SLOUGH Borough Council says it has parted company - for now - with the firm hired to conduct an independent review into the appointment of its new chief executive.

A statement last Friday, November 17 said Gravitas Consultancy would no longer be used to carry out the review into Roger Parkin’s selection as the new chief of the council.

Leader, Cllr Sohail Munawar, said he had listened to other councillors concerns and would instead allow members to be involved in commissioning a ‘fully independent review’ - for which he would not be involved in.

A council spokeswoman however said there was still a possibility members could consider Gravitas to do the review. She added that the council would not pick up a bill for disposing of Gravitas at this stage and that Cllr Munawar had appointed the firm in the correct way.

Cllr Munawar said: “I am pleased all parties agree with me that the best way forward for the council is to commission a fully independent review of the recruitment and events over the past year or so.

“As the leader I took the decision an independent review was the way forward; I wanted an external and balanced judgement.

“However, I have reflected on the comments made by my fellow councillors about my making the decision on who should carry out the review and I have now decided to involve members in a full review – including the selection and appointment of the independent reviewer.

“This will bring the openness and transparency I have always sought.

“It is important councillors from all parties have confidence in the review right from the start; only then can the findings be accepted and its recommendations acted on with whole council support.

“I intend to step aside from the process completely and allow wider input from other councillors.

“I have asked the council’s five directors to manage this process on behalf of the council and expect this to start immediately.”

He added: “As I said on Monday, I do not want political differences in personalities or opinions to tarnish the excellent work the council has done and continues to do.

“The job of the council now is to deal with these internal difficulties so we can concentrate on continuing to work to ensure a prosperous future for our residents and our town.”

The review had been ordered by Cllr Munawar last week after concerns were raised by elected members into the process of Mr Parkin’s selection.

But after Gravitas was appointed, councillors raised further concerns that the leader had taken a ‘unilateral decision’ and appointed the firm off his own back without consultation. The Conservative Group also asked for any links between Gravitas and Slough MP, Tan Dhesi, to be declared.

The backtrack could be seen as a victory for sacked deputy leader, Cllr Sabia Hussain, who as the new interim-leader of the Labour Group refused to support the review.

Cllr Munawar however had told The Observer that Gravitas was independent and the decision to hire them had not had anything to do with Mr Dhesi.

He said he had received glowing reports from other council leaders about the firm.