Row over librarian's enforced retirement

By James HoreA LIBRARIAN has been forced to retire - just a month after she started behind the wheel of a new mobile library service.Gabrielle Chadwick, from Alresford, had hoped to keep working beyond the age of 65 for the Clacton mobile library.

By James Hore

A LIBRARIAN has been forced to retire - just a month after she started behind the wheel of a new mobile library service.

Gabrielle Chadwick, from Alresford, had hoped to keep working beyond the age of 65 for the Clacton mobile library.

But Essex County Council regulations do not permit its employees to carry on beyond that age unless it is in “exceptional circumstances”.

Mrs Chadwick, who turned 65 yesterday, said she was fit and well and wanted to carry on with her job.

Earlier this year, Mrs Chadwick passed her HGV test after training in a refrigerated truck.

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It meant the mobile librarian, who has worked in the community of Tendring for the past 21 years, was able to drive the new, improved, mobile library.

She has now called on the council to consider changing its regulations as soon as possible so people aged over 65 can continue working for the authority.

“I think if you are fit and well and doing a job you enjoy, you should be able to continue,” said Mrs Chadwick.

“I think the council should look at the issue now because people are being encouraged to stay on over-65. There are others like me, I am not a lone soul who wants to carry on.”

Stephen Castle, Essex County Council's cabinet member for personnel, said a staff member could continue working in “exceptional” circumstances for a further six months after turning 65, but that was usually because of specific staff shortages.

“The Government is currently consulting on allowing people to work past 65 and we will be looking very carefully at what this could mean to us,” he added.

“In the long-term there is certainly the potential for staff to carry on and it is a shame if people with excellent skills and experience have to leave when they want to work.”

Harold William, vice-chairman of the Eastern Region Pensioners' Association, said: “It is our view that there should be no retirement age.

“If people are fit enough and healthy enough to carry on, they should be allowed to, but we need legislation about when they are due for a pension.”

james.hore@eadt.co.uk

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