Paul Turner Monitoring Officer.

I’ve spoken about him before but here is a post that goes into more detail regarding his role. Some of it will likely be confusing and I will also be posting legislation, and honestly, I struggle to understand it, and unsure if i’ve interpreted it correctly.

Every council has to by law have a monitoring officer, a head of paid service (chief executive officer), and a finance officer.

The monitoring officer is usually also the Director of Legal, it involves a lot of legal things which would be difficult for the lay person to understand so it makes sense that would happen.

I came into contact with Paul Turner when I raised a complaint regarding councillors. His job role is to ensure elections and things are legal, provide advice to councillors, and make sure they are behaving themselves.

That was on the ECC website. What I didn’t know is that a monitoring officer performs another role, which I didn’t find out about until after Paul Turner stated that he had investigated the reason ECC gave for not investigating my complaint in his role as monitoring officer which I found strange given his role is only regarding elected members and elections.

I was confused and turned to google. Other councils are more transparent and actually give out the full role of the monitoring officer on their websites.

This is a link to the people a council need to have:

Here is a link to the legislation:

It turns out that if maladministration is reported to the monitoring officer or if he finds something which could be maladministration, he has a statutory duty to investigate.

(2)[F9Subject to subsection (2B),] it shall be the duty of a relevant authority’s monitoring officer, if it at any time appears to him that any proposal, decision or omission by the authority, by any committee, [F10or sub-committee of the authority, by any person holding any office or employment under the authority] or by any joint committee on which the authority are represented constitutes, has given rise to or is likely to or would give rise to—

(a)a contravention by the authority, by any committee, [F10or sub-committee of the authority, by any person holding any office or employment under the authority] or by any such joint committee of any enactment or rule of law [F11or of any code of practice made or approved by or under any enactment]; or

[F12(aa)any such maladministration or failure as is mentioned in Part 3 of the Local Government Act 1974 (Local Commissioners), or]”

Basically, if the local authority are behaving like Essex County Council officer’s do towards vulnerable children and adults, especially with the amount of maladministration that is rife, the monitoring officer is the one who has the power to investigate it, and most importantly, do something about it.

This explains it better, it’s from a website:

The remedy is available to anyone who is affected by any local authority function, so applies to Housing and to Education as well as to social services decisions.

To make an allegation of illegality, you do need to know a bit about public law, and the statutory framework that the council officers are acting under.

The action, decision or omission must be: 

  1. outside of the wording of the statute or applicable regulations;
  2. so unreasonable that no reasonable authority could have made the decision or taken it up as a defensible stance; 
  3. in breach of human rights
  4. in breach of the long-established legal rules of procedural fairness 

This duty must be discharged personally by the named MO/their deputy. They can’t hand it over to the head of the relevant service for a decision on legality, although of course they will need to check out the facts.

If the relevant team has already taken legal advice, the in-house lawyer will be professionally conflicted from helping, and for that reason, the council is obliged to furnish the MO with the resources to do the job, paying for an outside lawyer’s input, if needed. The MO is protected from dismissal other than through special steps, guaranteeing independence. 

So the monitoring officer is meant to act at all times as someone who is beyond reproach. At all times neither acting for the resident or for any officer or member of the council, but in finding out if maladministration has occurred.

This link explains more about what happened:

I still cannot get over how unnecessarily cruel he was to me by just ghosting me like he did.

That I don’t know why he ghosted me is absolutely horrendous to deal with. It’s actually kept me awake more nights than I care to admit to.

He said something and I gave him evidence that proved that what he said was not correct. He didn’t reply, so I sent more, went really into depth, sent lots of evidence. Absolutely nothing. It’s absolutely crushing to realise that you mean so little.

This is what Essex County Council are all about, the resident is absolutely meaningless. Given I was ghosted I can only make an educated guess as to why.

I believe that because there was no way they could come up with anything to even attempt to disprove what i’d said, he felt it was better if he just ghosted me so the problem would disappear and the council would remain unblemished.

This is the one person who is meant to be truly independent

Ghosting me, especially given how cruel it is, wasn’t in my best interests, but it was in the council’s interests.