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Placing urgent order when Clerk on holiday

0 votes
Our Council has been working on designs for banners which has taken quite a few months to complete. The designs are now completed and ready for printing. We want to get them up as soon as possible, we rely on tourism so would like to catch at least the end of the main holiday season. The designs had to be approved by Welsh Government which they have now done. I sent an email to all Councillors informing them of the good news and saying I would order the printing. (I am the Chairman).
Our Clerk is on holiday, but monitors emails 24/7, days off, weekends and when on holiday! I automatically included her in the group email to councillors and she has emailed me saying only she can issue purchase orders. To be fair, she has not gone away but has relatives staying with her so has offered to come in and do the order. But she may have been miles away.
If you only have one Clerk/RFO how do you handle situations like this? The Council cannot come to a standstill every time the Clerk is on holiday. It took me quite a while to get her to forward emails and the phone to me when she's on holiday but didn't think about something like this cropping up.
asked by (1.2k points)

3 Answers

0 votes
There is not a lot you can do on this occasion unless your standing orders or financial regulations provide otherwise.  If you only have a clerk working for you, you need to have a business contingency plan that can accommodate sickness as well as holidays.  Perhaps look into an agreement with a neighbouring parish to provide cover or contact your local CALC for locum cover?
answered by (16.8k points)
0 votes
I would echo Mrs Abster's comments on this and add that of course if the clerk is totally unavailable then as chair you can call an EO meeting and get authority to carry out the required actions by vote of the council ( overriding whatever is in SO). Much better to have automatic contingencies for passing the duty to a councillor (or chair) to compensate for an absent or incapacitated clerk and of course much quicker and less disrupting. One of the problems of following NALC desire of passing ALL power to the Clerk I am afraid.
answered by (11.1k points)
I agree but you must be careful not to give authority to an individual councillor in this circumstance regardless how much easier it would be.  You would have to have a committee approving the actions in the first place.
I quite agree Mrs Abster, but in this case the Welsh Government is covering all expenses, so although we have to pay the initial bills we will be re-inbursed. All councillors are aware of this fact. I myself would not like to want to see any decision making power given to any one councillor. But do think we should be able to cover day to day procedures when the clerk is absent after agreement by council. I do have to agree with Mentorman, our clerk does like to have as much power as possible. At one time trying to change our financial regulations in order to do so!
0 votes
If this was in the process maybe the best thing would have been to preempt a purchase order before leave was taken but  if only we had the benefit of hindsight before something happened.

It is worrying when a clerk does not have a proper break and as an employer you should be insisting on a proper downtime / work life balance as per employment legislation.

Just friendly advice
answered by (5.5k points)

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