A FORMER council boss who was sacked over a £700,000 contract blunder with a parking firm has been awarded £56,000 by an employment tribunal.

Cliff Harrison was Worthing Borough Council’s head of technical services when the authority was taken to court by NCP for ending its decade-long parking agreement with the company.

Councillors claimed NCP’s prices were having a detrimental impact on Worthing’s economy and they reintroduced 30, 60 and 90-minute parking tariffs that would prove cheaper for motorists but result in a loss of earnings for the parking company.

As a result the council said it agreed to meet half of NCP’s losses for a year only, totalling £152,000. But it also claimed the 12-month period was purely a “trial” and stopped paying half of NCP’s losses in November 2010.

NCP bosses were preparing to sue the council for more than £1 million when the two parties agreed an out-of-court settlement of around £700,000.

Mr Harrison was sacked for gross misconduct following the row and took his former employers to court. On Wednesday a tribunal upheld his claim for unfair dismissal and ordered the council pay him £56,000.

John Mitchell, director for communities at Adur and Worthing Councils, said: “We were disappointed in the employment tribunal’s ruling, but accepted that there were historic weaknesses in our procedures which allowed this situation to arise. We had proactively addressed those weaknesses prior to the tribunal hearing commencing last autumn.

“Today’s settlement brings this chapter to a close. The tribunal found that there was fault on both sides – this settlement concludes proceedings and allows the council to focus on the future.

“The substantial increase in the use of the multi-storey car parks emphasises that the council made the right decision for the town by returning the car parks to ‘in house’ control. “Importantly, because there is now no third party involved, the money spent in Worthing’s car parks is staying within the town, rather than going into a private company.

“We can continue to look forward to low parking prices benefitting the town’s businesses by encouraging residents and visitors alike to stop awhile in Worthing without fear of a hefty parking charge.”

Mr Harrison has been working at Worthing-based Southern Water since his dismissal from the council. He was yesterday unavailable for comment.