Troubled Walberswick Parish Council appoints World Bank’s former Afghanistan country director
PUBLISHED: 09:44 17 March 2017 | UPDATED: 14:32 17 March 2017
A Suffolk council which has faced criticism from auditors over its financial procedures has co-opted a new member with more than 30 years’ experience in senior roles at the World Bank.
Josie Bassinette, who was operations manager at the World Bank in Jakarta and acting country director in Afghanistan was appointed to Walberswick Parish Council at its latest meeting, held this month.
The appointment of a new clerk, Mary Mitson-Woods, was also confirmed at the meeting, following recommendations from the Suffolk Association of Local Councils (SALC) and Suffolk Coastal District Council.
The appointments come after a turbulent period for the council, which has seen the resignation of five clerks and 11 councillors since September 2012, leaving it inquorate on two occasions, the most recent of which lasting more than half a year.
It has been involved in a long-running row with a group of villagers, which has seen several official complaints.
An auditors’ report from BDO for 2015/16 found the council had breached regulations and must take “immediate action”. BDO issued an “issues arising report”, requiring the council to discuss its findings in public.
During the discussions, at the latest meeting, Mrs Mitson-Wood reminded councillors the report referred to “a period when the council had been brought to a standstill by multiple complaints and requests.”
She said she had worked closely with the previous responsible financial officer, Karen Forster, to address points raised by BDO in its previous report. Councillors resolved to follow the recommendations in the clerk’s report, which ”provides an adequate plan to comply with the recommendations from BDO”.
The meeting heard that Mrs Mitson-Woods had been “the one time youngest parish council chairman in Suffolk”, chief executive of SALC for 10 years and had developed a national training scheme for councillors and accredited training for clerks.
Mrs Bassinette was said to have had 30 years’ experience of “executive and project management responsibilities” with the World Bank. She was involved in a World Bank mission in Gaza as well as a $52 million grant to Afghanistan’s Ministry of Finance to manage the country’s natural resources effectively and transparently.