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Can a Parish Council chairman write on behalf of PC to local authority, local MP etc. without PC authorisation

+1 vote
Our chairman is writing to our local council and our local MP without discussing or agreeing anything with the council.  Our MP wrote to our council (via the clerk), asking for information (regarding an issue that has split the village) - the councillors were not informed of the letter, and the chairman has responded, again without informing the council.  Is this allowed?
asked by (130 points)

1 Answer

+1 vote

In a word, no. To quote the Good Councillor's Guide:-

"The chairman has few special powers. For instance, it is
unlawful for a council to delegate decision making to any
individual councillor and the chairman is no different."

Similarly, the Clerk has a duty to bring important correspondence to the attention of the whole council.  The Clerk is the proper officer of the whole council, not the PA of the Chairman.

Members should ask the Chairman and the Clerk to explain their actions.

The Chairman, as a local resident, may engage in whatever correspondence he or she wishes in a personal capacity, but in so doing, may not use their status as an elected representative of the people.

answered by (18.7k points)
The issue is that many chair's wrongly perceive themselves as being comparable with a Chief Executive and assume they have unilateral powers which are not applicable.  Can a Parish Council chairman write on behalf of PC to local authority, local MP etc. without PC authorisation? In a personal capacity yes but as the Chair - It depends on the content.  The chair cannot make statements that claim to be or could be implied to be views of the council.  Nor can the chair's letter be seen as an instrument of a resolution, e.g. implying  that he/she will instruct the council to act in a particular way to any response.  In the example above the chair cannot unilaterally instruct the clerk to write on his/her behalf or in his/her name.  Members should always be made aware of all correspondence sent & received by the council, and have access to it if they wish.

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