I think not just a source of advice, information and guidance is needed, but also a lobby group to influence regulation, challenge poor practice, and push for reform, as well as to be a source of emotional support for individual councillors.
Typically, ALCs (under NALC) describe their role of supporting the 'corporate interests' of councils who subscribe.
That is a vague term open to interpretation by the ALCs. It is likely to exclude support for individual councillors, particularly if seen as potentially contrary to the 'corporate interests' of the council. In some cases, a council's 'corporate interest' might not be seen as co-inciding with best practice or even the public interest.
Access to support for individual councillors is usually restricted by the Clerk and/or Chair acting as gate-keepers. This is problematic if the Clerk or Chair are what the councillor is concerned about, especially if they are in a minority. And even if an individual does get access to the ALC, the guidance will be skewed by the ALC's view of the corporate interest.
Other external sources of guidance and oversight are limited.
The Monitoring Officer is limited to code of conduct issues, and may interpret their remit very narrowly. That leaves vast areas of poor practice, or worse, unaddressable. Even where the Monitoring Officer does accept a complaint, typically their resources are very limited and their investigation insufficient to ensure a just outcome.
The External Auditor will typically only consider financial issues, and even then sets the bar for impropriety very high.
The Local Government Ombudsman has no remit over town and parish councils.
The Police are usually very reluctant to investigate all but the most blatant and serious breaches of local government law.
Often, only a Judicial Review can challenge a council's poor practice. Few individuals will risk the stress, time, and expense to pursue that route. Councils, and ALCs, know that.
Solicitors are often reluctant to support individual councillors with concerns, and if they do it is of course at the individual's risk and expense.
Elections are too blunt an instrument of oversight. They are too infrequent, and usually the public has little inkling of the details of the poor practice, and if they do it becomes just one of several issues for voters.
Individual councillors who find themselves, usually unexpectedly, in this 'wild west' environment often feel like victims of institutional bullying. The Monitoring Officer usually sets the bar for the bullying of councillors very high - so high that it is unlikely that the concept of institutional bullying would ever reach it.
There is no organisation whose role is to provide emotional support to those councillors.
The results of all this are:
1. Evidence of poor practice, collusion, or even corruption is often downplayed and thus they are allowed to flourish at a low level. Only the most serious examples are acknowledged, properly and independently investigated.
2. Poor or wrong practice becomes normalized and can spread from one council to another. This poor practice only gets corrected when eventually taken to an extreme and/or challenged by a persistent and brave individual who is prepared to take the reputational and financial risks - cf. Ledbury.
3. Individual councillors who have concerns have nowhere to turn. They are also extremely vulnerable to retaliatory allegations, particularly if they are in a minority. This can curtail their ability to fulfil their duties as elected representatives. It can also affect their mental health.
The system of oversight for town and parish councils is in desperate need of reform. But the organisations that could lobby effectively for it, such as NALC and the SLCC, are not interested in that type of reform. Instead, they focus on addressing the poor behaviour of individual councillors (eg. Handforth). Whilst that is undoubtedly an issue, it ignores the impact a flawed system has on its victims, public confidence, and good local government.