A town clerk has been fired a few weeks after landing her job because councillors decided she was unsuitable.

Dr Helena Hodges was appointed clerk of Lewes Town Council in October to take over from Christopher Walsh, who had been in the post for 30 years.

Councillors and officials were last night tight-lipped about the circumstances surrounding the departure of Dr Hodges, 53, who had previously worked for Wycombe District Council in Buckinghamshire as a senior administration officer.

In a statement, the town council said: "She had good opportunities to experience the pressures and various demands involved in the position of town clerk.

"At the same time, the council was able, with the benefit of professional advice from independent consultants, to assess her performance and capabilities in the post.

"Ultimately, it was decided Dr Hodges' employment by the town council should end on 31st December, 2001."

Mayor John Webber refused to comment further when contacted by The Argus yesterday.

Dr Hodges could not be contacted.

The Liberal Democrat-dominated council is still dogged by the fall out from the ejection of former mayor Graham Mayhew.

A financial watchdog said there was no evidence of financial irregularities in Mr Mayhew's use of the mayoral budget following failed plans for an art gallery in the town.

The watchdog said the council as a whole had made administrative, legal and financial errors during the affair.

Existing clerk Mr Walsh, 71, who was due to retire this week, has agreed to stay on for three months.

The post of town clerk is being readvertised.