November 27 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, March 6, 2014
Details have emerged about why a long serving town clerk lost her job after 20 years in the role.
In a statement from Sudbury Town Council issued to the EADT last night, it was revealed that town clerk Sue Brotherwood was dismissed on the grounds of “gross misconduct” relating to a number of issues including misuse of public funds.
However no money has gone missing and the allegations of misconduct relate entirely to breaches of council policy and accounting procedures.
Mrs Brotherwood, 61, was suspended on full pay on December 23 and following an internal inquiry lasting almost two months, was told she no longer had a job.
There has been much speculation as to the circumstances of her dismissal.
The well-respected town clerk was given a two week period to lodge an appeal, which ended yesterday, prompting the town council to finally release details.
According to the statement, external accountants were appointed to carry out an independent examination of concerns raised by a whistle blower.
This involved an analysis of the council’s procedures and accounting practices dating back to 2007.
The council decided the findings warranted disciplinary action and a hearing was held on February 17, to consider allegations of misconduct under 11 headings – seven of which were proven.
The statement read: “Mrs Brotherwood disregarded approved procedures, misused public funds by making unauthorised loans to herself and staff, failed to operate adequate financial controls, acted in breach of the council’s policy on whistle blowing and breached confidentiality.
“She also failed to explain financial transactions and mismanaged council finances by failing, when asked, to inform councillors of any problems.
“The need for confidentiality has meant that this is the first occasion on which the council has been able to inform the public of its action in this matter.”
Last night, Mrs Brotherwood told the EADT she had been found guilty of not adhering to council policy, harassing the whistleblower and breaking the terms of her suspension by speaking to staff and using social media.
She said: “The loans to staff were advances on wages and although I did not follow council policy in authorising the loans, everything is there and accounted for and I could have provided an explanation if I had been given a chance.
“The council has never lost out financially in any way during my time as clerk – indeed I have saved them thousands of pounds over the years – and I maintain that if this had been dealt with differently from the beginning, I could have proved everything.”
The town council is consulting police to confirm if further action is warranted.
Mrs Brotherwood added: “If the council felt the need to take this to court, I would welcome the opportunity to set the record straight.”