Pam Dobson, WTC– Marlborough Town Council press notice: 24/05/10
- – NIGEL WARD reports on concerns regarding the appointment of Whitby Town Clerk Pam DOBSON, formerly Clerk to Marlborough Town Council (MTC), with whom she parted on most acrimonious terms. MTC has published the following Press Release.
FORMER MARLBOROUGH TOWN CLERK COMMITTED “GROSS MISCONDUCT” REPORTS TRIBUNAL
Pam Dobson, the former Town Clerk of Marlborough Town Council, was “constructively dismissed” by the council after her arrears in council rent were revealed by a Councillor or Councillors to former Councillor Richard Allen who passed the information on to the press. However, she was found to have breached the terms of her contract with the council by that time for failing to act with the highest standards of integrity.
That is the decision of the Bristol Employment Tribunal, which has made NO award in her claim for £10,000 in compensation from the Town Council, and has seriously criticised her “gross misconduct” behaviour as its chief financial officer.
Mrs Dobson, 54, was town clerk of Marlborough for four years and was on sick leave during the final six months before resigning in July, 2009, to take up the position of town clerk of Whitby, North Yorkshire.
“What is at issue here is the claimant’s performance of her duties as Responsible Financial Officer,” says Judge Simpson, who conducted the two-day tribunal hearing last month.
“This is a statutory position demanding the highest standards of integrity and in this regard her failure to collect rent herself is, in our finding, a failure that falls within the range of gross misconduct: reasonably and properly causing the respondent (the town council) to lose trust and confidence in her as its Responsible Financial Officer.”
“In reaching this conclusion, we have regard for the fact that the claimant (Mrs Dobson) was occupying a well-paid position and that she did not, as she should have done, bring the matter of arrears to the notice of the council. And, that when it became known that arrears existed, failed to perform her promise to establish a standing order to cover future payments of rent.”
Mrs Dobson had twice owed rent on her £600-a-month council home involving sums of £2,400 and £6,800, which were eventually paid off. Information of the rent arrears was given to the press by a former councillor, to whom the information had been leaked, causing her “considerable harassment and embarrassment,” says the tribunal decision.
The tribunal points out that under her contract of employment, all local government officers “were required to maintain the highest standard of confidence and integrity in the performances of their duties” and criticises the evidence Mrs Dobson gave to the tribunal.
She seemed “unable to recall” many of the matters on which she was questioned and, adds the tribunal: “She was at times evasive in her answers, and overall, we were unanimous in having concerns as to her credibility.”
A proposed mediation meeting was not pursued, the tribunal points out, making the termination of her employment “inevitable due to her failure to recognise her responsibilities as a Responsible Financial Officer.”
Mrs Dobson wrote to the Town Council offering to resign, but “the letter did not amount to a resignation and was not accepted as such”, says the tribunal. A grievance procedure was established but Mrs Dobson subsequently formally resigned, complaining over the delay in dealing with her grievance concerning the leaking of confidential information.
In a statement to the press, Mr Liam Costello, the current Marlborough Town Clerk, says: “We are pleased that the matter has now been concluded, especially as the council was completely surprised that the claim was made in the first place.
“Mrs Dobson’s actions, as several councillors have suggested, could have been passed to the police for investigation, as a mis-use of public office and a possible offence under the Fraud Act.
“We accept that confidential information as to the rent arrears did appear in the press, but it was without our lawful authority. The facts, nevertheless, were a matter of considerable public interest.”