Questions about town and parish councils
Follow Councillor Q&A on X/Twitter

Follow us on X/Twitter

0 votes
This is intended to be a general question.

My latest example is regarding a speedwatch scheme.

A parishioner wrote to the clerk asking the PC to write a letter from the PC supporting their bid for a speedwatch scheme.
I asked for it to go to a council meeting, to vote, find out facts and possibly encourage the group to take a broader approach, to cover the whole parish, not just one street.

Our clerk has responded, saying it is not something the council need to vote on and she has sent the letter anyway.

I cannot see why we couldn't be seen to discuss and support the initiative.

Any comments would be welcomed.
by (410 points)

6 Answers

+1 vote
From what you have said, it seems to me that the Council should have decided whether or not to support the scheme, and the clerk was not empowered to unilaterally decide to write their letter. The only way this could be justified would be if the Standing Orders have a delegatiion scheme permitting the Clerk to do what they did, or if it was resolved at a previous meeting that any request from said paritioner for traffic control measures should be acted on without further reference to the council.
by (35.5k points)
0 votes
It is something that the Council should be deciding on unless you have given the Clerk delegation to respond on your behalf.  Yes Clerks are responsible for communication but only on instruction from the council, so this look like the Clerk has made a decision separate from the council and there should be a record of it.
by (3.8k points)
0 votes
Maybe this is an historical thing and the council previously stated their support so the Clerk is following previous instruction?
by (24.6k points)
0 votes
The model job description is rather ambiguous on this point.  It states:-

"To receive correspondence and documents on behalf of the Council and to deal with the correspondence or documents or bring such items to the attention of the Council. To issue correspondence as a result of instructions of, or the known policy of the Council."

" with the correspondence..."? "...known policy..."? Your clerk could undoubtedly demonstrate that she has acted correctly in accordance with her job description (assuming you have used the model), but equally your members could argue that she hasn't. Both would be correct (and incorrect!)

Perhaps this is something we should all be discussing, with a view to documenting an internal policy for our councils?
by (54.1k points)
Many thanks - as you say, perhaps a policy might be useful to cover this.
0 votes
Have you seen a copy of the letter (ie was it shared in the weekly update).  As noted there may be history on it and the council has a policy of supporting such initiatives, but you would think you should know.
by (2.5k points)
I have been a councillor for 5 years, lived in the parish 11 and don't believe it has come up previously.  I am more concerned with the principle than this particular example - I would support it, but think it should have been brought to a meeting before the letter was sent.  The councillors have not been sent a copy of the letter.
I think so too.  You can ask the clerk at the next meeting what powers they have used to do this.  But if other councillors are not with you, it will be a lost cause I expect.
I can give a perfect example of how randomly  matters like this are dealt with
A local authority decided to ask all Parish Councils to participate  in the Armed  Forces Covenant
Some PC’s put it on their agenda and voted on it and followed it through
In some cases Councillors were not told about the invitation
In at least one case a Clerk signed up  without involving the Councillors and then nothing further happened
0 votes

We have a lot of Community Groups in our town and they often ask for letters of support, usually because they are applying for grants. These requests always go on the agenda and are voted on by full Council. The Clerk then sends the later. If someone is asking for support from the Council then the Council needs to decide whether or not to give it. 

I am aware that a Clerks job description usually includes 'answering correspondence' but to our Council this is such things as queries from suppliers, queries from residents that were they may need pointing to the County Council. If a decision needs to be made then only the Council can make that decision. Unless there is some delegation somewhere, but as all requests for support are different that would not be possible for us.

by (2.8k points)
Completely agree Jann
Me too - thanks for all your comments.

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.

Clares Cushions logo Peacock cushion

Clare's Cushions creates beautiful hand made cushions and home accessories from gorgeous comtemporary fabrics. We have a fantastic selection of prints including Sophie Allport and Orla Kiely designs and most covers can be ordered either alone or with a cushion inner. Buying new cushions is an affordable and effective way to update your home interior, they're also a great gift idea. Visit our site now

3,004 questions
5,897 answers
10,236 users
Google Analytics Alternative