Town Clerk unfairly dismissed

AN employment tribunal has upheld the unfair constructive dismissal claim of former Ludlow town clerk Veronica Calderbank.

The tribunal found that there were "fundamental breaches" of Mrs Calderbank's contract with Ludlow Town Council entitling her to resign.

A hearing to assess the amount of money Mrs Calderbank could receive will be held in February. The Town Council may even have to give Mrs Calderbank - town clerk between May 2009 and September last year - her job back given the substanstial losses in salary and pension.

The ruling marked the end of a month long tribunal that heard allegations of bullying and harrassment made against some councillors.

Counter evidence put to the tribunal suggested Mrs Calderbank had a "robust style" and often went beyond the role of clerk as adviser and implementer of council decisions. In evidence, the council suggested that Mrs Calderbank resigned because she wanted to move away.

The tribunal, however, found that though Mrs Calderbank "had her faults" she did not cause or contribute to her dismissal and, even if she had, it would not be "just or equitable" to reduce any compensation award.

A claim that the council did not make "reasonable adjustments" for Mrs Calderbank's back pain - the result of a degenerative disc disorder - failed and was dismissed. A claim for direct disability discrimination was withdrawn.

The tribunal heard that Mrs Calderbank wrote a letter of resignation in June last year citing frequent bullying by members of the council.

Asked in writing by the chairman of the council's staffing and appeals sub-committee if she wanted to pursue a grievance, Mrs Calderbank replied she could mention "literally thousands" of examples of councillors exhibiting "bullying, rude and undermining" behaviour.

Supporting her case at the tribunal, Mrs Calderbank set out a number of specimen breaches of contract. Former Ludlow mayor Martin Taylor-Smith said, in evidence, that there had been many occasions when Mrs Calderbank had been verbally abused by members of the town council openly in meetings and in his presence.

Regrettably, said Mr Taylor-Smith, this behaviour became the norm with Mrs Calderbank targeted by "certain members" of the council.

Other evidence outlined how Mrs Calderbank acted as a buffer between the "worst excesses of some council members and council staff.

At the time, the tribunal heard, many councillors were reporting other councillors to the council's standards committee for their behaviour.

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