Petworth councillors dispute clerk’s contract and allotments

Petworth Town Council
Petworth Town Council

PETWORTH Town Councillors have delayed signing the new clerk’s contracts after concerns were expressed over its terms.

Neville Fox said he had ‘concerns’ about the contract.

He said: “Some of the things in the contract have far-reaching effects for a small council like this. It is written like it was for a big company. “This council cannot possibly afford to enter into a contract with those sort of clauses in it.

“I cannot agree with the wording from the contract.”

Tony Sneller expressed concerns about the clerk being responsible for financial and executive decisions, adding: “The clerk of this council has never been employed as an executive officer. I believe we cannot proceed with this contract until we have discussed this. We need a full council meeting to discuss it without the presence of the clerk.”

Council chairman Chris Kemp said: “This is a standard SALC contract, it was what we agreed to. It was part of their package we paid for.”

Councillors were also forced to take a look at the town’s allotments following complaints from holders.

Tom Moor has been an allotment holder on Grove Street since 2002.

He complained to the town council about the ‘aggressive’ notice paced on the gate to the allotments, which, said Mr Moor, “Threatened loss of allotments if enough information was not provided by a deadline.”

“I felt there was a strong chance of me and other people losing allotments on the ineptitude of the town council.

“I emailed a query on November 25 and have had no response.

“I am very concerned there is something seriously wrong with how the allotments have been handled.”

Clerk Rebecca Knifton said: “We were left with four documents on a laptop with a list of names not attributed to a site or plot.” She added information had been put ‘in a great big word document’.

She said a member of the public had gone through the list of names saying many were ‘dead, or had moved’.

“The information we had was so out of date we had to start from scratch,” she added.

“The note was not meant to offend. We had absolutely no information at all.”