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0 votes
Hello, I’m after some advice please regarding a councillors conduct whilst not on town council time. Earlier in the year (April) one of our councillors was out canvassing for his political party. He approached a house, knocked once then immediately opened the door with the top half of his body entering the property. The lady of the house was on the phone talking, our councillor mistakenly thought he heard her say hello (she was in fact talking to the person on the phone). The lady was very angry at the time and shouted at our cllr, he was then quite rude back which upset her further. He wasn’t wearing ID so she did know who this man was trying to enter her property (she had just had a baby too).

She contacted the political party to complain, they refused to deal with the complaint telling her this Cllr was no longer part of their party (this is untrue)

So many months later she realised he was in fact a town Cllr so made a complaint to us. I met with her and and she was very angry, initially wanting him disciplined and removed. I listened to her complaint and asked her realistically what her preferred outcome was? Bearing in mind this Cllr wasn’t on town council business at the time. She said she’d be happy with an apology and some reassurance that our Cllrs would be told they shouldn’t enter people’s property without permission at any time.
I shared this with the chair and the Cllr in question but he is refusing point blank to apologise and won’t let me apologise on his behalf. He’s really making it into a huge deal and sharing it with the Cllrs he knows will agree with him.
I feel I need to protect the interests of our council and feel an apology is reasonable but he is threatening to quit if I apologise for him. It’s worth mentioning here that he’s an elderly gentleman who sometimes forgets and misunderstands. The chair agreed with me that it is appropriate to apologise but the other Cllrs he has told disagrees.
I’m worried this situation in going to impact on his health, as I’ve said he’s elderly (almost 90) so I’m trying to be sensitive to the generation gap. But I also know the lady who complained is likely to go on social media and possibly the press, she called the Police at the time.

What would you all advise? Send a letter explaining there’s no further action to be taken and he wasn’t on town council business, or send the apology and potentially make him poorly and lose him from the council.
Please help! Thanks and Merry Christmas
by (280 points)

3 Answers

+5 votes
To be honest, I entirely disagree that you should apologise as to do so implies responsibility which in this case does not exist.  In fact, you should not have spoken to her at all in my opinion (apologies if that sounds harsh).  I would personally state that the councillor was not acting on behalf of the town council at the time so you cannot be responsible for his actions and point her in the direction of the monitoring officer if she wishes to take things further.   Not only does this ensure any complaints are dealt with in accordance with the Ledbury case, but it also ensures an independent person (the MO) makes the decision, not the council.
by (19.4k points)
Not harsh at all, she came into our office to complain and I said I’d share her concerns with the chair and get back to her. So at this point she’s not aware we may or may not apologise. I appreciate your reply, it’s really helpful advice.
I think Delboy'swife is correct here in saying its not a parish council matter.

However, since the person was not acting as a councillor but rather as a party mber and avtivitst, and was unlikely to be mistaken for acting as a councillor - more like a burglar, recourse should be back to the party.
There will be a complaints process and if the local office refuses to engage then there should be recourse to the national office.

I'm surprised the party denied the person was a member, but perhaps their membership has lapsed, but if the stood for the parish badged as a party representative then even if they aren't any more the parish and the public wouldn't know that without a public statement and many will have voted for him assuming they were supporting the party in voting for him. So that also needs clearing up one way or the other and that is ia concern to the parish council.
–2 votes
The answer was obvious to me, as it should have been to you, as soon as you said “not in town council time.”

Actually, you should have known better than to waste salaried time on an endeavour which is COMPLETELY and unarguably outside of TC business.
If you forward it to any other authority all you will do is highlight to that authority that you don’t know the basics of the role you are paid to undertake.
by (21.7k points)
Fair point but as my user name suggests, I don’t know the role fully yet as I only started a few weeks ago with no handover and no training. I’m doing my best and trying to learn as quickly as possible so thought this forum would be a good place to ask specific questions as generally most people have been angels giving fantastic advice.
New Clerk 22, some members of this forum are a little less tolerant than others.  Especially when it comes to the role of the Clerk...  You might want to consider joining the Community Clerks Network on facebook which is a great source of support and information for officers.

It is admirable to want to protect your council but never apologise unless it is something that you have done.
We're ALL different Mrs A...
I tend to be a little more 'direct' than most but time is money and I prefer a more direct approach even if it does occasionally upset the more sensitive.

It's not personal.
Just to add, if it 'appears' to be less tolerant when it comes to the role of clerk (presumably in comparison to cllrs?) that would be because one cohort is (supposedly) a paid professional role and the other is an unpaid voluntary role having to rely upon a paid professional role.

It would naturally follow therefore that 1 cohort might be held to a higher required standard of professionalism, knowledge and accuracy than the other.

Interesting point to consider.....
And as the OP posted, they are new to the role and therefore are at the start of their clerking career.  I don't think even you would expect someone new to the profession would be an expert the minute they started?  Or perhaps you do?  Perhaps you think we arrive fully programmed?
As for councillors not having knowledge it is often the case that some have been in position for years
and therefore it should be reasonable to assume that they would have picked things up along the way?
Well, actually, yes, to a degree I do believe there should be a measurable degree of competence from day 1.

To what degree - to the degree that they are being paid so if the role is paid in full from day 1 then the salary needs to be earned, in full, from day one.  That, I'm afraid might come as a shock to some of the dreadful performers I've encountered.

The opening sentence rather pulls the rug out from under your presumption of naivety too.  It is clear that there is at the very least a nascent awareness of the difference / significance of "council time" v non "council time" and a very basic google search would provide ample information to the most novice of operators and would save salaried hours being frittered away on a completely fruitless endeavour.

Yes, of course you are absolutely on the money to highlight my current frustration which is manifest within my own operating environment where employees are chinning off their most basic responsibilities by hiding behind overly protective employment laws, fundamentally ineffective line management and a long standing PC inability to grasp the nettle which results in untold amounts of tax payer cash being spaffed up the wall on completely useless staff.
+2 votes
Sometimes we have to take a step back and not let our emotions govern our actions. Delboy's wife is right that this is not a matter for your council. Calling the Police at the time was the right thing to do if she felt that somebody was entering her home without permission. It seems odd that this has taken eight months to resurface, but if it has been submitted as a formal complaint, you should follow your complaints procedure and inform the complainant of the outcome. If you're using the model procedure, a complaint about member conduct would go straight to the MO and not be dealt with by the council. The timeline may mean that the deadline for a conduct complaint to the MO has passed, in which case you should advise her accordingly. In doing so, you should also stress that the councillor wasn't acting as a member of your council at the time, otherwise you run the risk of suggesting that this was a matter for your council, but has simply timed out.
by (53.3k points)

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