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I am a expert on a certain subject and have a history of victories over Council Officers.  I do not say that in a condescending way but I am confident that everything I have done has a public benefit.  That being said I can understand the Council Officers involved being wary of me.  Historically I have always dealt direct with individual officers but recently I was forwarded a request from the Council Officer requesting that in future no correspondence would be accepted other than from the clerk.   I checked this out with the Councils legal team and they said unless they were manifest reasons  the officer could not refuse to deal with me.   Enquiries revealed that the letter was in fact instigated by our clerk and not the Council officer. Now last week I was contacted by a resident and advised of a certain problem .  By means of example this was  a  faulty street light and I reported this direct to the Council Officer involved .  I am now being threatened by the Conduct Code utilising the following para from Standing orders and I am anxious for opinions as to how this limits Councillor activities.  Par 25 reads  25. Restrictions on councillor activities

 a. Unless authorised by a resolution, no councillor shall: i. inspects any land and/or premises which the council has a right or duty to inspect;

 or ii. issue orders, instructions or directions. 

 Now I read this as advising that I cannot issue orders, instructions or directions.   Simple as .    It does not ban from contacting anyone with general enquiries or reporting matters.  Essentially our clerk is saying "It does if I say so".   Now many Councillors think I am just being awkward but to me this represents an important "line in the sand " as to where the "boundary lines" are.  Personally I feel that if I am to be restricted then there is no point in me being a Councillor. Opinions please

by (4.7k points)

4 Answers

0 votes
Any member of the public can report a faulty street light, pothole, etc. so I see absolutely no reason why you should not report this type of thing yourself.  However, I do understand sometimes the difference between making a report as any member of the public might and representing your council when discussing matters with your county council officers.  From a legal perspective, your standing orders reflect the Local Government Act which prohibits individual councillors from acting on behalf of the council so I'd suggest getting council approval for your approach would be the way forward.
by (18.5k points)
So I guess it all depends on what "acting on behalf the Council" means? I would say that if a decision has been made then  that prohibits any debate i.e. resolution deployed as per stated .  However, if nothing has been put to Council for decision I don't see why any Councillor cannot be directly and independently  involved.  Interesting but at the heart of what a Councillor is all about
0 votes
Your clerk needs to be put back on the straight and narrow of their remit - which certainly doesn’t include conspiracy to subvert legitimate Cllr activity.
I’d give the council officer the opportunity to apologise and retract their letter on pain of initiating a misconduct complaint about them and doing the same within the PC about your clerk.
by (19.8k points)
0 votes
I’m a Parish and Borough Councillor and I never approach individual Officers firstly because they might have changed roles and secondly their manager might allocate the work load out

I always use the same reporting channels as everybody else and never mention I’m a Councillor if you do mention you are a Councillor it could be thought your are representing the Council
Things got so bad on my Parish Council with issues like this that I got a stick on badge with Councillor on one side and member of the public on the other and kept turning it over
That being said the part that of the Code quoted only relates to the assets of the Parish Council or it’s staff so assuming the street light is the responsibility of a higher their council the Clerk is overstepping the mark
by (11.5k points)
0 votes
I'm tempted to say call their bluff. Let them try a conduct complaint for reporting a dud street light, as the MO will probably issue advice to the Clerk regarding the purpose of the code.
by (52.9k points)
To me the fundamental point is that I was always told Clerks cannot make decisions.  So when is  a decision not a decision?  Our clerk has made a decision that she wants total control over all correspondence and has got her head together with a Council officer to get them to send an E mail to the effect that they will not accept correspondence direct from Cllrs.  Is that beyond their remit?  I think it is bearing in mind my interpretation of standing orders re Councillor  activities.  Our MO has refused to comment to his interpretation of teh SOs but has pointed out that as an individual I can report anything to a  Council officer
Just carry on regardless. There is absolutely nothing your Clerk can do about it. The only alternative is to start a grievance against your Clerk, which will require the support of other councillors. If you're not confident of winning it, don't start it. Finally, start planning for the next elections now. Bring in some fresh faces.

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