Council's new chief resigns

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

THE NEW chief executive of Lewisham council in south London has quit before taking up the post after a row concerning the declaration of interests by councillors, writes Ngaio Crequer.

Tony Lear withdrew his job application after Terry Hanifan, the outgoing chief executive, questioned the role of two Labour councillors in Mr Lear's appointment. Mr Hanifan said the councillors, Dave Sullivan, the former deputy leader, and Ian Arnold, the chair of the environmental services committee, had failed to declare an interest when they sat on the appointments panel. Both work for a company, Agency for Public Service Development, which had received contracts from Brent council's environmental services department, of which Mr Lear was the director.

Lewisham has set up an inquiry to examine the legality of the two councillors' actions. Mr Lear has returned to his job at Brent. The details were made public via a leaked memorandum from Mr Hanifan. A council spokesman said it would be taking independent advice about what had happened.

Marc Morgan Huws, leader of the council's Liberal Democrat group, said: 'The memorandum . . . raises very serious questions which warrant a full independent investigation. The results of that inquiry must be made public.'

The two councillors were not available for comment.