Posted on Friday, 14th February 2020 | 18 Comments The following text has been uploaded by a former Town Councillor to highlight the issues within their council. The views and opinions expressed on this webpage are solely those of the original author and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Ask your Council or any other contributors to this site. ‘The Fish Rots from the Head’ – A Town Council Near You?? Appendices Abbreviations CONTENTS Context Background In search of the truth Corruption: What cost? Accountability or Condonation? ‘Step up’ vs ‘Cover up’ UPDATE February 2020 Visitors Comments Context I have resisted writing this or going to any form of media but I have had so many requests from residents wanting to know why I reported this Council to the Police plus have had a suggestion to write an article for a professional journal in view of my professional work with organisational systems. Although this is a variation, i.e. it is related to a dysfunctional and corrupt system whereas my master’s degree dissertation related to organisational systems and the development of team appraisal as opposed to the usual individual appraisal. So I have now decided to proceed with writing up my experience, anonymised of course and limited to key events. In doing so, I will send it out to selected personnel e.g. former colleagues within the public sector, other systemic practitioners, Councillors (Cllrs) from across the country, university lecturer colleagues and people whose opinion I value, to name but a few. I shall call these people my Reference Group (Ref Gr); although there is no ‘group’ meeting as such, everyone receives it individually and in confidence. This is purely my experience, where told or witnessed directly. Information not directly witnessed by myself has only been included where it has been triangulated in an attempt to avoid giving credence to any malicious gossip which happens in most organisations to varying degrees. Where one of the Ref Gr makes an addition/comment or both, it will be highlighted in green (not being my information such comments may not be triangulated). I have offered a comment on the earlier responses received prior to recirculating an updated version. Once all ‘raw’ content I wish to include is complete, I’ll edit it with a colleague for submission for publishing. I will of course wish to have a Literature Review, though as I’m just a ‘visiting lecturer’ to universities, I don’t have librarian time and so this may not be feasible or possible. Background I have lived in the town in question, in the North East of England, since 1992 but my working life and contacts have not been here. I am very proud to have mostly worked in the National Health Service (NHS); starting in Orthopaedic Nursing, then after qualifying moved on to become a State Registered Nurse. Following this I was offered a training place for both Midwifery and also for Registered Mental Nurse (RMN) trainings. I chose RMN training; as a post graduate student the training could be completed in half the time so I joined a training cohort who was 18 months through their training, to do the last 18 months. This was at a local psychiatric hospital which was a wonderful place to work pre-merger with another two hospital Trusts. I continued my training, successfully completing a number of courses within a range of different fields of practice prior to achieving a Distinction in a Master’s Degree in Family Therapy and Systemic Practice at a local university where I have often taught students. Seemingly there had only been one prior distinction awarded in this Master’s degree; it was a proud moment. I was also fortunate to be successful in my career progression through the ranks to becoming Deputy to the Executive Director of Nursing at a local NHS Trust. That was as high as I wished to go otherwise the role would be endless meetings and no clinical practice. I would describe myself as a professional with very high standards. I can’t tolerate laziness or incompetence. So, why did I become a town Cllr? Who knows. Especially at this town council! And it remains the biggest regret of my life! Not because of the opportunity to serve the electorate as it gave me that opportunity, I greatly enjoyed that aspect of the role, but because of the treatment I experienced by those in positions of responsibility within the council. Presumably Councils should reflect the local community but the decent, honest people who would genuinely serve the interests of the electorate and protect the ‘public purse’, in abundance within the town, were grossly under-represented at this Council. Although in the minority, it was these few very genuine, honest and hardworking people which kept me going through this experience. As a NMC Registered Nurse and UKCP Registered Systemic Family Psychotherapist, my whole working life has been steeped in confidentiality; though I am experienced enough to know this can give way when linked for example to safety (Safeguarding Children or Vulnerable Adults) plus in mitigating risk posed to the person or community. Or obviously matters of ‘public interest’, of which this account is one example. My Deputy Director role included responsibility for Research & Clinical Audit, a role which sadly exposed me to staff theft when three NHS Trusts merged (I hasten to add, not the trust I originally worked in!). Within mental health there are services which include Local Authority staff managed by the NHS. I therefore have experience in both NHS and Council management. Shortly after retiring I was approached to represent the North East of England on the National Executive Committee of a trade union, followed by representing that union on another trade union National Executive Committee. These two national trade union roles involved many trips to attend the London or Birmingham meetings plus the opportunity to meet and learn from heads of service in ‘Parliament Village’ as it’s known i.e. Department for Work & Pensions (DWP), Ministry of Justice (MoJ), Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) etc. My last NHS post was Associate Director Service Improvement; a post created for me following a homicide in the city involving a service user and the resultant Inquiry. A full organisational review was required (then, around 7000 staff), headed by a Professor from University College London Hospitals (UCLH) with additional personnel from across England recruited for their specific expertise. One of these was a Management Consultant from Leicester whom I worked with full time for over a year. It was he who introduced me to Bob Garrett’s excellent work; RETURN TO THE TOP ‘The Fish Rots from the Head’ As a Chinese proverb says ‘The fish rots from the head’ and so it is with businesses and other organisations – the buck starts and stops in the boardroom or applied here, with the Council. This is the title of Bob Garratt’s bestselling book that highlights the importance of effective corporate governance and has been extensively updated following the corporate scandals of the early 2000s – Enron, WorldCom, Tyco – and the abysmal boardroom standards that the recent credit crunch and ensuing global financial crisis brought to light. It applies equally to the abysmal governance and practices of local government by the senior employed staff and the elected Cllrs who are supposed to oversee their work and protect the ‘public purse’. Within this town council effective governance couldn’t be further from the truth! Any attempt to get senior employed staff to do things correctly i.e. within policy and good practice was met with bullying and abuse from these staff members and their Cllr ‘buddies’ whose interest was purely political point scoring. In my case, this extended into my home and family. Following the international success of The Fish Rots from the Head: Developing Effective Directors, Bob Garratt wrote a sequel, ‘Stop the Rot’ which explains the public’s distrust of the people who govern us – the directors, owners, regulators and politicians – and how this can be changed. He suggests that currently, Corporate Governance is too narrow and fragmented. The growing gap between the angry public and the urban elite, made manifest by Brexit and Trump is due to a lack of appreciation by both parties of the roles and values of well-governed organisations in bonding a society at both national and international levels. If you want an existing example of this then look no further than this town council and sadly, its ‘billing authority’, their County Council. It is the absolute epitome of dysfunction and corruption at the most senior level, with a change of Town Clerk (TCl) to date adding little, if any, change. Pure condonation. When appointed to lead the Service Improvement Team, following the Independent Inquiry, I was assigned additional staff members to assist me. It was close working with an Audit Officer which exposed the staff theft at a unit (not an enjoyable experience) within one of the other Trusts. However I did learn a lot being one of the senior managers for Forensic Services, both Mental Health and Learning Disabilities, which as well as including low and medium secure units, also included one of the few national personality disorder services. This latter experience proved invaluable in the later council role; identifying personality disorder traits is certainly something which I feel should be included in Cllr training along with robust recruitment and selection training to include interview / questioning techniques with assessed competency. If this training was available to Cllrs then maybe persons with personality disorder traits would not repeatedly be appointed and the massive theft from the public purse could be prevented or at least adequately dealt with by competent management; again missing at this council. Cllrs at this town council don’t all even do the very basic’s; although prior to recruitment of the new TCl, one North East Party (NEP) Cllr stated having responsibility for recruitment in their employed role but was clearly not competently trained as their informal behaviour created a potential legal problem and so the forced inclusion for interview of an unsuitable candidate. Although unsurprising when any lay person can be voted in with no meaningful experience, knowledge, skills or qualifications which adds any value in managing public services or protecting the public purse. A former Mayor ‘A’ within this town feels ‘life experience’ is all that is required (a known thief as I was informed by the Deputy Town Clerk (DTC)). Is that the experience the electorate truly want?! I think not! In terms of becoming a Cllr, this was never a role which I aspired to undertake, but when approached by the Labour Party (Lab) to stand for nomination at the May 2013 elections (both county & town), I agreed, though my preference was town. I thought my knowledge and experience could be well used for the benefit of the town – how wrong I was! The last thing that was wanted at this town council was a very experienced public sector senior manager! A leaflet was provided by the Labour Party for the relevant area; most of which were delivered by me and my family. I did not do any ‘door to door’ canvassing but did get the chance to speak to a few residents as I was leafletting which was welcome. However I did do a little telephone canvassing from our Member of Parliament’s (MP) office – mostly people were out anyway and so I stopped at the streets beginning with ‘B’. With so little canvassing, not being well known in the town plus my contacts being mainly Sunderland, South Tyneside, Newcastle, Northumberland & London, I was astonished to get the most votes for the ward. Also I wrongly assumed the tenure was two years and that elections would be held again in 2015 with the general election. After appointment I discovered it was a four year term but as I had been elected I had given a commitment so felt a duty to the electorate and resigned myself to a four year stint. May 2013 – May 2017 then ‘parole’!! RETURN TO THE TOP In search of the truth At the beginning of being elected, I had the support of an existing long standing Cllr ‘B’, who explained all the meetings and subsequent commitment required, telling me that the ‘Party’, meaning the Labour Party, doesn’t usually get “someone of my calibre” to stand for election. I was as well prepared as I could have been. Meetings were mostly held on a Monday evening until 9pm which did not interfere with my job (I was still working as a Systemic Family Psychotherapist & teaching at university level) or national trade union commitments. What should have been some pleasant voluntary work transpired to be nothing of the sort. The role at the council cost me dearly, in more ways than one! On a personal level, I feel strongly that town Cllr’s should not be recompensed but treat it as ‘voluntary work’, yet they are compensated in this town. I would not take my personal allowance (PA) but instead gave it all to a variety of charities of my choosing. Surprisingly, this did not come without its challenges. I informed the senior staff of my intention; to be told by the DTC that a system was in place as one of the ‘parks staff’ gives some of his wage to Barnardo’s (stating that he donated anything over a straight pound). Sounds easy doesn’t it? This was my first experience of the senior staff incompetence. There was no such arrangement in place at all; nothing had ever been put in place with the Charities Trust. It raised the question of what was happening to the park staff member’s donations? It also suggested to me that every other Cllr had always taken their monthly £100. It seemed I was the first Cllr not to take the PA payment and donate to charity. The DTC sorted the Charities Trust bit but she wanted me to fill in a separate form for each month’s allowance. This seemed bureaucratic. I certainly wasn’t going to do that for four years. When it came to sending six months PA to the second charity and I was told to complete six forms, one for each individual month, I took over the process. All it needed was the payroll officer details and the Charities Trust contact details; I then sent a table to them both indicating where my donation was to be sent each month. Once taken away from the council senior staff it was sorted. I can only describe my experience of council meetings as being ‘very odd’. Had I mistakenly stepped into the Beamish