Alleged to be workplace bully and abuser of power and processes, TDC Chief Executive Madeline Homer has, during her employment with Thanet District Council, been paid over £1million.
This humongous pile of dosh is set to grow overnight by almost 50%, becoming somewhere close to £1.5million, when she is awarded a massive £300k pay to go away deal by TDC’s councillors on 8 June. How do I know this?
Last Wednesday (1June) TDCs General Purposes Committee (GPC) discussed what was described as a “staffing matter”. This seemingly mundane issue was, however, deemed to be so sensitive that members of the public were excluded from attending the meeting, which was held behind closed doors.
People might ask what the justification was for taking such an unusual and undemocratic action? Perhaps something very dodgy is happening at TDC which the powers that be don't want you know about?
Correct! The GPC meeting was held to discuss and approve a pay-off deal and a non-disclosure agreement for TDC’s soon to be former Chief Executive, Madeline Homer. The pay off is in the region of £300,000!
The council’s constitution requires the GPC’s decision to
pay off and gag Homer to be ratified by a meeting of TDCs 56 councillors, which surprise, surprise, is booked into the council’s online meeting calendar for Wednesday 8 June at 7pm.
And yes you’ve guessed it! The agenda for that meeting includes a “staffing matter”, which has also been deemed to be so sensitive that members of the public will be excluded from attending the meeting.
The likelihood is that a majority of TDC councillors will vote to
approve this huge pay out, even though there is a large body of evidence including staff grievances, whistle-blower and trade union testament, and at least eight independent investigator reports which all allege that Homer (and her undeclared boyfriend, TDC Corporate Director Gavin Waite) are workplace bullies.
Recent reports from TDCs external auditor Grant Thornton and the Independent Monitoring Officer, Quentin Baker, have also raised serious questions about Homer’s leadership of TDC and the appalling mismanagement of the council under her stewardship.
It appears that on Homer’s watch bending or ignoring of rules and regulations was not uncommon. Conflicts of interest were not declared or properly managed. Information was routinely withheld from councillors, and the financial management of TDC, especially in relation to Ramsgate Port was disastrous.
It’s safe to say that most other employers would have sacked someone with a track record as appalling as Homer’s is widely claimed to be, in double quick time with no pay off. But sadly Thanet council exists in a parallel universe where normal rules don’t apply.
Homer has been TDC’s Chief Executive for 8 years and during this time, especially the past 4 years, evidence of her alleged bullying and mismanagement has been accumulating.
But successive council leaders including Tory Bob Bayford and Labour Rick Everitt whilst having knowledge of the reported concerns relating to Homer and her undeclared boyfriend Corporate Director, Gavin Waite, failed to deal with this serious problem even though they had sufficient evidence to initiate disciplinary investigations. Why might be that be?
As complaint followed complaint and inaction followed inaction, the cost of ridding the council of a rogue Chief Executive who was said, by an independent investigator, to have been responsible for creating a climate of fear at TDC, became dearer and dearer, until it reached a jaw-dropping £300,000.
During a cost of living crises when thousands of Thanet residents will be forced into poverty and have to get by on totally inadequate income, why on earth do TDC councillors believe it to be right to stuff the pockets of already wealthy Chief Executive Homer, who is accused of creating a climate fear at TDC, and of bringing the council close to collapse.
Rewarding what many have claimed to be the egregious misbehaviour of TDCs most senior officer, during one of the most serious economic crises to have hit the country in a generation is reprehensible. It sends out a shameful message about the values and attitudes of our elected councillors and how out of touch with reality most of them are.
Morally, ethically and politically TDC councillors should not, be using tax payers money to pay off people alleged to have committed gross misconduct. When making decisions all Councillors, are bound by the Seven Principles of Public Life to act with honesty, integrity, selflessness, transparency, objectivity, accountability, openness and to demonstrate leadership.
To agree to reward an alleged workplace bully with a large pay off and to keep secret, via a NDA the reasons leading to the pay off, thus allowing the alleged bully to bully elsewhere is, by any standard , the wrong thing to do, and most certainly a breach of the Seven Principles.
Instead of a pay out, disciplinary investigations into Homer and her undeclared boyfriend, Corporate Director Gavin Waite’s, alleged bad behaviour should be launched by the council and the truth about what has been happening at TDC for at least 4 years, if proven, must be made public and not locked away in a secret file on the cloud.
Make no mistake, any TDC councillor who abstains or votes for such a deal will be seen by many to be supporting and rewarding bullying, victimisation, harassment , and serious abuse of process at work.
Any councillor who abstains or votes for such a deal is also acting against TDCs duty of care to its staff. And any councillor who abstains or votes for the Homer payoff should realise that they have placed themselves on the wrong side of history.
Thanks to movements such as #metoo and can't buy my silence https://cantbuymysilence.com/ , the use of NDAs to cover up , and often to reward, the perpetrators of workplace bullying, racial and sexual harassment , victimisation and other forms of abuse is slowly coming to an end.
Many countries across the world are now considering banning the use of NDAs which involve the covering up of workplace abuse. Canada is likely to be introducing legislation to end this practice later this year, and several US states have already changed their laws to restrict the use of NDAs.
The UK Government promised to review the use of NDAs several years ago but has done nothing so far. But that’s hardly surprising when we have a Tory Government made up of the wealthy elite which doesn’t give toss about workers’ rights.
But despite Government inaction more progressive UK employers are voluntarily ending the use of NDAs. For example, a growing number of UK Universities are banning the use of NDAs.
So why don’t TDC councillors take a stand and reject Homer’s £300k to go-away deal on 8 June. They have the power to do so! And in so doing would set a very important precedent in the public sector, which is likley to lead to more councils following TDCs lead.
Whilst the supporters of NDAs might claim that the cost of taking disciplinary action may be more expensive than paying off and covering up the actions of a badly behaving employees, especially on at the top of the pecking order, the council has insurance policies which will cover most of these additional costs, to be told otherwise is untrue.
Furthermore, when York City Council dispended with its CEO 2 years ago, its external auditors published a report in the public interest which heavily criticised the council because it had failed to provide an accurate cost/ benefit analysis of using an NDA compared with other options.
Knowing TDC like I do, I am pretty sure that just like York, its councillors have not been provided with a detailed cost/ benefit analysis of ridding themselves of an alleged workplace bully and more.
More likely they have, instead, been beaten into submission by massively exaggerated and misleading claims about of much it would cost to get rid of Homer if she wasn’t paid off.
And even it was proven by a comprehensive cost/ benefit analysis that it was cheaper to approve the £300k pay out than carrying out a full investigation into Homer’s and Waites alleged multiple misbehaviours, there is the all-important question of justice.
Surely those who were the victims of Homer and Waite’s alleged bullying, harassment and victimisation have a right to justice and to have their complaints and allegations properly investigated. Instead they will be forced to witness the grotesque spectacle of their claimed abuser walking away with £300k!
One last word, I believe Homer’s £300k to go away deal has been the result of a shameful and secretive stitch up by Tory, Labour, Green and other councillors. Something I will be writing about and exposing soon.