Chief hits out at ‘rude’ officers

Suffolk County Council’s chief executive has had to admonish officers for their “rude” replies to letters and inquiries from taxpayers and councils.

Deborah Cadman, who took up the role a year ago, visited Great Cornard Parish Council on Monday as part of her programme of visits to councils and groups across Suffolk.

Council manager Michael Fitt explained that he had repeatedly struggled to get adequate replies from county officers regarding the possibility of extending Great Cornard cemetery by around 50 per cent into the grounds of neighbouring Hamden House.

“That is not the council I want to see operating with communities,” said Ms Cadman. “I am being very robust on how I expect staff to behave.”

She explained that she had looked at how queries were being dealt with and the responses that were sent back.

“You wouldn’t believe how rude some of the replies were,” said Ms Cadman. “I ended up redrafting about 90 per cent of these letters.

“I would find out who wrote it and ask them ‘If your mother was to receive this, would you be happy about it?’”

Mr Fitt said he had noticed a marked improvement since Ms Cadman started last year.

“I would say that, in the last nine months or so, there are officers who are more prepared to engage with us,” he said.

Ms Cadman explained that the council’s priorities were to improve educational attainment, encourage economic development, improve services for vulnerable people, support local communities and protect assets like country parks.

She said she would investigate the issue of extending the cemetery space with officers.