THE clerk at the centre of a long-running drama at a town council has been sacked over a VAT blunder, sources have claimed.

Sam Shippen has been dismissed from her post as Town Clerk at Seaford Town Council following claims of bullying, in-fighting and incompetence.

An inquiry was launched in January after Norman Baker, MP for Lewes, listed 10 points of concern about the council.

They included “inappropriate delegations” handled by Mrs Shippen, “huge delays” in dealing with “relatively simple” administrative matters, an “almost endemic failure to answer letters” and infighting in the controlling Tory group that was “costing the town dear” by causing by-elections following resignations.

Mrs Shippen stepped down from her role in July during an internal investigation and has now been dismissed during her notice period because of gross misconduct.

A town hall source said the main reason was because the council missed out on the opportunity to claim back VAT worth £340,000 on building work at Seaford Head Golf Course.

The failure to claim back the money was down to an apparent administrative error.

The council has now asked the HMRC to still reimburse the cash.

Mr Baker, who earlier this year described the council as “dysfunctional”, welcomed Mrs Shippen’s departure.

The Lib Dem MP said: “I am pleased the town council is now getting back on an even keel though there are legacy problems to sort out, not least the huge VAT bill for the golf course that, if it cannot be renegotiated, implies a further huge tax hike for my constituents in Seaford.

“The good news is that a majority of councillors, irrespective of party, have been working together to remedy matters, and the mayor, Mark Brown, deserves credit for how he has approached matters, as do my Lib Dem colleagues Stephen Gauntlett and Sarah McStravick.”

Sam Shippen was unavailable for comment.