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0 votes
I have some concerns about the council clerk, they seem to be deflecting certain work back on to councillors (a councillor brought up a number of items which would have involved the clerk contacting the district council to enquire about land ownership, the clerk said that it would be better for a few councillors to get together to form a working party to look into this project as they did not have the time)
The clerk is part-time and works from home and has been in position for around a year and has had their hours increased as they told councillors there was too much work for the hours they were paying for.

At a recent meeting, the council was discussing new councillors, and it was suggested that some sort of package be created for new councillors to help them settle in, and a report be prepared - the clerk responded that it would have to wait until July as June was a busy month

I don't believe that the clerk is using their time efficiently, there have been instances where the clerk appears to be spending time researching things or having site meetings that have not been agreed by council.

I know if I bring this up as an item on the agenda, it will be seen as an attack on the clerk and not me trying to get the council and clerk to become more efficient and would expect the council to just increase the hours of the clerk

I dread to suggest that the clerk completes some sort of time sheet so that council understands how they work
by (640 points)

3 Answers

+1 vote
Having occupied both seats, as councillor and, separately, as a clerk I think I can confidently say that very few councillors understand the role of the clerk and what it entails.  Your clerk has already raised the issue of his/her workload which has resulted in an increase in hours so presumably this has already been addressed by the council or your staffing committee, if you have one.  May and June are busy months as they would involve preparing accounts for both internal and external audit, presenting these for council to approve, preparing for both the annual parish council meeting and annual parish meeting (agendas, supporting papers, minutes), preparing the annual report, reviewing policies and procedures (usually timetabled for this time of year), preparing for the exercise of electors rights and this year probably preparing jubilee celebrations all in addition to the routine work of the council.  Even I was shocked at the amount of unpaid overtime our clerk admitted to recently.  Perhaps a starting point is to have an appraisal for the clerk or at least ask him/her what the council can do to help with the workload so that things are dealt with efficiently.
by (17.5k points)
Thank you for your reply. I completely agree with you when you say that many councillors don't understand the role of the clerk, I don't understand what the clerk does - I only see what is not happening but don't know the reasons behind it.

The council when told that the clerk did not have enough hours simply increased the hours without asking what the issues were that were taking up the time.
0 votes
As a part-time clerk I agree with the other poster - May/June is not an ideal time to do anything other than all the tasks listed related to year end. Additionally, fielding all the emails, contacts etc that you can get in everyday work can eat away at time - and I often undertake tasks on my own initiative if I feel they'll benefit the council. I think some clerks may also not be all that confident or experienced so maybe they don't feel able to do some of the things asked? (It's a role, especially the smaller part-time ones, that often sees people that aren't necessarily well qualified to do it and are paid pretty poorly too so motivation may be low)

In my case, my council had issues with the previous clerks clocking up lots of unpaid overtime - they have now increased my hours and also agreed that if overtime ever reaches 10 hours owed then it will be raised at a meeting and paid, in order to control it and not lead to any silly build ups.

That being said, there's nothing wrong with querying it and asking for a timesheet if you think it necessary - unless the clerk is very insecure then they shouldn't take it personally - you're their employer and are responsible for ensuring value for money from employing them.
by (660 points)
0 votes
In support of the other comments I would say in this scenario the gulf between the councillors and clerk needs to be narrower, not wider.  Do try to avoid a conflict and work as a team.
by (9.6k points)
I think the issue here would be the gulf between myself and the other councillors/clerk getting wider as the other councillors don't see a problem

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