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Smear Campaign

Hethersett Parish Council has hit back at a smear campaign aimed at its clerk Ian Weetman. 

A number of handwritten posters have been attached to noticeboards, bus shelters and delivered to specific homes in the village claiming that the clerk only works for six hours a week but is paid £25,500 a year. 

The posters are headed “Hethersett is Outraged.” This week chairman of Hethersett Parish Council Fred Watkins hit back at what he claims is a “scurrilous and completely unfounded attack” on Mr Weetman’s position in an “amateur handwritten poster that borders on the libellous.” 

“The poster has been widely displayed throughout the village. Whoever wrote these ridiculous words has no concept of the huge amount of work the parish clerk does,” Mr Watkins said. 

It would seem that the six hours per week figure, for which the poster claims the clerk is paid £490, refers to the amount of time Mr Weetman spends in a council office open to the public in Hethersett Village Hall. 

“The poster fails to take account of the fact that Ian does the majority of his council work from home or from the office when it isn’t open to the public and regularly works over 40 hours a week. We have no idea who has initiated this smear campaign but would suggest that the person makes sure of his or her facts before launching such an unfounded attack. Concerns about the council can be raised at any time, a prime opportunity is the annual parish meeting,” Mr Watkins said, adding that this year’s meeting takes place on 5th May in Hethersett Village Hall,” Mr Watkins said. 

Mr Weetman said: “Clearly the individual responsible is misinformed.  Information regarding the Income and Expenditure of the Parish Council is, following audit, in the public domain and available to all Parishoners. Any Parishoner requiring information can contact the Parish clerk or any Member of the Council.  

The employment conditions for the Parish Clerk are agreed by the Parish Council and in line with nationally agreed contract conditions and salary rates. The item regarding ‘Staff Costs – Clerk’ published in the Village Newsletter as part of the Precept is made up of salary, expenses and the normal on-costs associated with employing staff.  Should the individual concerned with the posters wish to come forward, then I will gladly go through any part of Parish Council expenditure they wish to see.”