Call for info on 'missing clerk'

Malvern Gazette: Call for info on 'missing clerk' Call for info on 'missing clerk'

A GROUP of retired members of Malvern Town Council are asking for transparency over the situation involving town clerk Richard Chapman, who has been on leave since October.

The group, which includes two former council chairmen, fears the council could be heading towards a repeat of events in the early 2000s when the council’s first town clerk took early retirement at a cost of at least £186,000 to the authority after a dispute with councillors.

At this week’s council meeting, former chairman Ralph Madden revealed fellow exmember Freda Johnson had written to mayor Julian Roskams in November voicing concern about the situation with Mr Chapman.

Mr Roskams had told the council in October that Mr Chapman was on “indefinite leave” and said he would not reveal any further information.

The letter said: “We realise this is an internal matter for the council to resolve, but it is difficult to see how this can be resolved without a serious financial risk to the council and ultimately to the Malvern taxpayer.

“It appears to us the council will be in a position similar to that it was in 2000, when a six-figure settlement was made with a former town clerk. There was a considerable furore in the town at the time which resulted in serious damage to the council’s reputation.”

The letter was co-signed by Mr Madden, Mike Selby, who is another former chairman, Alistair Macmillan, Keith Phillips and Mac Sneath.

After reading the letter out, Mr Madden asked if Coun Roskams intended to make a public statement and if he intended to reply to Mrs Johnson’s letter.

Mr Madden called on the council to inform the electorate about the matter.

However, Coun Roskams said he was not in a position to give a response.

After the meeting, Mr Macmillan said: “We’re all ex-councillors, but we are taxpayers as well. We feel that when the town clerk has not been visible for two months, we’d like to know what is going on.

“I don’t know what this is all about, but I have heard the council has engaged some outside person to investigate the matter.

“We’re looking for transparency.”

Malvern Town Council’s first clerk, Stuart McDonough, retired in 2001 after a dispute between factions of councillors over levels of spending.

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