Sheffield Council says “you can trust us” as former Leader calls for Kate Josephs’ resignation

Written by Lauren White

I am a trainee journalist at the University of Sheffield, Editor in Chief of nebeep.com and a proud Geordie.

The Deputy Leader of Sheffield City Council has told Sheffield Wire the council can “very much be trusted” despite a budget crisis and an ongoing investigation into chief executive Kate Josephs.

Cllr Julie Grocutt refused to say what the investigation into Ms Josephs, who admitted attending her own leaving party in the Cabinet Office in December 2020, is aiming to establish.

The Labour councillor, who is also chairing the investigation, could not be drawn on how long the people of Sheffield will have to wait for an outcome.

Ms Josephs was head of the COVID-19 taskforce during lockdown and is currently on paid leave from her £192,000-a-year role at Sheffield Council after apologising for her leaving party just minutes before The Daily Telegraph broke the news she was there.

When given the right to reply Kate Josephs did not respond.

In the meantime, Eugene Walker, executive director of resources, will now take up the role of interim chief executive at Sheffield City Council.

Cllr Grocutt said: “Eugene has been around a long time, he knows Sheffield well, he knows the council well. He’s ideally placed to take over at this point in time.”

Above: Lord Scriven

Above: Lord Scriven

But Lord Scriven, who was Leader of Sheffield City Council for three years until 2011, said the Council is now in the “ridiculous situation” of having two chief executives.

Lord Scriven said: “This is expensive confusion and it shows a lack of serious leadership by the Leader and Deputy Leader of the council.”

He pointed out Ms Josephs could still have full access to her e-mails and could still send letters out as the chief executive of Sheffield City Council as she has not been suspended.

The Liberal Democrat called for Kate Josephs to resign, saying she does not have the “moral authority to be the chief executive”.

With council tax rising for all residents in Sheffield by three percent – the maximum legal amount possible – the issue of whether people in the city have confidence in the council hangs in the balance.

Cllr Grocutt said: “People who don’t trust the council actually need to take a step back and look at what we’re doing and what we’ve managed to do over a number of years with reduced budgeting and the fact that as a city, we’ve never lost our ambition.”

She urged anyone struggling to pay their council tax to contact their local councillor for support and blamed the rise on the government cutting council spending by 21% over the past decade.

The council’s priorities for the year head, Cllr Grocutt said, are keeping people safe and “making the most of the outdoors” by maintaining parks and open spaces.

Written by Lauren White

I am a trainee journalist at the University of Sheffield, Editor in Chief of nebeep.com and a proud Geordie.

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