SKIPTON Town Council has been cleared of any wrongdoing following an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The council was reported to the executive in January by an unnamed person - suspected to be within the council itself - who accused the authority of being in breach of working time arrangements, heard councillors last week.

The letter to the HSE alleged that staff had carried out work at the Heap Parkinson Homes in Otley Road for more than 48 hours in a week. The HSE gave the council ten days to respond to the allegations and warned if no reply had been received within seven days, it could pay a visit.

Chief officer, Dave Parker, told last week’s meeting the claims had been investigated and the HSE had been provided with the details it required, including worksheets. The HSE had then responded that it was satisfied there had been no breach of working time regulations and would be taking no further action.

Mr Parker said it was clear that the complaint had most likely come from an internal source, which he described as ‘disappointing’. “HSE will, quite rightly, not disclose details of the complainant, but, while it cannot be stated for certain that the allegations came from within the council itself, if this was the case, then it would have been preferable, in the first instance, if the matter had been considered internally,” he said.

Working time arrangements stipulate that no employee should work for more than 48 hours per week over 17 weeks. Council staff at times work in excess of 48 hours a week when events are on, but not over an elongated period of time, said Mr Parker.

All town council staff compete a detailed time sheet which are monitored every month to identify any increased work patterns; staff are then encouraged to take time off ‘in-lieu’ to rebalance their hours.

Mr Parker told councillors that responding to the HSE had occupied a ‘substantial amount’ of time for him and two other senior officers and that it had had a knock on effect on other council workload.

The mayor, Cllr Peter Madeley, said the council had a legal obligation to investigate such allegations, even if they thought they were rubbish. “We might think it is a lot of rubbish and what it costs, it costs, but what I don’t want is if people see something that they think is wrong, they don’t report it.”

Council leader, Cllr Robert Heseltine said an investigation had been carried out and the council had a ‘clean bill of health’.