Museum? Archaic is a gross understatement. I joked with the DTC that an income generator could be charging for visits if linked to Beamish Museum! This could be ‘Ye Olde Council’. The Town Clerk (TCl) had been on planned sick leave for a few months, since February 2014, and as this person was ‘invisible’ in the town I had no idea who it was (their predecessor was a very visible TCl). Cllr ‘B’ whom I had previously met took me to the council offices outside of meeting times to meet some of the staff. They were lovely. During one of these times, in the presence of the other Cllr ‘B’, DTC made comments to me about the TCl i.e. “Watch her, she’ll be after a pay-out”, “Did it at the last place, and will do it again”, “Mark my words”. I paid little attention, thinking it was just the usual bad mouthing of the boss. I later found out that DTC was godmother to one of TCl’s children so presumably must have at least been friends in the past. On another occasion, DTC told Cllr ‘B’, in my presence that payroll dept had been in touch to say TCl’s sick pay was to end due to a ‘break in service’ as she had left the last council some time ago, but the person the TCl put in place during her sick leave a former Human Resources (HR) colleague and friend from the last council (as she did not want her ‘deputy’ to ‘act up / deputise’ for her), instructed payroll to keep TCl on full pay. It appears that this was due to the TCl working 6 hours / week at another parish council. Does working 6 hrs/week mean you can claim 37hrs/week full sick pay for continuous service!? In this year there was a ‘by election’ and a NEP candidate was elected. DTC was telling another Cllr in my presence, and then proceeded to tell me, how legal action was taken against that person by this council when previously a Cllr for taking the PA after being disqualified for non-attendance. DTC said even bailiff’s couldn’t get this person to open their door. This Cllr ‘A’ was seemingly made to repay this money by having this term’s PA withheld until all monies were repaid but Cllrs never received any confirmation that this did happen. Plus this Cllr ‘A’ was repeatedly elected as Mayor during this term! Should someone who has taken public money at this council, to which they were not entitled & yet refused to repay, be elected as its Mayor? Pillar of the community? I don’t think! Some months later I was asked by a couple, (residents), “How does a known thief become Mayor?” All I could say was the Mayor gets elected by Cllrs (though not by me!). My first public experience of embarrassment by this town council. RETURN TO THE TOP (Ref.G. addition). Another NEP Cllr also elected following a by election was supposed to repay PA which was previously wrongly given when co-opted onto this council by the Labour Party (Appendix 1). During that term this person did a lot of TCl’s work (far more competent). However, I understand that after trying to get a council contract personally awarded, TCl exposed this to other Lab Cllrs, resulting in ‘trouble’ and that Cllr leaving Lab. Comment: This addition is from a resident, with emails received from a friend at this council, who felt very strongly that this info should be included. It exonerates the Cllr and again exposes the senior staff member’s incompetence. In terms of the previous PA, again this term’s PA was to be withheld until all monies were repaid. No prizes for guessing whose incompetence caused that mess. Again Cllrs were never informed if that repayment actually happened. Regardless of being the ‘senior staff member’s’ fault, the money should still have been repaid. It would have to be with any other organisation, so – was it repaid? A payroll officer’s confirmation would be needed as the ‘truth’ seems an alien concept to the current senior employed staff. Fast forward to September 2013 meeting; TCl’s HR friend brought a paper requesting a number of thing’s, one being keeping TCl on full sick pay (half pay should have already started in August). I was probably the most vocal as I knew public sector sick pay well (as an employee, as a manager and in my trade union role). I educated other Cllrs about the 6 months’ full pay then 6 months’ half pay, advising that half pay was more than that in reality due to paying less contributions and tax. I also informed Cllrs of the Voluntary Sector service where I was currently working on an organisational review i.e. they had just increased from 2 weeks’ full pay then 2 weeks’ half pay to 4 weeks’ for each, illustrating the generosity of public sector sick pay. As a member of 2 trade union national executive committees, I was very au fait with the amount of work that went into getting such agreements. I felt strongly that this council needed to stay within policy and national agreement. Cllrs agreed, and then this HR ‘friend’ informed us that the TCl’s full pay had already been continued. The outcome of the meeting; the excess was to be repaid by the TCl. Following this, amazingly the TCl was well enough to return to work within days on a phased return. As far as I’m aware, Council members never received a report to say if the TCl had repaid the money. Phased return is for employees well enough to return to work, but need a period of gradually building up to full hours. It is for up to 4 weeks (ACAS), paid as though work was undertaken full time. This is mirrored in organisational Sickness Policies including the one used by this council. In most organisations, the employee is expected to also use some of their accrued annual leave during the 4 weeks. Any longer would suggest the employee was not fit to return back to full hours at that time. If so, and agreed by employer, employees may choose to have a period of reduced / amended hours (specified section on fit notes) until well enough to manage their full role with the entitlement that working hours and annual leave attract full pay with non-working hours attracting the appropriate level of sick pay. ‘Occupational Health’ purely gives advice rather than instructs or dictates. (Ref.G. addition). “TCl told me and many others that she imminently needed a large amount of money. This was to pay off her ex-husband for half the marital home or it would have to be sold and monies halved. Their divorce agreement had been that she could keep the house until their children were a certain age. That time was imminent. There were two acrimonious divorces which resulted from adultery”. “Her equity card comes in handy!” Comment: This addition is a combined summary provided by two members of the Ref G. As a Systemic Family Psychotherapist I have worked with a lot of families in this situation. Adultery does often cause very problematic & angry future relationships. In hindsight, very interesting that she imminently needed a large sum of money. So, once TCl was working we met at a normal Council meeting, after which she wished us to meet up. That seemed reasonable and I assumed she was doing the same with every new Cllr; later I discovered that was not the case. I was singled out for this ‘special treatment’. I went to the TCl’s office as arranged and moved a piece of paper which was set in front of me. The TCl roughly pushed it back. Weird? When I looked at it, it was a training attendance certificate from a Newcastle Law Firm, signed by a partner whom I knew (he was a Trustee at the voluntary sector organisation where I was working). When I said, “So you’ve been to one of ******’s training events?” and told her I knew him, she quickly whipped the paper away, looking livid. Maybe I was supposed to be impressed at an attendance certificate; though one is received by just turning up. This transpired to be a very unremarkable meeting. TCl stated she wished to meet with me, “As I had more about me”. In hindsight was she checking me out prior to the massive senior staff theft!? We also spoke briefly about the review which she had initiated; being worked on by her ‘HR friend’ whom she employed during her absence (this is a whole other story); it cost thousands and was never completed! This HR person informed me, using his words, “not trained in methodologies”, though I understand this cost around £10,000! The other notable thing she discussed with me in this meeting was her intention to demote the DTC to a ‘Minutes Secretary’ (“as that’s all she does”). I felt sorry for the DTC and had tried to support her / joked about things with her. I really felt for her as the TCl seemed to treat her dreadfully (example: not allowing her to ‘deputise’), until of course, the DTC started stealing for the TCl. Any decent manager with concerns about an employee’s capability would have used a ‘performance management’ process which would flag up any training needs to be progressed. Of course that didn’t happen here. Perhaps it should also have been initiated with the TCl! DTC went from calling the TCl ‘all the names under the sun’ until she started to steal for the TCl, then they were ‘bezzie mates’; other staff didn’t know what was happening. Why the sudden change? But this kept the demotion off the agenda! As the TCl was working on a ‘phased return’, which is used for a maximum of 4 weeks in order to gently get an employee back to work, the TCl was working half time. After these 4 weeks, the TCl would have been on half pay as per policy. Late Autumn 2013, I asked in a council meeting how much underspend there was from the TCl’s salary, so we could get in extra capacity to assist with her workload. TCl & DTC were both present and said they didn’t know. NEP Cllrs were furious, claiming I was trying to give the TCl’s job to someone else! None of them had a clue about staff management. I have often seen this used and never known any employee to refuse. After all, any work the employee didn’t want to do, or couldn’t do, could be offloaded. So I asked for the amount to be found out for a future meeting. Later meeting and the answer was that they couldn’t disaggregate it as all staff salaries were clumped together. At the very least odd, but also suspicious. A call to payroll would have sufficed. Early in the New Year, 2014, at a community meeting, with a number of town Cllrs present, a resident raised the TCl’s sickness. It was getting heated as seemingly the previous TCl had taken lengthy sick leave then left. It transpires that this was appropriate for health reasons. Cllr B said the reason TCl was off sick in order to diffuse the situation, which it did. At the next council meeting, Cllr B told the TCl what had happened and apologised. Her response, “That’s fine, I’ve told a lot myself”. This was true and TCl had enjoyed all the fuss, flowers and concern from staff and Cllrs. However, later, the TCl forgot this when pursuing her ‘grievance case’. TCl’s illness was also known by the wider public as I overheard it in the newsagent’s. Hardly unsurprising, when she disclosed personally publicising her diagnosis. Also just after this meeting, on 3rd February 2014, when walking our dog, I met a lady resident I knew who was talking to a man I didn’t know. After the usual pleasantries she asked me how the council was going, my response, “The jury’s still out”. This was met by an absolute tirade from the man, citing corruption i.e. “The Council’s a waste of time”, “Place is going backwards”, “Feathering their own nests”, “Should be plastered all over the papers” etc. I assured him that if I became aware of corruption then I would address it. Little did I know then but he was right: the two senior staff members were stealing thousands. Around the same time, a resident asked another Cllr, **** Freebie (as he’s known locally – will refer to as ‘C’), “What’s going on?” ‘C’ assumed this was the same male as had raised concerns to me but that is unknown. ‘Mrs Freebie’ was also a town Cllr (will refer to as ‘D’). A former Cllr and close relative of ‘D’, on hearing of the TCl back working half time, her comment to ‘D’ was “What, on full pay”? Although living near to me I didn’t know this couple’s surname initially and never gave a thought to the ‘Freebie’ meaning; to me it was just a surname. Whereas this name was assigned to the male as being the local ‘scrounger’. I would stress that both ‘C’ & ‘D’ suspected the TCl of fraud. I felt that the Council situation needed containing and managing appropriately; internally with independent input to prevent ‘cover up’ allegations and press involvement in order to protect the TCl and Council. As there was a council meeting that night I spoke to Cllr B, asking how I could raise this. I was sure that the angry guy was going to the press. The chair agreed I could raise an issue and I told the meeting what had happened. Incidentally at a recent prior meeting Cllrs received audit reports stating, on a five point scale, the banqueting suite as top i.e. outstanding and corporate governance as mid-point i.e. average. I pulled my thoughts together in scribble on the minutes (Appendix 2) and made the following motion, Proposal – “In view of the independent confirmation that corporate governance is lacking then until we have assurance that it is robust, we need to ensure that alternative systems and processes are in place to protect public money, the residents of *****, the staff and the members. This situation and lack of transparency leaves the Council and especially staff, wide open to criticism and suspicion. We need to address this. I propose the sick leave is independently looked at with a report to the next meeting; ****** County Council (*CC) HR would be ideally placed to do this”. The TCl immediately said as it related to her, she’d have nothing to do with it, which was absolutely correct. Motion seconded and carried by a vote; to be reported back at the following months meeting. Cllr ‘B’ proposed DTC took the lead, again seconded and carried by a vote. TCl looked absolutely furious. Bizarrely, the draft minutes of that meeting did not record my proposal correctly or accurately so I wrote down exactly what I’d said for the minutes including my approved motion and sent to DTC (Appendix 3 A & B). Approved motions are legally binding. Cllrs never received finalised minutes, only drafts with amendments being made at a future meeting. Minutes were also never put on the council website at that time; they are now, but were written to reflect senior staff’s interest as opposed to truthful recordings with legally binding approved motions (Appendix 4). Now that these minutes are on the website evidences that DTC omitted mine and Cllr ‘B’s approved motions. Perhaps they thought that they can’t be held to account if it’s all omitted in the minutes, eh? As approved motions are legally binding there’s a process to be gone through to withdraw a motion. This never happened. Neither of us withdrew our approved motions. Sadly truthfulness can only be described as perhaps an aspiration for DTC, even through minutes. The actual motions were never recorded or actioned. This should be addressed through the disciplinary procedure as ‘gross misconduct!’ Time will tell if the new TCl has the decency or competence to do this. (Ref.G. addition). This should be put right! Comment: Town and Parish councils are self-governing. There would appear to be no-one to report bad practice etc to; no-one externally who could intervene (believe me, I’ve tried!). The new TCl could but won’t; maybe as he wasn’t there at the time? Or is that being too kind? Is he afraid to manage staff? Former TCl has long since gone with the pay-out but it could have been avoided if DTC acted legally; my approved motion should still be actioned and DTC held to account! Or will her NEP Cllr; ‘buddies’ condone this as thieves themselves? Again time will tell. Another obstacle to getting pay information; DTC decided to do something totally different (Appendix 5). Later it became obvious why she wouldn’t do this. Though just basically getting the senior staff to do the very basic’s was a chore (Appendix 6). RETURN TO THE TOP Corruption: What cost? Cue bullying towards me by the TCl & DTC which started then. In view of the bullying behaviour towards me, initially through the minutes, I informed that I’d have a witness at all times. I never spoke to either of them alone and even in emails I had another Cllr copied in. I repeatedly asked DTC to be able to give areas to be addressed to the identified *CC HR person and had to spell out to DTC not to be copying the TCl into emails about the topic as the TCl had appropriately stated she should not be involved (Appendix 5). Approved motion was sabotaged i.e. not actioned correctly. DTC initially advised *CC HR that I was questioning the reduced / amended hours which was not the case; it was always about the pay the TCl was claiming / taking (later discovered as full pay totally unauthorised!). TCl stayed involved and met with the Mayor with her partner, plus the TCl and DTC involved an employment organisation (EO) to do a report, again unauthorised by Council; the Director is a personal friend of the TCl & partner (instrumental in her appointment!). Apparently this Director even undertook the junior admin role of showing candidates which room to go to etc on the interview day, whilst according to Cllr ‘D’, at every opportunity saying to Cllrs, “She’s the one you want”. I later asked for electronic copies of the Establishment Committee meetings (where staff issues were discussed) as the paper was piling up. Email trail i.e. in July 2014, DTC had only actually done minutes up to December 2013 (Appendix 7); she never sent the remainder. Who knows when she actually did them. Yet she could do a second job for another parish council until she had to leave ‘under a cloud’. The Cllrs there wouldn’t even take back the files she’d taken until they’d been checked. Were there concerns about her honesty? As she was falsifying and signing off time sheets to overpay the TCl, presumably she’d have known she should be sacked. She stole thousands of pounds of public money, albeit on behalf of the TCl! I wonder why? The day following my approved motion, there was an off-site council meeting where I’d hoped to see the TCl but she didn’t turn up so I went to her office: intention made clear to her that my proposal was to protect her in addition to preventing the issue being played out in public and avoid potential reputational damage. TCl seemed furious; “So it was to protect me was it!?” Silent phone calls to my home started immediately, presumably as an attempt to intimidate me. 13th February 2014, anonymous card received at my home through the post, the writing looked exactly like that sent to other Lab Cllrs during election. I took Police advice and had it logged the following day expecting worse to come. Lab Mayor shockingly said to another Cllr, “Deserves all she gets”. Another who was more interested in ‘sucking up’ to the senior staff! RETURN TO THE TOP 17th February 2014, at a Council meeting, I raised the anonymous card, read it out and asked which coward sent it and could anyone who had an issue with me please just speak to me. NEP Thug Cllr, a name given by residents who live nearby (still suspected of arson of a sports building and regularly barred from pubs/clubs for aggressive, drunken behaviour; even threatening to ‘burn one down’. Interesting choice of threat), raised objection that I was accusing someone from there; I advised that the Council was only thing I had in common with the other Cllr mentioned in the card. Informed I had alerted Police and would also be taking advice from *CC; would be telling them the issue I have been raising and full implications of why I think this has all happened. As I had openly told the full Council of my intentions, I was not breaching confidentiality. I’ll refer to Thug Cllr as ‘E’. The County Council know all about this theft. 19th February 2014, had opportunity to speak to a Solicitor from the County Council’s legal department, I told him the full story and about the referral to Standards Committee – he advised I’d done everything correctly and as long as done in a fair and reasonable way without threats or menacing then it was appropriate. Anyone who knows me knows I’m always a quietly spoken professional. How different would things have been if I was also ‘a big loud mouthed male thug?’ Also asked who wrote the unprecedented draft minutes which had been circulated / administrative practices, which was victimisation. TCl quickly said, “We both did” (TCl & DTC) – I asked for them to be rewritten, she refused saying they couldn’t be changed (first by the auditor, then it was the County Council Monitoring Officer and ending up as the ‘trainer’ – story changed when I questioned what she said). So I gave feedback as to what was wrong and ‘my statement’ minuted was a lie. I never read out a statement, it was my rough notes written that night to form my motion (Appendix 2 – which also gives the date of the meeting). Incidentally, the TCl never did minutes. In fact she never even checked over them when they went out in her name. They were always full of typing errors, financial info didn’t add up or on one occasion at least, wasn’t even understandable English. Every meeting I would raise the ‘typo’s’ issue, the TCl would roll her eyes yet do nothing about it. Eventually I stopped bothering. I logged my worries with*CC too (Appendix 8 A & B). Advised Council of my intention to address the victimisation by staff and intimidation into my home with Council support requested; all Labour Councillors bar Lab Mayor voted to support me, all FAIR/NEP voted against. The motion was carried in my favour. NEP used to be known as FAIR and Independent: very weird as if in a political party then clearly not independent! Rather like saying being ‘a single married person’ – ‘single when out with mates’ and ‘married when wanting home comforts!’ 17th March 2014, bullying complaint made. Remains outstanding; no process or procedure received to enable progression or any person identified with whom to relate to on an ongoing basis, despite repeated requests. Unable to put case in writing as would have to be sent to the bullies i.e. TCl & DTC so highly inappropriate. Fast forward to DTC & ‘E’ breaching the Data Protection Act. Cllr ‘E’ helpfully posted a transcript of the meeting onto the internet which I used as proof when reporting them, with DTC saying; “Well the issue that Councillor ***** has brought, that *** and I are bullying her. That is very serious and where do I go with that? I have had to ask *CC to see if they can intervene with that to be a third party support, because how as Chief Officer can I give this to someone else to do? I can’t say to *****deal with this it is off ******? That’s not fair. But by the same token, I cannot deal with them as I stand accused. Now if officers have acted out of turn it is for you as Members to discipline me and *****, to deal with that in a way that you would deal with an officer that as stepped out of line.” (Ref.G. addition). This is disgusting!! Those Cllrs should be disciplined or ‘sacked’!! Need their names so they never get elected again!! Not just bullies, they are shameful!! Comment: I need to keep this confidential so can’t share Cllr names. Yet she never did this and Cllrs, especially NEP Cllrs always voted to help DTC by even refusing to allow an entry in later minutes about my bullying allegation, which I asked for; though on one occasion, the one honest NEP Cllr immediately confirmed what I had said and wanted recording in minutes but it still didn’t happen. March 2014, as unable to get TCl’s pay information, I made a Freedom of Information request. 11th April 2014 received a very vague response from DTC; including salary underspend unable to be identified. My suspicions were now definitely raised. I was later told that a previous Cllr had called in the Internal Auditor as he suspected DTC of overpaying herself but then he wasn’t re-elected so couldn’t pursue it. No report was ever received. So I had confidential communications with the council’s Internal Auditor (who on reflection was reluctant to do any investigatory work or maintain confidentiality – apparently previously worked with the TCl & DTC). All cosy together. (Ref.G. addition). This auditor should also be sacked!! The job’s bad enough without them being corrupt as well!! Comment: he no longer works at this town council (TCo). Then came the complaints to the Standards Committee about me and other Cllrs who were in support; one from Cllr ‘E’ and cronies (is buddies or cronies the correct word?) against four of us (me for motion, Cllr B for supporting and second motion, another Lab Cllr for supporting second motion and Chair of the meeting for allowing it – yet according to DTC’s minutes none of that happened!); a little later one from DTC for telling her what to do (basically trying to get her to obey TCl’s instruction and also to progress my approved motion); and then the final one from TCl. I use this diagrammatically in Uni lectures when talking about corrupt dysfunctional organisational systems; a Systemic Diagrammatic Representation (Appendix 9) which is always well received. Uni students can’t believe such a corrupt system can really exist; they are amazed at how much the senior officer’s stole and that minutes are changed to reflect their own interests. I searched for advice on fraud in councils but all I could find was the former Audit Commission advice (Appendix 10). It’s shocking that information isn’t readily available like it is in other public sector services. I also took advice from a neighbour (Police) who put me in touch with a Detective Sergeant in their fraud team. She looked into the *CC payroll which was all correct. No surprise, I had every confidence that payroll would be fine; the corruption was at town council level and the instruction sent to *CC. The DTC does the time sheets and payroll instructions. (Ref. G addition) Has this not stopped? Last person who should have financial responsibilities or any responsibilities actually! Comment: I understand it hadn’t stopped; delegation of responsibility lies with her line manager, the TCl. (Ref. G addition) New Clerk sounds just as dodgy to be ‘covering up’. Thief as well? 11th April 2014 onwards, silent phone calls to my home (intimidation) increased and so reported to Police. I informed the TCo that I had twice contacted the Police re correspondence and silent phone calls. As if by magic, they both immediately stopped. Anyone would think someone there was behind the immature antics. I also asked the TCl about the External Auditor. She gave me all their contact details, though were based in Southampton so are unable to be called in easily when there are fraud concerns (Appendix 8 A) which might be considered convenient. I tried to keep this anonymous so rather than email I phoned. I explained my concern related to the suspected theft of public money but the receptionist insisted I said which council so I could be put through to the right auditor. Once I got through, the very first words from the auditor were, “It’s not the Clerk is it?” I was stunned to say the least; later discovering that a TCl had recently been imprisoned for fraud in another area (Whitehill Town Council which this auditor was involved in). I also informed *CC. There followed confidential communications with the External Auditor. Cllr ‘E’ read out a statement at a TCo meeting calling for my immediate resignation, and those who supported me; is he not as corrupt as the senior staff for trying to quash this? My thoughts “Jog on!” I was the only one doing things correctly. 