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Discussions via emails

+1 vote

Our chair is a rabid email user and comes up with ideas pre meeting and sends his ideas out to the councillors some who are not on the email system (not computer literate) and one refuses to take mail because he says it should be discussed in council.

He also garners favour with the local squires son in law (for support) who is not on the parish council (the squire is but he is aged, 80+)

The clerk is not used as the conduit for these discussion and a deal of predetermination goes on and the clique is obviously discussing these things in detail prior to any meeting

We have lost our third clerk in a suspicious way and now have  a temporary one .

Is this legal? Surely the whole point of a council is for the members to add items the the agenda, meet and discuss things; not this dictatorship and treating the clerk as if they don't exist and some of the councilors as well.

We have an election in May but there will not be enough nominations so the same clique will be back on automatically and so this bizarre clique continue. Surely there must be someone somewhere that can identify/inspect these rouge councils considering they are a legal body? Sorry a few questions there but it just goes on and on the disrespect, dictatorship, bullying......

by (1.2k points)

1 Answer

0 votes
Bullying and disrespect are serious matters. They should be covered by the Code of Conduct adopted by your Parish Council and breaches of this Code should be referred to your local Monitoring Officer.

There is nothing to stop Councillors communicating with one another between meetings, whether by email or otherwise. However decisions must be taken by the whole Parish Council at properly constituted meetings, i.e. in public with decisions minuted, and everything in line with standing orders.

I understand that the 'clique' you refer to is in a majority on your council. Isn't the answer for you (and your allies) to become the majority? If the clique is behaving so badly, then I wonder why other people of the same mind as you are not prepared to challenge them? I am hearing a great deal of complaint, but apparently no one is prepared to do anything about it. The answer lies in the hands of local residents. Even if people don't want to stand, then they should attend parish council meetings, speak out against bad practice and demand transparency and clarity. Local democracy only works if local people get engaged.
by (1.7k points)
Unfortunately we are the few they are the majority in an aged community overrun by people who have come in and think we are hillbillies. Most of us are professionals/hard working locals but few are willing to put their names forward for nomination hence we will not have an election and so back to square one. Monitoring officers are not interested at all really. & yes they all complain but do nothing.
Is there not a body that "inspects" the running of councils?
Thanks for the clarification and taking the time to reply
Do you have any tips on how to effectively speak out about bad practise ?

Its one persons comments against a councils, how do they bring them up effectively.
With such a domineering chair, meetings are controlled tightly by the chair, minutes of meetings are controlled by the chair, procedures are controlled tightly by the chair,
Any practical suggestions ?
I understand your position, as I have experienced a somewhat similar situation in my parish council.  The first thing to remember is that, as a parish councillor, you have the right to express your views – indeed it is your responsibility to do so.  Parish council meetings exist so that councillors can discuss matters, everyone giving their own opinion. The Chairman’s role is to chair the meeting, which means giving all councillors an opportunity to have their say. The Chairman’s opinion carries no more weight than any other councillor’s.

In your position I would approach the Chairman outside of a meeting and say that you would like to talk to him. At this meeting with him I would say:
'Can you advise me how I can make my views known at Parish Council meetings? At present I find it rather difficult. I get the impression that meetings are tightly controlled, and so I am finding it difficult to raise matters. When I do raise matters, I feel that they are not taken seriously.' If appropriate, you could go on to say that you find the Chairman’s style of running the meeting domineering, and so you are finding it difficult to contribute, Get him to agree that it is the purpose of the meetings to allow all councillors to freely give their views and opinions. Similarly on the question of agendas: say that you would like to suggest agenda items. Does he agree that he is quite happy for you to do this?

Remember: you are quite entitled to say all this. Remember too: it is more effective to use phrases expressing how you feel, e.g. ‘I get the impression that ..’ or ‘I feel uncomfortable when …’ etc rather than to accuse the other person directly of bad behavior, which immediately makes them defensive. Engage them by asking how they can help you overcome your problem (which of course in reality might be their problem).

On the question of minutes: presumably the PC meeting approves these. If they are not accurate, you will just have to pluck up the courage and challenge them Maybe do this with the Clerk when they are circulated before the meeting, and point out errors and omissions.

Presumably you have Standing Orders and other relevant policies. When these are not followed, again you will have to bring this up.

If you are a lone voice on the Council, I understand that you have a difficult task ahead of you. One thing that might help (again from my experience) is to persuade local residents who are unhappy with the way your Parish Council is run to attend meetings, and express their views about it.

Finally, and I acknowledge that this might not be appropriate but I hope that you don’t mind me suggesting it: consider getting some assertiveness training. Practical training would be best, but a check online provides some helpful websites.

Finally: I am sorry that you are in this situation. I get the impression that this is not uncommon in Parish Councils, and it has already been noted there is no regulatory oversight of PCs, unless they do something really bad! The real answer of course is an engaged community who take an interest and care how their village is run.
The farcical situation is that the Monitoring Officer has no powers whatever to sanction councillors so they can and do get away with non declaration and so on. I really believe that parish councils have had their day and should be abolished where the precept is less than say £25,000. Local government needs a root and branch reform if Localism is to be taken seriously, which it should not.

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