Council chief in conduct probe

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The most senior council officer in Lancashire has been suspended from work following allegations over contract tendering.

A disciplinary investigation has been launched into the conduct of Phil Halsall, Lancashire County Council’s chief executive.

Mr Halsall, who picked up £238,774 last year including pension payments on top of his £195,000 salary, was unavailable for comment.

A Lancashire County Council spokesman said: “The council’s Urgency Committee made the decision in a meeting held at County Hall.

“It follows an independent review of the tender process for a contract to run the council’s fleet services.

“The Urgency Committee has also appointed Jo Turton, the council’s executive director for environment, as interim chief executive with immediate effect.

“The council will be making no further comment pending the outcome of the disciplinary process.”

Former council leader and Conservative leader County Coun Geoff Driver said: “I don’t agree with this outrageous and disgraceful decision. Phil Halsall has been an exemplary chief executive but this Labour administration supported by the Lib Dems don’t want an exemplary chief executive. They want a puppet.”

Lib Dem leader, County Coun Bill Winlow, said: “I don’t think there is anything further we should be saying at this stage because nobody has been found guilty of anything.”

County Coun Jennifer Mein, the council’s Labour leader, was unavailable for comment.