thanet District Council, I apologise to him for that. The council’s General Purposes Committee subsequently unanimously dismissed all allegations against Tim Willis. He leaves the employment of the council with a spotless employment record, and I would like to thank him for his service.”
In his grievance against CEO Homer Willis claims that:-
M(adeline) H(omer) has bullied, intimidated and victimised me. Most of the examples I have included were MH's attempts to undermine me when discharging my statutory obligations as the council’s S151 Officer.
There are numerous, substantial examples which collectively demonstrate MH’s orchestrated attempts to undermine me in the lead up to my suspension; to intensify pressure and to intimidate me when I returned from suspension; and even to continue the victimisation and bullying before and long after the meeting of GPC.
I have done absolutely nothing wrong. Despite MH's campaign, she has been unable to identify any misjudgment or error on my part that she could legitimately use against me. Indeed, I believe I have served Thanet Council with distinction.
I am not inexperienced or of delicate disposition. I have 40 years’ working experience, working effectively for a range of CEOs/line managers, many of whom have been assertive and robust. I have worked in the private, voluntary and public sector. I have never experienced a relationship with my manager, nor a culture, such as the one that prevails at Thanet.
These latest allegation add to the many other claims about bullying and abuse of process by Homer, and her said to be boyfriend Gavin Waite. This includes the 2019 Westell Report which concludes that:-
“there is substantial evidence that M(adeleine) H(omer) and G(avin) W(aite) have been responsible for creating and fostering a culture of overt bullying, intimidation, victimisation or humiliation within Thanet District Council; and also substantial evidence that both have failed to uphold the principles of the Dignity at Work policy document”
Other documents about Homer and Waite’s alleged bullying and abuse of power have been widely circulated on social media over the past 2 years or so including, a document produced by a senior human resources officer, turned whistleblower, a letter from the Head of the East Kent Audit Partnership, letters from the trade unions and individuals who claimed to have been victims of Homer and Waite’s bullying, and last but not least the report of the council’s external auditor Grant Thornton which was highly critical of Homer’s leadership of the council.
I am aware of several detailed and lengthy reports which have not yet been made public, which were produced by highly regarded independent lawyers and investigators which, I have been reliably told, also claim that Homer and Waite are workplace bullies.
Next week yet another report will be added to the growing library of investigations into CEO Homer’s leadership of the council.
This report, from external Monitoring Officer Quentin Baker, is scheduled to be discussed at a secret meeting of councilors on 19 May. It is widely seen as being the final, and possibly most critical, word on Homer’s leadership of TDC, which many people, myself included, , hope will lead to her long overdue departure from TDC.
If she does go, this will have been a very expensive journey. Added together, the cost of all these reports, the multiple grievance and disciplinary processes, the lawyers fees, and the all the gagging orders related to Homer’s alleged bullying will be close to £2million.
By the time the filthy corporate khazi has been cleaned and all the many outstanding matters, resolved, I reckon it will have cost taxpayers over £3million! All because a dysfunctional and toxic leadership was allowed to run wild at TDC for several years by former council leaders Bob Bayford and Rick Everitt who both failed to act promptly when in possession of compelling evidence.
But please don’t forget there is also an incalculable and tragic human cost to what is likely to become one of the biggest scandals in recent local government history. The emotional and psychological torture of those who found themselves at the receiving end of alleged cruel behaviors of Homer, Waite and others. The lost or damaged careers and reputations of innocent staff, some who were forced out of their jobs for no good reason.
I am pleased to be publishing Mr. Willis’ grievance in full. It shines a much needed light on what is said to have happened, but was covered up, at TDC over the past few years.
This is a document which formed part of 1,000 plus page dossier which was presented to TDCs 56 councilors at another secret meeting on 28th March 2022 which led to the sacking of former TDC Monitoring Officer Tim Howes was sacked for gross misconduct.
Although one side of a very complex situation, this document paints a very disturbing picture of Homer’s alleged behavior, and serves to support the many other allegations and investigations which claim similar things.
For a council which states in its Dignity at Work Policy that it “will not tolerate bullying or harassment of any kind” there is a public interest in publishing information which I believe shows that under the leadership of CEO Homer this was not true, and that according to her deputy Tim Willis, she appears to have been a bully and harassers herself.
Tim Willis Grievance Submission (source TDC council meeting 28th March 2022)
Coming soon!! Should Workplace Bullies Be Paid Off? (Part 1 and 2)
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