Has town’s chief gone for good?

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Corby Council is refusing to answer questions about the future of chief executive Chris Mallender, who has been on leave since the start of the year.

A council spokesman said Mr Mallender has been on annual leave and was due to return to work on February 1 but that has now been extended until the end of the month.

Council corporate director Adrian Sibley has taken over Mr Mallender’s responsibilities during the chief executive’s absence.

The authority has refused to make a statement on the period of leave, whether or not the agreed time off is unusual and why Mr Mallender has been given such an extended period of leave.

The Evening Telegraph understands the chief executive appeared before a grievance committee hearing, which was held behind closed doors in Corby Cube on January 31.

A cross party panel of councillors was set up to look into complaints against Mr Mallender but, so far, neither the nature of the complaints nor the panel’s findings have been made public.

However, council leader Tom Beattie said Mr Mallender is still employed by the authority and no negotiations were taking place for him to leave.

At a time when Corby is still reeling from the devastating news that 1,000 jobs are to go in the town at Argos, Tata Steel and Eddie Stobart’s depot, concerns are being voiced over Mr Mallender’s absence.

Barry Nichol, chairman of Centara, the town centre residents’ association, said: “Has anyone seen or heard of Chris Mallender of late?

“We’ve heard some pretty grim news, what with some potential 1,000 job losses at Tata, Eddie Stobart and Wincanton Argos, yet we hear nothing from the chief executive.

“Would someone at the authority show some real leadership and please advise exactly what’s going on within Corby Council.”

Mr Nichol is not the only person in the town expressing concerns about Mr Mallender’s absence.

Michael Quarrinton, of Whitworth Avenue, Corby, said: “I can’t recollect the last time he had a holiday, let alone such a long one.

“And in all the media fuss there’s been about Corby lately — the rehousing of several businesses due to the discovery of asbestos particles in a council building, the enquiry set up by the new council leader Tom Beattie after a district auditor found financial management errors in relation to the Kingswood housing scheme, and not to forget the forthcoming visit by the Queen herself — Chris Mallender, who is always the spokesman for borough, has not been seen or heard of.

“I miss his presence and I wish councillors would be more open about what’s happened, or happening, to him.”

Mr Mallender, whose salary as head of Corby Council is the lowest of all the council chief executives in the north of the county at £97,272 with pensions contributions taking the total up to £120,814, has spear-headed major regeneration projects in Corby, including The Cube, the swimming pool and the cinema development.

Last September, in a letter referring to budget challenges, Mr Mallender told council staff he would not be resigning.

Editor’s note: We have removed the opportunity to comment on this story due to some of the inappropriate views that were expressed.