THE MAYOR of Malvern has defended the way the town council sacked the former town clerk and refuted claims he personally engineered the move.
Yesterday (Tuesday) after the Observer went to press a proposal was tabled to hold a public enquiry into the council’s disciplinary processes, in the wake of an employment tribunal upholding Richard Chapman’s claim for unfair dismissal.
It has now been confirmed the decision will cost the council £60,000 – £49,000 for earnings and pension and £11,000 towards Mr Chapman’s legal costs – but Mayor Julian Roskams said those focusing on the sum were ignoring the welfare of council staff.
He said the sum was ‘deeply regrettable’ but argued if the council had not acted on the allegations of bullying and harassment against the former clerk, the authority would likely have faced numerous expensive cases of constructive dismissal against other staff members.
The Mayor revealed one employee immediately resigned while another went off sick long-term with stress, when it appeared Mr Chapman would return to work after being suspended.
He further dismissed accusations made during the tribunal he ‘orchestrated’ a campaign to remove the former clerk, stating there was not a scrap of evidence to support the claim.
Mayor Roskams said: “From the very start of this process, a little over a year ago, I have consistently said, both in public and private, that we have nothing to fear from being entirely open and transparent about what we have done and why we have done it. My conscience is entirely clear and I believe that my fellow councillors involved in the process have taken their roles seriously.
“Freed from the constraints that have been upon us until this point, the enquiry will give us the opportunity for the first time of being able to tell the whole truth about this episode.”
He added: “Many of those involved in this process from all sides will feel bloodied and bruised and we must acknowledge any mistakes that have been made and ensure that they never be allowed to recur.”
The council has received criticism for its handling of the matter from some corners following the tribunal, but Mayor Roskams said it was positive the authority acted to safeguard the welfare of its staff. He added he would not apologise for the fact their complaints were taken seriously.