Town clerk sacked following months of controversy
- Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2015
A town council which has found itself embroiled in a series of controversies and bitter rows has sacked its town clerk.
Gina Lopes, who was also chief executive officer of Attleborough Town Council (ATC), has been permanently removed from her post.
She was initially suspended in October following "a number of allegations" which the council said warranted "further detailed investigation".
The decision to end Ms Lopes' employment with the council was taken on Tuesday by the council's disciplinary sub-committee.
In a brief statement, the council said: "Following a period of suspension, and subsequent investigation and hearing, the disciplinary sub-committee unanimously agreed to end the employment of the CEO/clerk on January 26, 2021."
It added that Ms Lopes' former position would be advertised following the next meeting of ATC's personnel committee.
Trouble first erupted in February last year, when police were called to an extraordinary meeting as more than 50 protesters crammed into the town hall chamber.
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Their grievance was a motion signed by eight councillors, calling for two of their fellow members - Taila Taylor and Ed Tyrer - to be removed from committee positions.
It later emerged allegations of "harassment, bullying and intimidation" had apparently been made against the pair by council staff, claims which were publicly backed up by ex-mayor, Tony Crouch.
Miss Taylor and Mr Tyrer have always strenuously denied any wrongdoing, the latter labelling them "completely untrue and unfounded".
In a subsequent meeting, it was revealed the council had spent £660 in taxpayers' money on the security staff, as well as £14,000 on legal bills.
With the divided town council in disarray, a parish meeting saw 200 people demand a referendum which could ultimately have led to the entire council's resignation.
The referendum, or parish poll, was put on hold amid the coronavirus pandemic and has still not taken place.
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In the meantime, a judicial review surrounding the lawfulness of the motion to remove the two councillors has been taking place for more than six months.
Its findings are expected to be published in the coming weeks.
While remaining tight-lipped due to the ongoing legal proceedings, Mr Leslie said: "At this stage, before the conclusion of the judicial review, we cannot legally say anything more.
"At the conclusion, a report will be given to the community which will give more insight into the circumstances surrounding this situation.
"Until then, I am not at liberty to divulge much more."
Miles Hubbard, from the workers' union Unite - to which Ms Lopes belongs - said he was disappointed to see an employment matter being discussed in the public domain.
He added: "I am concerned about the fact things are going into the media and on social media while there is still a process ongoing."
Ms Lopes has been contacted for comment.