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Housing maintenance review at Guildford Borough Council prompts further investigation

Millmead Offices

Guildford and Waverley Borough Councils have received a report identifying a number of serious areas of concern that require further investigation arising from the housing maintenance review.

The Leaders of both Guildford and Waverley councils have agreed a meeting of the Joint Senior Staff Committee to take place as soon as possible.  That committee will be asked to authorise an investigation into whether correct governance processes were followed in the letting and management of housing maintenance contracts. An external law firm will be retained to conduct this investigation.

The councils have secured an earlier start date for their new permanent Chief Executive, Pedro Wrobel, who will start on Monday 19 February in order to provide organisational leadership with immediate effect.

Guildford and Waverley Strategic Directors for Community and Wellbeing, Annie Righton and Transformation and Governance, Ian Doyle, who were senior officers responsible for the relevant service area at the time the contracts were let, have both agreed to step back on a temporary basis from their respective roles to protect the integrity of the investigation.

Leader of Guildford Borough Council, Cllr Julia McShane and Leader of Waverley Borough Council, Cllr Paul Follows have issued the following joint statement:

"Public bodies need to be absolutely resolute in their commitment to openness, transparency and accountability for public money. We are determined to identify exactly what has happened in order to safeguard both councils and continue to deliver on our commitment to best value and service delivery possible for all our residents and businesses.

"We're extremely grateful that Pedro has agreed to join us early and to Westminster City Council for releasing him to us."

Joint Chief Executive of Guildford and Waverley Borough Councils from Monday 19 February, Pedro Wrobel said:

"When it comes to public money, nothing is more important than propriety and value. All monies should be used to deliver the best possible services for our residents and businesses.

"I will be working with officers, councillors, external investigators and auditors to get to the bottom of these issues and account for every penny. 

"I will ensure the organisation has the right systems in place to safeguard the public's money, and will take robust action where necessary."

Surrey County Council Corporate Director, Michael Coughlin, is being seconded to provide additional support, capacity and resilience to the councils starting on Monday 19 February.

Published on: 19 February 2024