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In the absence of a Clerk, who is responsible for writing up/publishing minutes, agenda etc?

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My Parish Council seems to be struggling to find/keep a Clerk, and as a result there don't seem to have been any minutes or agendas published for months.  There isn't a website currently.  I'm trying to follow a local issue involving the local council and it's hard to look up the history.  Is it a legal requirement for someone else to publish minutes etc in the absence of a Clerk?
asked by (140 points)

1 Answer

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There are at least two important issues here. First, a council must keep minutes in order for there to be a record of the decisions that have been made. Without such a record, any actions of the council can be challenged as unlawful. It follows that good record keeping is essential to the proper functioning of a council.

Second, much of the legislation that creates and defines parish councils refers to the "proper officer". A council cannot operate effectively unless it appoints at least one proper officer, with responsibility for dealing with council matters. Commonly, this is the clerk. It can be volunteer councillors, although they may not be paid by the council. In a larger authority, there is more than one proper officer, each with distinct responsibilities.

Anyone can take the minutes, so long as they are recorded, and approved by the council as an accurate record. But it is obviously desirable to have regular arrangements in place. The chairman or councillors can create an agenda, but a meeting without a published agenda cannot lawfully make any decisions.

In short, someone has to pick up the baton, whether paid or unpaid. Otherwise, the council risks its actions being unlawful, and in the last resort it becoming defunct. If you are concerned, it would be sensible to notify the legal officer of the district council so that they can keep watch on the situation.
answered by (29.5k points)
Thank you for the advice - very helpful.  It's possible that there are minutes being kept, but not being published properly.  I actually just this evening found a set of minutes for a meeting last December, pinned to a community noticeboard outside a shop.  As it was dark, I took a photo of them on my phone to read later!   There was no sign of minutes from a more recent meeting, or any agenda for the next one.  It all feels a bit random
Well, that's better than nothing! But citizens have a statutory right to inspect the minutes. Without a proper officer, it's hard to know how this is to happen. That's one of the many reasons for needing someone to take on the role and to be identified as the contact point for the council.
Thanks for that.  I have to admit, I have never really taken much notice of parish council matters until recently (when the PC did something which affects me personally, and which I feel wasn't quite honourable).  But reading around, and especially the very helpful posts on here, makes me realise how variable standards are.  To be honest, it's made me consider asking to be co-opted to my PC (if that's possible) just so I can influence the way things are, rather than just complaining.  It does sound like a thankless task - although many people on here seem to put such a lot of effort into trying to do it well.
Glad you're taking an interest! Town and parish councils can be a valuable part of local life, especially if well run. A council can co-opt members if it has a vacancy, and most councils are keen to hear from willing volunteers! If there isn't currently a vacancy, one may arise, or there are periodic elections. There are administrative procedures to standing, but they are quite simple and the district council elections people should be helpful. It's a healthy thing if there are plenty of candidates.
Thank you @counterpoint - I will look into it!

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