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Clerk provided erroneous info to Council despite me objecting to the incorrect info.What action can be taken.

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asked by (170 points)

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Please provide more information Valerie
answered by (11.5k points)
A paper on "Council Profiling" was presented to Council with erroneous information. (that the cemetery,allotment etc were services that had been 'devolved' to the PC). This is incorrect because for as long as I have known, the PC had responsibility for all these facilities from day one. No one present understood the purpose of the document, let alone the content of the document - the Vice-Chairman presented the document which had been prepared by the Clerk but could not explain how the points system (for every Level described) even worked in this document. When asked by one Councillor "what benefit would this bring to Council" , the Vice-Chair responded "none" ! Further into the debate the Vice-Chair revealed that it would have impact on the salary banding of the Parish Clerk!  When I challenged that the paper had incorrect information as well as nobody understood the points system, I was told by the clerk to "stop arguing with the Vice-Chair" . Chairman did not see it fit to remind the Clerk that her role was "advisory" when it came to Council. Clerk intervenes and instructs the Vice-Chair to take a vote despite the incorrect info and the inability to answer a legitimate question I had raised on the points system within the Paper. Council went on to resolve to approve the Paper which had been previously discussed at an Operations Committee (which comprises the Chair, Vice-Chair and Lead member for Finance) that Sunningdale Parish Council Local Council profile is Level 3. I objected and it was recorded that "Cllr Pike requested her vote against this was registered". In my opinion, it made a mockery of the whole democratic process. I am now wondering if there is any recourse insofar as I believe the Clerk acted "ultra vires". Appreciate your thoughts.
Is this purely in relation to a salary review for the Clerk?
That's what I understand as Council was not told what else or how else it could benefit Council per se.
I understand that the Clerk is currently at the top end of the salary spine/band and in "raising the Council'c profile" to a higher level, the Clerk is able to move up to the next spine/band. I have never heard of other Parish Councils having a profile so I am none the wiser as to why and what this Paper was all about! This is what myself and other Councillors were trying to get the Vice-Chairman to explain to us but to no avail, sadly.
The NALC and SLCC published a National Agreement on Salaries and Conditions of Service of Local Council Clerks in 2004, which identified four pay bands, according to the scope and complexity of the role. These are described as LC1 to 4. Each pay band was then aligned to a range of points on the NJC payscale. For each band, there is a published profile of expected elements and, unless the Parish Council takes on additional responsibilities or staff to be managed by the Clerk, the band is unlikely to change. Increased hours and modest precept increases do not affect the banding. It is common for Clerks to reach the top of the scale for their particular position and, apart from the annual inflationary increase, their remuneration will not rise any further. It was never the intention that councils in this position should simply re-classify themselves into the next band up to give the Clerk a payrise!

Profile 3 includes elements such as 10-20 staff and a budget of £250,000 to £750,000. If you Google Parish Council Clerk "Profile 3" you'll find the document on many sites.

It's also worth mentioning that the top of each scale includes discretionary points for going above and beyond expectations and that the agreement is only guidance, so a reclassification may not have been the only way to tackle this. The other important consideration is that you are evaluating the job, not the individual, in making this decision, so you will be obliged to offer the same scale to an incoming Clerk when the current postholder leaves.
In the days when CPALC was around, they had a handy calculator for deciding on a clerks pay. If I get time I will have a look to see if I still have the details. I think we made some changes to it to take into account local pay levels (London weighting etc). It also depended on the Clerks qualifications as well.
A quick Google found this doc: Pencombe Group Parish Council Salary Review Proposal, which I thought was well laid out as an example.
Many thanks Caroline and I agree that the Pencombe Group Parish Council Salary Review Proposal is well laid out.
Dave, thank you very much indeed for the detailed response and it has helped me better understand the Salary Review spinal column points vis-a-vis Local Council Scale/Profile. When the paper was presented it was certainly not presented as a Salary Review Proposal. The agenda item for the Council meeting read as follows: "To approve the determination of the Operations Committee that Sunningdale Parish Council Local Council profile is Level 3.". In my opinion, Council was not only misled by the agenda item heading but the paper that was presented, detailed information that was incorrect with regard to Council. Looking at Scale LC3  - (a) we are not a large Parish (under 4000 residents), (b) Council meets 8-9 times a year (we have not had 12 meetings in a year for the last 3 years), (c) we do not have any delegated/devolved functions (let alone 3!) , (d) we have less than 10 staff. (e) Our budget for the first time was set at £250,000 for 2019-2020. So if one considered the five profile benchmark descriptions, we only meet 1 out of the 5!. So I go back to my question, what recourse is there to rectify the decision that was taken by Council? I genuinely believe Councillors who were present and not members of the Operations Committee, were completely misled into making the decision to reclassify our LC profile to 3 as they would not have known/been familiar with the co-relation between LC profile and salary scale. And as you rightly point out, this would have an impact on an incoming clerk when the current postholder leaves.

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