LETTER: Correct, fair and legal measures

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I write as chairman of Billingshurst Parish Council, the contents of this letter having been approved by the council at its meeting on 7th May 2014.

The council has always sought to be as open and transparent as possible on all matters particularly in respect of its fiduciary duty when spending public money.

When the council is criticised in the local press, it is important that the council responds if it is able, so that those reading any criticisms can form their own views on the subject matter.

Recently the cost of HR services has been the subject of letters to the press and uninformed comments by individuals within the community.

Currently, the council employs 19 staff on both a full time and part time basis. This includes parish office staff, litter wardens and those responsible for the management and running of the Billingshurst Centre.

The council, as an employer, from time to time requires professional HR support to ensure that it complies with employment legislation and treats its staff with respect and sensitivity.

Where there is an employment matter that requires such expertise the council contracts for such services to ensure that the matter is dealt with in a correct, fair and legal manner and to mitigate against any financial risk to the council. To employ an HR officer, full time or part time, would be costly and not a good use of public money.

In 2013, the council had cause to call upon such HR services following legal advice and advice from the council’s insurers in relation to an employment matter.

The council believes that it would have been in dereliction of its statutory duty to have ignored the advice and exposed the council and the taxpayer to a potentially much greater burden on the public purse.

I hope this letter acts as some reassurance to anyone who may have been concerned by comments published in the local press in recent months. As this matter regards an employment issue, I am sure that most will understand that the council cannot comment in more detail.

There are over 6,300 voters in the parish of Billingshurst. I am pleased to say that complaints to the council, and criticisms of it, are rare. Members of the public are always very welcome to attend council meetings to see its local councillors in action and find out information first hand. I thank those who take the time to do so.

PAUL BERRY

Chairman, Billingshurst Parish Council, Roman Way, Billingshurst