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Joint statement from SSDC Leader Cllr Val Keitch and Chief Executive Jane Portman

| District

In 2021, South Somerset District Council was made aware of allegations that one of our directors had  committed multiple potential breaches of the Council’s Code of Conduct  and other SSDC policies.  

As a result, that director, Clare Parker (formerly Pestell) was dismissed following an independent investigation and thorough disciplinary process.

Ms Parker issued employment tribunal proceedings against SSDC which were due to be heard in Exeter next week. SSDC has now been informed that Ms Parker has withdrawn her claim.

While we welcome this development, we are disappointed that we did not have the opportunity to defend the claim; we had a strong case which we believed we would win.

We can confirm that there has been no financial settlement and our view remains that this claim was entirely without merit. We are continuing to consider our legal options with regard to costs

Based on recommendations provided by the independent investigator, Richard Penn, and SWAP’s Counter Fraud Team to guard against similar breaches of the Code of Conduct and other SSDC policies occurring in the future, we have taken a range of actions to ensure breaches such as this are highly unlikely to ever happen again. An update on these actions was provided in January and can be seen here.

Thankfully, incidents such as this are extremely rare. We have always taken all allegations of misconduct and gross misconduct very seriously, so that we protect our residents, our partners and our staff. The actions of Ms Parker are in no way representative of SSDC and its hard-working staff who remain steadfastly committed to delivering the best outcomes for South Somerset.

They have our thanks and our admiration for their dedication to ensuring high quality services are provided for residents for the remaining lifetime of SSDC and we know they will continue to do so as we look towards the creation of Somerset Council in April.

Thank you. You response is appreciated.

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