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‘Nasty meeting’ sparks walk-out
THE new clerk of Kirkbymoorside Town Council has been suspended after walking out of what was described as “a nasty meeting” last week.
It is the latest in a series of resignations by members and clerks to hit the council in recent years and the council is this afternoon holding an “extra-ordinary” meeting behind closed doors to discuss the situation.
More than 30 people attended the council meeting last week, many of them to register their opposition to a plan to build a housing estate on the edge of the market town.
Clerk Sally Brown walked out of the meeting, which was described as “appalling” by one of those present.
Unconfirmed reports were that she has been locked out of her office, blocked from all systems and the following day was given a letter of suspension, delivered to her home in Gillamoor by the mayor, Coun Chris Dowie and her deputy, Coun Sarah Ward.
The issue is now understood to have been referred to the legal department at Ryedale District Council.
Ms Brown was appointed clerk last June. Four months earlier, Victoria Ellis quit after 18 months as clerk.
In 2010, four councillors resigned over the long-running controversy around town council plans to spend £175,000 to convert the Old Library in Church Street into a new headquarters and meeting room.
Last week Coun Angus Alexander resigned because of a conflict with the council.
Ms Brown confirmed that she had left the meeting and that the suspension letter was delivered to her home. No reason had been given for her suspension.
She said the matter was now in the hands of legal authorities but added that she had been “overwhelmed” with support from the public.
A source close to the council said Ms Brown had suffered “nothing but sniping which was not acceptable”.
Last month, the assistant clerk, Catherine Eve, also left her job after two years.
Martin Brampton, a former clerk of the council and now a councillor, confirmed that Ms Brown had walked out of the meeting but the town council was not making any statement.
“It is a delicate situation,” he said. He added that the council was relying on its newly-appointed assistant clerk, Roger Gibbeson, who attended his first meeting last week.
Questioned about the number of clerks, assistant clerks and councillors who had left the town council in recent years, Coun Brampton said: “It is not part of any particular pattern.”
Coun Jeanne Cossins, who attended the meeting, said she had been “very saddened” by the way Ms Brown had been treated.
Coun Brampton said in a statement yesterday: “The council has made every effort to involve citizens, running a campaign to recruit more candidates for last May’s elections.
“Council meetings have dispensed with unnecessary formality and the council is now much more ready to accept comments by citizens who take the trouble to attend meetings.”