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Town councillor resigns over alleged 'roughing up' comments

PUBLISHED: 13:04 06 March 2019 | UPDATED: 17:32 06 March 2019

Hadleigh Guildhall, the home of Hadleigh Town Council Picture: GREGG BROWN

Hadleigh Guildhall, the home of Hadleigh Town Council Picture: GREGG BROWN

A Hadleigh councillor has resigned over alleged comments made to staff and fellow councillors via email.

Rickaby Shearly-Sanders recently resigned after the authority released extracts of an email he sent voicing concerns about their practices.

Referencing what is understood to be a fellow councillor, he allegedly wrote: “I can rough her up on non-staff issues.”

Mr Shearly-Sanders initially refused to resign when approached by the council but later stepped down.

He has since set out his position, and said: “The text quoted is completely out of context and designed to give a false impression by Hadleigh Town Council.

“The email was a private e-mail. Three important issues were mentioned which the recipient of the e-mail and I were extremely concerned about.

“We had particular concerns for the staff that were working on a daily basis and the effect of not addressing issues might be having on their morale, and more importantly, health.

He added: “We had been pressing the mayor for a meeting and to put in on council agenda without success.”

Hadleigh Town Council confirmed a press release had been sent with instruction from councillors after a confidential meeting on February 28.

The conflict between various town councillors and officers has rumbled on since a dispute over the Neighbourhood Plan in July 2017, which was delayed for three months while councillors scrutinised it further.

Since then, arguments over the use of confidentiality and tender processes have frustrated progress at the council.

One deputy mayor has resigned, the town clerk is currently on leave, the internal auditor has stepped down and the current acting proper officer will be leaving at the end of March.

Peter Matthews, the current mayor, said: “It is normal for debate to lead to disagreements but some of them have descended into personal attacks.

“One item in particular has been the cemetery extension and suggestions of illegal and unlawful process.

“We have nothing illegal or otherwise to defend against and if any person feels they have a case let them instruct their own solicitors.”

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