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Town council allegations

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A report which will focus on concerns raised by Seaford’s MP following allegations which include ‘in-fighting’ at the town council will be published in April.

Seaford Town Council (STC) said the decision for it to be presented during that month is because otherwise it could be compromised ahead of the three town council seat by-election on Thursday March 27.

In January Mr Baker said he had called in auditors asking for an urgent investigation into the running and finances of the town council following allegations of bullying and infighting. In a damning statement the politician said the council was ‘dysfunctional’ and ‘out of control’.

As a result Seaford Town Council commissioned an independent examination of the ten points raised by Mr Baker which included allegations of ‘endemic infighting within the Conservative group’ and allegations of bullying from town council staff who say they were ‘forced out’.

Sheelagh Douglas, a qualified accountant who has been chief executive of both Taunton Deane Borough Council and Wealden District Council and is now Director of B3sixty, a company specialising in local authority investigation work, was appointed to examine these points and report back to the council.

She has no connection with Seaford or Local Councils Clerks.

As statement issued by STC last week said, “In terms of approach it was agreed that the first stage would be a meeting with Norman Baker to receive the file of representations he had received from residents.

“Following this Ms Douglas would examine files held by the town council and interview those who had made their views known to Mr Baker with the intention of completing this stage during March.

“Following consultation with the Monitoring Officer of Lewes District Council, the independent investigator and the Sussex Association of Local Councils, Seaford Town Council has been advised that the report could be compromised if it were to be used for party electioneering by candidates engaged in the three town council seat by-election on March 27.

“The advice received by the council is that the report not be published until April.

“Ms Douglas will therefore finalise the report for the town council and present it at a council meeting in April.”

 

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