Council officers accused of doing 'foreigners' quit
TWO environment health officers from Tamworth and Lichfield accused of using Birmingham City Council time and equipment to carry out work for agencies in Oxford, Cardiff, North Devon and other districts resigned as they faced the possibility of dismissal.
Mark Fitzgerald, aged 47, of Broadlee, Tamworth, and Kevin Hall, aged 54, of Whittington in Lichfield, denied the allegations and said they used their own equipment and in their own spare time.
Their denials were made as they made compensation claims for constructive unfair dismissal against the council at Birmingham Employment Tribunal.
Mr Fitzgerald, who had served in the Army for 24 years, and Mr Hall, who had been with the council for 35 years, both said they had been given council permission to do the "outside" work as long as it was in their spare time and that council equipment was not used.
Mr Hall, a father of two, said he needed to supplement his income in the face of cost-saving proposals by the council.
Mr Fitzgerald was paid £36,000 a year by the council plus about £5,000 a year for being called out at night to deal with complaints about noise.
Sean O'Brien, representing the council, said the officials were facing disciplinary hearings and, possibly dismissal, when they resigned.
He said the council accused them of printing letters in council time and using council equipment to run a private business at the council's expense.
"The council took action after carry out an investigation," said Mr O'Brien.
Mr Fitzgerald said he had not done anything wrong to justify council action and questioned the validity of the investigation.
"Kevin and I were not running a business together," said Mr Fitzgerald in his witness statement.
He said he had been suffering from stress and had done some work for an agency in North Devon while on leave.
Tribunal judge Miss Helen Harding adjourned the hearing after several days to a later date for more evidence.
The tribunal is to expected to eventually make a reserved decision in private which may not be until later this year.