AN ANGRY Stafford councillor has accused other members of bringing the council into disrepute for failing to resign over their role in the Stafford Hospital disaster.
Councillor Tom Harris responded to an emergency motion at a full meeting of Stafford Borough Council from Councillor Mike Winkle that the findings of the Francis Report relating to the council were accepted with due expediency.
“The elephant in the room is that many of the members who stood on the scrutiny committee are still sat in this room now," said Councillor Harris. “I find it a terrible shame this borough council is being brought into disrepute by the failure of some members to resign.”
He said most people asked to do a job they found they were incapable of had two choices, 'to muck it up' or to admit they were not up to it.
“Many, many years ago in public life when things went wrong people resigned,” he said. “It's only right accountability is seen to be done here
“The bottom line is this motion is nothing without it being mentioned that resignations should be happening."
Councillor Trish Rowlands backed the original motion saying what happened was 'water under the bridge and it was important to move forward. “I do think there are some aspects we haven’t faced up to, mistakes we made, and it will take a degree of humility on the part of some people to accept their responsibilities over this,” she said.
She said an immediate response should be to address the inadequacy of council minutes mentioned by the Francis Report.
Council leader Mike Heenan said he was already putting in place a process to deal with the issue of minutes.
He said: “We are planning to record all our minutes and all meetings of the council and those recordings will be publically available to anyone that wants to hear them.”
Councillor Heenan suggested meetings with wider public interest could also be webcast in future.
He said the Francis Report also made a number of recommendations about strengthening inspection powers and training for scrutiny members and measures to address those areas were being explored too.
Councillor Robert Stephens said: “Councillor Rowlands says this is ‘water under the bridge’, it is not, people died here.
“This council may have been able to save some of those lives,” he said. “It didn’t, it severely failed in its duty to protect its population.”
He called on the leader of the council to ‘not hide behind the terms of reference’ and to ensure people were held to account for their actions.