THE Labour group “did not accept” the council leader’s resignation and asked him to “sort out” Slough’s financial crisis.

Since the council announced they were issuing a section 114 notice, effectively declaring bankruptcy and banning all non-essential spending, strong calls have been made for the local authority’s leader, councillor James Swindlehurst (Lab: Cippenham Green), and chief executive Josie Wragg to resign.

The council is facing having to make cuts as well as to sell some of their £200 million worth of assets in order to fill a potential £159 million black hole by 2025.

Historic accounting errors, huge one-off payments, insufficient reserves, and borrowing quadrupling over the years to a whopping £760 million played major parts in depleting the council’s accounts.

READ MORE: Slough's chief executive apologises over section 114 notice

Many have called for someone to be held to account for this financial crisis, while others have blamed Cllr Swindlehurst and the chief executive over this mismanagement, following auditors Grant Thornton two damning reports on the council’s 2018/19 accounts.

In the council’s new chief finance officer’s section 114 notice, Steven Mair said financial decision-making and leadership, among other issues, were “not robust and consequently highly detrimental to the council”.

An e-petition was launched, which has so far garnered 657 signatures, calling for Cllr Swindlehurst and Josie Wragg to resign as well as calling for a ‘vote of no confidence’ in their leadership if resignations are not forthcoming.

Slough Observer: Cllr James Swindlehurst revealed Labour "did not accept" his resignationCllr James Swindlehurst revealed Labour "did not accept" his resignation

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS), Cllr Swindlehurst explained the Labour group “did not accept” his resignation offer and asked him to stay and “sort out” Slough’s financial crisis.

He said: “In the sense of contrition and wanting to take responsibility, I did offer to resign to my group, and they told me that was not something they would agree to.

“They felt the responsible action was to get a bigger shovel out and start doing more work to try to resolve the issues we are facing as a local authority and help us get on an even keel because creating a political crisis on top of a financial one with a probably six to eight-week leadership campaign will just compound the authority’s problems and not help resolve them.”

On Friday, July 2, the day the section 114 notice was issued, Josie Wragg declined to comment on calls for her to resign.

READ MORE: Bankrupt Slough Council need to take "responsibility" over situation

However, the petitioner Teresa Munday believes resignations should be forthcoming so “fresh people” can make the changes necessary.

She said: “They [Cllr Swindlehurst and Josie Wragg] have proved they can’t do what they're saying that needs to be done.

“They have a track record now of just getting worst, so how can anyone believe they're going to make anything better? And that to me is the crux of the matter.

“They got us into this place knowing there were problems, so we need new people to actually change things and get us out of this mess.”

To view the petition, click here: http://democracy.slough.gov.uk/mgEPetitionDisplay.aspx?ID=81&RPID=35260611&HPID=35260611