Southwater council speaks out over allegations

Stern advice has gone out to villagers in Southwater over allegations of local councillors ‘taking back-handers.’

Monday, 25th March 2019, 10:48 am
Updated Monday, 25th March 2019, 10:51 am
JPCT 220212 Southwater village sign. Photo by Derek Martin ENGSUS00120120227103743

The comment comes in an online statement from the parish council in the wake of controversy over its decision to increase the village’s council tax by 23 per cent.

Various comments, claims and allegations were made on social media.

It has prompted Southwater Parish Council to speak out and in an online statement the council urges anyone with concerns over ‘back-handers’ to report it to the police.

It states: “If the individuals who have expressed views that councillors are taking back-handers would like to ring Sussex Police; this is the body which would deal with such allegations ... these are serious allegations that are not taken lightly by councillors.”

The council also adds that it has “a duty of care to its staffing team and will take harassment and bullying of such staff extremely seriously.”

In a ‘newsletter’ statement on its 2019/20 budget, Southwater Parish Council says: “The current financial year has seen unexpected expenditure with some of the larger incomes having not materialised. Some of these relate to major items, but there are other smaller positive and negative figures which have all contributed to a strain on the council’s current year’s finances.”

The council says it lost around £93,000 on running the village leisure centre last year and is now looking at how it might be operated in future. It says, if it had not made the loss, the percentage rate increase this year would be just three per cent.

It says it has faced other increased bills, including spending on public open space, its ‘neighbourhood plan’ budget, the introduction of neighbourhood wardens, leisure centre roof repairs, and staff salary and pension costs.