Parish council seeks new clerk amid silence over official’s departure

Hythe and Dibden Parish Council sign
Hythe and Dibden Parish Council’s offices at the Grove

A NEW clerk is being sought by Hythe and Dibden Parish Council after the unexplained departure of Stephanie Bennett who had not been seen at meetings since last November.


Cllr Malcolm Wade, chair of the Liberal Democrat-controlled council has consistently refused to comment on her absence.

But at a full meeting last Wednesday, he welcomed locum clerk Tracy Predeth who he said would be helping in the interim.

A job advertisement has been displayed on the parish council’s website stating it is looking for a full-time clerk and responsible finance officer to work 37 hours per week.

The advert says: “The person appointed will be accountable to the council for the effective management of its 14 members of staff and resources and will report to it as and when required.

“The clerk to the council will be the responsible financial officer (RFO) and responsible for all financial records of the council and the administration of its finances.”

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Wade again refused to say why Mrs Bennett was no longer in the role.

Cllr Malcolm Wade, chair of Hythe and Dibden Parish Council

He would only tell the A&T: “We are looking to employ a replacement clerk as soon as possible.”

As reported in the A&T, the issue of parish clerks leaving their jobs has been the subject of recent written parliamentary questions by Julian Lewis, the Conservative MP for New Forest East.

Dr Lewis submitted a string of enquiries to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, asking in particular about the treatment of officials refusing to implement instructions that go beyond their legal powers.

The closing date for applications to become the clerk to Hythe and Dibden Parish Council is 16th March.