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Complaint behind Yarmouth College disappearance

PUBLISHED: 11:31 07 September 2010 | UPDATED: 11:59 16 September 2010

AS students returned to Great Yarmouth College yesterday, two noticeable absentees continued to be the principal Robin Parkinson and director of finance Roy Hughes.

AS students returned to Great Yarmouth College yesterday, two noticeable absentees continued to be the principal Robin Parkinson and director of finance Roy Hughes.

Staff and students have been left in the dark over the absence of the two most senior members of the management team since they were granted leave of absence early in July to allow an internal inquiry to take place.

Yesterday, on the first day of term, chairman of the governors Mike Field finally cleared up the mystery when he revealed that the protracted inquiry had been triggered by Mr Hughes making a formal written complaint against Mr Parkinson, alleging that certain actions of the principal were preventing him from fulfilling his financial responsibilities to the governors.

It is understood the dispute centres on the restructuring of the college which took place at the start of the year and whether it is moving forward quickly enough to meet changing demands.

Expressing disappointment at the length of the wrangle, Mr Field said he had taken legal advice and been instructed the college had an obligation to investigate the complaint and the assertion made by Mr Hughes that the college's financial position might be impaired in the longer term if corrective action was not taken.

He said: “There has never been any allegation of financial impropriety and we have written confirming that to the funders.

“We are not in financial trouble at all. It is a member of staff saying that the long-term impact will not be good.”

Mr Field said the college had commissioned an accountant and the former principal of a London college to carry out an independent inquiry and they had spoken to 16 members of staff.

He had now seen the reports and they would be couriered to Mr Hughes and Mr Parkinson this week so they could prepare for a hearing in the next fortnight.

Mr Field would not say how much the inquiry had cost, but said it was well in proportion to the risks of not taking action in terms of either party seeking legal redress against the college.

He said: “A panel of governors will discuss the reports with the two members of staff and make a judgment on whether there is a grievance. It depends on what the panel decides whether there is disciplinary action.”

Mr Field stressed that college life was unaffected by the dispute and an extensive rebuilding programme was carrying on.

Vice-principal Julie Howard was in charge temporarily and a temporary finance officer had been appointed who was in communication with Mr Hughes.


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