Two senior officers remain suspended whilst investigation continues


Cheshire East Council has confirmed that two of its senior officers remain suspended.

Chief Executive Mike Suarez has been suspended since April and Bill Norman, Director of Legal Services and Monitoring Officer, has been suspended since July - while an investigation into allegations relating to their conduct is undertaken.

The Investigation and Disciplinary Committee met on Thursday, 7th September, to discuss the issues raised.

Following the meeting Cheshire East Council confirmed that a decision has been taken for both Mike Suarez and Bill Norman to remain suspended whilst the investigation continues.

A spokesperson for Cheshire East Council said "Following a reconvened meeting of the council's investigation and disciplinary committee today, the council confirms that the committee has reviewed the suspensions of its chief executive Mike Suarez and director of legal services and monitoring officer Bill Norman, and the situation remains unchanged.

"It is important that the investigation into allegations of misconduct is undertaken objectively and there will be no further comment at this stage.

"As previously announced, interim arrangements to cover the responsibilities of the two roles, are in place."

In April Kath O'Dwyer was appointed as acting chief executive. Speaking at the time she said: "The chief executive's salary is £153,015 per annum.

"The leader of the council has asked me to cover the chief executive's responsibilities in Mike Suarez's absence. This brings an additional salary cost of £1291.83 per month."

Bill Norman, Cheshire East Council, Mike Suarez


Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Janet Taylor
Friday 8th September 2017 at 2:01 pm
May I suggest the The Investigation and Disciplinary Committee are also suspended for gross incompetence? Can we assume these two are languishing at home and still accepting their full inflated salaries for the privilege? I guess that's at least one reason we can be grateful that the summer hasn't been as good as it could be. Either reinstate them or sack them, this has gone on far too long and is costing the council tax payer far too much.
Jonathan Follows
Friday 8th September 2017 at 3:10 pm
Private Eye now reports "environmental health supremo Tracey Bettaney and senior environmental health enforcement officer Phil Mason have been suspended" following the "deliberate and systematic" manipulation of air quality figures.

Bill Norman was previously suspended from Wirral Council in June 2012 and subsequently left with £146,000; it was concluded that he had "no case to answer" but decided to leave anyway. He then worked for Herefordshire Council before taking early retirement and joining CEC (appointed by Mike Suarez) three months later (December 2015) at £90,000 annual salary.
Bob Jones
Friday 8th September 2017 at 3:39 pm
Perhaps the process could be speeded up by co-opting the help of the staff responsible for determining that the misreporting of air quality measurements had no implications on previously grated planning applications! I seem to recall they managed the task in a few days.
Pete Taylor
Friday 8th September 2017 at 5:16 pm
@Bob, they were not CEC staff; an external air-quality report was hastily commissioned which cost you and I a reported £28k.
The Police investigation into that matter, I understand, is still in motion; as is the Police investigation into former Leader of CEC, Cllr Michael Jones (yes, he is still a Councillor!) no doubt we will be hearing more about him in due course.
Manuel Golding
Friday 8th September 2017 at 10:59 pm
Residents of Wilmslow is writing to the Secretary of State for Local Government and Communities, Sajid Javid, requesting that Cheshire East Council should be immediately placed into Special Measures. RoW understands that other area groups are making the same request of the minister.
RoW will be issuing a Press Release.
Bob Bracegirdle
Wednesday 13th September 2017 at 6:44 pm
At least CEC provide endless material and fun for Private Eye.