17th April 2014, Thursday before Easter break; all three Standards Committee complaints had been put together as considered more of the same thing, though Cllr ‘E’ widely reported his complaint was upheld! He was a liar too, to add to his unsavoury repertoire! Decision Notice: Local Resolution, with a training session later delivered. I was finding all this so stressful when public money was being unlawfully taken and all I experience is bullying for asking pertinent questions which was actually a Cllr role, yet the two senior staff and Cllr ‘E’ just attacked me. 22nd April 2014, Tuesday after Easter break i.e. next working day, council were informed by a statement being read out by Mayor from the TCl at a full Council meeting that she is taking out grievance against me and Cllr ‘B’. I thought this was over but in hindsight, TCl needed a guilty verdict to get a ‘pay out’ so she could settle her divorce agreement. I went to the TCo offices the next day, saw the DTC but there was no Grievance Policy. Why would there be? After all the TCl and DTC were tasked to do such policies, one a month, in 2012 but didn’t bother, yet both had time to do a second council job. During April 2014, I tried to move past all the complaints and bad feeling the TCl had for me by focussing on Council business (Appendix 6). Cllrs are not allowed to bring items up on the day of the meeting so I gave more than the obligatory three days’ notice, yet with me she still refused to include my items on the agenda. I also emailed the TCl with some agenda items I found on the internet which I felt would be of interest to the Council along with the supporting documentation to enable a discussion with Council members. TCl replied with her comments but wouldn’t put items on the relevant meeting agenda’s. She was actively obstructing an elected Cllrs work, to the prejudice of the people who voted for me. She was also going to report on some but never did (becomes a running theme). Then came a letter from the Mayor stating ‘Grievance Panel’ was to be created by the external EO (TCl’s friend) based on other organisational practices with employees by picking three independent individuals (one of their staff and two external Cllrs). Still no actual grievance, no policy, no process, no procedure, no practice standards etc plus the ‘panels’ judgement was to be abided by from the outset with no right of appeal. Corrupt or what? (Ref.G. addition). “If I’m guessing these people right, TCl’s partner and the director of the employer organisation (EO) used for her ‘grievance’ are long term friends and used to be known as, ‘the mafia’, due to their ruthless, money grabbing behaviours”. Comment: fits with the lead police officers later comment to me to be careful of this Director. This comment wasn’t clarified but I took it to mean my personal safety! There were actually eight Lab Cllrs in total who were fully aware of and agreed this suspected theft, yet all bar one remained silent; NEP Cllrs along with the few Lab Cllrs who refused to even look at the evidence, preferring to stay ‘matey’ with the thieves. Not being happy with the internal Standards Committee Decision Notice does not authorise the ‘creation’ of a new system presumably with the intention to secure a preferred outcome for the TCl. Legal, Trade Union and ACAS all contacted and confirmed that Grievance Procedure can only apply to the employees of an organisation. Councillors are not employees hence there are recognised and legally authorised bodies established to address complaints against elected Councillors i.e. Standards Committee or the affiliated political party, with clear ratified procedures / practice standards in place. But Cllr ‘E’ et al supported the thieves and this gave the perfect avenue to attack. Cllr ‘B’ and I were the TCl’s targets; after all we had suspected her. Later discovered that this panel was created by the TCl’s personal friend months before ‘grievance’ actually existed! I spent days trying to get some legal help; my union i.e. Thompsons Solicitors could not help as it wasn’t an employed position, tried Law Society, passed around 10 law firms who either would not help as already worked with councils or employment lawyers and couldn’t because issues didn’t relate to an employed position. Eventually in desperation contacted a local law firm as I knew one of the partners (felt nowhere else to try) and took advice from one of their Solicitors. 20th May 2014, met with Mayor ‘C’, Deputy Mayor and Council Party leader / spokesperson (Cllr ‘B’) re suspected fraud. All present had the same suspicions. Meeting held at my house due to confidentiality needed of the first stage of the invoking of an Anti-Fraud & Corruption Strategy / Policy. This first stage is normally a small piece of work which determines whether there is a case to answer and if so, then progress to fuller investigation / Police involvement, though this Council’s process was a joke; written in the last century and never updated. No surprise there then. This level of confidentiality at the first stage is obviously to prevent the individual being alerted and tampering with / shredding evidence. Sadly I’ve experienced this before! As the issue related to the TCl, the Mayor ‘C’ and Deputy Mayor (due to Mayors impending holiday) were to invoke the Anti-Fraud & Corruption Policy the following day with the DTC. If required, the Deputy Mayor could then move progress in the Mayor’s absence. The Mayoress ‘D’, in this sense very appropriately being just the same as any other Cllr, was clearly unhappy to not be party to discussions and stated her intent to inform others. Despite suspecting fraud herself, her main concern was not being included; as Mayoress she felt she was more important, whereas the role is purely to act as ‘consort’ and save the Mayor attending functions alone. The role is often a family member or friend so highly inappropriate to be involved in confidential Council business. 21st May 2014, Deputy Mayor collected Mayor ‘C’ to go to Council Offices; Mayor ‘C’ hurried inside to cancel meeting. He had changed his mind overnight …. Deputy Mayor dropped Mayor ‘C’ off home and was faced with Mayoress ‘D’ screaming and telling her to get out of house. Mayor ‘C’ and Mayoress ‘D’ then alerted people, including the TCl, about this “secret meeting”. Presumably they did not understand the concept of confidentiality. It is unknown what evidence had been subsequently destroyed as a result but one legal document was definitely ‘missing’ during the subsequent Police investigation and affected the outcome. Cllrs ‘C’ & ‘D’ then went on holiday. (Ref. G addition). What a disgraceful pair! Comment: Hard to disagree! RETURN TO THE TOP So I met with Lab Leader / Spokesperson ‘B’ and DTC to invoke the Anti-Fraud & Corruption Policy myself. Advised that if the initial work evidenced that there was a case to answer and look into further, I would be taking that initial report externally from the Council with particular reference to the Police; any confidentiality would therefore not be breached as I had made my intention clear. ‘Confidential Reporting’ was allegedly in place as stated previously by the Internal Auditor but he clearly just reported what the senior staff told him (not a competent Auditor). It did not exist. I was happy to not have ‘confidential reporting’ protection (which incidentally is not included in the outdated process) as I was happy to be connected with either clearing the TCl’s name or uncovering / progressing the misuse of public money. I stressed to DTC the importance of complete confidentiality at this stage. I still have the mental image of her with hand held on her heart when giving this assurance yet in the TCl’s grievance report, DTC had informed her immediately. I shouldn’t really have been surprised with DTC, as truthfulness evades her. The DTC did involve the Auditor to do this initial work; it would be hard to avoid. (Ref. G addition) DTC really is the scum of the earth! Get the names out! Comment: I need to keep this confidential. I think it was 6th June 2014, a Friday morning after Cllrs ‘C’ & ‘D’ returned from holiday; I had to face an abusive shouting incident at me across the street (‘C’ hurling abuse at me including derogatory comments about my husband). This was both frightening and humiliating as I was on my own walking our dog, though a couple of women were further across the street. Once challenged by my husband over his abusive outburst, ‘C’ admitted he was wrong, including about his allegations of my husband not speaking to him etc. Typical bully – complete pathetic coward underneath when challenged. 19th June 2014, I delivered the first of three individual day long workshops for the Voluntary Sector on Mental Health for my Community Interest Company at a local University. Sadly my Community Interest Company, created with another Family Psychotherapist, folded the following year once the ‘domain’ paid time expired. When self-employed, no work equals no income. I have had to turn down contracts / work including at another university when contacted by them and feel unable to start again building up the company due to the stress and resultant illness from all this. I have essentially lost my independent livelihood from spotting the misuse of public monies and progressing actions which was my elected role. All for detecting the fraudulent behaviours of the Council Town Clerk & Deputy Town Clerk. 26th June 2014, External Auditor emailed me with advice / instruction being, ‘If you have any evidence of any criminal or fraudulent activity you should take this to the police for them to investigate. If the police require any assistance we can of course assist but we cannot become involved and we would have to stop our audit work until they had concluded on their investigations’. As the perpetrator was known, Action Fraud ultimately advised formal reporting to the local Police. I therefore obviously took the External Auditor’s advice / instruction and Action Fraud’s advice. Surprising coincidence of timing as DTC had emailed me the previous day to say the Internal Auditor had completed his report. 5th July 2014, met with DTC and Cllr ‘B’. Given copy of worrying Internal Auditors Report conducted in June’14, to include the break in service now becoming apparent; this later went to the full council (Appendix 11) plus email info given. Important to note he reported me as ‘Whistle Blowing’ which I was. Whistle-blowing is not bullying which TCl accused me of; hence there is legislation to protect employees who whistle-blow but sadly not Cllr’s. Report also informed that timesheets for full time hours had been completed since Sept 2013. Suspicions were right! TCl was exposed, as was DTC for falsifying and sending inflated time sheets to payroll. This was the first time that it had been confirmed that the TCl had been claiming full pay for reduced hours since returning from sick leave in August 2013, but as she’d been off sick again since May 2014, DTC had been completing her time sheets and returns to payroll. DTC stated the report raised more questions than answered; I asked who could get the other Parish Council pay info for TCl’s second post, DTC stated she didn’t know but she wouldn’t. If DTC had actioned my February approved motion, the theft would have been known month’s earlier, plus the disciplinary route would have been taken against the TCl rather than a ‘pay off’ and positive reference (testimonial). Again I informed DTC that I would be taking report to Police as advised although I didn’t want to. I tried again to get DTC to rectify the situation with support without the need for Police; she refused saying, “It can’t be put right”; “I’m up to my neck in it”. All she had to do was stop falsifying inflated unauthorised time sheets and returns to payroll for the TCl but she wouldn’t. I expect the minutes will now be changed to say all this was authorised. It absolutely wasn’t authorised. Sadly the former TCl and DTC are just common thieves. I later discovered that DTC and Internal Auditor completed report together, seemingly because payroll wouldn’t reply to his request for information. Also later discovered that TCl, DTC and Internal Auditor all previously worked together in a former Council – how cosy though maybe explains why he wanted nothing done about it! After all, his job depended on the TCl. Interestingly the Internal Auditor was changed soon afterwards to the *CC, with the DTC being the most vocal for change (maybe because he knew of her massive theft?). 10th July 2014, Police contacted; Outcome, officially reported suspicion of misappropriation of public monies. Perpetrator recorded / named as ‘Town Clerk’. Victim recorded / named as ‘People of *****’. Evidence given to Police met criteria for a criminal investigation. Active Police investigation ensued, led by a CID Detective Inspector, into two areas which fell under their remit. Told criminal intent unlikely to be evident as the Police require a different ‘burden of proof’ to that of an employer (‘beyond reasonable doubt’ vs ‘balance of probability’) but Police wanted to pursue it and that the focus would be on the DTC, as the person falsifying time sheets unless she gave them the TCL. The criminal investigation also cannot subsequently be used for internal employer purposes therefore the same two areas along with the other areas of concern which fall solely within the Council’s remit need an internal investigation, normally automatically started with HR support i.e. two systems of phased return / sick pay being operated at the same time (one for the TCl and the correct system for a more junior employee with the same illness (but sadly much more severe, yet interestingly she did not require so much sick leave)), interpretation of sick leave entitlements, overpayments, working in their second post at another Council whilst taking sick leave from this council (double salary), recouping overpaid public monies etc. All still need addressing through an investigation under the Disciplinary Policy which also enables a record of the police investigation to be made and any corresponding actions to be met. ‘Balance of probability’ was proven by the Internal Auditor which would result in termination of employment in a reputable honest organisation. This council wouldn’t have an internal investigation even though that always happens in any decent public sector organisation. It’s automatic. Shockingly not in council’s, there has to be a majority vote! But here, the Lab Cllr’s bar one preferred to be silent and the NEP Cllrs preferred me and my family to be attacked, mainly by the senior staff and Cllr’s ‘E’, ‘C’ & ‘D’! (Ref. G addition) Labour’s as bad as North East Party! Won’t vote for either now! Bet this is in Northumberland or Durham? Comment: need to maintain confidentiality. 29th July 2014, a further fourteen weeks after the grievance announcement, despite repeated requests for the information, the letter, obviously now written, actually materialised as a pdf file, 14 weeks after the grievance announcement, despite repeated requests for the information, which until this time was non-existent though the rest of the requested / required documentation from my letter to the council remained missing. The chronology is intriguing; 5th April 2014 – recorded as date of letter 22nd April 2014, seventeen days later (highly unusual in my experience and very puzzling) – date of the raising of the grievance very inappropriately and disrespectfully being verbally announced at a full Council meeting with surprisingly no letter. Interestingly, this announcement happened to be the next working day immediately following the Standards Committee considering the complaints and issuing their Decision Notice for ‘Local Resolution’. 