Unfairly sacked council officer agrees settlement

Cliff Harrison, Adur and Worthing councils' former executive head of technical services
Cliff Harrison, Adur and Worthing councils' former executive head of technical services

A SENIOR council officer unfairly dismissed by Adur and Worthing councils in the wake of a legal dispute with car parking giants NCP will be awarded £56,000 compensation.

Ex-executive head of technical services Cliff Harrison won his employment tribunal claim in February, after being held solely responsible for failing to spot errors in a 2009 contract with NCP, which exposed Worthing Borough Council to significant losses.

NCP launched legal action and received a settlement, now thought to have cost the council £800,000, including legal fees.

John Mitchell, director for communities at Adur and Worthing councils said: “We were disappointed in the employment tribunal’s ruling, but accepted that there were historic weaknesses in our procedures which allowed this situation to arise. We had proactively addressed those weaknesses prior to the tribunal hearing commencing last autumn.

“This settlement brings this chapter to a close. The tribunal found that there was fault on both sides; this settlement concludes proceedings and allows the council to focus on the future.”

The settlement was reached before a scheduled remedy hearing, with a judge previously noting Mr Harrison’s negligence should mean any award was discounted by 50 per cent.

But it also highlighted that several senior officers knew of the dispute, months before senior councillors were briefed. No-one else faced disciplinary action.

Commenting on the result, Mr Harrison said: “I am satisfied with the outcome but decline to comment further until such time as the settlement has actually been received.”

Labour prospective parliamentary candidate for Worthing West Jim Deen asked leader Dan Humphreys if he would apologise for the saga at Tuesday’s full council meeting. Also asked if he felt the council missed opportunities to limit the damages, he said ‘no’, adding he would not comment further on the council’s statement.