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The death knell ??

0 votes
I have just read the Local Government Association Model Councillor Code of Conduct 2020 which we just adopted .

 It contains the following

a) Councillors are not to act independently (including committee Chairmen and the Chairman of the Council). Individuals cannot make a decision on behalf of the Council unless authorised to do so by the full Council or by a committee

b) The Parish Clerk, or the delegated committee Clerk, is solely responsible under statute for preparing the Agendas for all meetings of the Parish Council and its committees and for circulation of them to meet statutory requirements. Additional matters for discussion may be put forward by members to the Parish Clerk who will consider whether the item should be included on the agenda or not. If it reasonably relates to the remit of the Parish Councillor Committee then there is no reason why it should not be. The construction of an Agenda will consider limitations on time, resources and the prioritisation of statutory requirements amongst a variety of other factors. Careful consideration needs to be taken to balance the resources and limitations of the Parish Council

So we now have a situation in which a Councillor cannot make any form of decision without permission as there is no definition of what a decision is  and the Clerk now has total control over the Agenda ( a power that can be and is abused)

To me in all aspects this represents the death knell for the role of a Councillor and completes the NALC/SLCC take over

Why would any one want to become a  Parish Councillor ?
by (2.8k points)
edited by

4 Answers

0 votes
By the same token why would anyone vote to adopt such a standing order if they didn't agree with it?

The S/O may be a model it is NOT a requirement to adopt without debate and agreement of the council concerned.
by (17.1k points)
0 votes
I too have just read the LGA Code of Conduct 2020 and cannot find the references you have quoted.

I may have missed them.

Please upload the full document so we can see where we are going.
by (3.1k points)
0 votes
I can only find two references to this, where it is referred to as a "Principle of good practice" as Item 6:

Paulton Parish Council Council: http://www.paultonparishcouncil.org.uk/_UserFiles/Files/MEMBER%20AND%20OFFICER%20PROTOCOL%20November%202019.pdf

Portishead Town Council: https://portishead.gov.uk/c/documents/Town-Council-Meeting-200121--Item-12i.pdf?20210114183158 Which is a copy of the above

I cannot find any (very) similar references, it might be that someone has written it and tried passing it as model code of conduct

What is interesting is the limiting power of this policy on the Chairman, much more so than the legislation limits.

Item 10, I am glad the future development of the Parish Council is the responsibility of the Clerk, there I was thinking Councillors would drive that!

Item 14 introduces collective responsibility!! - This is legally wrong.

Item 18 reminds members of the 6 month rule, but doesn't actually explain it for councillors (we all think we know what it means, but do we? - it needs to be clearer).

It creates an unlawful (a tribunal will rip apart) process for breaches by employees (Item 28).

It created a 'formal action' process for councillors that is unlawful (Item 29).
by (8.8k points)
My apologies . I extracted the text from  a large file of background papers and it came immediately after the coded of conduct with a heading of PRINCIPLES OF GOOD PRACTICE and MEMBER ANDOFFICER PROTOCOL. Reading that in full it seems the ultimate sanction is  If this does not improve behaviour, the council may need to consider legal actions e.g an  injunction under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime- and Policing Act 2014 or Protection from
Harrassment Act 1997 and/or reporting to the Monitoring Officer
0 votes
Perhaps it's time for councillors and their clerks to sit down together and have a mature discussion about priorities and roles and responsibilities. Good things happen when people work together.
by (41.0k points)
The PC has virtually no powers of censure over an elected member and no powers of "punishment". Any action brought against a councillor via the monitoring officer is nothing to do with the PC and is between the councillor and the MO. The MO can only make "recommendations" as to what remedial actions should be taken and none of these are under the jurisdiction of the PC.
This is where adherence to the Nolan principles is so important in defining councillors moral compasses.
Very well said. I was also rattled by the attitude towards clerks (and I am not a clerk) of which a minute number fit with the description but the vast majority of whom put their heart and soul into serving their council and their community.
John 1706 Please I do not disagree with you at all but you must accept that sometimes the "power" of the  clerk can be abused and that there are Councils (I can only relate to mine) where alliances are formed with inner sanctums to the exclusion all other Councillors . And those that threaten this cosy relationship are seen very much as the enemy.  The problem is that most Councillors don't realise what is going on but unfortunately I do.   Does that make me the odd one out.    Just as the PC cant really touch me the sad thing is that I cant change the culture.  The one thing I will pursue is the changing of para 9 model SOs as the removal of the "subject to" some 4/5 years ago has been a real game changer and needs to be explained /justified.
You are correct and if you want to send me your email address by PM I will send you a link to a complaint against me which I self reported to the MO
I would like to share with you a private message I have just received
Hope you don't mind a bit of support via a private message, but I totally relate to many of the issue you raise. I joined our parish council nearly 4 years ago with much enthusiasm and bringing some new ideas. Now, due to a very controlling councillor (ex chairman) and parish clerk, there is extreme bias within our council, lack of respect, flawed procedures, refusal of clerk to add very relevant items to the agenda etc etc. There is an atmosphere in meetings, constant criticism and negativity. No amount of policies or charters will make any difference whatsoever. We are a small rural village with only 5 councillors (should have 9 but are unable to attract new members, and have lost some very good ones due to the above).  Members of the public who have attended recent meeting must be appalled by the goings on. I am also a volunteer member of other groups led by our principal council where meetings are professionally run with respect for one another, and you feel valued. A far cry from what I experience at parish level.

While I appreciate the views of those readers who operate in a ideal world the facts are that there some Councils where the rules as applied completely devalue the role of Councillors.  In my case the wording of para 9 of standing orders allows the clerk to reject any motions which do not align with their agenda.  NALC in the meantime will not respond to any correspondence and devolve complete control of all official correspondence to the clerk .    And now I am being threatened with an  ASBO injunction for harassment as any criticism /comment  is deemed as unacceptable

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