MALVERN Town Council intends to hold a public enquiry into its disciplinary processes after an employment tribunal ruled the former town clerk had been sacked unfairly.
Following the judge’s verdict last Thursday (October 16), the council confirmed it wished to ‘learn lessons’ from the ordeal but maintained it dealt with the allegations against former clerk Richard Chapman as best it could in the circumstances.
A statement said previous administrations had failed to put a mechanism in place for staff to raise a complaint against the town clerk and had scrapped appraisal meetings where issues could also be aired.
The council said following an incident on October 2 last year and subsequent claims of misconduct raised by ‘almost every member of staff’, the authority had to deal with a large number of serious allegations against Mr Chapman all at once.
The statement added: “Given the limited resources within the council and the timescales to which we were required to work, the
council dealt with these allegations, that spanned several years, as best we could, taking a variety of expert professional advice every step of the way.
“Although the tribunal has found unfair dismissal, it acknowledged that there was serious misconduct on October 2, 2013.
“We are therefore very disappointed that the tribunal found that the way in which we dealt with the other staff allegations of bullying did not fully adhere to the procedural rigour required by a court of law, as the council still believes that there was a breach of policy and therefore a case to answer.”
The council confirmed it was awaiting the full transcript from the four-day hearing and would put a proposal to the Full Council to hold an open enquiry where members of the public could raise questions.
It will result in a conclusive report and town council policies will be amended and improved accordingly.
The statement added: “We are proud that town councillors took their duty to safeguard all staff so seriously at what was a very difficult time for the council.
“Had they failed to do so, this could potentially have led to disruption of the council’s functionality and more importantly leave us open to greater liability.
“We are very pleased that we now have a team of officers at the town council at last working in a safe and healthy working environment, which we believe is a positive outcome for them and for Malvern town residents.”
Following the tribunal, Mr Chapman said he would not be issuing a statement because everything had been covered in the hearing, but added: “I am relieved it is all over, and I would like to thank my staff for being supportive throughout my ten years at the council.”