Cash-strapped Thanet DC is facing legal costs of more than £700,000 as it grapples with disciplinary and grievance procedures.
Director of finance Chris Blundell has expressed concerns to senior councillors in a report to be considered next week.
Costs of almost £250,000 have already been incurred as the Investigations & Disciplinary Sub-Committee (IDSC) looks into ‘ongoing disciplinary and grievance proceedings,’ with future expenditure of up to £486,000 expected – mostly to cover the costs of external employment tribunals.
Thanet had originally budgeted to spend £50,000 on external legal advice.
The report stated ‘processes have become increasingly complex, with additional matters being considered by the IDSC’ in addition to receiving more complaints.
‘Significant concerns’ were expressed in September by head of the East Kent Internal Audit Partnership Christine Parker over the treatment of whistleblowers at Thanet and outstanding investigations into issues they had raised.
The expected legal costs of between £697,000 and £733,000 could increase further if proceedings take longer than expected or if appeals are lodged, the report warned.
Mr Blundell’s report warned it would be a ‘challenging task to identify available funding,’ with reserves already under pressure due to the pandemic,
It added: ‘The council’s finances are in a delicate position.
'Even before the pandemic our reserves were relatively low and we had a history of not delivering savings or income targets.’