How to re-balance the impartiallity/bias of the clerk.

0 votes
Due to the recent elections all but those that stepped down/retired returned uncontested, this has resulted in a leading group of councillors "having the ear of the clerk" with the clerk exploiting the situation by agreeing heavily with the "promotions" of this group.          Worryingly this "cosy" arrangement has an electoral clock of four years intimated by the clerk asking for the existing signatories to sign for the full term. The complacency of the council has failed once already, and although I do not doubt the clerks sincerity I feel it is misjudged and the group are elitist holding the major power seats; Chair, Chair F&M, Vice chair, Vice chair F&M. All claiming a non political persuasion on register of interest but previously of certain groups, a loophole in the process exploited to negate corporate responsibility. Who Clerks the clerk?
asked by (140 points)
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2 Answers

0 votes

Can I ask what you mean by the phrase "Worryingly this 'cosy' arrangement has an electoral clock of four years intimated by the clerk asking for the existing signatories to sign for the full term."

All councillors have to sign the acceptance of office at the first meeting of the council, (a legal requirement). Is that what you mean? Do you have any new councillors at all?

Once 'elected' or co-opted, it is very difficult to get rid of a sitting councillor until the next elections are held in 4 years time. 

answered by (1.5k points)
Hi the process of 'selection' to chair will be a 'shoe in' for the vice
> chair, this is historical over the previous council! The present chair
> is in a second term and prior to that the previous chair held two terms,
> prior to that was the current vice chair,  diversity not a strong point.
> Although new cllrs have been elected.
The term of office for the Chair is one year and elections take place at the annual meeting in May each year. At that time, the members of the council must choose the person they feel is best equipped for the role. Any member may offer themselves for election and the candidate with the majority vote becomes the Chair.

The role of Vice Chair is not written into statute, but most councils elect a Vice Chair to act in the Chair's absence and, in many cases, as an apprenticeship to prepare them to occupy the hotseat at some time in the future. This does not mean that the Vice Chair automatically assumes the role when the Chair resigns, retires or dies, but it provides an option for consideration at that time.
Thank you understandably from the Standing Orders and commendable, as the majority rule the status quo reigns.
As a Chairman myself, I have benefitted enormously from observing and working alongside my experienced predecessor for four years prior to offering myself for election on his retirement. It is a complicated and often thankless role, not to be taken lightly.
I find this comment curious. The only difference between the chair of a Parish/Town Council and any other member is that the chair countersigns certain documents (e.g. The Annual return & Governance statement), Chairs  full meetings of the Council and signs an agreed copy of the full meeting minutes. The chair can also convene EGM's or Extraordinary meetings unilaterally and by convention often represents the Council at external meeting s or functions. What is complicated and thankless about that?  Do your SO's place all sorts of other responsibilities of the chair, or did a culture emerge  where the chair acted unilaterally in various activities without any legislative legitimacy, for example in a pseudo disciplinary manner?
Apart from the legal framework, the Chairman of the Parish Council is, in many communities, viewed as the public face of the organisation, a community leader, an elder statesman. People turn to me for advice and support in matters completely unrelated to the work of the Parish Council. I chair many public meetings, sometimes under the auspices of the Parish Council, occasionally just a meeting of the community to discuss a particular issue. Every community faces challenges and opportunities and it is vital that we come together to understand the consensus viewpoint.

Like any committed councillor, I also represent the council at meetings and consultations on matters related to the work of the council, negotiating to protect vital amenities and financial support from district and county, the police etc, lobbying for additional support and resources, highway improvements and the like.

Much of this work takes place quietly behind the scenes and can take up a significant part of my week, but it is invisible to the community. We trumpet the occasional success, but we rarely talk about the countless hours of getting nowhere.

When I agreed to become Chairman, I didn't realise how many hours I would have to devote to meetings regarding sewage pumping!
Commendable though your activities are, for the most part they are not defined as statutory functions of a Town & Parish chair and shouldn't be regarded as  universally applicable to all Town/Parish Council chairs.  I know of a number of instances where Cllrs who are not chairs of vice chairs of their respective councils, but  who have undertaken similar activities because of their sense of duty too..
0 votes

The Clerk should ideally initially  be accountable to a staffing committee, and all cllrs should be able to raise concerns about the Clerk's conduct and performance with said committee. The Clerk is not employed to make decisions or direct policy either.  It is ultimately for the full council to deal with this. It is worrying that you regard the roles of Chair, Chair F&M, Vice chair, Vice chair F&M as "Power seats".  .   The chairs are meant  to run the meetings of their respective bodies, not make unilateral decisions or collude with each in covert meetings outside full council . The voice of the council should be agreed by all of the Council members.

answered ago by (5.2k points)
Thank you for your replies which concur with the SO`s, the Clerk accountable to the F& M committee.

Much appreciated.

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