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A resident made a complaint about the clerks conduct  , several councillors  investigated  the complaint and the majority agreed with their findings and a letter was to be sent to the resident . The minority who disagreed with the outcome asked for their objection to be recorded. This was denied at the meeting as they hadnt requested a named vote prior to the vote being taken, subsequently a written request to the clerk for their  objection to be noted  in the Parish records ( not in the minutes) in case of a F.O.I request was also denied on the grounds that the clerk  hadnt been asked to send the report to the resident, the chair of the group who carried out the investigation was to send the letter. Todate it's unknown  if the letter was ever sent !   Any suggestions in dealing with this difficult matter would be welcomed .
by (1.1k points)

2 Answers

0 votes
This is a sensitive matter and to look after your Parish Clerk and to treat her fairly, this should have all been discussed under a confidential session and just a briefest decision put in the minutes with no notes of the discussion.  This is also probably excluded under FOI requests but I can’t remember the section number which covers it. You don’t really want to drag the issue out and you probably just need to wait and see if the resident comes back to the council asking for their response.  Hopefully you can now draw a line under this and support the Clerk
by (3.8k points)
Lets be fair here. Everybody (Clerks and Councillors) included should be treated fairly  and supported.  The problem is that some people dont see it as  a level playing field.  I had a problem with our clerk and taking advice from this board  I wrote to the staffing committee which consisted of the three wise men (senior Councillors) .  They neither acknowledged my letter nor responded .  So what do I do now?
It 's  interesting why " Parish Councillor"  assumes the clerk is female and show so little regard for the well being of  councillors with a conscience.   To be associated with this event would impact on the employment and social standing of several councillors. Not everyone is comfortable with sweeping  everything under the carpet .
Open, honest and transparent.
0 votes
There are some major issues here in just the first sentence.  Firstly, I'm assuming the council has a complaints policy?  Did the "several councillors" actions reflect the policy?  It would be unusual if a policy permitted "several councillors" to investigate what might amount to a disciplinary matter and permitting a formal response on behalf of the council without reference to full council.
That some councillors did not agree with the "decision" to uphold the complaint wouldn't require a named vote to be included in the minutes of the meeting although in fairness, minutes should only be a record of decisions and not the discussion leading up to that decision.  However, if a formal request has been made to include the dissention so that it is recorded if an FOI request is received has been achieved by the formal request as an FOI requests would automatically include any correspondence relating to the decision unless that correspondence includes personal data (which this might).

Finally, a complaint about the Clerk (whatever the gender!) if upheld suggests a disciplinary matter which needs to be dealt with in accordance with employment law and any disciplinary policy.  There is a suggestion here that this has not been (although I may be wrong without the full story) and any "letter" might be a breach of your disciplinary policy and/or the clerk's employment rights, notwithstanding that it probably shouldn't be distributed to the whole council unless or until the full process has been carried out (including rights of appeal etc.).
by (17.5k points)
I do appreciate everyone's comments however I thinks it necessary to clarify one or two points to keep answers on the right track.  As no councillor can act alone  it's correct that more than councillor was  elected in a private session  to carry out an investigation as per the complaints policy . Those councillors involved, duly looked at the evidence submitted and spoke to the clerk about the accusations  . Their findings which fully exonerated the clerk were sent  by email to the clerk and full council. A few councillors  questioned the investigation team objecting to the methodology used , dismissal of evidence etc , etc,   prior to the council meeting.   At the next council meeting a vote was taken in private session  to show agreement with the outcome and the next step being to send a letter to the complainant rebutting the accusations  etc .  .  During the private session those councillors who were not in agreement wanted their name to be recorded as such . This was not allowed, the clerk and chairperson were verbally abusive and several councillors walked out .  A written was request was made  to the clerk for the names of those who disagreed to be recorded in the parish records ( the clerk keeps a tally on whose voted etc )  and the clerks response was I've not been asked to send the letter , nothing to do with me. So back to the beginning .....
As you say, back to the beginning .... although I'm a little confused as originally your post suggested the complaint had been upheld and now you're saying the clerk was exonerated.   So, in general terms it looks as if there was a complaint, dealt with in accordance with your complaints policy.  This seems to have been accepted by the majority when presented to the council but a few disagreed with the result and wanted their disagreement recorded.  It is now suggested that the letter sent as a result of the complaint (presumably in accordance with your complaints policy) has not been sent.
Firstly, people don't always agree with the majority.  It's called democracy.  The council is a corporate body and the majority vote is the decision.  Sorry, but that's life.  Whether the group wanted their vote recorded (and to do so you need to ask for a recorded vote before it is taken) is irrelevant as the majority vote prevails.
Secondly, the letter wasn't sent.  Not clear why that would be but given that the original complaint was about the clerk, personally I'd suggest the chair be authorised to sign the letter on behalf of the council in this instance.  This is not a legal requirement but seems appropriate under the circumstances.

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