District councillors told they’re no longer needed to determine town clerk’s fate as new disciplinary team appointed

Erbie Murat, Wisbech Town Council clerk

Erbie Murat, Wisbech Town Council clerk - Credit: Archant

THREE Fenland councillors – two from March and the third from Whittlesey- have been told they are no longer required to determine the fate of suspended Wisbech town clerk Erbie Murat.

It means Councillors Robert Skoulding, Jan French and Derek Stebbing will no longer be needed for a two day meeting that had already been postponed from the end of June to the end of July.

The town council will instead look to three of its own members to form a disciplinary committee to decide what should happen to Mr Murat who has been suspended on full pay since the first week of January.

Deputy town clerk Susanah Farmer said today that although Mr Murat had been happy with the external councillors determining his fate, the council had been advised it was not within their own staff rules to allow it.

“The disciplinary committee will be set up when everyone is available,” said Mrs Farmer.

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Those forming the committee are back bench members of the town council, chosen because they have had no previous involvement in two previous committees set up to probe the claims against Mr Murat.

Councillors David Wheeler, Steve Brunton and Michelle Tansfield are expected to take two days to hear the charges levelled against Mr Murat. Full council will then ratify their recommendation.

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Mrs Farmer said the council had secured legal representation and the disciplinary committee would meet with an external solicitor on hand to advise them.

However I understand that negotiations remain ongoing with Mr Murat and that a formula for his return to work – possibly involving a written warning as to his future conduct- may yet happen.

An extraordinary meeting of the town council was held last night at which members were brought up to date on the disciplinary procedures.

Both the press and public were excluded.

A letter dated January 7 and addressed to Mr Murat and signed by council leader David Oliver informed him of his suspension.

“On January 7 you committed acts of misconduct listed in the staff handbook that every employee is expected to follow,” wrote Cllr Oliver. “This has not been the first time you have done this either.”

Although Mr Murat was expected to return to work on February 6 following a 30 day suspension, this did not happen.

Since then there have been acrimonious exchanges including the compilation by Mr Murat of a dossier rebutting claims made by the town council.

He also appealed, unsuccessfully, to have the conduct committee of Fenland Council adjudge his grievances against both Cllr Oliver and Councillor Jonathan Farmer.

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