Trebble speaks out to clear the air

THE outgoing chief executive of Scarborough Council has issued a clear-the-air statement just 48 hours before he steps down.

John Trebble, who the Evening News revealed struck a secret deal to take early retirement in exchange for a particular report to be kept under wraps, leaves the Town Hall on Friday.

But Mr Trebble says he now has no objection in the Penn report being made public.

In the statement released today, Mr Trebble said: "It is appropriate that I respond to yesterday's article about my departure from the borough council.

"I am taking early retirement after over 20 years' service as chief executive of the borough council – some 18 months before I might otherwise have retired as of right.

"I wish to make it clear that I am retiring with no enhancements to my pension whatsoever, and indeed I am sacrificing some potential years of

service by leaving early.

"Some people will always say there is no smoke without fire so perhaps I should set the record straight.

"It is clear that one of the major factors that has prompted my early retirement has been the aftermath of the Audit Commission report 'in the public interest'.

"That report, even now, is the only definitive investigation into the sea defence contracts, and the Penn report which followed it was based almost exclusively on the findings of the auditor's report and subsequent interviews with relevant people.

"The Penn report was designed to determine whether there was any 'case to answer' by those involved in the contract.

"In my case as chief executive I did not have any direct dealings in the

letting of the contract and I am confident that I would be exonerated of any allegations made against me, had any such case gone to an independent hearing.

"I took the view, however, supported by the council, that such a process would be very time-consuming, damaging and potentially costly for both parties and everyone in Scarborough.

"For example, out of two recent cases in the North of England, one cost its local council well in excess of 1 million for all the legal and consequential costs and the other cost almost 2 million when all costs were taken into account.

"The council decided to avoid such long drawn-out processes, which would benefit no-one – least of all the Scarborough Borough Council taxpayers.

"My action in applying for early retirement in no way suggests that I accept any allegations which may be made against me in connection with the sea defence contracts and if any were to have been brought I am

confident I would have been exonerated.

"So far as I am concerned I no longer have any objection to the Penn report being published, but ultimately that must be a matter for the council to decide, taking into account all

relevant factors.

"I also wish to make it clear that I had no knowledge of, or involvement in, the production of the so-called 'bogus report' which is purported to be a best value report into the letting of the consultancy contract with High Point Rendel.

"In the final analysis, I believe the completed sea defences around the Marine Drive are a credit to Scarborough and will serve the

residents and visitors to the town well for years to come."