Five banned in council rumpus

County Hall leader Geoff Driver
County Hall leader Geoff Driver

The Government has been asked to intervene “as a matter of urgency” after County Hall Tory boss Geoff Driver banned five senior officers, including the authority’s chief executive, from attending briefings with him.

Opposition leader Coun Azhar Ali has written to Local Government Secretary Sajid Javid urging him to sort out a crisis he believes is making Lancashire County Council “a laughing stock.”

The current administration of the county council is the responsibility of every Conservative councillor as they have an outright majority and are running the council

Labour want the Minister to order Coun Driver to either lift the ban or resign. They say the move is affecting the council’s “ability to function effectively”.

Coun Driver is currently on bail facing allegations of perverting the course of justice and intimidating witnesses following a lengthy police investigations into the workings of the now defunct One Connect partnership between LCC and telecomms giant BT.

Chief executive Jo Turton emailed all members of the authority saying she and four other senior colleagues – the director of governance, finance and public services Ian Young, the director of development and corporate services Eddie Sutton, the head of internal audit Ruth Lowry and the director of corporate services Lisa Kitto - had been told they could not attend briefings with Coun Driver.

All five are witnesses in the ongoing investigation Operation Sheridan.

Coun Ali said: “The current administration of the county council is the responsibility of every Conservative councillor as they have an outright majority and are running the council.

“We are worried about the impact of this on public services.

“My group is focusing on being a constructive opposition and putting the people of Lancashire and our public services first before the petty power struggle with the dysfunctional leadership at County Hall.”

Coun Driver was unavailable for comment.