Seaford Town Council’s clerk resigns

The town clerk has resigned following an independent investigation into the running of Seaford Town Council.

Both the town clerk Sam Shippen and the town council met to discuss findings of the confidential investigation process.

In a joint statement both parties said they accepted that the matters under investigation were complex, deep-seated and difficult to resolve.

To enable both the council and Mrs Shippen to move on from the situation Mrs Shippen offered her resignation which the council has accepted.

The council and Mrs Shippen said they considered the matter closed and would make no further comment.

The town council wished Mrs Shippen well in the future and thanked her for the positive contributions she made to the town council.

Earlier this year the town clerk was suspended while an investigation was carried out after allegations about the running of the council were made.

Councillors formed a committee to deal with the recommendations of the independent investigation carried out by Sheelagh Douglas.

At a private meeting of Seaford Town Council during April, the Sussex Express understands councillors voted to suspend Mrs Shippen for eight weeks pending further investigation.

Seaford MP Norman Baker has previously called for the suspension of the town clerk.

He also requested a full and independent investigation into the running of the council, following a number of concerns raised by residents.

Ms Douglas, from independent local government specialist group B3Sixty, revealed there were substantial issues’ which required urgent attention.

The report was commissioned by the town council in response to criticisms levelled by Mr Baker.

Costing thousands of pounds, the investigation also acknowledged there were either at least elements of the truth or fact in most of the concerns raised by the MP.

However, there were also understandable reasons or circumstances behind some of the apparent failings which needed to be taken into account.

The report said in some cases the allegations were purely the result of misunderstandings about how things worked.

In a press release issued by the town council following the meeting, it said the report concluded that while some changes were needed, on the whole the town council was doing a good job with the limited resources it had.

Ms Douglas said the council needed to improve the way it communicated with the public.

She pointed out the high turnover of staff, who had different filing systems, which meant correspondence was mislaid or forgotten about.