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When reliable, corroborated reports are received that a senior council officer has been suspended, an officer second only in the pecking order to the Chief Executive, David Hill, then it is a legitimate matter of public interest.
If Strategic Director Jim Miles was in the private sector it might be different. His salary would be paid from private funds rather than by the council tax-payers of Guildford, and any misdemeanor would be much less likely to affect the public. But there is a different expectation for those who hold public office and appointments.
Even the suspension of the lowliest police officer is announced, and rightly so. A simple statement is normally made stating who has been suspended and why. It is not that anyone should be judged guilty before any hearing, it is because suspected impropriety by those who hold a position of power and trust is a serious matter.
The council is doing itself and perhaps Jim Miles himself, who remains well regarded by some ex-colleagues, no favours with its ‘no comment’ responses. Rumours will continue to fill the vacuum and some may be well wide of the mark.
The council could easily have put an end to most speculation by simply confirming that no suspensions took place. It has pointedly failed to do so. So, unfortunately, whatever the real reason for Mr Miles’ sudden departure, suspicions will remain; now perhaps, not only about the suspension itself but about the way the council, which still claims to be ‘open and transparent,’ is being run.
The Guildford Dragon repeats it’s open question to the council. What is going on?