SLOUGH'S Labour group says it has no confidence in the independent review, ordered by the leader of the council, to look into the appointment of the authority's new chief executive.

New Interim leader of the group, Cllr Sabia Hussain, has raised concerns over what the review will cover when it investigates how interim chief, Roger Parkin, was selected for the role last month.

The group has today called for Mr Parkin's appointment to be shelved and the selection process restarted once the review has finished.

Separately Cllr Hussain has also called for the controversial Penn Report - which looked into the conduct of Mr Parkin and senior officers last year - to be made available to all councillors.

The latest development comes after council leader Cllr Sohail Munawar, who has been suspended by the Labour party, announced on Monday that he was ordering the review - accusing colleagues of 'political wranglings' over Mr Parkin's appointment. It will be carried out by the Gravitas consultancy.

But Cllr Hussain, who herself was sacked by Cllr Munawar as deputy leader, accused him of taking a 'unilateral decision' over the review - without consulting fellow members.

She has demanded to know the terms of reference and whether the company has any links to council members of staff. In a letter to Cllr Munawar today (Tuesday) she said: "Until the questions above are answered the Labour Group can have no confidence in the commissioned review's capacity to carry out an open, transparent and thorough review into the process for the appointment of a permanent chief executive.

"The Labour Group will therefore not take part in this review until the above questions are adequately answered, and believe it best for the council and Slough that the whole chief executive appointment process be restarted once the commissioned review has concluded and reported to full council."

She added: "There are a number of concerns regarding the commissioning of this review, not least the cost implications for the Slough tax payer."

The Conservative group meanwhile welcomed the review - emphasising it had first called for it earlier this month.

A statement from deputy leader, Cllr Rayman Bains, said: "The leader’s independent review into the recruitment of the chief executive and senior officers is what Conservative group leader, Cllr Wayne Strutton, suggested at the beginning of November after he wrote to ministers expressing his serious concerns about the recruitment of the council’s chief executive."

Cllr Bains added: "It’s the tribal and communal politics within the Slough Labour Party that is bringing the town down not the ‘political wranglings’ he (Cllr Munawar) cites."

Report should not be buried, says councillor

Meanwhile Cllr Hussain said the Penn Report, carried out by independent investigator Richard Penn back in 2016, should be made public. The report examined whether there had been a plot to oust the former chief executive, Ruth Bagley by people including Mr Parkin. As reported by The Observer last month,Mr Parkin was the director of customer and community services at the time and the report said there were grounds for a further inquiry into his conduct, as well as another senior officer.

Cllr Hussain said: "Back in 2016 when commissioning this report with the use of public funds, members were led to believe that its recommendations would be reported back to full council - this clearly has not happened.

"While I do not wish to speculate on the contents of the Penn Report, it simply cannot be right that the leader of the council is asking all councillors to appoint a permanent chief executive while wilfully denying those same councillors access to pertinent information that may affect their decision."

As this story went live, Cllr Munawar had been approached for comment while Mr Parkin was not available.

Report could compromise whistleblowers, says council

A Slough Borough Council spokeswoman said the authority had "full faith" in the recruitment process Mr Parkin went through, and that it was informed on by the Local Government Association. However she said the review would further examine this to be as transparent as possible.

On the Penn report she said: "As far as the council is aware, the report remains a private and confidential document.

"Previous releases of parts of the report have been raised with the information commissioner as potentially breaches of the Data Protection Act.

"The Penn report contains private information about several current and former members of staff, including witness statements and whistleblowing (information). These are people who have given evidence to the inquiry and who have done absolutely nothing wrong, who could get dragged through the mud through no fault of their own.

"We are absolutely not releasing it."