Council agrees independent review recommendations in full

An action plan to tackle whistleblowing and wider organisational culture at the City of Edinburgh Council will be drawn up following agreement by councillors today (Thursday 16 December).

A meeting of the Council considered the findings of an independent review published last week and asked the Chief Executive to report back in February next year with proposals on how the recommendations in the report will be implemented.

The independent review was commissioned by councillors in October 2020, with Susanne Tanner QC appointed as independent chair in November 2020. Ms Tanner QC was assisted throughout by well-respected law firm Pinsent Masons.

In her report Ms Tanner QC highlights ‘considerable strides’ taken to improve the Council’s whistleblowing and organisational culture since 2014 but also finds that significant work remains to be done to make and sustain further improvements and positive change.

Recommendations to be taken forward include ensuring Council staff and managers are made aware of the policies and the steps they need to take in raising or receiving an issue, and the fact all reports can be made anonymously and to increase the training available to staff, managers and elected members.

Council Leader Adam McVey said:

It’s important that Councillors discussed the next steps in a detailed and thorough debate and today’s decision has endorsed the independent review’s findings, observations and recommendations in full.

We have to ensure that the culture of the Council is as positive, open, safe and supportive as it can be for staff to raise issues and help resolve issues. The report highlights significant progress and improvements to Council whistleblowing and organisational culture in recent years, although further progress is clearly required. The recommendations set out a way forward to make sure all staff experience the culture of the organisation as positively as possible.

The Chief Executive and his wider management team will now bring back an action plan in February to set out swift and effective implementation of the recommendations. As councillors we will scrutinise the delivery plan thoroughly to make sure the Council is in the very best position it can be to support our colleagues and continue to deliver the best services for the people of Edinburgh.”

Depute Leader Cammy Day said:

Today’s decision could not have been reached without the contribution of our colleagues – both past and present – who came forward to speak to the inquiry and shape the recommendations that were discussed today. I want to thank them for the support they have shown and their professionalism when speaking to the review team.

Immense praise must go them for sharing their views and to Susanne Tanner and the team at Pinsent Masons for their thorough work and the sensitivity and care with which they treated contributors.

We have asked the Chief Executive to report back to Council in February, detailing how the Review recommendations will be implemented in full so we can further improve our culture in the organisation.”

Chief Executive Andrew Kerr said:

The report findings have now been publicly discussed at length by councillors and all the recommendations accepted. I will now discuss with my senior leadership team how we plan to implement these proposals and bring this back to the Council in February.

Once again I want to thank all those who came forward to contribute to the independent review. I know that, for some, this will have been extremely challenging and I want to pay tribute to their courage in coming forward.

I am also grateful to Ms Tanner QC and the Pinsent Masons team for their detailed approach to this review so we can take those steps required to further improve our whistleblowing and wider culture in the organisation.”



Published: December 16th 2021