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+1 vote

Extract from latest SLCC newsletter:

Adjournment Debate Prompts Action on Local Government Bullying

You may have seen that, in a landmark development for local council professionals, an Adjournment Debate, a parliamentary process which enables a backbench Member of Parliament to debate an issue with the relevant Minister, was held in the House of Commons on 9 May. The debate sparked discussions on tackling bullying within the sector, fuelled by relentless advocacy of SLCC together with the Association of Local Council Clerks (ALCC) and the National Association of Local Councils (NALC). The debate shed light on the pressing need for governmental intervention to safeguard the wellbeing of all local government officials.

Our unwavering commitment to addressing workplace bullying and harassment found resonance in the House of Commons as Sir Julian Lewis, Member of Parliament for New Forest East, championed the cause during the debate. The Minister for Local Government, Simon Hoare, MP, commended the work and increasing role of town, parish and community councils, highlighting how poor behaviour can impact councillors and staff, as well as the overall council effectiveness. It was agreed that a roundtable discussion should take place to explore actionable steps to tackle intimidation and harassment within the sector, bringing together the Minister, Sir Julian Lewis, and key stakeholders, including SLCC, ALCC and NALC.

This represents a significant milestone in our ongoing efforts to address bullying and harassment within our sector, and this roundtable presents a long-awaited opportunity for us all to help formulate real reform to add to what has been achieved through our pan-sector Civility and Respect Project.

How much focus of the “pan-sector” collaboration (I’d use the George Galloway description) focussed upon clerk’s bullying Cllrs or using the spectre of industrial tribunal or vexatious communications process to dissuade and / or traduce Cllrs that ask “difficult” questions and refuse to be fobbed off. 

Yes, “relentless advocacy” from SLCC, ALCC and NALC. But not so much for Cllrs I’d wager….

(Note for DBW - the different text size is a function of cut and paste rather than any intentional emphasis on my part. Text size, embolden, italics, underline - none of those are, as you previously stated, indicative of “bullying” they are just formatting functions and occasionally used to add emphasis.)

Having, and expressing, an alternative opinion is not bullying - it is a part of the duty of candour for Cllrs. 

by (21.7k points)

1 Answer

+2 votes

I see the 5 main aims of the ALCC are

  • 1.To protect Clerks2.Take action to prevent bullying in the sector3.Sanctions - such as 6 months suspension for Councillors repeatedly breaching the code of conduct, or fines4.A fair pay rate: all employers to adopt the NJC rates of pay for Clerks.5.Better pensions: adoption by all employers of the LGPS pension scheme
so 6 months suspension eh says it all
We want a similar organisation as this for Councillors !!
by (5.0k points)
As I've said before, the SLCC and ALCC are clearly defined as representing local council staff so not sure why there's so much surprise here.
When I first joined the sector, the then code of conduct included the provision for suspension of councillors who breach the code but that was removed some years ago.  Council staff are employees so there are routes to deal with poor performance or bad behaviour etc. through employment law.  There are no routes to deal with poor behaviour by councillors towards fellow councillors in the current regime.  Some councillors can and do behave appallingly not only to staff but towards other councillors too.  A complaint to the MO is pointless.
Point taken DW , but the problem is that a complaint from the clerk often carries much more weight in that it often comes with a threat of resignation and the inevitable quoting  of civility and respect.  I firmly believe Clerk/Councillor liaison meetings should be a must in all Councils  and form part of all clerks training .  I suggest most clerks need Clerk/Councillor co-operation more than Cllrs need  Councillor /Clerk co-operation
The sanction on a clerk who does not perform adequately or is guilty of unacceptable behaviour is, ultimately, dismissal.

The sanction on a councillor who does not perform adequately or is guilty of unacceptable behaviour is, ultimately, er ... there isn't one.

That doesn't feel like a level playing field to me.
A clerk gets paid £50kpa to provide support and advice and gets lots of training . Councillors get paid nothing to make decisions. That doesn't feel like a level playing field to me.  I guess it all depends on what the individual concerned  views as unacceptable behaviour/bullying/criticism.  It does in some cases seems to be applied over mere disagreements
Where do I apply for the job that pays £50K please?
for DBW:  the SLCC job finder section would be a good start...

There are currently 7 clerk vacancies listed with an advertised salary range averaging £42.6 - £46.9k

And that's basic excluding pension benefits, overtime, working from home allowance etc.

In that salary bracket it really shouldn't be too much for a council (and tax payers) to expect a professional performance.

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