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Our Clerk is leaving - should I tell our Chair ?

0 votes
Our Clerk took me into her confidence, recently, only then to tell me she intends to leave our parish council in the next few months. I have a good relationship with our Clerk, but I am good friends with our Chair; she is long serving (and long suffering) and I know she would be extremely reluctant to train/bed in yet another clerk (she has been chair for well over 10 years and has seen many personnel changes), and knowing this task might be facing her, she could well resign.
(I am also her Vice-chair….and not certain in any way that I’d actually want to become Chair…)

I don’t want to betray a confidence, but I equally don’t want to withhold information that I could subsequently be found out to have known. I certainly don’t want to do anything to hurt our Chair, nor do anything that might harm our PC.
What to do please ?

Thank you.
by (150 points)

3 Answers

0 votes
Best answer
You may wish to reflect on why the clerk has chosen to "take you in to her confidence" in the knowledge that you are a good friend of the chair.

If I were in your shoes I would tell the clerk that you will not break her confidence and encourage her to let the chair know her intentions.
by (3.9k points)
selected by
Thank you, that is exactly what I was advocating :) Not that the questioner should tell anyone anything, or breach any principles. But simply continue the conversation with the clerk and suggest that it would help the council, and especially the chair, to know as soon as possible what is likely to happen.
Thank you (everyone) for your input. I have approached the clerk & I now believe the clerk will inform the rest of the council.
We are a very small council, with a shortage of councillors & anyone leaving could make an out of proportion impact.
 It’s interesting to note that other councils share the role of Chair around - I wasn’t aware of this.
Having said that, I understand our chair would not carry on as a councillor if she were not to carry on as chair, so even if there were volunteers for the role, we’d find ourselves with yet another gap to fill, councillor-wise if she did step down. It’s all a bit tricky!
Thanks again, I do appreciate the input.
0 votes
Maybe you have already tried this, but the obvious first step is to try to persuade the clerk that it is only fair to communicate her plans to the chair.
by (31.2k points)
The chair isn't the clerk's line manager, the whole council effectively are. Accordingly the chair has no special legislative right to be told informally before any other councillor.
I am not suggesting either that the chair is line manager or has any legislative right. But if, as the original question said, the chair is a positive force in the council and particularly affected by the potential loss of the clerk, it would be helpful for the chair to be put in the picture. That doesn't mean other councillors couldn't also be told.
The responsibility for communicating the Clerk's intentions is totally the clerks and no one else. The councillor involved ( no matter how reluctantly) must look to the Nolan principles which must be adhered to for guidance on conduct in such matters. Integrity being the foremost in such a situation along with professionalism of conduct.
The council as a whole might be potentially affected by the loss of the clerk  if a replacement cannot be recruited in a timely manner. But why would the chair be potentially affected in particular?
0 votes
Reading this again, a few points to be aware of. You are the vice chair of the council, not solely to the chair. The chair should be elected annually and is worrying that no other councillor has served as chair in ten years. Is it because nobody else wants to do it? I don't know what you mean by " long suffering" but it suggests all is not as it should be at your council. It is not normal for a chair to train a clerk, and it is a reasonable to expect to seek to recruit a qualified clerk who does not need training.
by (32.3k points)

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