Chair quits in model code row

June 23, 1995

The chairman and vice chairman of governors of one of the country's largest further education colleges have resigned in protest at the "watering down" of a model code of practice for governors.

They put their decision down to moves by fellow governors at Newcastle College to evade collective corporate responsibility.

Gordon Scullard, chairman, who has been on the board for 22 years, and Bill Midgley, vice chairman, who had served for five years, said they found themselves in an increasingly difficult position on a point of principle.

They resigned after a subcommittee set up to adapt the Colleges Employers Forum model code for Newcastle came back with changes recognising the peculiar position of elected members, who are bound by collective responsibility despite being chosen by interest groups.

Other governors said there was no intention of allowing elected members to become mandated delegates, but merely a recognition that they had a relationship with their constituencies.

Mr Midgley said: "It was the wish of a number of governors that the code should be watered down considerably because a number were not prepared to accept certain aspects of collective responsibilty and accountability.

"We thought all governors ought to have responsibility to the college and not to any outside interests. The code should not give any governor the right to opt out of any decision the board is making."

The model CEF code, which all colleges are being invited to adopt, states: "A decision of the corporation, even when it is not unanimous, is a decision taken by the members collectively and each individual member has a duty to stand by it."

Mr Midgley added: "Collective responsibility is very important. Otherwise you could have a situation where there are different factions on the board and you never come to a decision, or decisions are always questioned outside the boardroom."

The board includes two staff and one student. Mr Midgley denied that his comments were directed at staff governor, former Natfhe national negotiator Peter Latham.

Mr Latham said he was saddened by the resignations, adding: "We were trying to square a circle, to recognise that while people like me are not mandated, we are elected and we have to have a relationship with our electorate. Anyone who is elected as a staff governor must enjoy the confidence of the staff."

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