Kate Josephs: Time to give Sheffield Council chief executive the boot says Vulcan

So, it’s official. Kate Josephs the city council’s on/off chief executive has now been fined for attending a lockdown party in December 2020 as she was leaving the civil service after previously heading-up the Covid taskforce in the Cabinet Office.

By Vulcan
Tuesday, 19th April 2022, 1:06 pm
Kate Josephs has been fined over her leaving party before she took up her new role at Sheffield City Council

The party – in flagrant breach of the Covid restrictions she was enforcing on others – saw her handed a fixed penalty notice last week.

She's in good company as Boris Johnson and many of his acolytes received them as well, throwing his entire Premiership into question,

Typically, Sheffield council stayed tight-lipped, refusing to put out a statement to confirm whether its top official is now a lawbreaker.

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It bears stating that since this sorry little tale came to light at the start of the year, Ms Josephs has made rather a hash of things.

Initially, she denied ever attended a party in Downing Street, later clarifying that her leaving bash was actually in the Cabinet Office (a weasely excuse given they are effectively the same building).

She has been “away from her desk” since January while a committee of councillors was set-up to cogitate over what to do with her. Rather than make a decision themselves they decided, in true local government style, to hire an independent investigator to tell them what to do.

In the meantime, Ms Josephs has continued to trouser her whopping £190,000 a year salary, despite doing no work.

At the same time, the cash-strapped council struggles to deal with a £60 million funding gap that might end up decimating frontline services.

The investigator – who the council flatly refuses to name – was set to recommend what to do with her, promising to produce a report in a month.

That was in February, and we are still waiting.

Rumour reaches Vulcan that Ms Josephs is to get nothing more than a slap on the wrist.

That would be outrageous.

Meanwhile, other civil servants and advisors caught partying during lockdown have been sacked or shuffled out of Downing Street. Why should Ms Josephs not face a similar sanction?

Dealing with all this does not come easy for a stalwart trade unionist and former coal miner like council leader Terry Fox.

But Ms Josephs is not exactly a part-time cleaner.

She is a wealthy professional woman who made a grave error of judgment - and deserves to be censured for it.

As a result of the impasse over what to do with her, the council is rudderless and mired in confusion without its leading official in place.

And what a curtain-raiser it is for Labour’s local election campaign in the city.

Frankly, Ms Josephs should have done the decent thing as soon as this matter came to light and offered her resignation.

After all, this mess is entirely of her own making, and it boils down to a clear-cut case of right and wrong.

Like all her pals at the centre of government, she knew full well they should not have been partying while the rest of us were foregoing visiting relatives, or attending funerals, while they wheeled-in cases of wine and held party after party, laughing at the rest of us who followed the rules.

But enough’s enough: its time Terry Fox made a decision. He needs to stop dawdling and bring matters to a close.

He doesn’t need expensive investigators or prevaricating committees. He just needs to be decisive.

Sack Kate Josephs for bringing the council into disrepute and be done with this sorry episode.