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Mystery of Tunstall parish council pay-outs for HR advice

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A parish council has used up nearly all of this year’s precept on legal bills and staff costs, it is claimed.

Tunstall parish council near Sittingbourne has run up a bill of £13,230 for HR advice since April and spent £7,366 on staff costs. That comes to £20,597 which is almost as much as the £20,859 the council gets each year from villagers.

Tunstall village sign. Google
Tunstall village sign. Google

According to the council’s own minutes, it has also agreed to pay an independent investigator £1,500 out of its reserves.

One resident, who did not want to be named, asked: “What is going on? Why is the council spending so much money? There is a real lack of transparency as councillors go into private session to discuss these matters.

“They are also holding lots of emergency meetings which would indicate something serious is going on.

“Questions are being asked but we are getting no responses. What terrible thing has happened that the council needs to pay for a private investigator?

“I think we have a right to know as this is our money which is being spent. If there is financial inpropriety which needs investigating surely this is something the police should deal with?”

Money matters
Money matters

The council has had a stand-in clerk since June.

Another villager said: “I am concerned. They have spent lots of money since April including £13,230 on HR advice and £7,366 on staff costs.

“Last year the staff costs were £8,691 for the whole 12 months. If this level continues, they will spend £30,499 by the end of the financial year. The precept for this year is £20,859.

There was an extraordinary meeting on Monday.Chairman Louisa Roberts admitted: “We are having staffing issues but it is highly confidential. We are all volunteers and so have to access professional advice.”

There are two other councillors on the council, Lee Burgess and Vivien Rich with stand-in clerk Julie Miller.

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