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Council urged to use outside investigators

Malvern Editorial 6th Nov, 2014 Updated: 20th Oct, 2016

THE DEPUTY Mayor has called for future internal complaints at Malvern Town Council to be investigated by another authority rather than its own members.

Coun Julian I’Anson claimed Malvern councillors are ‘too close’ to matters within the council and suggested another public body such as Ledbury Town Council should be the ones to conduct any formal procedures.

It comes after the council agreed to form its own enquiry panel last Tuesday (October 29) to review its disciplinary process following the decision of an employment tribunal to uphold the former town clerk’s claim of unfair dismissal.

During the meeting, Coun Julian I’Anson said: “I don’t think we should be investigated by ourselves. We can’t be impartial.

“The police are an example of an organisation which come in for a lot of criticism for investigating themselves.”

He added: “We have been badly served by our legal advisers and I don’t know how we get around this problem in the future.”

The town council is currently waiting to receive the full transcript from the four-day tribunal in Birmingham which took place in October.

It was recommended at last week’s meeting the enquiry panel report back before the local elections in May so the matter could be ‘done and dusted’ before the newly-formed council came into office.

But Coun Patrick Mewton has already squared the blame at Coun Adrian Ward who gave evidence in support of Mr Chapman’s claim during the tribunal.

At last week’s meeting Coun Mewton argued the council only followed the wrong disciplinary process because proposals by a Governance Working Party tabled in October 2013 were amended at the last minute by Coun Ward and ultimately approved.

He said: “You can imagine the surprise when one of the members of the working party, stood up on the night and proposed a number of amendments and threatened us with legal action if we didn’t adopt them. Most of those proposals were followed with legal advice and we were told all along what we were doing was correct and proper.

“Now it seems they weren’t and we should have accepted the original proposals the governance party put forward.”

Coun Ward, who was not at the meeting, has since responded and said he only intervened because the original proposals would have given the mayor the sole power to suspend the town clerk which he said would have been ‘unacceptable’.

He added: “Basically the meeting was a means for people to get rid of the clerk, no doubt about it. The council did not follow the ACAS code they completely and utterly breached it and just bunged the whole thing through. It was a witch hunt.”

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