Long serving Norfolk parish clerk suspended over incompetence allegation

The long-serving clerk of a Norfolk parish council has been suspended following accusations of incompetence and misconduct.

Evelyn Riches, 79, who has served as clerk of Long Stratton Parish Council for 45 years, was suspended for 30 days on October 8 after certain councillors alleged she was incompetent and one councillor accused her of misconduct.

However, she has taken out a grievance alleging she was bullied, harassed and defamed by some councillors at meetings.

This grievance hearing is due to be heard at the Pavilion on Long Stratton playing field on Friday and will involve three parish councillors and a representative of the Norfolk Association of Local Councils, who will be acting on behalf of Mrs Riches.

Once the grievance matter has been dealt with, disciplinary action will then follow at which Mrs Riches will be able to explain her actions before a disciplinary panel.

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Should the panel uphold the allegations against her, she would then have a right of appeal before possible dismissal if the appeal was unsuccessful.

Depending on the results of the grievance hearing brought by Mrs Riches, the council may then decide to pursue disciplinary action against her.

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Parish council chairman Andrew Lansdell confirmed Mrs Riches had been suspended on allegations of incompetence and misconduct and said the council could extend the period of suspension if it runs out before the disciplinary hearing. Currently, matters relating to Long Stratton Parish Council are being handled by Sarah Berwick, clerk of nearby Wacton Parish Council.

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