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