Questions about town and parish councils
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by (2.3k points)

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Clerk: but they are not expected to have 100% knowledge on ALL legal matters. Their requirements on legal matters pertaining to council business should be defined in their contract of employment.
BUT there is no reason why any elected councillor cannot question the legality of any PC decision or its implications to the council. Sometimes external legal advice should be sought in matters outside the scope of the clerk's knowledge and abilities and a good council will have a contingency budget to meet such costs.
by (26.5k points)
The Clerk and all Councillors are responsible
Unfortunately too many Councillors never bother to carry out any training
I’m constantly being accused of being “ double hatred “ because I’m both a Parish and Borough Councillor so I did some research and I’ve personally carried out more training than all my fellow Parish Councillors put together
The Clerk Can only Advise - The Parish Council may well choose to ignore the advice. ( the Clerk should record that he advised a course of action but was ignored)  Many Councils still give money to the Church - which is illegal ( State  / Church)  - But I am sure there are plenty of threads on this forum.
Could you define what you mean by “give money to the church?”

This appears to be a generally poorly understood and oft misquoted supposed transgression.
What reference is there that any council is giving any money “to the church” and in what regard do you assert that it is illegal.
I’m aware of the regulations so don’t need a quote, I am interested in example which might illustrate the issues rather than perpetuated opinion.
There are of course numerous examples where a PC might “give money to the church” without actually giving money to the church.
A grant to a community group delivering a craft fair within the church for example - perfectly legitimate under the correct procedures. This example can be extrapolated to many circumstances, and could easily be misrepresented as “giving money to the church” whereas it is something entirely different.
There are too many entrenched, poorly informed and parochial attitudes in PCs.
If a place of worship (not necessarily a church) asks a parish council for money to repair the roof, this would not be permitted under the 1894 Act.  A grant to a group which simply uses a building owned by a place of worship would, of course, be permitted as the grant is to the group, not the place of worship.
The most common area of confusion is where parish funds are used for things like grass cutting in a churchyard.  Whilst this is not funding the fabric of the building, advice on whether this is permitted under the Act has varied over the years and I'm not sure if there's been any clarification in case law.
Agreed DBW.
Really interesting that you raise the issue of grass cutting and absolutely agree, there does not appear to be a single definitive legal precedent, not even a clearly defined NALC (and by extension county ALC) policy position.
I’m aware of a situation where a recently resigned very long standing (and deeply misinformed) Cllr that had bid and received grant funding for exactly this purpose over many years, provided a LGA reference to the clerk who dutifully added it to the agenda without checking what the reference actually referred TO.
Needless to say the reference did not align to the application and it was bounced off the agenda when this error was highlighted.
The following month it reappeared with a different reference - which was also incorrect and again it was bounced.
That was Jan and it is still rolling along without any of those that are enthusiast to make the payment being able (or willing) to present an appropriate justification.
Of course it is an often misunderstood situation where the ‘religious institution’ barring of funds is misapplied.
A burial ground - even if attached directly to a CofE church is NOT a religious facility since such burial grounds must be open to all regardless of personal religious status.
So an (open) burial ground attached to a CofE church is NOT a religious institution so NOT debarred on that basis.
That’s not to say, conversely, that grant funding should be provided, whether to, or not, is a stand alone decision of course - it’s just that it seems often to be misquoted as being not allowed on religious grounds but this is a flawed stance.

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