3rd July 2014, at 11:11:46 – the date the grievance letter was actually created as opposed to recorded as written, almost thirteen weeks later. This obviously calls into question the content, the integrity and raises many other issues; I wonder what information the pre-pdf document could reveal. 24th July 2014, at 10:06:12 – date the grievance letter was modified; curious to only be finalised a week ago, almost sixteen weeks after it is recorded as written and over three weeks after the pdf document creation. Legitimacy of the ‘grievance panel’ repeatedly questioned / evidence of such requested but unable to be provided. Yet, ‘grievance panel’ which has no legitimate standing still being forced by Mayor, Cllrs, EO and TCl. Repeatedly requested the complaint be heard by signposting it to the correct process to be addressed; repeatedly ignored. Apparently a second ‘same referral’ to the Standards Committee is not allowed plus no appeal of decision is allowed. But the TCl needed a ‘guilty verdict! Also repeatedly requested that my initial bullying complaint, made in February 2014 against the TCl and DTC be progressed right up until I was freed from that corrupt council in May 2017; again repeatedly ignored, though the new TCl says it’s resolved! Obviously by some other incompetent as I’ve not been interviewed, given my evidence and witnesses etc. (Ref. G addition). Is he for real!! Who on earth is this loser? Quicker he’s gone the better! Comment: I need to keep this account confidential in terms of names. 13th August 2014, External Auditor emailed me enquiring about Police involvement and wanting their contact details; information given as she was going to support the Police. This could have all been sorted with my February 2014 approved motion. Essential to be done now, the public purse should be protected not abused with the main thief i.e. DTC held to account (she had ‘signed it all off ‘so Police view was that she’d be the one ‘to do time’!). The abuse from the ‘Freebies’ continued resulting in a lot of Police involvement and only stopping when a Police Harassment Warning Notice was served and signed by ‘C’ (so accepted). They and Cllr ‘E’ reported me as harassing them but I’ve received no such warning. Police know who the aggressors are. Also town councils are not overseen by anyone. I have even raised this fraud at government level; basically I wanted as many people as possible to know of these two senior staff and their theft. The relevant County Council also know but have no remit to intervene, likewise MP and the Local Government Ombudsman, so basically if you have a corrupt town council they get away with it especially when supported by a corrupt and bullying political party as this one was, and still is. RETURN TO THE TOP The fish rots from the head – so true at this town council 8th September 2014, Cllr ‘E’ informed the DTC that on seeing the agenda he was going to audio record the meeting; he was just ‘an observer’ at this meeting so essentiality had no more status than a member of the public. DTC chose not to inform the full meeting or use the ‘Exclusion of Press and Public’ option to protect confidentiality of me and the TCl plus prevent any recording – meeting was covertly recorded by Cllr ‘E’ plus my Solicitors letter was referred to. In this recording the DTC clearly says about my Solicitors letter, “This ‘Private and Confidential’ is a load of cobblers, for want of a better phrase”. This is another example of how the DTC has maintained her bullying of me knowing it would be upsetting. TCl was also upset by this recording and included it her evidence to the ‘grievance panel’ so she got a full apology from Cllr ‘E’ (I of course got no such consideration from Cllr ‘E’ or the DTC; by their gestures in meetings when it’s mentioned they just ‘smirk’). Cllr ‘E’ then posted the recording on the internet. But helpfully also posted a transcript which I could use when reporting! Thanks for that! Not especially bright? (Ref. G addition) DTC is such an imbecile & Cllr ‘E’ really is the scum of the earth! If this is who I think it is, he managed to get his possessions out of the sports building the day before the arson! What a stroke of luck eh? Comment: This is not triangulated. A resident FOI request received into the Council asked for a copy of my Solicitor’s letter; it feels like the recording / internet incident was all because the DTC saw another opportunity to get at me. It’s not my fault that I exposed her as a thieving liar. I reported this as a Data Protection Act (DPA) breach to the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) and of course Cllr ‘E’, the pathetic coward that he is, took it down with the DTC lying that it didn’t happen. This is a long story in itself with an ICO Manager twice trying to get this council fined but as a first reported offence couldn’t, however the council was to be kept on record for two years and had to develop and submit a Data Protection Act Action Plan. So, ICO verdict – guilty! (Appendix 12). DTC actually plagiarised a Freedom of Information Act Action Plan from the internet and, embarrassingly, sent that! (Ref. G addition) This just gets worse and worse!! DTC, what a complete t*******d! Where is this Town Council? Comment: I need to keep that confidential for lots of reasons. (Ref. G addition) Is the DTC a fat blonde specimen who endlessly bullies other staff? It was deemed ‘a malicious and personal breach of the Data Protection Act’. Cllr ‘E’ felt he should have been contacted by the ICO – basically clueless about the ICO; ICO deals with organisations not individuals. DTC should have faced disciplinary action yet again but of course didn’t. I reported Cllr ‘E’ to the relevant Standards Board who felt the ICO were best to deal with this (again not a well-informed or knowledgeable County Council Legal Dept) and his aggressive yelling at me in a previous Council meeting, so did nothing. The ICO Officer also later advised me of how to put a ‘community safety net’ in place for my parents (had she already heard of these ‘low lifes’; anyone would think she knew Cllr ‘E’). 22nd September 2014, ‘D’ presented at my elderly parents door with her daughter, ‘Screeching like a Banshee’ as neighbours described – claiming she was stressed by it all and my parents should do something about me. This was very distressing for my parents, one of whom is disabled, who live in a very quiet respectable private cul-de-sac. Unfortunately they wouldn’t report it to the Police; they are very private reserved people – “not wanting any trouble”. Having my parents brought into this and verbally attacked is particularly upsetting. On another occasion, ‘D’ followed after my husband when he was walking our dog, even crossing a road to do who knows what. I was driving past and stopped briefly to speak to him. He then continued to walk home, I closed the car window and drove off; we left her standing, having no desire for any contact. This was followed up by Cllr ‘E’; raising the opposite situation at a council meeting and how shocked he was i.e. “D had to hurry home as she was so upset by us” and he was helping ‘D’s son make a Standards Committee complaint regarding this ’absolute lie’. The complaint was withdrawn. Cllr ‘E’ must have been gutted. He spent this whole council term attacking me as he could never ‘win’ in any matter of council business against me when I pointed out his bad practice or unlawful motion’s, so resorted to his usual gutter thuggery. Example: Cllr E got Cllrs to agree that PA would be withdrawn after a few weeks if a Cllr was not attending. At the next meeting, when I was present, he wanted to reduce the time. I said it was unlawful. The new TCl was clueless so would ask NALC. Outcome: I was right! Hardly rocket science but beyond this lot. Around this time I had to tell my parents a little of what was going on as they’d told an acquaintance they thought I had cancer due to me looking so ill, losing so much weight and breaking down into tears a lot – knowing they’d been worrying like this was dreadful – though the TCl, DTC & Cllr ‘E’ would love it. 20th October 2014, the obvious council staff member was ‘Interviewed under Caution’ by Police re public monies. The DI told me that this person would be arrested if didn’t go voluntarily and that the person ‘signing off’ the fraudulent time sheets would be the one facing court and prison, unless gave them the TCl. I was also informed that the DTC and some Cllrs were furious that I took my concerns to the Police even though I was justified, was instructed to by the External Auditor and the evidence met the Police criteria for an official criminal investigation. (Ref.G. addition). TCl’s partner hit the Journal newspaper (25th June 2013) after being reported by a local Cllr for the amount he’d cost in that Council. Do these two just go round Council’s ripping them off or stealing public money? Comment: Link to newspaper article provided but not included as it is unable to be anonymised (gives both name and photograph). November 2014, I was contacted by Joe Willis, Chief Reporter, Northern Echo (since left) following Cllr ‘E’ contacting him to try to get me vilified in the local press as a ‘bully’ towards the TCl. Fortunately I was able to give my truthful account with notes plus attachments sent, the investigating Police Detective Inspector (DI) also gave a quote which was very helpful to me though it meant that the story was out in the public domain and it got people talking about ‘Council Fraud’. The story was printed 26th November 2014– ironic as all this happened to me because I wanted to protect the TCl and Council from this hitting the press. The DI went further than I thought he would by referring to ‘a female’ being interviewed! Wonder who that was you ask? Cllr E must have been gutted; backfired big time. (Appendix 13) One good thing that came of that newspaper article was contact from a Midlands Cllr also having TCl trouble. Through this I got a support network of Cllrs nationwide who have exposed corruption and bad practice to their cost! Rotten Clerks, thug Cllrs and misuse of public money seems to be a national theme. It must be costing this country millions! The DI was excellent. He told me the ‘female’ interviewed said the TCl had done nothing wrong as she was using Time Owed In Lieu (TOIL) – in truth this was removed from the TCl’s Conditions of Employment before appointment which annoyed her plus even if it had been true she’d have to have had many hundreds of hours which no organisation would allow to accrue. He also informed me that a Private Investigator tried to infiltrate the Police investigation and when tackled admitted he was engaged by the Director of the EO; this organisation are funded by different council contributions (appropriate use of public money? I think not). Plus a Lab County Cllr tried to get info stating she was ringing for our MP (she’s a relative of the ‘Freebies’). The DI also advised me to be careful of the EO Director – I didn’t clarify his meaning but felt he meant my safety. (Ref.G addition) Please name all these morons! Comment: As per previous comments. 1st December 2014, Council meeting – Cllr ‘E’ refused to accept my apologies for meetings as I had “been to another community meeting and had attended a meeting in a local city where I had given a speech”. The truth being; – 14/11/14 – attended community meeting, thought safe from bullying, no Council Officers are part of group, Cllr ‘E’ didn’t usually bother to attend so only 3 Labour members would be there plus I had done a lot of work with the staff of that organisation to get a community ‘Engagement Meeting’ launched in the Summer. – 26/11/14 – NHS North East Leadership Awards in Newcastle, on the day the regional Trade Union Officer / presenter fell sick and asked me to present award for her. It was a day event but I only went after lunch to present the fourth award, read words from a card given when on stage and left at afternoon break, 1hr in total. However the ‘Freebie’s Brother-in-Law (fortunately now left the town) was present and told Cllr ‘E’. Odd really as this Brother-in-Law was part of the local Labour Party branch hierarchy and usually called Cllr ‘E’ ‘worse than a pick pocket’ at every opportunity. As Appendix 14 shows, this was just a further misinformed attack from Cllr ‘E’; not very bright, running theme? Later took up issue with Labour Party; result being no action would be taken. This went through all levels to Regional Officer but ended up back at the local branch, whose hierarchy are relatives of the ‘Freebies’. I have since left the Labour Party as I couldn’t stop a contribution from my subscription fees going to the local branch; I preferred to send contributions to Central Labour rather than to a local branch, dodgy with current hierarchy. Although it was now confirmed that the DTC had been over paying her friend the TCl, I wasn’t sure how much had been stolen so I asked a former colleague, a Chartered Accountant and former public sector Executive Director of Finance (both NHS and Local Authority experience) who compiled the attached spreadsheet based on a £60k salary – shockingly this was an under representation as the TCl’s EO Director friend had advised the TCo to pay more (£20k+ per annum overpaid). As can be seen in those few months they had stolen over £40k of public money through unauthorised pay & contributions (Appendix 15). Yet the DTC has never been held to account for operating 2 systems of sick pay and ‘signing off’ false unauthorised time sheets for her friend the former TCl. The new TCl knows this but does nothing. Why would that be? Just as corrupt? Benefitting or just an incompetent / insecure manager? (Ref. G addition) He must be thieving as well or just a useless manager, what a p***! (Ref. G addition) All this evidence and the new TCl does nothing? Only one reason; thieving as well!! RETURN TO THE TOP Accountability or Condonation? Cllr ‘B’ and I did not engage with this ‘grievance panel’ as it was unlawful. Through a family friend I engaged, a London Barrister (then also Standing Counsel to NALC), for legal advice and letters to support us. I attach only examples (Appendix 16). This ‘grievance malarkey’ was completely unlawful. But this didn’t stop the TCl, who needed a guilty verdict for a pay-out, or Cllr ‘E’ et al who wished to cause us distress. The legal costs to me, for the two of us, amounted to thousands. 