Police have been called into South Somerset Council after a disciplinary investigation identified possible criminal offences involving council staff.

LGC reported on Tuesday how former director of commercial and income generation Clare Pestell was dismissed after having been found to have used council staff and equipment to carry out work at her Dorset Vineyard.  This included building glamping pods, repairing her tractor and on one occasion removing a dead pig from the land.

In a statement, Avon and Somerset Police confirmed the council referred the matter to them in December.

A spokesperson said: “Officers are liaising with the council and reviewing material from the council commissioned independent disciplinary investigation to establish whether there are offences that require investigation.”

The council’s Liberal Democrat leader Val Keitch is also facing a no confidence motion next month from the opposition Conservative group who claim the situation was badly handled.

They are questioning why Cllr Keitch backed Ms Pestell to become the council’s interim chief executive in May, despite the fact she knew about the allegations against her after a whistleblower contacted her and former chief executive Alex Parmley in April.

Ms Pestell subsequently pulled out of running for the role and resigned, but was later dismissed by the appointments committee.

Leader of the Conservative group Martin Wale, who was on the appointments committee, said: “We were told [Ms Pestell] was the best person for the job and the only person for the job.

“At full council in February I will move a vote of no confidence because of the way this was handled.”


published 2022-01-27 19:45:36