PETERSFIELD Town Council has confirmed that a top employee who was suspended in March will not be returning to his post.

Peter Jones has lost his long-standing job as contracts manager following an external investigation and disciplinary hearing.

Mr Jones was placed on gardening leave in March after publicly unspecified allegations were made to the authority.

A lengthy investigation and report into the allegations was overseen by Bruce Price, a former finance director for East Hampshire District Council (EHDC).

That led to a disciplinary hearing on April 30, and a statement from the town clerk on Tuesday confirming Mr Jones' departure.

It read: "Following the recent external investigation, a disciplinary hearing took place on April 30, as a result of which Peter Jones' employment with Petersfield Town Council has been terminated.

"The town mayor, councillor Peter Marshall, said that the whole affair was extremely regrettable and we wish to give credit to Mr Jones for his years of service to the council and thank him for his efforts during this time."

The nature of the allegations have never been revealed but are understood to have involved tenders submitted to the town council for work.

Petersfield Town Council clerk Neil Hitch said in March that no financial irregularities were involved.

There is still no news on the outcome of a decision by Sue McMorran, deputy town clerk, to appeal against her redundancy.

But it has been confirmed that one of the authority's strongest critics is in the running to fill the vacant town council seat for Rother ward.

A nomination paper for Peter Dimond, one of the most vociferous members of the Petersfield Watchdog Group, was handed to EHDC on Wednesday.

If the seat is contested a by-election will take place on June 20 with voting from 7am to 10pm at a polling station in St Peter's Church Hall. The closing time for nomination papers was noon yesterday.