THE chairman of Ledbury Town Council, Cllr Nina Shields says she has implemented a strategy to get the town council back on track, after recent upheavals.

Five councillors have resigned in recent months and six members of staff, including town clerk Karen Mitchell; and the council is facing a legal bill of around £200,000, after being on the losing side in a judicial review.

Cllr Shields said: "We have had some trying times of late but Ledbury residents deserve better. Since I became chair, the council has been working hard to put the council back on track both in terms of its administrative efficiency and the service it delivers to the public.”

She said that since she took the tile of chair of the council two months ago, after declining the title of mayor, the council had "instituted a thorough review of all its policies and structures; appointed an interim town clerk to reinvigorate the council's internal administration", and the council had also "set up a working party to reinvigorate the way we communicate with residents especially via IT and social media".

Cllr Shields said the council had also "taken advice about recovering some of our court costs from those organisations who gave us advice on the judicial review".

These organisations include the Herefordshire Association of Local Councils and the National Associations of Local Councils: both of which give indemnified advice to councils on legal matters.

Cllr Shields added: "This council has been through some tough times. However, these measures will make the council fit for purpose.

"We have a new team in place and we will be shortly be electing new councillors to replace those that have resigned. I hope we also have a new spirit in the council dedicated to putting the town and its residents first."

After being accused of bullying staff, which she always denied, and after being sanctioned by the town council, Cllr Liz Harvey launched a High Court challenge and triumphed in a judicial review, brought against the town council after the sanctions against her were imposed and extended.

The town council had banned Cllr Harvey for two years from sitting on any of the town council's committees or other panels.

Following the judicial review in April, the judge ruled that the town council had acted beyond its powers.

Cllr Harvey had been given no proper opportunity to respond to the accusations and the decision was also "substantively unfair".

The Code of Conduct investigation, carried out by Herefordshire Council, ruled that Cllr Harvey had not been in breach of the Code, which governs how councillors must treat others, and that includes bullying.

The judge said that Ledbury Town Council should have taken this into consideration.

The council is now facing costs reported to be in the region of £200,000.