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Clerk resigned due to Chairman

0 votes
The clerk has given immediate resignation due to the behaviour of the Chairman . There are no grounds other than the Chairman questioned the clerk over a breach of GDPR. Has anyone any experience of this happening?
asked by (320 points)

3 Answers

+1 vote
It's not unusual. Councils succeed or fail on the strength of the vital relationship between the Chair and the Clerk.  If this relationship breaks down, it's a slippery slope. Sometimes it's justified, often less so. Usually the warning signs are there, perhaps only in hindsight, but it can come out of the blue. We all deal differently with challenging situations and, for some, the dramatic explosion is the weapon of choice.

One of my councils lost two clerks last year due to unacceptable behaviour by the Chair and I'm now dealing with the Employment Tribunal. It irks me that the council's reputation will be tarnished and the council tax payers will foot the bill for years to come, whilst the bloke who caused the situation walks out with a big grin on his face and will be free to stand for re-election in a couple of years.

We just have to learn from these experiences and move on.
answered by (18.3k points)
Thanks Dave. Can I ask was the Clerks resignation letter ( if there was one) made known to Council?
There's no need to do so, although I believe that a simple explanation is helpful. As GDPR appears to be the subject of the resignation, you would need to satisfy yourselves that sharing the information is in the public interest. One of mine emailed her letter to each member of the council to highlight the issues that led to her resignation which, in her case, was the correct thing to do, as much of it happened behind closed doors.
Thanks again Dave. No it started with GDPR but the clerk has given 3 non descriptive examples to include not assisting with the internal audit. The chairman couldn't assist as there was no info. Small council etc. I'm speaking with local calc for legal advice but one cllr has requested to see a copy of the resignation. Personally I wouldn't do it for GDPR but I will see what is recommended. Thanks again. Helen
Hi Helen,

You don’t need to show the resignation and I can’t see any reason why it needs to be seen. If the Clerk has a complaint then they need to raise it in line with your internal policies.

Clerks have a lot of support from their union/association, the local association and even NALC. However Councillors do not have the same support.

I’d recommend waiting for the Clerk to calm down then asking the clerk to attend a staffing committee (or whatever you might call it) to discuss the matter before finally accepting the resignation.

If the Clerk has been with you for 2+ years then it might help to stop a constructive dismissal claim. If they’ve been with you less than 2 years it would still be reasonable to offer that olive branch although unless there’s grounds for discrimination then they ‘can’t’ go to tribunal with much if any success.
Hi Chloe, thanks for replying. Clerk has been with us less than 6 months and we have no policies in place nor a contract of employment issued. I'm guessing this will be lessons learnt.
Did you issue a written statement of the conditions of the job as part of the recruitment process? If not, you might be in for a bumpy ride here.
+1 vote
Contrary to expectation, the Chair is not the Clerk's line manager through any perceived "vital" or other "relationship" and should have raised his/her concerns with the full council, not just privately to the Clerk.  The Chair should (in the interests of allowing Councillors to take appropriate responsibility for the operation of their Council) make it clear to the rest of the members what specific concerns he/she raised about GDPR and the Council need to come to a view about how valid the Chair's concerns actually were. And how to prevent a similar situation arising again.  Whether the other members have the required knowledge to do that is another matter.
answered by (13.4k points)
Thanks Graeme this is my downfall as I commented that I expected better as we had brought this lady in as an experienced Clerk. I have noted for the future and will be stepping down as Chairman at the next meeting.
I can understand the temptation to step down Helen, but knowing the facts, I don't think you've done anything wrong. There's some catching up to do in terms of policies and procedures. Looking around the room, do you see anybody better equipped than you to lead that process?

This is obviously something that only you can decide and you must put yourself first. Some battles are worth fighting; others not.
Graeme - the vital relationship has nothing to do with line management. It's more fundamental than that. It's two leaders, working hand in hand, each totally dependent upon the strength of the other, unable to function without open and honest communication.
Hi Dave, no I don't believe I have done anything wrong just highlighting wrongs! I've had a good chat with my local calc today. Having spoken to them on numerous occasions they asked if I should think about stepping down and letting my fellow Councillors just get on with it. It would enable me focus on representing the electorate who voted me in, give me the opportunity to get their concerns on the agenda and hold my fellow Councillors to account by public debate.
Dave neither Clerk or the Chair of a Parish or Town Council has a leadership role in the same way as an elected Mayor or Leader on a Principal Authority. The chair of a parish or town council had no authority to act as a unitary agent in discussion of the running of the Councilwith the clerk in private meetings. But in reality it does happen. He or she is the same as any other cllrs apart from being able to unilaterally call extraordinary meetings or EGM's countersign returns and carry out the Statutory role of chairing full meetings. The chair should not be working in isolation with the Clerk, or engaging in activities that are not recorded.
0 votes
It seems that this Council has done little to support its new clerk in the six months she has been in post and I'm not surprised that she's walked away.  It's the Council that needs to accept full responsibility for that rather than the chairman who seems to be unnecessarily shouldering all the blame.
If there is no chance a retrieving the situation, the Council needs to put in the time to prepare a job description and person spec for the post and append these to a contract of employment as part of a sound recruitment process.
It's not sensible for either party to approach something as important as employment in the relaxed way that seems to have happened here.
answered by (770 points)
Thank you for your reply. The saga continues and all Council are now blaming me for the Clerks departure.She is now intent on getting her own back emailing accusations against me. An unofficial meeting was held last night in preparation of the official meeting next week. Words are failing me on people stirring the pot.
oh dear..... Are the accusations being made through a proper complaints procedure?  If so, it might not be a bad idea to suggest that the complaint be referred to the Monitoring Officer.  It will flush out the lack of employment contract for the clerk and the potential for members' confusion about the duties of the post and line management responsibilities.

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