Council 'ignored the views of stakeholders'
A LEAKED e-mail has revealed doubts among other organisations over the choice of the new Cornwall Council chief executive before he was confirmed in the post.
The message sent by the council's top legal officer the day after Andrew Kerr was announced as the preferred candidate exposes a high-level external panel's "overall concern about his lack of passion and clear strategy".
Richard Williams, head of legal, democratic and procurement services, was explaining the choice to members of a 'stakeholder panel' which interviewed the candidates last Wednesday. It represented the Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group, the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust, the police, Cornwall College, Truro and Penwith College, Cornwall Chamber of Commerce and the Environment Agency.
On Friday Mr Kerr was named as the council selection panel's "unanimous" choice after two days considering three final candidates. The other two were not named.
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In his e-mail, Mr Williams admits the recipients may be "surprised, if not a little disappointed ... in view of the nature of the deliberations" of the stakeholder panel.
"I sensed that discussion about Andrew was 'squeezed out' following the performance of the last candidate. I suspect that our views of Andrew might have been different had we discussed each candidate in detail following each of the interviews," he writes.
The stakeholder panel discussion was only part of the process, he says, and "Andrew performed better in other panels on the first day". Many of the stakeholders had said all three candidates were strong.
His e-mail adds: "Most importantly for the process and the relationships between the council and your organisations ... I was able to feed back the overall concern about his lack of passion and clear strategy which enabled that to be considered in depth by the member interview panel" who were "able to satisfy themselves that Andrew's evident track record was backed up by a strong vision for the future of Cornwall and a firm desire to see that collectively and decisively delivered working alongside partner organisations."
The message also reveals those present would have liked a copy of the job description – or "Role Profile of the Chief Executive" – before meeting.
A source close to the stakeholder group said: "In typical Cornwall Council fashion, the councillors ignored the unanimous views of their stakeholders. One has to wonder what the point is of asking stakeholders to be involved and then ignoring their input."