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Asked to attend Parish Council meeting in order to address complaints

0 votes
Good morning,

We are currently in dispute with our Parish Clerk over a number of serious issues.  The Parish Clerk has been refusing to answer our clear and polite questions via email and instead has requested that we attend the next Parish Council meeting which he has suggested is the correct platform for such 'discussions'.  We do not wish to 'discuss' our complaints at a public meeting for a variety of reasons, but wish instead for the Clerk to answer our questions privately.

Does the Clerk have any grounds to insist that our complaints and questions are dealt with in a public meeting?

Thank you.
asked by (120 points)

1 Answer

0 votes
Hi there,

It's not clear if you are a Councillor or a member of the public so I'll try and clarify both sides to assist you.

Firstly the council should have a complaints procedure. This procedure should outline the necessary steps one should take in order for a complaint to be heard. The procedure will also help sift what is 'negative feedback' (i.e. the bins are overflowing) and what is a genuine complaint that needs to be formally addressed.

Best practice in the complaints procedure should state that a complaints committee will 'hear' you concerns whether that is in writing or in person. However, it isn't always feasible to have a separate committee and the policy may instead state a complaint should be heard by the full council.

A council (Whatever its form - parish, town, borough, county) has a legal duty to be transparent as it is answerable to the electorate. Therefore any complaint you make will have to be heard by the full council/or committee in order for them to address the situation. There isn't really a way around this as there are only a very limited amount of reasons why items might not be made public, general complaints are not one of them.

Without knowing what your complaint is about it makes it difficult to understand if the Clerk is being operationally correct or officious. You must understand that The Clerk is an employee of the Council and is limited in power. It is the full council which have the power to take action hence why your complaint (however polite) may not be being answered as you would like.

You can always send me a private message on here if you would like to be more detailed and I'll assist however I can.

Many thanks
answered by (3.6k points)
If the issues are of a performance and potentially disciplinary nature, they should be dealt with through formal process, as Chloe has outlined, but not in public.  Press and public should be excluded from all employment matters.

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