23rd December 2014, contacted by DI; council governance arrangements, policies / procedures described as “Embarrassingly shoddy”. Police were shocked and also noted that a key legal document which should have been made available was missing! Also that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) only progress cases they will win; now significantly reduced in number due to austerity service cuts. The CPS would not progress a case where the organisation does not have governance in place to prevent fraud as the case could not be won. It is not their role to put governance into an organisation! This is the shocking state of this corrupt town council! Who is worse; the thieving senior staff or the Cllrs who knew of the whistle-blowing yet attack that Cllr instead of dealing appropriately with the thieves!? (Ref. G addition) They must have been laughing all the way to the bank! Need name of council, those m**** Cllrs and useless new Clerk, this is stolen public money! Comment: need to maintain confidentiality. 6th January 2015, EO grievance report completed and presented to Council by the 2 panel members (external Cllrs). Letter from my Barrister also presented. Cllr ‘B’ and I had to be excluded from any such meetings. Seems we had “been given enough time to attend”; no acknowledgement that we still awaited proof that this was a legal process etc. Obviously because it couldn’t be proved legal! It wasn’t! There was no way that I would attend an unlawful investigation / ‘kangaroo court’. Panel members reported to Cllrs that they’d had no training to do this work (presumably not needed as outcome was pre-determined!). Presumably also excluded to prevent us raising the outstanding whistle-blowing actions. The thieves should be held to account! (Ref. G addition) What a set of b*****d’s! It’s incredulous! Comment: Can’t argue with that. There was a local Solicitor engaged for this Council from a nearby town; area of expertise according to firm’s website, ‘House Conveyancing’. Yet this council has no housing at all. It was this Solicitor who advised the Cllrs. So who did they listen to, a high street Solicitor whose legal area is house conveyancing or a top London Barrister who specialised in public law and was even Standing Counsel to the national body (NALC). Again no prizes for guessing what these Cllrs did. I understand the TCl got ‘an out of court’ settlement of £208,000, which was higher than she’d have got if dealt with in court, where a specific formula is used to set payment; would a low level Solicitor even know that? This came out of the public purse as the senior staff had stopped the insurance which covered such risk; unbelievable. Senior Police’s view, “Small price to pay to be rid of a bad’un”. Maybe he’s right, though the actual thief is still in post; still stealing? Who knows? If not now, no doubt will in the near future! (Ref.G addition) Which Town Council is this? Which Councillors ‘signed this off’? Comment: I’m unable to say. I need to keep identifying information confidential. I communicated with the Solicitor Regulation Authority; outcome, no blame lies with this Solicitor as he only advises; it was the Cllrs decision and they chose to go with the housing worker rather than the public law specialist Barrister. Is this ‘shower’ of Cllrs really what the town needs? 23rd March 2015, called an Extraordinary Meeting to look at an Internal Investigation being done related to Police investigation and all the issues it uncovered. All NEP and 2 Labour Cllr’s voted against – ‘Cover up’ basically. Issues are really serious and need to be addressed in order to learn from and ensure does not happen again (Appendix 17 A) but in the DTC’s interest to stop it happening (Appendix 17 B). She even tried to stop us attending this and the meeting we called in May 2015 with the same stunt i.e. more lies, discovered through a County Council Subject Access Request (Appendix 17 C), but I got legal advice and we attended. No surprise, nothing happened; any governance issues affecting senior staff are quashed. Incidentally, I reported this ‘deliberate misleading of Council’ by the DTC to the new TCl as an issue of gross misconduct, who claimed to have investigated the issues (Appendix 17 D & E). The reader can draw their own conclusions; my view, the lack of competence and management ability is astounding. The electorate deserve better. 9th May 2015, my husband was threatened when walking dog by ‘Freebie’s’ son-in-law – “Get down the field and we’ll sort this out now”, implying that it was all causing stress to his family. Police visited next day, went to see this man who admitted it, saying it wouldn’t happen again. PC told us we could get a Harassment Order if any more happened (if previous incidents had been reported it could be done now). Plus ‘D’s son later started writing lies all over the North East about me. DTC then cited I was ‘bullying’ her. You could not make it up. She wanted me to meet with her union rep which I welcomed and went with Cllr ‘B’. Very useful meeting as he had no idea about all the issues / bad practice and her involvement in the fraudulent unauthorised payments. Outcome: won’t be taken any further; though he must wonder why there has been no disciplinary process! Simple – because she’s protected by both the corrupt and the incompetent. November 2015, my GP wrote to the council for a second time. Obviously it couldn’t just be posted due to risk of the DTC & Cllr ‘E’ posting it on the internet so I tried to take it and read out. Another long story but after not being allowed to be accompanied by someone as support, ‘known thief’ Mayor ‘A’ wouldn’t let me read it out. (Ref. G addition) OMG you had it from all sides! Comment: Agreed. An unbelievably elaborate ‘smoke screen’ has been allowed to envelop the whole situation, detracting attention from the very real underlying issue – Misuse of Public Money. I was the only one to do everything by the book after detecting massive theft by the two senior officers, yet my family and I have had years of absolute hell from corrupt staff, Cllrs and their families. Even writing to the Secretary of State was pointless; response, it’s up to the electorate. But what if those elected are also corrupt, allowing massive theft and terrorising anyone who whistle-blows? Another way which my initial Barrister, suggested was to go down the Judicial Review route, though even that felt too risky as the council would just lie and falsify minutes etc – the expertise of certain senior employed staff. No change there then. I wasn’t prepared to lose property in addition to all other costs. Detecting fraud really isn’t worth it. In March 2016, a resident called a parish meeting which should have been chaired by the Mayor ‘A’; she just sat ‘red faced’ whilst all her failings were cited. I was asked directly about Police involvement, to which I answered truthfully. Although it was fraud, I never actually used that word even though NEP Cllrs present later accused me of that. Even if I had said that, it was the truth. To refer back to DTC’s words, “I’m up to my neck in it”. The next particular significant event was filing a personal injury claim against this council in 2016. My complaint to the court arose after I sought to gain clarity over the expenditure of the Council on behalf of its constituents. I issued a claim for personal injury arising out of ‘breaches of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, misfeasance in public office and breaches of my human rights’. I filed and served for discontinuance on 23 May 2016. The reason I discontinued by claim is because, following receipt of my medical report, and having considered the trajectory of litigation, I had serious concerns about my ongoing health. In essence I had developed an extremely distressing stress related illness; medical advice being that it would worsen during a lengthy court case. I was not prepared to suffer any more just for exposing the fraudulent behaviour of the senior council staff and their massive theft of public money so I basically withdrew on medical advice. This is a matter that has yet to be resolved through my approved motion and bullying allegation. I did confide in a member of the HR staff who was appalled and felt I should resign, “This place certainly isn’t worth that!” She knew about the theft but the DTC had to progress any work with that department. Cllrs aren’t allowed to. The DTC would never progress my approved motion of February 2014 as that would risk disciplinary action and termination of employment; at least it would end in an honest well run organisation. So it’s all omitted. One more unbelievable incident was when my parents attended the annual electors meeting. They were sitting behind Cllr ‘E’ and his wife who started her usual heckling. Others were being asked to go through the chair. My Mother tapped her on the shoulder in an attempt to get her attention. Cllr ‘E’ reported my disabled Mother, in her 80’s, for assault. They were sitting between Police so is there really any chance of an assault happening? The PC concerned said nothing would happen as he could see who the aggressor was even although ‘E’ escalated his complaint up the Police ranks; he was chased. ‘E’ wanted an apology which was never going to happen. A decision I wholeheartedly supported. (Ref. G addition) My view, JOG ON THUG! RETURN TO THE TOP ‘Step up’ vs ‘Cover Up’ Cue recruitment of the new TCl. There was to be an assessment process of three areas, basically I understand were English, Maths and Judgement conducted by the same EO. I recall about 15 applicants, 2 not attending and 1 internal applicant with consistent very poor results so not shortlisted. 3 scored highly in all three areas and 1 in 1 area. 4 were to be shortlisted though only 3 places really left due to the inappropriate behaviour of a NEP Cllr. Wouldn’t you think the 3 highly scoring and experienced applicants would be shortlisted? Not at this Council. I couldn’t stay for the full shortlisting plus on the individual interview day I declined to be involved (I would not be involved in this circus!) as the Cllrs all wanted to be there despite advice to the contrary from HR and EO staff. Poor applicants having to face a room full of Cllrs, mostly not even trained! You’d be forgiven for assuming that the successful candidate was high scoring in all three areas. Never make assumptions. Once appointed this TCl wanted more money before even starting work (the post salary had been correctly evaluated by HR this time). That’s another story in itself. Once in post I arranged to meet this TCl, told him of the theft, showed him the evidence, and DTC misleading Council, with the response, “I’m straight”. I should have asked for clarification but I assumed ’honesty and integrity’ was meant as he seemed a nice guy. He would speak to the Internal Auditor. Obviously he did not know I’d met this Auditor; the new TCl then reported back to me, “There’s nothing in it” (see Appendix 18). How does this keep happening? RETURN TO THE TOP ‘The fish rots from the head!!’ (Ref. G addition) Straight? He’s as bent as the DTC! Is DTC stealing for him now? Town residents should take this up with the evidence of him lying; the b******d! January 2017, I posted the attached (Appendix 19) to all the other Cllrs at their homes, where I knew their addresses, as I was being silenced by the new TCl. It is self-evident. This escapade of lies, bad practice and incompetence by the DTC at that time cost me £2925 (needless to say nothing was done about it and I was not reimbursed). I marked it ‘confidential’ at the time, not that the word means anything at that council. March 2017, I recontacted the DI to see if I could meet with the CPS with him. He advised a member of the Constabulary’s fraud/economic crime team reviewed the case (a Detective Sergeant). This took a few months; he also met with the current TCl. Outcome: “The theft was beyond doubt”, though with the missing governance and legal document could not go any further. Within weeks our dog was poisoned; she was a beautiful gentle dog who loved everyone and who never picked anything up in the street etc but she’d been given a powerful toxin. Despite great efforts by our vet including a type of parental dialysis, she rapidly went into chronic renal failure, had repetitive grand mal seizures and died in October 2017. We can’t prove it was anyone linked with that Council but equally importantly we can’t prove it wasn’t. (Ref. G addition) OMG!! This is horrendous! Bet it was one of those m***ns!! My money would be on Thug Cllr or DTC!! Moral of the story: never be a town councillor but if so, never expose the fraudulent behaviour of the town clerk and deputy town clerk. Spring 2018, a Midlands Town Councillor took out a Judicial Review and won! Town Council had been found to have acted ultra vires its powers in sanctioning this Cllr using a process other than that set out in the Localism Act 2011 (Standards Committee); and in doing so has subjected her to both substantive and procedural unfairness and, as a consequence, has infringed her rights under Article 10 of the Human Rights Act. Basically that town council had also tried a ‘kangaroo court’ route when the Standards Committee didn’t rule the TCl’s way. It was my case exactly. Surely there are trustworthy competent TCl’s somewhere? Absolute confirmation that this town council created an UNLAWFUL process and gave hundreds of thousands of pounds of our money (public money) to a thieving senior staff member – and the corrupt Cllrs there not only all knew it but condoned it!! After a couple of attempts, I managed to speak to the current TCl on 27th March 2019, leaving messages in my maiden name to mitigate against any risk. In writing this account I realised what had gone wrong and wanted to meet him to share my findings and this account but he wouldn’t meet or even hear me out. He just said, “I’ve been through this with you and there was nothing in it”. As described earlier, he hadn’t. ‘Nothing in it’ – wonder whose words they were? I had thought he was a decent bloke but, as the saying goes, ‘There are none so blind as those who will not see’ Gullible? Incompetent? Or both? My personal view is both. He’s been proven to be untruthful plus; Gullible – must have just asked the DTC about the Police investigation and adopted her phrase, “There was nothing in it” rather than taking an objective view. Would the DTC say anything