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A vicar's outburst, fire safety bills & maternity errors

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Vicar's outburst against Bishop

The ongoing row between the vicar of Wymondham Abbey and the Bishop of Norwich escalated this week.

The abbey published an extraordinary 12-page letter on its website rebuking the Bishop and the Diocese over the way they had handled complaints about the vicar.

As we’ve reported, the row dates back to 2017 when 37 complaints were made against Rev Relf-Pennington, the Abbey's newly appointed vicar, alleging inappropriate behaviour - all of which she denied.

In the letter, the Abbey accused the Bishop of “unethical, immoral and self-serving” behaviour.

“We have been harassed,” they claimed. “For three years the pressure here has been unrelenting.”

Is this all a storm in the teacup brewed by people who should know better?

Certainly, the grievances themselves appear slight. The vicar is aggrieved that she was not given the home in Wymondham usual reserved for the vicar, while the allegations made against the vicar include upsetting members of the choir.

Meanwhile, the name of one of Norfolk’s most treasured landmarks continues to get dragged through the dirt, congregation attendance has collapsed and the Abbey’s financial future is uncertain.

Extortionate fire safety bills

The cladding scandal, which arose from the Grenfell tragedy, has led to a crisis which goes far beyond cladding. It uncovered the fact that many flats did not meet fire safety requirements from the time they were built.

Despite pledges from the government to intervene, many owners have been left with properties that they can neither sell nor re-mortgage.

The situation is particularly bad around Ipswich waterfront where the non-cladding costs of the crisis are rising steeply. Bills for things like insurance, management fees and ‘waking watches’ reach six figures and it is still not clear who will pay for it, as Sarah Burgess discovered this week.

It is unlikely that every developer responsible for building substandard flats is going to voluntarily stump up the cash needed to repair them. The only way for this to get solved is for the minister responsible – Michael Gove – to get busy writing new laws.

£50m bill for maternity errors

Our data man Pete Raven has been looking at figures showing how much the NHS pays out in clinical negligence claims each year. The numbers are staggering and maternity mistakes make up half of the amount paid out.

The reason maternity figures are so high is that the settlements may need to support a disabled baby for the rest of their life.

Last year, Norfolk hospitals paid £16m for maternity mistakes, while in Suffolk they cost £12m.

One clinical negligence solicitor told us he keeps seeing the same mistakes being made again and again, while staff have blamed extreme stress and burnout due to shortages.

Adding to the tragedy is that these sums could have paid for hundreds of extra midwives and perhaps avoided some of the mistakes in the first place.

Family wrongly told prisoner hanged himself weeks before release

Sarah spoke to a family this week who were mistakenly told their dad had taken his own life, just before he was meant to be released from prison.

They were rightly distraught and questioned the pathologist’s findings.

As it turned out, their suspicions were correct. There had been a horrible mix-up.

That is all for now. We hope you’re having a great weekend and we’ll have lots more for you this time next week. If you are finding our newsletter interesting, please pass on to a friend. They can sign up here and do get in touch with any comments or issues you would like us to look at.