Can a clerk ask questions as a resident?

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Our clerk has started asking questions as a resident as part of open forum. Is this correct?
asked by (260 points)

1 Answer

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The open forum is an opportunity for anybody to ask a question, so no rules are being broken, but why is it necessary for the clerk to wait for this opportunity, when they have access to the members of the council at all times?  If they are raising an issue that needs discussion, it should be an agenda item.  I sometimes raise issues in open forum on behalf of a resident who is unable or unwilling to attend the meeting, but I make this fact clear.  One of my district councillors raised an issue as a resident at a recent meeting.

I'd be interested to know what sort of issues the clerk is raising and why they need to be on the public record in this way.  Does the clerk have a strong working relationship with the members of the council?
answered by (4.4k points)
Thanks for replying. I'm unsure what relationship she has. It is difficult to gauge as she is clerk for two other Councils and they appear to function well. Ours is completely different but it is the parish in which she lives. She has resigned but is still making appearances with Councillors to handover clerk work. She did take it upon herself to join debate with Councillors as well as belittle parishioners if they asked the wrong question. I asked about a neighbourhood plan and was shot down with were not having one of those. Questions she raised  as a parishioner were about an ongoing  planning application and traffic. Interestingly at the Feb meeting she flatly refused for  Council to meet with the highways. They make it up as they go along;(
The role of a clerk is complex and inter-personal relationships are critical.  On the one hand, the clerk is the servant of the councillors, employed to manage their affairs in a "don't speak until you're spoken to" way.  Alongside this, the clerk is the chief legal and financial officer of the council, responsible for guiding the council through the legal minefield.  The clerk should also be the buffer zone, the peacekeeper in any conflict and the friendly gatekeeper between parishioners and the council.  Some walk this tightrope better than others.

Opinions vary, but in my own rule book, joining debate is overstepping the mark, belittling parishioners is a hanging offence as there are no wrong questions, if the council hasn't debated the possibility of having a neighbourhood plan the clerk cannot express an opinion and if they have discussed it, the clerk should refer to the minutes of the meeting at which the discussion took place and finally, as I'm sure you know, the clerk can't flatly refuse anything!

It sounds as though she may have resigned, but isn't going to go away...
Thanks Dave. I have joined the SLCC as I took up the role of clerk & Officer in a neighbouring parish (end of April) so I am very new. They have a mentor so I am looking to contact her once I have confirmation from the Chairman that the handover is complete. Thanks again, Helen

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