HOW BAD COULD THIS BE FOR THE COUNCIL?

Who exactly are Cormac?

Cormac are the council’s in-house contractor for a wide range of vital engineering and practical services: roads, construction, maintenance and the like.

Technically Cormac are a division of a company called Corserv Ltd. Its directors are a mix of former council officers and corporate managers.

But from the taxpayers perspective – it’s the council. The council just happen to operate a private firm – which they call Corserv – to do council work, with any profits going back to the council.

What are the council supposed to do after a workplace accident?

Private firms and public bodies operating in any UK jurisdiction are legally obliged to file reports to the Health and Safety Executive of all workplace accidents.

That means everything – from deaths to ‘near-misses’. It applies to you if you run a business and it applies equally to the council.

It indisputably includes the debilitating head injury Cormac worker ‘Joe’ suffered, at work, in December 2016.

This specific HSE legislation in this case is called RIDDOR.

That stands for ‘Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013.’

RIDDOR dictates that accident reports must be accurate, relevant, sufficiently detailed, and compiled as soon as possible.

Cllr Bob Egerton’s accusations – which are accepted de facto by the HSE (the dispute is only about Cormac’s intentions – are of violations of RIDDOR.

He says:

  • Cormac did not file a report for more than one month
  • In their report, Cormac lied about what happened

Bob actually calls Cormac’s RIDDOR report ‘a work of fiction’

One example of a discrepancy in the report is that Cormac did not say ‘Joe’ suffered a fractured skull.

Instead it was listed as a ‘seven-day injury’.

As for the time lag: HSE received Cormacs report – about an incident on Dec 16th 2016 – on the 23rd of January 2017.

None of the above is disputed.

But the HSE looked in to the incident and the lady – unnamed in correspondence – who carried out the investigation decided not to prosecute Cormac.

Bob Egerton raised a complaint about this – and in a letter to him last month, HSE Acting Head of Operations Paul Hems admits the RIDDOR form was wrong.

But he stands by the conclusion that there is “insufficient corroborative evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Cormac deliberately lied”.

As things stand, the Health and Safety Executive are adamant that their case is closed.

Who does Bob blame for the Cormac scandal and what finally made him resign?

kate kennally

Kate Kennally has denied all wrongdoing to Council Leader Julian German: German says she was ‘not negligent’

Kate Kennally is a professional bureaucrat whose background is in running social services and childrens services for councils in London and the Home Counties.

She joined the council seven years ago as a ‘Director for Communities’, before being appointed Chief Executive in 2015.

She stands publicly accused by Bob Egerton of condoning a deliberate ‘cover-up’ of an accident that left a council worker with ‘life-changing’ injuries.

Ms Kennally’s career began with ‘social care’ posts in Hampshire, Buckinghamshire, and also Windsor.

She was appointed ‘Assistant Director Health Partnerships’ in Barnet, London, in 2006.

From 2008 to 2011 she was promoted through Barnet social services to director. In 2012 she took over childrens services.

She was appointed Cornwalls chief executive in 2015.

Her wage is approximately £170,000 a year.

When appointed Chief Exec Ms Kennally said it was a “once in a life time opportunity to make a difference to a distinct and beautiful place that I love.”

In his letter of resignation Bob explains: “On 9 March 2020, I presented a report to my Cabinet colleagues.

“I asked them to instruct the chief executive to put this matter right. The Leader has had conversations with the chief executive

“But she has point blank refused to do anything about it.”

“We are now at an impasse and I cannot continue to serve in a Cabinet that is not prepared to take the appropriate action.

“That is why I have resigned.”

Within Cormac, it’s not known who completed the RIDDOR form. You can find Cormac’s directors HERE.

Group Managing Director Cath Robinson wrote to the HSE in 2019 about ‘oversights’ in their RIDDOR report.

Corserv MD Cath Robinson told the HSE it ‘was not possible to ascertain’ if the injury was work-related

Her letter gave “reasons for the oversight in their original RIDDOR report and confirmed that an investigation into the incident had been conducted.”

She wrote to the effect that: “It had not been possible to ascertain the activity Mr had been undertaking, whether it was work related, or what caused the injuries.”

So what happens now?

Even if Bob’s resignation provokes a cross-party revolt in Town Hall, it is difficult for elected councillors to sack an appointed Chief Executive. But it can be done.

A new set of rules concerning council officer misconduct were finalised in late 2017 by former Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles.

An officer accused of “inappropriate personal conduct or relationship breakdown with colleagues or the council” can be dismissed.

The process takes at least three months. Here it is:

  • First an independent panel of at least two people decides if there is a case against the council officer to answer.
  • Then a council employment committee must appoint an independent investigator to make a report on the case against the officer.
  • At this point the council officer under investigation is ‘given a say’ in who investigates them, by assisting in choosing from a list of three names.
  • Then once the independent investigator is appointed, they make a report back to the employment committee.
  • After that the employment committee agrees its recommendation to the council.
  • And if the recommendation is for dismissal, the Independent Panel is brought back in again to review the recommendation.
  • The Independent Panel now compiles a new report of its own
  • And that report – along with the recommendation of the Employment Committee – goes before a full council.
  • A full council finally reviews both documents and makes a binding decision.

If you’re interested to know more, click HERE.

Is that it? What’s the story behind the story?

All of the documents relating to this case are posted on Bob’s website, and anyone can download them and look in to the case themselves.

A 78-page document includes the Cormac incident report, Cormac’s report to the HSE, and multiple witness statements from December 16th.

Council leader Julian German gave a long statement in which he said that the council had “investigated the issues that (Bob) has raised and discussed them with the Chairman of Corserv, who provided assurances.”

Council Leader Julian German has defended the Chief Executive

He added: “I have also reviewed the actions of the Chief Executive and I am satisfied there is no evidence of any negligence on her part.”

Corserv gave a long statement to the effect that they took worker safety very seriously, and had co-operated with the HSE, who had closed the case.

They also said they had supported the victim, described as a “a much valued and respected member of the Cormac team”, “from an occupational health and long-term financial perspective” over the last four years.

They insisted: “We are disappointed by statements made by Councillor Bob Egerton and we fully refute his accusations.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.