Councillor could face call for resignation

PUBLISHED: 06:21 31 August 2006 | UPDATED: 09:48 24 May 2010

A NORTH Somerset councillor is set to face fierce questioning over a decision to spend an extra £3million on building two schools. If Councillor Peter Kehoe is shown to have 'withheld information' in regards to the extra cash agreed for the school buildin

A NORTH Somerset councillor is set to face fierce questioning over a decision to spend an extra £3million on building two schools.If Councillor Peter Kehoe is shown to have 'withheld information' in regards to the extra cash agreed for the school building projects, Cllr Mike Roe has warned he will call for his resignation and report him to the Standards Board for England.The projects to build new faculty blocks at Priory Community School in Worle and refurbish Gordano School in Portishead were initially budgeted at £12m. However the final cost is £15m and, despite the work being well under way, Cllr Kehoe, the council's executive member for children's services, only put through the paperwork for the extra money last month, without telling close colleagues about the change.The decision has been called in to a joint scrutiny panel so Cllr Kehoe and officers can be grilled about what went wrong and who is responsible.Conservative group leader Cllr Roe said: "We will be seeking answers and if it transpires he tried to sneak this decision through without it being scrutinised, having known about the extra money for several months and having every opportunity to tell the council but failing to do so, I will not hesitate to call for his resignation and report him to the Standards Board."This is a substantial amount of money and as executive member for children's services he is in control of £120m, over half the council's budget. This is public money. We can't have people in those positions who are not prepared to be scrutinised or not prepared to follow the council's constitution and standing orders."However Cllr Kehoe said: "I have not knowingly mislead my colleagues, the executive or the council."I don't keep detailed records of when I find out things. We're looking at 18 months ago and I really can't say when I found out and any date would be a pure guess."I was involved in numerous discussions with officers to keep costs down."There was no certainty about costs until we had finished negotiations."The officers recommended when the appropriate time was to make the decision, which was when there was certainty over the final costs. I trust their recommendations."Executive members and senior officers met on Wednesday and council leader Alan Hockridge has told officers to put together a full report for the joint scrutiny panel on September 12 about the issue and how procedures can be improved.

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