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‘Secrecy’ fears as Ludlow taxpayers face huge bill
A METER is running for council tax payers in Ludlow who face having to cover a massive unexpected bill.
This week the Advertiser can reveal that Ludlow Town Council – caught up in a new secrecy row – is likely to try and reach an out-of-court settlement with its town clerk who leaves at the end of the month.
Advice to the council suggests that Veronica Calderbank would have a case if she took the authority to tribunal for unfair dismissal.
The Advertiser understands that, while the case is not open and shut, the guidance suggests that she could expect a payout of about £80,000 and that it would be better to try to settle out of court.
As exclusively revealed by the Advertiser in July, Mrs Calderbank resigned as town clerk at the end of June in controversial circumstances involving allegations of bullying.
It has been confirmed that the town council has so far paid about £2,500 in fees to Lanyon Bowdler, a firm of solicitors based on Ludlow Eco Park.
Now the town council has also appointed employment law specialists Peninsula on an annual retainer.
These latest twists to an already acrimonious issue come as concern grows about how the council conducts its affairs, along with calls for more openness and accountability.
A council meeting last week was conducted almost entirely in secret session.
Deputy town clerk Gina Wilding said that the meeting was staged behind closed doors as it related to staffing issues, although one of the agenda items concerned Ludlow Market.
Former town mayor Councillor Martin Taylor-Smith, who represents Ludlow South on Shropshire Council, said he was now very worried by the town council’s tendencies toward secret sessions.
“Private meetings should be the exception rather than the rule and only when matters of personal data or commercial confidentiality are concerned.
“Because the topic might be embarrassing to individual members or council officers is not a reason why the meeting should be private,” said Coun Taylor-Smith.
In the past month, councillors Susan McCormack and Jeffery Wilcox had minutes of a meeting earlier in the summer redacted, although they reflected an accurate account of what had been said and reported publicly.
Councillor Jennifer Leyton-Purrier said she had been “unhappy for a long time”
about how the council conducted its business.
“The town council is a public body and should be accountable. Too many decisions are made in secret behind closed doors,”