Part of the role of the Clerk is to provide information and guidance for members of the Council, which may include undertaking research on their behalf. The challenge for the Clerk is to determine what is acceptable in this regard and to speak out when they feel that boundaries are being stretched. This can be a particular issue in councils that have a parish office, which can become a social club for a group of members. In essence this is no different to a group of members socialising in the pub and discussing council business, however the involvement of the Clerk may lead to a particular issue being given preference in the drafting of the agenda. It may also prevent the Clerk from undertaking their own work in a thorough and efficient manner. In an ideal world, members would not discuss council business outside council meetings, but human nature tramples all over that aspiration.
It may be helpful to have an open and honest discussion regarding roles and boundaries and to consider implementing a rule that questions to the Clerk between meetings must be conveyed by e-mail, with a copy to all members of the council, to help members to understand how the Clerk is providing support.