Senior executive leaves South Somerset

Over the summer we have written several articles about the fate of Clare Pestell. Ms Pestell is (was) Director of Commercial Services and Income Generation. The South Somerset media team have refused to answer a series of very direct questions from The Leveller®. Those questions were prompted by one simple event. Ms Pestel was appointed (from a list of just one candidate) as Chief Executive of SSDC. The fact there was just one candidate, and that Ms Pestell was it, was at the behest of former CEO Alex Parmley. Suddenly Ms Pestell announced she would not be taking up the role. Then she was unavailable and shortly thereafter on sick leave.

When a subsequent recruitment process identified current CEO Jane Portman, there were several candidates. That process appears to have been handled professionally and to have arrived at the choice of a strong candidate. It also begs questions about why Mr Parmley was able to recommend just one candidate back in May.

The questions we asked included:

  • Has Ms Pestel left her existing role at SSDC, aside from not taking up the CEO appointment?
  • Did SSDC identify any reasons subsequent to Ms Pestel accepting the role, that meant it was unwilling to take the application process forwards?
  • Has SSDC issued any disciplinary proceedings against Ms Pestel informally or formally?

SSDC refused to answer these questions. which we asked on 18 August. Subsequently we asked:

  • Is Clare Pestell still an employee of South Somerset District Council?
  • And if so what is her current role at the council?

Again SSDC refused to answer. In fact they dismissed our questions as speculation. They were not speculation. They were questions.

Be that as it may. On the 8 November, we reported that Ms Pestell had resigned all of her SSDC directorships. The Leveller® has now learned that Ms Pestell has indeed left SSDC.

That leaves those questions still hanging. It also leaves very serious questions for SSDC to answer about obstructing and evading legitimate questions. Whatever now comes out of the woodwork, the behaviour of SSDC is now as much an issue as the role of Ms Pestell.


  • They dont understand the word democracy at SSDC do they?

  • Living here is like living in the Wild West – it’s completely lawless. The LibDems do what they like without regard for the law or respect for the people who live in the area. I do not know why people keep electing them.

    What are the council hiding? Has Ms Pestell issued a statement to quash any speculation?

  • While Boris and his motley crew define all that is wrong in terms of probity while in public service, sadly the culture of pig/troughishness appears to extend to Somerset.

Leave a Reply