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Rotten to the core

0 votes
I despair. My friend has been bullied off the parish council because she stood up to those who had no interest in the community. The pc have also bullied a local resident for 3 years, resulting in an ICO complaint that was upheld. These councillors have been in place for many years and are likely to co-opt one of their friends to join them. Nobody else wants to work with them.  I feel very vulnerable on the pc and I am frightened of what they might do if I stand up to them.  The monitoring office is not interested. How do I stop these people gaining an even greater stranglehold?
asked by (320 points)

3 Answers

+3 votes
That sounds dreadful Louise. Sadly, it's not a unique situation and I think you know what the answer is. In the short term, there is very little you can do. Encourage strong and positive people to put themselves forward for the co-opted vacancy and hope that they get in. Encourage members of the public to attend meetings. Make people aware of the Council's shortcomings (although as a member yourself, you need to be careful how you do this). Finally, persuade people to stand at the next election under a "time for change" banner.

There are many private fiefdoms in the world of parish councils and the system does little to supress them.
answered by (14.1k points)
I would simply echo DavetheClerks comments.  The "checks & balances" have either failed or have been removed all together within our tier of local government.  When the public are indifferent and the regulatory regime is powerless it leaves people between rock and hard place.  My own approach has been to break it down into small manageable chunks and take solace in the fact that I am doing my best in very difficult circumstances.
+2 votes
Campaign for Parish Council's to come under the remit of the Local Govt Ombudsman.  If they are a bad as you say, it seems unlikely that are operating without a number of breaches of legislation.. Only the LGO could take any serious actions. Most external auditors won't, and if you reported your concerns to NALC they would run a mile..  You could ask the LGO to investigate  the intransigence of the Principle Authority MO too.
answered by (9.6k points)
The role of the Ombudsman is primarily to investigate service provision, not internal issues. Their guidance states:

"I'm not happy with a service provided by my parish council. Can the Ombudsman help me?
In most cases, no. The Local Government Act 1974 (S34(1)) defines the authorities that we may investigate. Parish and town councils are not included in this definition."
and
"Can the Ombudsman look at a complaint about a parish or town councillor?
No. A complaint about the conduct of a parish or town councillor should be made to the council itself. If you are not satisfied with the outcome, a local Standards Committee (usually run by whichever local council collects your council tax) may consider your complaint."

The remit of the Monitoring Officer is very limited and most issues fall outside their powers. Even in the most serious cases, unless Police involvement becomes necessary, they can do little more than write a strongly-worded letter.
What about the press?
As I said, the councillors adequate likely to be in breach of legislation and that is certainly within the remit of the LGO for principal authorities , if it were the case for Town and Parish Councils too, the errant councillors would be under more pressure to change their ways.
Like the PSO for Wales oversees complaints relating to individual community council members and also complaints against a community council itself, the LGO should also have the same powers in England.
0 votes

Could you drum up enough support for a parish poll and ask parishioners if they hold a view of no confidence in the way the PC conducts its affairs?

Although the result would not be binding, it would however send a clear message to them.

answered by (1.5k points)

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