Doncaster parish councillors accused of bullying after they tried to sack council clerk amid '˜ongoing tensions'

A group of Doncaster parish councillors have been accused of bullying after they tried to sack their clerk despite not having the power to do so.Â

Friday, 18th January 2019, 10:02 am
Updated Friday, 18th January 2019, 10:36 am

Hatfield Town Council members Mick Glynn, Jessie Credland and Bill Morrison were placed under investigation by Doncaster Council following a formal complaint from clerk Clare McRoy. 

Mrs McRoy said she was handed a letter on June 11 last year stating the three members had '˜become aware of serious issues i.e. financial irregularities and other issues'. 

The letter went on to give '˜one month's notice' and '˜termination of employment' and was to be '˜put on gardening leave'. 

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The report said there were a '˜number of concerns and tensions' raised by the three councillors regarding the clerk's '˜abilities and conduct' going back a number of years. 

In submissions, the councillors claimed it was '˜done out of frustration', partly due to the clerk '˜not setting up meetings when asked to do so' and other concerns regarding her '˜conduct and behaviour' set out on the back of the letter.

The allegations set out in the June letter were considered at an extraordinary meeting of Hatfield Town Council in July and were subsequently dismissed. 

The three councillors admitted they did not follow correct procedure and sent the letter without the knowledge of the rest of the council. 

But despite being repeatedly requested to do so, the three councillors have declined to apologise to the clerk.

The investigation also accused Coun Morrison of passing on confidential information in an email 

The three councillors will appear before Doncaster Council members on the Audit Hearings Sub-Committee at Civic Office next week.  

Helen Potts, Doncaster Council's principal legal officer, said: 'I find that the three councillors all agreed to send the letter to the clerk and that it was a dismissal letter. I also find that Coun Morrison passed on a confidential email from the clerk written as an employee expressing her concerns when he knew he should not have done so.

'When sending the letter to the clerk, the three councillors acted without authorisation from the full council. Although the three councillors were all members of the council's Personnel Committee, they were not acting as the Personnel Committee.

'This was a flagrant breach of process and the councillors acted beyond their legal power and set out a potential constructive dismissal/unfair dismissal case for the clerk thus risking public monies.

'I conclude as a result of the investigation that councillors Glynn, Credland and Morrison did breach the code in that they have not behaved in such a way that a reasonable person would regard as respectful and they have acted in a way which a reasonable person would regard as bullying or intimidatory.'

Responding to Ms Potts, Coun Morrison said: ''˜I feel that there are one or more inaccuracies within said report, however I accept that there is little to gain by any further continuance of this issue.

'I further accept that the process was flawed and incorrect in its application and I apologise to the council and its officers and to anyone else who may have been offended or upset as a result of my actions.'

Coun Glynn told the investigation that Coun Morrison said gardening leave was a term used to put an employee on leave with full pay, which would then give Coun Morrison as town Mayor time to call a Personnel Committee meeting.

He added he agreed that the process Coun Morrison set out was not the correct one '˜with hind sight only'.

Coun Credland said she accepted that the correct procedures were not followed. 

The meeting will take place at Civic Office on Tuesday, January 22 at 2pm.