CONCERNS have been raised that the council is trying to silence whistleblowers after a confidential presentation was leaked.

Worcestershire County Council has strongly denied it was “threatening” to prevent whistleblowers from coming forward after it sent an email reminding employees that sharing information was against its code of conduct.

Labour county councillors had raised concerns about the email sent to all staff and had asked for assurances that whistleblowers would be protected.

The presentation slide, which was leaked last month, stated senior Conservative councillors had made it clear they did not support any schemes that resulted in the loss of car parking spaces or road space for cyclists or pedestrians.

A statement from the council’s Labour councillors said: “We are very concerned about this email, we consider it a possible threat to prevent whistleblowing and we have asked for assurances that all employees will remain protected. We have asked for confirmation the message is not in breach of or could jeopardy the protection of staff under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998.

“Clearly whistleblowing is an important part of any employee’s responsibility, either if they see wrongdoing or any of the other protected elements being undermined.

“We are seeking confirmation of these important protections to our staff; we are worried the email sent could be considered or misinterpreted as a threat to silence whistleblowers who would wish to bring attention to any wrongdoing. Such action must be resisted.”

A spokesman for the council said the email was sent out by its monitoring officer and was reminding staff that sharing such a slide was against its code of conduct but reiterated that any whistleblowers would be protected under the relevant laws.

“It is important that we remind all employees of the expected standards of work, including those covered in our code of conduct during these unprecedented times when staff are working from home in a more digital environment,” the spokesman said.

“The council has a whistleblowing policy in place which encourages employees and others who have serious concerns about any aspect of the council’s work to come forward and voice those concerns.

“The email referred to does not compromise on the council taking whistleblowing allegations seriously.

“All concerns raised under the council’s whistleblowing policy will continue to be taken seriously and thoroughly investigated.

“The council will protect any employee raising matters under our whistleblowing policy in accordance with the Employment Rights Act 1996 and the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 which gives legal protection.”