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Kent County Council leader apologises for part-time staff comments

The leader of Kent County Council has apologised to staff for remarks he made about the commitment of part-time staff - and taken a dig at "negative coverage" of his words.

Cllr Paul Carter triggered a row after suggesting that part-time employees could be less focused on their work because they made their family their priority.

His apology comes a week after he made the remarks at meeting of the county council’s personnel committee.

Kent County Council leader Paul Carter
Kent County Council leader Paul Carter

They were condemned by unions and opposition parties, who said he had undermined staff.

In an email to staff this week he said he wanted to "apologise for any offence" adding he values "all KCC staff".

However, he took aim at negative media coverage of his comments saying "Radio Kent excelled themselves".

He added: "Please be assured that I take the issue of fairness very seriously and that there was no malice intended on my part.”

He wrote: “Dear Colleagues, you may well have seen or heard some of the negative coverage in the media over the last few days (yesterday Radio Kent excelled themselves!) surrounding a recent meeting of the council’s personnel committee and the differential between part time and full time staff.

“I am writing to apologise for any offence that may have been caused and to confirm that the way my remarks have been reported does not reflect my view. I value all KCC staff, both part time and full time.

"I care deeply that we support all of you fairly and well. I believe we have a good track record and I want this to be even better.

County Hall
County Hall

"We have a whole series of arrangements to support all staff, including flexi-working and term time only working.

“I have done my very best to ensure, even in difficult financial times, that our investment in you, both in relation to pay and your training, is stretched as far as affordability allows.

"We are determined to ensure that part time workers are not disadvantaged in any way.

“The debate at personnel committee was about why there is a differential between managers’ assessments of part-time and of full-time staff.

"In an endeavour to explore the underlying reasons for the differential, a number of suggestions were made as to why this may be happening.

“No conclusions were reached at the meeting and so a review will now take place with recommendations to come back to the next available meeting.

"Please be assured that I take the issue of fairness very seriously and that there was no malice intended on my part.”

A Kent County Council spokesman said there is nothing to add to the email.

Responding to Mr Carter's words about Radio Kent, a BBC spokesperson said: “Our reporting of this story was robust, fair and accurate and we completely stand by our coverage.”

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