Wiltshire Council’s CEO has insisted that the unlawful email he sent to striking staff was to correct 'misleading statements'.

Terence Herbert, who is preparing to leave his chief executive role and take up the top job at Surrey County Council, has spoken about the events surrounding the case.

GMB, the union for Wiltshire Council staff, claims the email in question was intended to deter its traffic wardens from voting for industrial action.

The vote was part of a long-running dispute in which Wiltshire Council is seeking to remove contractual out-of-hours pay enhancement.

READ MORE: Lib Dems speak on Wiltshire Council CEO's unlawful email

Wiltshire Times: Mr Herbert has confirmed his departure from the council is unrelated to the GMB dispute.

Written by Mr Herbert, the email claimed that GMB’s representation of the proposals as a “10 per cent pay cut" was “really misleading”, and urged staff to “consider carefully” whether further strikes would support a resolution.

Bristol Employment Tribunal ruled that the correspondence broke industrial relations law.

The leader of the council, Richard Clewer, has reported that £21,395 was spent on defending the case.

Wiltshire Council is currently seeking legal advice as to whether there are grounds to appeal the decision.

Speaking to a Wiltshire Times reporter, Mr Herbert said: “We entered into all of our negotiations in good faith and professionally, with all three of our recognised unions – UNISON, Unite and the GMB.

SEE ALSO: GMB: Wiltshire Council CEO 'behaved unlawfully' with email to staff

“Unfortunately, from the outset, GMB’s behaviour and actions were in sharp contrast to that of UNISON and Unite, and they seemed to have set their course not to agree.”

He described the pay policies, which Wiltshire Council is seeking to change, as “historical” and “no longer fit for purpose.”

Mr Herbert said it was “very hard to justify” to residents and staff who do not receive the same entitlement - policies that amount to “£800,000 per year in extra payments."

He noted: “The only other way that you can make those savings are through redundancies and the position that I took from the outset, and it’s one that I stand by now and do not regret, is that I didn’t want to make people redundant."

He added: “There are considerably more requirements on local government than there were before, but there isn’t the money. Therefore, we have to make savings.”

Following negotiations, the council offered a four-year pay protection for concerned staff, which was accepted by UNISON and Unite the Union, but rejected by GMB.

Regarding his email, Mr Herbert said: “There had been a number of announcements or media statements made by GMB in the run-up to another ballot.

“In those statements, they had said that we had reneged on a promise to offer lifetime pay protection.

“We were very clear that that was a lie, that we had never offered lifetime pay protection.”

Referencing his staff, he also said: “I didn’t intend for them to feel threatened, I intended for them to be informed.

READ ALSO: Cost of Wiltshire Council's unlawful email in GMB dispute revealed

“I genuinely believed that what I was doing was informing my staff.

“Whenever you see an organisation like GMB openly misrepresenting what has happened, you think that there is a duty for you to correct the record, and that’s what I was doing.”

Reflecting on the impact of the case, Mr Herbert concluded: “It is stressful, it takes a personal toll, but at the end of the day, I go home and try to switch off.

“But the personal attacks, which then lead to offensive comments, as a direct result of inflammatory, incorrect statements that have been made by supposedly professional organisations, that takes a toll.”

When approached for comment, a spokesperson for GMB said: “The findings of the tribunal are clear that his arguments are unconvincing.

“For him to attack the findings of the tribunal is disingenuous and I'm sure residents of Wiltshire will find it equally concerning.”