Former Petworth clerk battles to clear her name

Former Petworth Town Council clerk Jean Huggett
Former Petworth Town Council clerk Jean Huggett

PETWORTH Town Council’s former clerk is demanding a public apology in the latest twist in her battle to clear her name.

At the end of last year, a letter concerning Jean Huggett’s home water supply was mistakenly sent to the town council office in Golden Square. She says the council then attempted to close her account.

Mrs Huggett said: “The first I heard about this was last November when Southern Water called me to say they’d had an irate call from someone at the council.

“Southern Water told me the council had tried to close my account down.

“This all started because I wanted to get the waste water taken off my bill.

“My home address and the council address simply got mixed up – Southern Water admitted that was their mistake and promptly apologised.

“I take great exception to the council trying to close my account down.

“I would like a public apology for the inference that I used the town council’s money to pay my water bill.”

Southern Water said it had ‘incorrectly sent an account statement’ in respect of Mrs Huggett’s property, though the town council was not responsible for the charges. It said an employee had incorrectly amended Mrs Huggett’s address.

This comes after an audit report published in September 2014 which said councillors had ‘allowed the former clerk to run the financial and probably other procedures without sufficient effective oversight’.

Jean added: “Former councillors and members of the public went to the last council meeting to express their outrage that I had been accused of fraud and theft.

“In spite of the conclusion by the auditor that ‘there is no evidence of impropriety’, the town council again accused me of fraud by claiming the council had been paying my Southern Water account.

“This vendetta has been waged against me by the council and I would also like to know how long it plans to continue it.

“But the number of people supporting me in the town is quite overwhelming.

“I always did everything I was asked to do by the councillors.”