Council prompts review of its whistleblowing policy shortly after damning Sixfields report

The Guildhall, Northampton
The Guildhall, Northampton
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Northampton Borough Council is set to review its policy for staff to report misconduct, as part of a raft of changes being brought in following a damning report into its involvement in the Sixfields loan debacle.

That report by auditors PricewaterhouseCooper found there had been serious failings in the council’s procedures when it loaned Northampton Town £10.25 million in 2013 and 2014.

It prompted the authority to launch its new “governance action plan” in order to tighten up its checks and balances when it loans an organisation money.

As part of the review, the council is set to carry out a full review of its whistleblowing policy.

A paper, prepared by borough secretary Frances Fernandes for Monday’s standards committee, says the purpose of the review will be to consider whether non-council employees can also report malpractice, such as criminal activity or serious wrongdoing

Leader of the council, Councillor Jonathan Nunn, said: “A routine review of the Borough Council’s whistleblowing policy is now due and we will consider it in the context of our wider work to improve our governance procedures.

“Whistleblowers are protected by law and it is very important that our staff are able to report any concerns they have in the knowledge that they will be treated fairly and protected under the law.”

While the review will look into ways non-employees can blow the whistle, it will also consider a possible “campaign” to promote awareness of ways people can raise the alarm.

The report states: “In order for the Whistleblowing Policy to be effective, it must be underpinned by an organisational culture that is open, transparent and supportive of staff who bring unlawful or unethical behaviour or malpractice to the attention of management.”

Currently, employees can report concerns to outside bodies such as trade unions and members of Parliament, if they suspect their managers are “involved in the wrongdoing.”

The standards committee is to take place at the Guildhall on Monday, December 19, at 6pm.

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