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Seaford Town Council should apologise after critical report says MP
A council should apologise to residents following the publication of a critical independent report, it has been claimed.
Norman Baker, MP for Lewes, said Seaford Town Council should apologise to his constituents following an investigation into claims of bullying and incompetence at the authority.
Mr Baker instructed an independent auditor to review the “dysfunctional” council after the resignation of councillors, political infighting and an incident where police were called to a public meeting.
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In a public announcement, the MP said the report, published today and carried out by the former chief executive of Wealden District Council Sheelagh Douglas, identified “shortcomings in personnel handling” and found the town council was “less than efficient” in dealing with simple administrative matters.
It also concluded that Seaford’s Museum Trust deserved an “unequivocal apology” from the council for the way it handled the attraction’s lease, which has been outstanding for almost a year.
Mr Baker said the report supported his suggestion that endemic infighting within the council’s controlling Conservative group was detrimental to Seaford, reading: “It appears that politicisation of the council has delivered divisive approaches between and within political parties.”
Mr Baker said: “I called for this investigation to take place because it was becoming clear to me, through my own experiences and those of my constituents, that Seaford Town Council was dysfunctional.
“This independent report proves that my main concerns were justified.
“Since 2011 the Conservatives on the Town Council have had five resignations and another leave their party. This is not a sign of a group capable of running a town council and the people of Seaford deserve much better than this.
“I hope now at last the Tory group will take its head out of the sand, stop denying there is a problem, and act on all the recommendations of the independent examiner. The first thing the Tory council should do is to apologise to my constituents in Seaford.”
Paul Franklin, leader of Seaford Town Council, said: “If you look at the full report only about three points from Mr Baker’s original list of 10 accusations are upheld, which are mainly general housekeeping issues. The rest of his concerns have not come to fruition.
“The council will apologise to the Museum Trust for what happened with the lease, which was partly because of staff issues.“But the points mentioned are generally housekeeping issues which will be found anywhere. I don’t see why the council should apologise to residents.
“This whole thing is politically motivated. I am not a politician.”
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