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I recently  failed to re-apply for  Councillor election after endless battles with the inner sanctum and the  our clerks.  However, one of our last tasks was to confirm a £20K project and I sought to clarify the power to be used and the clerk  advised she had consulted with our local NALC affiliated association and waved an LTN at me .  I then constructed a polite note to their Chief Officer and laid out all the information of the case and asked her to comment/reconsider.  She replied as follows.

I don't mean to be rude, but I don't know why you feel the need to share your personal opinion on a council project with me? I also don't understand why you are arguing at all.

The council wants to support this initiative and we are all agreed that the council has the authority to do it and so what is there to argue about? Which power to use is the responsibility of the Clerk and so you need to stop wasting everyone's time and trying their patience and just let her do the job she is more than capable of and paid to do.


I am appalled at her response and it confirms why I hate the culture which exists and confirms my opinion of the value of of our local association (£1000 pa) 

 Sadly, all the new Councillors are now begging me to apply for co-option .  Decisions. decisions . Is it worth all the hassle?

by (5.0k points)

2 Answers

+1 vote
The Value of County Association of Local Councils (CALCs) seems the vary significantly and sadly even the better ones as people move on seem to be very much in decline. Unfortunately a bad CALC sets the tone locally only serves to make things worse. Some of these CALCs have led Councils down the proverbial garden path with advice which in some cases has cost council thousands of pounds...  They have intervened and got it hopelessly wrong indeed i know some CALCs where senior officers have admitted never actually attending a single Parish or Town Council meeting in years... Personally at the point where if i dont see signficant improvement soon intend to table motions to cease membership of our our CALC (which in turn prevents membership of NALC seemingly).
In terms of whether its worth the hassle only you can answer that really. I came close numerous times. The depressing thing is feel I've turned things around locally to extent but know how fragile change is. Takes long time to fix things seconds to destroy.
by (9.1k points)
+1 vote
NALC just wants membership fees to keep the wheels turning they are not accountable to anyone and will accept any Council as a member irrespective of their behaviour

In my case I only found out by accident that my Council had been in extensive and no doubt misleading correspondence about me but I was told the information was confidential
You situation is very similar to mine in that I have not stood but am being asked for help
I’m staying on the sidelines as I’ll be fascinated to see how the Council functions with so few Councillors some of whom have a low level of commitment
by (11.6k points)
Agree totally with Jules' points and the seeming propaganda from NALC that PC' should follow their diktats via their unaccountable local association franchises. and brainwashed trained clerks. It is for the council alone to decide the value of NALC guidance or not. Unfortunately they have packaged their offerings to appeal to the lowest level of commitment of free thought by PC members who adopt NALC thinking because, not that it is best for their community but because it is the easiest answer. Processed food for the mases. No thought required. Very appealing to lazy, indolent councillors who don't read the label before choosing.
Until councillors have their own governing body they will be open to be led and corrupted by outside parties influence.
Councillors, you were elected by and for your community and sometimes this requires very hard work by you on their behalf- not an easy ride! but so rewarding for them NOT YOU!
I'm going to disagree as I believe NALC has a definite and useful role to play at a national level particularly in lobbying government for change.  But, I agree that their membership model needs a rethink as it requires membership via the local office which is questionable in terms of the type and quality of service it offers to councils.  Our local office is headed up by one individual who fails to respond to queries and seems accountable to no one.  Advice when given has been poor and incorrect and lots of councils have withdrawn from membership, losing access to the national advice notes which can be useful.  I've heard other county offices are so much better but I'm sure ours is not unique.
What is the formal working relationship between NALC  and the County associations?
Is there any "quality control" , inspections . appraisal in fact anything to ensure that NALCs customers get some sort of decent service.
It seems our subscription goes to our CALC so who funds NALC HQ?
Unknown as to how one would start a county association or what qualifications one requires. The county association charges PC's a fee for their services which it passes a proportion of to NALC as the parent body thereby making direct contact or communication with NALC impossible. Handy buffer that don't you think. As to NALC control, inspection or policing of the "associates" in the counties that would be a question that a PC should ask before they get conned into parting with their electors funds.
My research indicates that we pay approx 7.7p to NALC and 10p membership fees  to our County Association for each elector.  So separate fees.    Yet our County Association refuses us access to NALC Publications  via its password facility.
Is that possible within its "terms and conditions" and if so would PCs have a case to challenge NALC about this. Both are membership organisations surely and must treat all members equally?
Of course councillors should have full details of the terms and conditions of the membership they are asked to pay for BEFORE they vote to continue with the membership.
For Jamie - you must insist that access to documents / resources are available for any Cllr that wants it.
This is a very common situation where county (and national) only give login / password to clerk which perpetuates the inverse information pyramid which perpetuates the so often reported conflict between Cllrs and clerks.
It is common that NALC / cALC will only provide 1 login / password which then requires PCs to share a single login which is counter to basis IT security process.
Cllrs must INSIST that they are given access or they must withdraw their support for subscription.
As to whether the subscription is VfM or otherwise, we’ll that’s an entirely different story and progress makes some very sound (refreshingly direct) points above much of which I wholeheartedly support.
After getting nowhere for the last 2 years after complaining about Councillor access to NALC passwords I raised a strong protest on the NALC Facebook page . Unusually they replied saying we will refer matters to your CALC if you let me have details.  I said OK but I want to hear back from you not my CALC.  After 3 weeks no reply  so I sent a chaser.  Within 24 hours I received an E mail from my CALC advising  "Once all council subscriptions have been renewed, which should be by the end of May or soon after, we will be posting the NALC website members area password details in the Members Area of the ALCA website under the "General Guidance" tab. We are doing this mainly to reduce the number of requests from Clerks for reminders, but another outcome will be that Councillors who have been granted access to the Members Area of the ALCA website will be able to access the NALC website password.
Hopefully the NALC website renewal will be ready soon to make this process a little easier for everyone involved.

Progress ??
Wow so many of you speak my language Ref Local NALC who charge vast amounts and don't deliver at Parish Level

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