Kate Josephs: Sheffield Council still not made decision on chief executive five months after confession

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Sheffield Council has scheduled another meeting to discuss the future of its chief executive Kate Josephs but a decision could still be some time away.

Ms Josephs has been on paid leave from her £190,000 a year role since January while Eugene Walker, a senior council officer who is normally paid around £150,000 a year, is covering for her on extra pay.

It follows Ms Josephs admitting in a statement on social media that she gathered with colleagues in the Cabinet Office for drinks to mark the end of her time as head of the government’s Covid Taskforce while restrictions were in place.

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A cross-party committee – which paused deliberations on her future while local elections took place last month – is meeting for the first time next Thursday since the elections.

Kate Josephs, chief executive of Sheffield CouncilKate Josephs, chief executive of Sheffield Council
Kate Josephs, chief executive of Sheffield Council

It was reported that an independent investigator examining the situation has now made their recommendations to the committee.

The committee could make a decision next week depending on how discussions go or it could put it off again.

If the committee decides she should be dismissed, its own recommendation will be put to a vote at a private full council meeting with all 84 councillors present.

Secrecy around Kate Josephs’ party

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The council brought in an external investigator, who has not been named, to report back to a cross party committee with findings to inform their decision on what should be done.

Who the investigator is, what their remit and other information is has been kept secret by the local authority.

The committee has been meeting in private to discuss the investigation and the council said it will not share any information.

The committee comprises councillors: Penny Baker, Douglas Johnson, Shaffaq Mohammed and Sioned-Mair Richards and it is chaired by Coun Julie Grocutt.

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Members of the committee have remained the same despite the recent local election and councillor Richards now being in the apolitical position of Lord Mayor.

A Freedom of Information request confirmed Sheffield Council does hold correspondence with the Cabinet Office about the event but it is withholding it, arguing that keeping it secret is in the public interest.