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Council Leisure Chief in Redundancy Shock

By David Hart on Wednesday, 22nd October 2003.

The man who has masterminded the major leisure projicts in the Haverhill and Bury St Edmunds areas for the past 15 years found himself out of a job last week.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council has dispensed with the services of its director of leisure services, Steve Palframan, after he failed to gain the appointment as the council's new corporate director of community.

The council has changed its corporate management to fit its new political structure, following the changes last year which saw it move to leader and cabinet government and away from the old committee structure.

Its departmental structure has now been replaced by three corporate directors, one for economy and the environment, one for community and one for resources.

The current chief officers were given the chance to apply for the jobs among many other applicants and the director of planning and transportation, Jerry Massey, has been appointed corporate director for economy and the environment.

The council has made no appointment yet for director of resources, with the current finance director David Addy retiring.

Mike Dawson, until now acting director of environmental health and housing, has got the job as corporate director for community, ahead of Mr Palframan, who was then told his job had come to an end and there was no other post available.

Mr Palframan has been the top council officer responsible for a variety of services in Haverhill, including the Sports Centre, the Arts Centre, the parks and recreation ground and the cemetery.

It is probably in the context of the town hall Arts Centre he will be most remembered.

Early in his career with St Edmundsbury he was in charge of a public meeting in the town hall about the future plans for the building, at which a member of the public had a heart attack and died.

He saw through the refurbishment of the building into the top class Arts Centre it now is at a cost of 1m, but ran into difficulties over the subsequent management of the building, which finally came to a head at an angry public meeting three years ago.

He was then responsible for negotiation its eventual take over by Haverhill Town Council, which still awaits ratification by the Charity Commissioners before it can go ahead.

He has also spent more than a decade of his time at St Edmundsbury overseeing efforts to establish a centre of soccer excellence at Puddlebrook, including the move of Haverhill Rovers from Hamlet Croft.

He was told verbally of his redundancy last Wednesday and has to decide whether to work out his three months' notice or go on leave.

"I feel absolutely devastated," he said, "It didn't need to end this way. I think we have achieved a lot and I can't really believe this is happening. There is a huge workload but I have been told that there is no alternative employment for me, which is ridiculous."

A father of four, Mr Palframan said he would have to seel his house and might hot be able to pay for his children to go to university.

A statement by the council about the appointments failed to mention Mr Palframan at all.

Deputy council leader Councillor Jeff Stevens, who chaired the appointments connittee, said, "From the start of this corporate restructure process we were determined this would be a fair and open recruitment procedure. The feedback we have had from candidates is that we have succeeded. All candidates have been treated fairly and given every opportunity to show what they are capable of. It has been a rigirous selection process and I am confident we now have an excellent basis on which to start building St Edmundsbury's future."

Haverhill Weekly News

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