More controversy at Brandon

A TROUBLED town council is at the centre of new controversy after one of its members who is awaiting trial over allegations of fraud was made its acting chairman.

A TROUBLED town council is at the centre of new controversy after one of its members who is awaiting trial over allegations of fraud was made its acting chairman.

Sue Bourton was made Brandon Town Council's acting chairman at an emergency meeting following the resignation of yet another senior member.

Susan Dean, vice-chairman of the council, this week became the third member of the authority to step down in as many months, when she resigned without giving a reason.

Her resignation follows that of the chairman and the clerk, and comes at a difficult time for the council, which has seen a number of recent disputes amongst its ranks.

Over the past two years two previous clerks and several councillors have quit their posts amid claims of bully tactics and infighting.

The decision to elect Mrs Bourton as acting chairman, just days before she is set to stand trial accused of council tax and housing benefit fraud, is certain to raise a few eyebrows.

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Mrs Bourton, 44, of Coronation Place, Brandon, has pleaded not guilty to the fraud charge brought by Forest Heath District Council.

She is set to stand trial at Mildenhall Magistrates' Court on September 26, following a preliminary hearing at the court today.

Mrs Bourton will remain at the helm of the council until September when an election to replace the councillors who have stepped down is held.

She said: "The members are well aware of the circumstances surrounding my court case and we feel it has nothing to do with council matters. I can understand some people may ask questions and see this as controversial, but the members decided that I am best placed to become acting chairman at this time.

"I don't think this council is in turmoil even though some people have resigned for a number of reasons. I haven't seen any in-fighting recently and I believe Brandon Town Council is moving on from its previous troubles."

Former chairman Ron Banks resigned a fortnight ago after clashes with other councillors and town clerk Linda Sherer has handed in her notice to take-up a new job and will be replaced Joseph Scott in September.

Meanwhile, the Standards Board of England is still investigating former chairman Alan Saxby. Other members reported him after he was accused of threatening fellow councillor Peter Ridgewell at a meeting earlier this year. He strongly denies the claims.

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