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Highly Regarded Joint Strategic Director Quits Guildford & Waverley Councils

Published on: 19 Apr, 2024
Updated on: 19 Apr, 2024

By Martin Giles

One of the two joint strategic directors who “agreed to step back on a temporary basis” from her roles at Guildford and Waverley Councils has now resigned.

The news came in a council statement which started by denying any intention in a previous press release to imply criminal wrongdoing. There are a number of ongoing investigations, one criminal, into a housing maintenance contract overspend of up to £18 million.

The GBC statement reads in full: “In our statement issued on 16 February 2024, we referred to an investigation relating to the procurement and management of housing maintenance contracts for Guildford Borough Council.

“We wish to make clear that it was not the intention of Guildford and Waverley Borough Councils to suggest in that statement any criminal wrongdoing whatsoever on the part of Annie Righton, who was joint Strategic Director for Community and Wellbeing and Interim CEO.

“Annie Righton has since left the councils to pursue other challenges. On her departure, Annie said: ‘I’ve enjoyed working for Waverley and Guildford and I will truly miss the staff, teams and the many exceptional individuals who are dedicated to delivering public services. After seven years now is the perfect time for me to move onto other roles and challenges. I look forward to seeing how the partnership between Guildford and Waverley grows.'”

See also: Senior Directors Step Back Following New Report on Fraud & Overspend Investigation

Many councillors have told The Dragon, off the record, they have had a very high regard for Ms Righton, who became a joint strategic director for Guildford & Waverley under the collaboration agreement between the two councils. Previously she had served at Waverley.

In February it was said that two joint Guildford and Waverley strategic directors had “agreed to step back on a temporary basis from their respective roles to protect the integrity of the investigation”.

Asked on March 26, at the Annual General Meeting of St Catherine’s Village Association, “What did ‘step back’ mean?” in the context of the situation with the ongoing investigations, the deputy leader of GBC Tom Hunt (Lib Dem, St Nicolas) made it clear he had been instructed he could not say any more.

In February, because Annie Righton was acting as interim joint CEO, pending the arrival of the new permanent CEO Pedro Wrobel, Mr Wrobel’s start date had to be brought forward “in order to provide organisational leadership with immediate effect”.

The leader of Guildford Borough Council, Julia McShane (Lib Dem, Westborough), who also holds the Housing Maintenance and Repairs portfolio, and the leader of Waverley Borough Council, Paul Follows (Lib Dem), said at the time: “Public bodies need to be absolutely resolute in their commitment to openness, transparency and accountability for public money.”

Annie Righton is one of several officers in the management chain that oversaw the housing maintenance operation at the council to have resigned and moved on since the investigations were announced in September last year.

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