Sacked head fights Conservative council

July 21, 1995

The sacked head of a Buckinghamshire adult education centre is to seek reinstatement at an industrial tribunal.

Iris Brooksbank claims she was victimised by her employers after offering student discounts from her centre's budget. The country's only Conservative-controlled shire council says this was against its policy.

Mrs Brooksbank lost her appeal against dismissal, a year after being suspended from the Wellesbourne Centre in High Wycombe following allegations of "gross misconduct".

The county council prevented publication of the centre's annual prospectus last summer because it contained details of concessionary fees for pensioners and under-18s.

County Hall said a series of protest leaflets published by the centre's committee, of which Mrs Brooksbank is a member, brought the council into disrepute. The leaflets urged students to campaign for the restoration of the concessions, and for the centre to stay on its present site when the site is sold to Buckinghamshire College. Mrs Brooksbank claims her career has been ruined both by the allegations and by the secretive and lengthy hearing and appeal process. Each side blames the other for delays.

"My prospectus went to the printers in good faith - I had no idea the council were going to tell us we could not do those things," said Mrs Brooksbank.

"They said I was not following consortium policy. They kept terming it gross misconduct and would not tell anyone why. People automatically assume it is something to do with dishonesty or fraud or money matters. If they had said exactly what it really was they would have looked very foolish."

The council would not comment in detail on matters from the appeal because they may be raised again at a tribunal.

But a spokesman said the concessionary fees dispute and the protest letters formed part of the reason for the sacking. Two main complaints were that she failed to apply policies and procedures of the council's adult continuing education service and that she failed to comply with instructions from her managers.

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