Chapel St Leonards residents facing a massive hike in council tax - as a result of compensation claim and funding cuts

Money
Money

Residents in Chapel St Leonards facing a 41.54 per cent rise in their precept have been left to pick up the bill for a compensation claim made against the parish council by the former clerk.

Michael Green registered the claim for constructive dismissal by the council with an Employment Tribunal after resigning from the post of parish clerk in July last year. He has been awarded £12,000, with £3,000 costs.

The amount was listed under ‘expenditure’ and ‘compensation £15,000’ at last month’s (January 26) meeting of Chapel St Leonards Parish Council, at which councillors voted in favour of an increase in the precept to £100.77 a year on a band D property.

However, the council says the rise is due to a number of factors and not just the compensation claim made against them.

Christine Newton, the new clerk and finance officer, said: “The parish council do not receive a tax support grant from East Lindsey District Council, neither are they receiving funds from Lincolnshire County Council for footpath maintenance.

“Staff costs have also increased with the minimum working wage rising to £7.50 an hour and, in accordance with government legislation, provision has also been made for pensions.

“There has also been a compensation claim which is being settled in the best interests of the parish council. The parish council rental income on their properties will also be decreasing in the next financial year.

“Over the last few years the parish council have been using their reserves to cushion the blow to their parishioners, which has left it with no reserve to cover emergencies.

“It was therefore agreed that the precept should rise to ensure that the council can continue with the services already provided, and to cover any further decrease in services from East Lindsey and LCC.”

Mr Green was appointed as parish clerk to Chapel St Leonards Parish Council in August 2008.

He submitted two grievances following the elections in May 2015. As a result East Lindsey District Council’s monitoring officer and the chief executive of the Lincolnshire Association of Local Councils (LALC) jointly wrote a six-page letter to every member of the council clarifying their responsibilities as an employer.

Mr Green said he was ‘disappointed’ ratepayers were having to pay for the compensation claim.

He said: “Employment law exists for good reasons and a parish council is not exempt from those laws.”

He added: “It was the electorate of Chapel St Leonards who elected these councillors in May 2015. Therefore, the community must bear some responsibility for the cost.”

The case did not go to a tribunal.