Former Wisbech mayor questions doubling of town hall staff hours and queries ‘petty dispute’ over suspended clerk

Wisbech Christmas Market 2010. DevilStick Peat and the Mayor of Wisbech Coun. Nick Meekins

Wisbech Christmas Market 2010. DevilStick Peat and the Mayor of Wisbech Coun. Nick Meekins - Credit: Archant

NICK Meekins, a former Wisbech councillor and mayor from 2010-11, has queried how, within a few years, hours worked by town hall has doubled.

HRH The Princess Royal meets the Mayor of Wisbech, Cllr Nick Meekins, andCllr Ralph Butcher, chairma

HRH The Princess Royal meets the Mayor of Wisbech, Cllr Nick Meekins, andCllr Ralph Butcher, chairman of Fenland District Council. - Credit: Archant

He also questioned why it has taken so long to resolve the issue of suspended town clerk Erbie Murat over a “petty dispute” that has dragged on for six months.

Mayor of Wisbech Nick Meekins

Mayor of Wisbech Nick Meekins - Credit: Archant

Mr Meekins, who resigned from the council last year for person reasons, said that when he joined the council in 2007 the clerk and deputy worked 17.5 hours each a week, the Beadle did 30 and the allotments inspector 6.5.

Mayor of Wisbech Nick Meekins officially opens the Waterlees Adventure Playground in Wisbech

Mayor of Wisbech Nick Meekins officially opens the Waterlees Adventure Playground in Wisbech - Credit: Archant

That total, of 71.5 hours, has now grown he said to 144 hours a week.

Wisbech Mayor Cllr Nick Meekins chops the board in half watched by examiner Anthony Carter.

Wisbech Mayor Cllr Nick Meekins chops the board in half watched by examiner Anthony Carter. - Credit: Archant

“Within a few months of the current clerk being appointed he requested that his, and the deputy clerk’s, hours were increased to 25 hours a week each.

“The main reason given was that the council was going through the process of becoming a Quality Council, and this involved extra work; these extra hours were approved. “

Soon after a further request was made so that both the clerk and the deputy clerk would become full time, 37 hours a week.

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Mr Meekins said: “The reason cited was that we were to acquire the Market Place back from Fenland District Council.

“I was one of a small number of councillors who queried why it would need an extra 24 hours a week to manage two small markets a week, the result, however, was that the hours were approved.”

Mr Meekins said in 2012 and after he had resigned he read that the allotments inspector- now known as assets manager- had his hours more than trebled to 20 per week “chiefly to manage the markets.

“Wasn’t this the reason the clerk and deputy clerk had their hours increased?

“And an administration assistant working 20 hours a week has been appointed.

“From 2007 to 2012 the hours worked by town hall staff has increased from around 72 to 144? I still can’t understand why? Other than the town clerk empire building perhaps?”

Mr Meekins said there was then the issue of the suspension of the clerk “for a petty dispute between an employee and an employer and it appears that a resolution is still a distant prospect.

“It seems from the reports in the press that the council is still functioning efficiently, certainly mayor making appeared to go well.

“So my questions are: does the council really need the amount of staff currently on the books to function efficiently?

“And why has the dispute between the clerk and the council been allowed to rumble on for half a year with no sign of resolution? “

He added: “Remember this town council is funded by my, and your, council tax.”

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Email your views to the Editor at: john.elworthy@archant.co.uk

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