Numerous Arlesey residents express concern over “mismanagement” of community facility

The extraordinary meeting of Arlesey Town Council discussed the suspension of the manager of the Res

The extraordinary meeting of Arlesey Town Council discussed the suspension of the manager of the Resource and Library - Credit: Archant

Residents have expressed concerns about a council’s “mismanagement” of a community facility after a manager was suspended.

An extraordinary meeting was held at Arlesey Town Council yesterdaynight (Tuesday) to discuss the suspension of the Arlesey Resource Centre and Library’s manager Sam Ward.

Dr Ward was suspended from her role in February pending an investigation and the woman who replaced her, Karen Rodgers, is currently on sick leave.

As a result the centre in Arlesey High Street – where visitors can loan out books and activities are organised for children – has been shut and when open had its hours reduced.

The meeting, scheduled specifically to discuss the town council run-resource centre, was heard in private but members of the public were invited to have their say beforehand.

Speaking in a packed Arlesey Village Hall, centre user Georgina Emery said: “Most importantly why have you allowed the resource centre to become and unreliable and inefficient service over the past few months. It is clear that this council’s mismanagement of a sensitive situation has left the community asking questions and by not ensuring appropriate staffing measures are in place you have robbed the community you are elected to represent of a service they rely on. That is completely unacceptable.”

Fellow user Hannah Jarry said: “Why when this decision was made by the town council was adequate cover not discussed? The running of the resource centre is not something that can be done by one person but it appears that the town council thought it could and it therefore took the illness of Karen Rodgers, and I believe, her having to ask for help that prompted the town centre to find the necessary cover.

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“It appears that the town council does not understand how vital the service that the centre provides – hence the outrage that it has been closed.

Nick Daniels, chairman of the town council, said he took the decision to suspend Dr Ward following a consultation with the town clerk Elsie Hare.

He said: “Initially we had one member of staff, Karen. It wasn’t open for the amount of time it would have been had Sam been at work. Unfortunately with what has happened is has been very difficult to provide a normal service.”

Town clerk Elsie Hare said: “When I contacted Central Bedfordshire Council they sent me some details of staff who could cover the resource centre. I took up the offer of the people who came back to me. We have done what we can do about it.”

Responding, centre user Louise Liversidge said: “If you took the decision to suspend someone from their job why are you not finding someone to replace them, surely that would be the first thing you would do?”

After a period of public participation the council discussed the suspension of Dr Ward in private.

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