Kate Josephs: Sheffield Council doesn't need a committee to rule on partygate - 'In the name of God, Kate, just go'
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Dramatic scenes in the House of Commons this week with veteran Tory MP David Davis telling Boris Johnson to quit (‘in the name of God, go!’) over the rumbling scandal surrounding the Downing Street parties that broke Covid lockdown rules.
The scandal has rocked the government and may yet yield a prime ministerial scalp, depending on what civil servant Sue Gray says in her report into the affair, which is due next week.
Nearer to home, Sheffield Council’s chief executive, Kate Josephs, a fellow pandemic partygoer, seems to be digging her fingernails into the door frame and refusing to budge.
Like her former boss, Boris, Ms Josephs has admitted attending one of the parties in December 2020 as she left her civil service job co-ordinating Covid policy in the cabinet office.
This week the council announced that a committee of senior councillors from the various parties would meet to discuss her future.
“I have heard strong and emotional views from across the city,” said council leader Terry Fox. “I absolutely understand the reaction after all that Sheffield has been through these last couple of years.”
He urged Sheffielders to be patient: “We now need to let the committee carry out this work, and we also continue to await the outcome of the cabinet office’s wider report.”
The irony is that we have a Labour council leader now parroting the line of Conservative MPs: “We must wait for Sue Gray’s report.”
It is clear from my lofty perch at the top of the Town Hall that Ms Josephs is now on borrowed time, so why draw this out?
She should resign and save some dignity, or Terry Fox should simply sack her. Either way, her position is untenable.
Take a look at the public health advice of Sheffield Council’s website. It’s written in a bossy, insistent way that I suppose is necessary to get us to comply with the guidance. (“You must wear a face covering in most indoor public venues” etc.).
The idea that someone who has admitted breaching these rules is such a blatant manner could ever again have the standing to enforce them is now a joke.
If, God forbid, things took a turn for the worse at some future stage, who would listen to her?
How would it look for Ms Josephs to be standing there at the unveiling of a Covid memorial when she flouted the rules?
No, Kate Josephs’ goose is cooked and the sooner she realises that the better for the council, the city and for her.
Save the committee the bother of meeting. In the name of God, Kate, just go.