different? Her previous words, “I’m up to my neck in it!” Police view, “The theft was beyond doubt”. Incompetent – any competent manager would get an independent view with either the Internal Auditor (now a proficient one is engaged) or even HR doing an investigation, when faced with the amount stolen which then leaves the manager objective to just deal with the outcome. An inexperienced, insecure or naïve manager hides behind a fear of staff management and disciplinary proceedings. I do acknowledge it is hard to conduct such proceedings especially when the manager relies on the employee in order to do their job (never had a TCl role before; though hardly picked a good role model); much easier to join in the TCo’s scapegoating of me. I’d suggested a mentor for support and guidance from the outset but that was never going to be accepted; arrogance prevented that happening. (Ref. G addition) You’re too kind. This new TCl should be disciplined and dismissed for protecting a thief and incessant liar! How thick is he? Maybe the answer lies in legal action. Questions Should these Cllrs not repay the £208,000 they paid the last Clerk into the public purse? Should the DTC not repay the overpayments she made to her friend, the last TCl (£40,000+) and the £20k+ paid for ‘Acting Town Clerk’ when she was never officially appointed to such a post which everyone there knew, confirmed by DTC when breaching the DPA she said; “As long as this grievance keeps going her union (TCl) has said there is no hope of getting her back to work. We have no town clerk and no direction. We are all doing as much as we can but there is a job there and it’s not getting done.” (Ref.G addition) 1. Which Council is this? The DTC is just a thieving b***h! Have they not heard of disciplinary process? ‘Acting Up’ money should be taken back!! Comment: Agree. (Ref. G addition) 2. Cllrs who were in post during this scam by the last TCl should be made to reimburse you for all your legal costs incurred fighting their unlawful actions. Redirect their allowances; let’s see who is genuine and who’s there for their monthly 100 quid! Comment: that would be nice but never going to happen; unlawful actions are their forte. Guess would not be many, if any, left. (Ref. G addition) 3. Cllr ‘E’ needs reporting by the council and this new TCl p**t disciplined! Comment: Would never happen. (Ref.G addition) 4. This is excellent! Love your title! Get it in the press, with names! Comment: Thank you, though not something I liked having to write (Ref. G addition) 5. New TCl still miffed to be proven a liar? If does nothing must be thieving too I reckon. Certainly not fulfilling job responsibilities! (Ref. G addition) 6. Words fail me. Just stunned! YES, YES to questions! (Ref. G addition) 7. From thieving bully to arrogant incompetent. Here’s to third time lucky! Let’s face it, couldn’t get any worse! (Ref. G addition) 8. Difficult account to read as so upsetting, though well written. Good use of analogy. All evidenced too. Perfect title! Only a total clear out would work there! (Ref. G addition) 9. Anyone else would have resigned but I know you would never give in to bullies or let fraudsters win. Horrific experience! New TCl not very bright or equally as corrupt to just believe the DTC who would appear to be a prolific liar! Both should be sacked!! (Ref. G addition) 10. Reads like a Private Eye Rotten Boroughs article! Well done you 🙂 My personal view is that election to local government should be on the qualities, skills, experience or knowledge the candidate brings rather than the political party. Also my apologies to all those residents who wished me to stay on that council. I simply couldn’t; the place is too corrupt for me, with sadly no indication of change. Two Cllrs stand no chance against ‘corrupt senior staff’ and their Cllr ‘buddies’. Hopefully this new TCl will ‘step up’ to his line management responsibilities and deal with the outstanding issues correctly; but first he’ll have to get passed being proven a liar (which was not my intention at all. I just wanted to understand why a competent Internal Auditor had said what the TCl reported back to me without any evidence or investigation. I could not predict the response). If not for the electorate as a public sector employee, then to salvage his own reputation. I maybe misguided but I have to believe that he will do the right thing and address the inaccurate minutes, action my approved motion and appropriately progress the long standing bullying allegation along with the resultant HR issues. The DTC should be held to account having had the opportunity to stop falsifying inflated, unauthorised time sheets with support plus contravening sick pay policy, operating two sick pay systems, falsifying minutes, acting illegally in terms of approved motions, misleading Council to try and stop certain Cllrs attending meetings, breeching confidentiality and the Data Protection Act plus incessantly lying to name but a few. This won’t get the money back which Cllrs paid out following the ‘unlawful grievance investigation’ which they supported/progressed but actions have consequences. The least the town’s people deserve! I wish him luck and hope he doesn’t suffer the same repercussions as I for doing the right thing (that is, assuming he ever does). With a competent team around him, no doubt he will be successful. Be Careful who you elect!! Remember; RETURN TO THE TOP The Fish Rots from the Head!! I leave you with my correspondence to the Mayor and Town Clerk before I got out of that Town Council (Appendix 20). This TCo continued to knowingly apply the unlawful grievance process, a recommendation from it being that Cllr B and I were referred to the Standards Committee. The hearing was held in April 2017; the panel being three old men Cllrs, obviously not adequately trained. I took my evidence on a memory stick but while I was presenting it was told to “Sit down” by the appalling Chair. The former TCl did not attend as it was seemingly ‘too upsetting’; maybe couldn’t face us as she wouldn’t even have known of her ‘part diagnosis’ being revealed if Cllr B hadn’t told her and apologised which she accepted or my resident interaction. I would have liked to know why it took months for her ‘grievance letter’ to appear and why she’d accepted apology at the time but not now when it could result in a pay-out for her divorce settlement among other things. Cllr B and I were both found guilty of course. Cllr B for the part diagnosis comment and me because I paraphrased the residents rant about the last TCl’s sick time by saying, “She’s poorly”; don’t suppose any had heard of a long word like paraphrasing which clinical / therapy professionals, me included, do all the time. I didn’t say a thing about why she was off sick or discuss the reason or anything that would be a breach of confidentiality or indicate bullying. My ‘crime’ was detecting the misuse of public money and fraudulent behaviour of the two senior staff. Wherever she’s working now, beware, as said by the DTC, “She’ll be after a payout”, unless robust effective governance is put around her and she doesn’t have a subordinate who will go,” Up to their neck in it” for her. Former Labour Town Councillor. July 2019. RETURN TO THE TOP Update February 2020 As I’ve been away from that toxic culture for almost 3 years now, my stress levels have reduced and so in that respect my health has improved. At the end of last year, I worked with the Barrister who dealt with my previous personal claim (case I withdrew on medical advice) as I could progress proceedings related to the DPA breach. This Barrister wished to do this work Pro Bono for me. I have attached her letter, dated 2 January 2020 (Appendix 21), in which she includes a Subject Access Request. This letter was sent recorded delivery to the Chairman of the TCo with very clear instructions as can be seen. There was no response or even an acknowledgement. At the very least, Subject Access Request is a legal requirement and should have been complied with. A follow up letter dated 12 February 2020 has also been sent recorded delivery with a 7 day deadline (Appendix 22). Again this letter was ignored. In addition to the misappropriation of public money, ‘creative minute taking’, failure to record and progress approved resolutions, failure to deal with staff gross misconduct and bullying allegation of a ‘whistle blower Cllr’, there are longstanding unlawful actions of this town council which continue, contravening; Localism Act 2011 Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings Act) 1960 Data Protection Act Subject Access Request RETURN TO THE TOP November 2020 In August, I became aware of this TCo’s Annual Governance Statement (AGS) 2019 / 20 which goes to their External Auditor. No surprise that they recorded being perfect at everything. With the help of a Cllr from another region I submitted my objections to the AGS within the permitted time frame in a table of evidence format (Appendix 23). with the supporting papers. The External Auditor looked at my evidence and in their reply stated would not be giving further consideration or issuing a Public Interest Report but would be considering qualifying the AGAR and making recommendations in some areas. Of course this was disappointing & suggests that corrupt thieving senior staff just have to keep stalling / creating obstacles until the end of that financial year: then they get away with it. Also, I heard back from the ICO Case Worker who was investigating the TCo not complying with the Subject Access Request. Ironically the ICO Case Worker gave my personal email address to the TC despite my specific instruction not to: so whilst investigating a DPA breach the ICO breach the DPA. Again I’ve had to escalate it for a review. The ICO again found this TCo did not understand its data protection responsibilities and so have again breached the DPA; however the coronavirus pandemic is affecting their enforcement activities at present. The other significant event is I’ve submitted my initial papers to the court re: previous DPA breach and have 4 months to ‘serve to the TCo’. However the court must have contacted the TCo as I’ve received correspondence from a ‘claims company’ suggesting I’m ‘out of time’ and mentioning a ‘letter before action’. This company has been put right. My court submission was within the time frame allowed and the letter before action was given in January 2020 (Appendix 21). There has been a small amount of correspondence with this claims company; I enclose my last letter (Appendix 24). RETURN TO THE TOP Visitors Comments Please note: Comments will only appear below once they have been approved by the administrator. 3905 18 comments I have known and worked closely with the author for many years in her role as senior NHS clinical manager, her role included managing a large group of staff offering support and advice daily. The author was also a valued staff side representative for a professional body supporting and guiding members during difficult and stressful times. When the author discussed with me her intention to stand as a local councillor I felt she would be a great asset for her local rate payers to have such a highly qualified person join the local council who is so conscientious and diligent. The author would have used her management skills to improve practices within the council team and to involve the local rate payer in the change process. The local councils have huge budgets and part of the job role of the local councillors is to improve standards and raise concerns when the need arises, the author has the skill to do this in a highly professional manner. I am shocked to hear the Author has not been supported by the senior team at the council when the author carried out her responsibilities as a local councillor to uphold good professional standards adopted by the council. Reply Hi Peter, Thank you so much for your kind words. Unfortunately the last thing that council wanted was an experienced public sector senior manager as a Councillor; especially one who knew public sector pay and could spot fraudulent behaviour! If this massive theft hadn’t been committed by the ‘senior team’ (Clerk and Deputy) then something may have been done but add to that the North East Party wanting to ‘political point score’ and there’s a perfect recipe to ‘laugh all the way to the bank’; with the new Clerk being made a fool of by endless ‘covering up’. I thought this person was better than that. How wrong was I! Pity councillor training didn’t include staff pay/entitlements along with personality disorder traits, ideally done before being allowed to be a candidate at elections, then perhaps the town would be much better served. At least the town wouldn’t be a few hundred thousand pounds poorer. Author Reply “The major problem… one of the major problems, for there are several… one of the many major problems with governing people is that of whom you get to do it; or rather, of who manages to get people to let them do it to them. To summarise: it is a well-known fact that those people who most want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it. To summarise the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.” Douglas Adams: Restaurant at the end of the Universe Thank you for writing this account. While it does not immediately solve our current issue: A District Council taking action to Compulsorily Purchase (dispossess) the family home of 23-years, of a couple that have been providing care and support for an elderly disabled relative for 13-years, it has confirmed our thought that there is something fundamentally wrong with Local Government and the complete lack of accountability. As you say; ‘Council Complaints procedure’, Monitoring Officer, MP, Local Government Ombudsman all either ‘Part of the same trough’, toothless or disinterested. The only recourse is to expensive law… While some of the ‘excesses’ [hopefully] don’t apply in our case, the basic thesis holds true: incompetence, Personality Defects (See quote above), illegal acts, thuggery, dishonesty and unaccountability… As I read, I found myself wondering if I had in fact written this blog last night, in my sleep! If I may, I would like to reference this information, when speaking with our local press. I think this is a BIG problem, as shown by Sarah Chayes book [HERE] Other than expensive litigation, how can we – the people – fight this plague? The 2011 