Hartlepool highways inspector denies skiving after sacking for gross misconduct

A former council highways inspector fighting his sacking for gross misconduct has denied doing anything wrong.

Wednesday, 15th January 2020, 4:45 pm
Updated Wednesday, 15th January 2020, 5:35 pm
John Carroll was a highways inspector for Hartlepool Borough Council for roughly 20 years.

John Carroll, who had been employed by Hartlepool Borough Council for almost 20 years, was dismissed after he was accused of ‘wasting’ 25 hours while on duty over three weeks in October 2018.

He is claiming unfair dismissal in an employment tribunal at Teesside Justice Centre in Middlesbrough.

Council bosses said he could not properly explain what work he had done while in certain areas of the town as shown by a tracker on his van and jobs recorded on an electronic system.

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He was also accused of claiming for flexi-time he was not entitled to by staying too long at the council depot at the beginning and end of the day by between 15-30 minutes on certain days.

But Mr Carroll said he did not log all inspections on the council system if no defects were found, and said his time could be accounted for by being on his work phone, sending emails or searching for reported defects.

He added he also dealt with numerous call outs such as skips blocking alleyways, checking utility company works and bus shelter faults, which were not recorded.

Mr Carroll told the tribunal: “This is the way the job has always been done. There’s that much that comes in you just deal with it.

“It’s never caused a problem in the 18 years I have been there.

“No-one’s ever given me instructions to record everything.”

Mr Carroll said he had never seen a copy of his job description but understood his main responsibility to ensure the public’s safety by checking roads and pavements for defects.

Regarding the unaccounted for time he added: “It sounds a lot worse when you say 25 hours but that’s an hour and a half a day which could easily be used on phone calls and talking to people.

“A lot of my time was spent stopping, going in and out of different areas finding what the problem was.”

And referring to the flexi-time he said he was never told by supervisors he was expected to leave the depot within a certain time and did not try to dishonestly claim for time he did not work.

Earlier, Councillor Brenda Loynes who chaired Mr Carroll’s appeal hearing, defended upholding the decision to dismiss.

Coun Loynes said: “We have got to give people value for money for their council tax and if someone’s not doing their job and doing it properly and costing the council money then we have got to do something about it.”

A decision by the tribunal chair is expected in a few weeks.