Follow us on Twitter

Clerk trying to run the Council

0 votes
A small village with population of about 700 and a small Parish Council with seven Councillors.  There has been a change of Councillors over the last year or so and they are relatively new, the Clerk is also new and has only been in post for nine months and is new to the Clerking world.  The Clerk is also a Councillor in the neighbouring parish and has been for a few years.  I am continually being contacted by residents saying the Clerk is trying to run the council, making decisions and issuing letters without being authorised by the Council.  I am querying this but am being shot down by the other Councillors especially the Chair.  Councillors can be reported to the MO for errant behaviour, where can Clerks be reported to?
asked by (260 points)

3 Answers

0 votes

It seems that in many Parish Councils( size doesn't matter) that many have been happy or complicit in passing total power to their Clerk. This could be because of indolence or lack of knowledge  or a combination of both.

Let us put on record that the Clerk is the employee of the council and is there to advise the council on legal matters and to facilitate the councils instructions, decisions and operation. The council are the only decision makers unless they have delegated specific powers to the clerk to do so on their behalf. This is a power that should in normal circumstances be very sparingly used (covid) and may be specific to handling of financial matters if the Clerk is the RFO.

"The tail should never wag the dog!"

answered by (11.1k points)
0 votes
Aided by people within the sector with a financial interest in this shift your experience is all to common.  Where this approach leaves this tier of local government in a few years time is remains to be seen.  As Councils ultimately need elected members to exist and if your made to feel like a unwelcome passenger and barred from doing anything you soon get out if you cant change things.
answered by (3k points)
0 votes
The Clerk can be reported to the external auditor but it is advisable to provide evidence, e.g. the Clerk's letters and meeting of the council around the time the letters were published..  If the other Cllrs shoot you down, remind them that they have collective responsilbility and accountability for the council and if they don't want it, they should consider their positions and consider resigning.
answered by (24.4k points)
If only it was that easy Graeme, we have a tier of Local Government that is almost totally unaccountable and no ones bothered
Oh dear, the council cited above could almost be a mirror held to my parish council. In one warped sense this could be considered reassuring (phew, it's not just us then), but simultaneously viewed as frightening (why can't something be done to stop this happening time and time again, all over the country?). I despair that there is no proper body overseeing/monitoring/controlling the behaviour of parish/town councils that has real sharp teeth to tackle any improprieties/irregularities/maladministration that arises. So many councils on this forum seem to be facing the same problems, day in, day out, year after year, and yet nothing concrete appears to be done. It is very depressing. No wonder no one wants to stand as a  town/parish councillor any more. I don't hold any store in the ALCs either - they appear to be happy to take increasingly large subs annually while providing little other than empty rhetoric and worthless self-promoting campaigns - all at the expense of the electors. It seems that the only person who gains from having this tier of government in place with all too flaccid and vacuous rules and regulations is the Clerk, who in many cases costs local tax-payers an unacceptably large proportion of their precepted monies, leaving an almost ridiculously small amount for the council to allocate for community projects and essential work. Where is the good value for money in that situation? It beggars belief that it can continue in this way in this day and age. I am sure I am not alone in wondering whether small councils like ours (with a yearly precept of well under £25,000) should be wound up as they could be considered quite reasonably to be divisive and elitist institutions, that are frankly unviable.
Yes it’s common which is very unfortunate
As I’ve said before their should be a final Agenda item “ how have we benefited the parishioners tonight “
The process for winding up is a governance review undertaken by the Principal Authority.  Paritioners would need to petition the PA and call for a referendum for the review to present a dissolution option. 7.5% or more of eligible electors would need to sign the petition.
I like that idea
Have a look at this for a real life example. http://www.helpletchworth.co.uk/

Welcome to Town & Parish Councillor Q&A, where you can ask questions and receive answers from other members of the community. All genuine questions and answers are welcome. Follow us on Twitter to see the latest questions as they are asked - click on the image button above or follow @TownCouncilQA. Posts from new members may be delayed as we are unfortunately obliged to check each one for spam. Spammers will be blacklisted.

You may find the following links useful:

We have a privacy policy and a cookie policy.

Google Analytics Alternative