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0 votes
Dear friends.
When is it possible to ask questions, make suggestions or say anything at all as a novice councillor. I am experiencing a form of exclusion / isolation and ostracism - clerk, chair and vice chair will not reply to email, and I’ve been shouted down or humiliated at parish council meetings.
The clerk wrote to me in June ( responding to a suggestion I’d made about more widely advertising co-option vacancies and the one advert that did appear being factual incorrect ) saying “this always happens, new people come along and think they can change everything”. Later, when bringing this matter to the chair, he said that I should basically shut up until I knew how the council works (and that I was beginning to remind him of a past crisis, a result of which was the clerk at the time resigning and most of the councillors stepping down). So I’m at a loss to understand what purpose and contribution I can make, being effectively silenced or ignored by this cabal of officers. Any advice? Is there any recourse at all for a councillor being excluded in these ways? I believe the aim is to freeze me out, force my hand and influence me to step down. I’m NOT going to do that, but I do need to break this pattern, without making things worse.
by (210 points)

2 Answers

0 votes
Perhaps you could suggest to your clerk that you would like to arrange an informal meeting with him/her so that they have the opportunity to explain to you, as a new member of the council, how the council works and to give you the background to the various things that the council does.  You may wish to politely suggest this would be an excellent way of avoiding the situation where "this always happens, new people come along and they think they can change everything" because, after the meeting you would be better (or even fully) informed about the workings of the council.
by (9.8k points)
edited by
Dreadful advice!  Seek a meeting so that the clerk can explain...  All that will do is reenforce the false belief of dominance on behalf of the clerk.

Take the opposite approach - tell the clerk that there's a new sheriff in town and you ain't interested in how things happened in the past only in ensuring proper practice on your watch!
I had EXACTLY the same scenario with a clerk of 20+ years acting the big one when I joined.  He resigned 6 months later with the threat of a fraud investigation hanging over him.
Love this, highly likely there are similar elements at work here.
+1 vote
First of all it is important to acknowledge that the Chair does not have any elevated powers over and above any other councillor, other than the right to exclusively call for Extraordinary meetings to be held.  No Councillor - including the chair -  has any authority to act in a pseudo supervisory or disciplinary capacity over any other councillor.
The second important point is that the way a council operates is in accordance with its standing order, policies & procedures.  It is not legitimate to operate through some covert traditions or expectations and expect new councillors to find out for themselves what those are.

It sounds as though some Cllrs have been in breach of the code of conduct when shouting you down & trying to humiliate you If it happens again, you should make a formal complaint to the principal authority monitoring officer.  I would consider making my own audio recordings of the meetings as evidence.

Do not refer procedural matters to the Chair in future. What you might like to consider is E mailing the Clerk & call for an explanation of what he/she thinks you are trying to change, and how he she thinks your suggestions are not in accord with the standing orders, along with a reference to the appropriate articles.  Add that if you don't get a  response, you will assume that the clerk is unable to substantiate their implications that you should refrain from speaking.
by (34.9k points)

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