Localism Act removed what teeth there were for dealing with ‘bad behaviour’: PS: If your barrister is available for some paid work, or if you feel like forming an Action Group, please do let me know. Reply Thank you Neil for taking an interest in my ‘write up’ of my experience of being a Councillor at a town council; it is much appreciated and actually refreshing to know there are more who share my views of local government. I am sorry to read the experience you describe; it sounds horrendous but sadly no surprise. You are so right – it is a BIG problem. In terms of the personnel, observational assessment of behaviour and actions identify senior staff with very evident personality disorder traits plus there is no standard for councillor candidates to meet before election. Combined together this is a recipe for disaster with no ‘body’ overseeing practice and use of public money. Of course you can use any of this information with the press. It is obviously anonymised but as press are often at court hearings, this may change when my case is heard enabling a wider informed audience i.e. the town and personnel are likely to be named. In terms of the Barrister helping me pro bono, she is ‘public access qualified’ so can take direct referrals although I am unsure if she is able to take any more work at present as she is overloaded. I am happy to ask her for you if helpful. I am very interested in your idea of further work / Action Group and have links with other persons nationally who may also be interested. Perhaps we can use the Administrator of this site as a conduit to more direct contact. If agreeable please provide any information/contact details accordingly. Thank you. Reply First there are first several things about the author’s report I want to comment on. The auditor’s report showed that members of the council took full pay while on the sick for longer than was sanctioned by the rules, so broke the instruction and the policy of the council. This is incomprehensible and suggests corruption, not just incompetence. To be threatened by councillors, that worried the police to such an extent they warned the author that these people were likely to seek revenge, I would have thought that the threats should have led to a conviction but maybe there is some fine point of the law or in the circumstances that I have missed. The best explanation for some of the councillor’s activity is that there was coordinated action of a coterie which meant they were covering each other from their wrong doing. Secondly I would like to say that my dog’s death would have broken my heart just as it did the author’s. Thirdly I would like to describe how I know the author who I have worked with in a local psychiatric hospital sine 1983. When I started working there the author was in charge of the ward for medically sick psychiatric patients, which she ran efficiently and with aplomb. The author was highly regarded by the physicians from outside the hospital as well as the consultant psychiatrists. It was sorely missed when it closed for financial reasons. After that the author started a drug and alcohol service, as a nursing officer a neighbouring city, de novo, that despite being run on a shoe string was better than the regional service. This service included a methadone maintenance and a clean needle service to prevent HIV. The author impressed doctors, social workers and O.T.’s by her hard work, resilience, along with an eye for detail, diplomacy and management skills; all essential for running this kind of service. Following this the author then developed an innovative family therapy service and trained doctors, O.T.’s and other nurses which has had an enduring legacy at our hospital where I still work as a consultant psychiatrist. You can see how the author’s ability, personality, determination, honesty, caring, intelligence, lateral thinking, allied with a high level of conscientiousness means the author was unable to turn a blind eye to the corruption, incompetence and dishonesty in the council. She is a proper Labour person; if only all were like her. Reply Thank you so much Ian. You are very kind, though I remember acutely how instrumental and supportive you were in getting the drug and alcohol service established district wide with continuing development and additional services over the years. I certainly did not do it alone. This whole council saga was a nightmare from detecting the fraudulent behaviour of the two senior staff to the term ending. The obstacles that opposition councillors and those staff put in place were ridiculous; presumably expecting me to stop. As Maria said laughingly to me in a phone call, “Had they never met you?” What is totally unbelievable is the new Town Clerk doing nothing, repeating his deputy’s mantra and lying about his contact with the new Internal Auditor as well as the councillors doing nothing about the original auditors report. Our public money is not safe in their hands! Reply I know the author and hold great respect for her honesty , integrity and courage. A well written account exposing the blatant disregard of decency and governance within public office by both members and officers at the expense of taxpayers money and at immense personal trauma to the author. Exposures in the script such as Data Protection breaches, bullying, dishonest representation of accounts in minutes and more, provide ample evidence of senior officers dishonesty and fraudulent actions. This is made even more reprehensible by the non action of the current Town Clerk to deal with any of the issues when in a position to do so. Such a shame the Police did not see themselves in a position to take action. No individual or town deserves to be treat like this and needs protection. If there is to be any restoration of faith, members need to take responsibility and put the electorate before self interest and ‘blind eye turning’ to corruption by officers and act. Reply Thank you Ivan for your kind comments. This organisation prefers to ‘attack’ the whistle-blower then give hundreds of thousands of pounds of the town’s money to the ‘scam recipient’; she didn’t actually falsify the returns to payroll, her deputy obliged there! At least the town is rid of her. If only the new Clerk would ‘step up’ to his job role and deal with the actual thief instead of just repeating her ‘mantra’ before there’s more theft and pay-off’s. Reply I have known the Author as a well-respected colleague & valued friend for some 40 years. Skilled & qualified in clinical specialities & senior management roles the Author is held in high regard by all & was an esteemed role model for many. The Author is renowned for setting & maintaining high standards of practice & accountability underpinned by integrity, fairness & honesty. As a Labour Councillor, it is no surprise the Author would feel duty bound to robustly scrutinise, challenge & expose any concerns regarding dishonest or corrupt practices evident within this public service. That the Author experienced such appalling & malicious repercussions from so called fellow public servants is indeed an absolute disgrace! At the very least criminal investigations surely should be instigated, alongside further scrutiny by senior Labour representatives. Meanwhile dear Author I thank you for your principles & applaud your tenacity & endurance. Take care, stay safe Regards Maria Reply Hi Maria, I am so touched by your comments, feel really from the heart. Thank you so much! Yes I would not just ‘sit back & disregard’ the blatant fraudulent behaviour of the senior employed staff, as the others did bar one, although to be fair most councillors there were totally unaware of employment law or public sector sick pay / basic good management which makes an ideal foundation for fraudulent behaviour, especially when combined with different political parties containing some members who were more concerned with political point scoring than protecting the electorates public purse. What I feel is less acceptable, in a way, is the newly appointed Town Clerk who condoned the massive theft. Maybe due to having little management experience and so easily manipulated by the corrupt. Unfortunately Police were unable to do anything due to the governance being, “Embarrassingly Shoddy” and the “key legal document being missing”. Wonder if it’s now returned? The CPS could not pursue prosecution when there was nothing in place to stop this fraud. Although legal routes could not be pursued at that time, the internal investigation, automatic in well managed honest organisations, is still to be undertaken. Although the former Clerk is thankfully gone, albeit with a huge amount of the town’s public money, the Deputy Town Clerk should be held to account. Public sector staff are dismissed for much smaller thefts, but not here! Reply It is terrible that the author has paid the ultimate for telling the truth. Why have a whistle blowing policy when the initiator is penalised.? This I’m afraid happens in all walks but more so I feel (from experience) in public sector…when all you try to do is protect people’s monies and ensure they are used appropriately. About time more people stood up and questioned more. Well written piece… Reply Thank you Amanda. I’m sorry that you have also had a bad experience from ‘whistle-blowing’. The council I’m describing didn’t even have a ‘whistle-blowing’ policy! There were very few competently written policies / systems in place hence the Police and CPS were prevented from prosecuting, allowing the DTC to purport, “There was nothing in it”. Shockingly the new (current) TC just adopted that phrase instead of fulfilling his responsibilities; ‘managerial impotence’ I’d call that. Just what the town doesn’t need! Reply I have the highest respect and admiration for this author. Despite learning, early in the process that this was going to be an uphill battle, her unquestioned integrity and determination to ensure that this fraud was uncovered, despite the high price to her own health and well being, is humbling in the extreme. Sadly, individuals who are prepared to expose the truth within these organisations are as rare as hens teeth, precisely because of the way that the stakeholders on the receiving end always close ranks. Whistleblowing policies are a joke and are invariably used against the concern raisers as opposed to the perpetrators. I am very sorry to read that the author was treated so horrendously by this organisation, for simply telling the truth. I hope that she recovers from this terrible experience. Reply Hi David, Thank you so much for your kind words. As the saying goes; ‘The truth is still the truth even if only one person speaks it’ I’m sure those from this council will have a different story but can’t refute the evidence / email trails or the fact that a massive theft of public money has occurred and gone unpunished. I am feeling stronger now, thank you, and will be ensuring this corrupt place is exposed even more. The towns people deserve so much better. Reply Excellent article. As I said at a County Council meeting last week; the depressing truth is that those who expose wrongdoing in Local Government are much more likely to face reprisals than the wrongdoers. Given all the problems within the Town / Parish Council sector and the lack of appetite for meaningful reform by Central Government; I would just scrap this tier of government. Reply Hi Georgina, Thanks for your feedback. I couldn’t agree more! At the very least there should be some sort of ‘Person Spec’ before anyone is allowed to be a councillor so candidates have something to genuinely offer then we wouldn’t get the thieves, town thugs & drunks which seem to be in abundance now. Maybe no ‘Personal Allowance’ would stop some of them too. Reply This former councillor is obviously a very highly educated, highly qualified and highly experienced public sector clinician and senior manager. Seems to easily be able to spot a ‘fraud’, whether financial or a person. Principled with high moral fibre who is clearly highly respected by the ‘Reference Group’ who I assume all know this person. Their comments alone speak volumes!! Definitely has ‘tenacity’ for justice, regardless of the personal and financial consequences! Very professionally written; must have been only outlet left to be ‘heard’. Maybe should have just revealed all to the press – hope an investigative journalist sees this and ‘runs with it’; should be exposed with names. I’d probably have named this council and key incompetents / thugs. Not many can be successful in management and yet still be ‘head hunted’ by trade unions at national level. Clearly has a reputation for doing the right thing; demonstrated by working as first line of contact for staff being bullied yet could still terminate employment of a bully correctly. Employment Tribunals can’t usually be fooled. Horrendous for this former councillor, their family and even dog! to suffer & bear such costs like this. Hats off to the other councillor who supported throughout. Also horrendous for the people of this town to have such huge sums of money stolen / given away in an ‘engineered scam’! I apply the last subheading to this new clerk and his incompetence. So will the new clerk; ‘Step up’, and put all the wrongs right or continue to ‘Cover up’ and not competently execute his full responsibilities. Is he scared of the deputy clerk? Is he scared of losing ‘face’? Email evidence is damming of the corruption and incompetence. Sure this former councillor could help! If permitted, bet they could have transformed that place. Hope he and this council staff see it so he loses any wrongly attributed respect and is forced to do the right thing! Or even the ‘one honest NEP councillor’, if still there, maybe with the one who supported throughout (though may face the same treatment and decline involvement). Typifies the quote on this site’s homepage about councillors! Good Luck…. Reply Thank you for your comment. You have obviously read it through. One councillor has definitely left & only stayed for that term to prove this council wasn’t corrupt as that was the talk in the town. Unfortunately the talk was correct. I don’t suppose the other will dare do anything on their own. Reply Leave a Reply Cancel replyYour email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment Name * Email * Website Captcha * Type the text displayed above: This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.