Slough chief executive sacked for “gross misconduct”

SLOUGH’S chief executive Josie Wragg has been sacked effective immediately for “gross misconduct”.

Mrs Wragg has been the chief executive since 2018. She has been away from her office since September and the council later confirmed she was officially “off sick” from November.

Commissioners, who have the power to appoint and dismiss statutory officers, sacked Mrs Wragg today for multiple failings on a corporate and governance level as well as to identify or manage the risks facing the council that led up to local authority declaring bankruptcy.

She did not demonstrate she was capable of leading the authority through its financial difficulties. She was also criticised for carrying out a failed council restructure, which was dubbed “reckless”.

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Mrs Wragg was subject to three investigation disciplinary meetings last and this year into her actions. An independent person, Ms Lotan, carried out a review on the chief executive.

She found the chief executive had:

  • Failed to provide effective corporate leadership or to build a stable team and an effective corporate management team
  • Failed to ensure adequate corporate capacity resulting in inadequate internal processes and insufficient capacity to achieve changes required
  • Failed to put in place effective council governance
  • Failed to ensure posts at all levels – including statutory – were appropriately filled
  • Failed to monitor, challenge, and manage budgets
  • Failed to identify, manage, or mitigate key risks facing the council
  • Demonstrated a lack of awareness and acceptance for the need for improvement
  • Failed to ensure recommendations and audit peer reviews were implemented in a timely manner
  • Failed to develop an adequate or credible response to the section 114 notice, effectively declaring bankruptcy
  • Not demonstrating or giving confidence to external partners that she was capable of leading the council in its current difficulties

Slough Observer: Josie (far right) at the meetingJosie (far right) at the meeting

Capacity to tackle the council’s longstanding issues was removed by the chief executive via the ‘Our Futures’ programme, which was a council-wide restructure spearheaded by Mrs Wragg during Covid-19 in order to save the local authority £5.2m.

However, it ended up saving just half that after the council failed to budget for certain services and carried out inadequate HR data, risk assessments, change management procedures, or understanding its potential impacts.

The report, which was read out by lead commissioner Max Caller, stated: “The chief executive’s failure to address the issues facing the council when she joined and the failures itemised above were seriously negligent and her pursuit of the Our Futures programme with the consequences now apparent to all was reckless, which constitutes gross misconduct.”

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The investigation disciplinary committee recommended dismissing Mrs Wragg.

She was sacked effective immediately without notice but be paid for accrued leave.

Josie was present at the Best Value Commissioner Decision Taking committee with two of her representatives. After the conclusion, she hugged democratic officer Nicholas Pontone and head of communications Kate Pratt before leaving the council chamber.

Slough Observer | News