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THE ROLES WITHIN PARISH COUNCILS

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For years now I have critiqued the actions of my local Parish Council and some Councillors. Having a background in audit I realise however  that it is easy to criticise and as such my actions  do tend to get portrayed in a negative light. I consider that currently my knowledge of Council business is better than many of our current Councillors. So, after many years I decided about a month ago to apply to be co-opted and I was. Within 5 minutes of my adoption, I was enjoined to vote on a motion put by the Chairman which was not on the agenda or background papers. It followed on directly from a public participation request.  I voted against it as I could vote for it not knowing enough about the circumstances . After the meeting I raised this procedurally and the Clerk agreed I was correct.  I think that  action sealed my fate.  Soon after  I wrote to the Clerk and asked for password access to NALCs membership area so as to view their LTNs. This was refused by the Clerk stating that they  had never done it in 20 years and they were not going to start now . The Clerk advised that access to any NALC info was solely at the Clerk’s  discretion.  I then asked for details of the Council progress against budget . This was not acceded to and met with a “what do you want to know and why” response.  There were several other issues in which the Clerk chose to oppose my reasonable requests ending with the Clerk demanding that I change my previously accepted profile on the web site.  I admit during our exchanges I questioned the Clerks  interpretation of what her perceived role was. The Parish Council’s previous Clerk retired some months ago and to date they cannot get a replacement. The current clerk  is a hired in Locum. Eventually the Clerk  wrote to me saying this challenging of their authority has to stop and that if not they  would report me to the Monitoring Officer for bullying under the Conduct code.  The clerk  said that if I persisted, they  would simply leave and make sure that their employing  company would never consider helping my PC out again.   I felt my position was untenable and resigned .  Now I must confess I am absolutely fuming and believe my experiences reveal a fundamental issue with local government ie establishing the precise roles of the clerk (and Councillors) within the Council set up.  I am also determined to get this issue about NALC sorted out i.e. who precisely is the member and what are Councillor's rights. It seems to me that the Clerk has lots of people/organisations  they can turn to for help and advice but the same cannot be said for Councillors .  I am determined that this  issue be aired somehow but don’t really know where to start . I  would be interested in the comments of others and for any advice. Fundamentally I believe such circumstances absolutely work against local democracy 

by (2.0k points)

4 Answers

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Hi  I'm sorry I've only just seen this . Your experience  mirrors that of my own and having spoken the MO, local ALC and SLCC  I agree it  appears clerks are fully supported and a councillor can be treated with no respect what so ever  !    I  believe it's time for change, as this wouldn't  be allowed to happen in the work place. Im happy for you to contact me privately as strength in numbers is paramount.
by (700 points)
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I'm sorry to hear you have resigned. In the days when I started as a councillor the local paper would often send a reporter and it was relatively easy to get comments into the local paper. I'm not sure we have a local paper anymore. In any event a resignation would often get maximum publicity.
I soon came to the decision that resigning was a rather short term effect, and it would have been better not to resign and continue the fight from within. The next time a vacancy notice goes up, grab your 10 signatures (actually you need 15 to ensure you have 10 registered electors) then go for a full election. That way you can air your points of view. (Oh wait, there is now a new vacancy:-)
by (4.4k points)
Have a complete understanding of your situation and it has also been noted on this site, quote "  Reading recent copies of the SLCC magazine The Clerk, I am alarmed to see their advice to Clerks appears to sanction them to make ad hoc  decisions of all description on behalf of 'their' community - with no mention made to the fact that the law dictates that Clerks can act only on the instruction of the council once a decision has been made following due process."
Also some councils are determined to hand over control to the Clerk if it is a means to their end in my experience.
Hi.  I'd like to follow this up.  In which issues of The Clerk did you see this advice to clerks?
As quoted from question raised by Whinnie " I questioned the Clerk.....been  castgated " sorry for delay site seemed to crash yesterday.
" I copied in....been castigated. " correction.
0 votes
The Clerk is there to serve and advise and does not have any authority over Cllrs.  The Clerk is also not the Sole entity of the Council, and Council membership of NALC should entitle all members to access their facilities, unless the terms of membership or a Standing order says otherwise.
by (25.3k points)
0 votes
Leave it for a year and re apply to be co-opted.   The issues will still be there and worth fighting for.

I have 5 months to go!
by (770 points)

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