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Are there guidelines to guide what a parish council should say about other councils in a public setting?

0 votes
In a recent newsletter, my Parish council drew attention to the fact that some of the parish councillors were also borough and county councillors.

They went on to paint this as a positive thing based on the logic that you only have to come to the parish council rather than the parish council OR the borough OR the county and so on.

Whilst this is true, it suggests that the only way for a parish resident to have a successful interaction with the borough or county is if the parish councillors in question are elected to all posts. They don't mention that other county and borough cllrs (for the same area) are not on the parish council, and would also be able to help.
This parish council have been accused in the past of being an extension of the borough and county cllrs 'campaign machine'. And this seems to be another example of this.

To help me understand whether this is the case, I was hoping someone could explain to what extent a parish council should speak about other councils in a public setting? Are there guidelines that govern this?
by (280 points)

3 Answers

0 votes
Our borough and county councillors attend our Parish Council meetings and provide updates, and if a parishioner asks a question which is better directed to them, the Chair will ask them  to respond. In this way parishioners are encouraged to have a direct and active relationship with their borough and county councillors.
by (1.9k points)
Thank you for your reply Smallb34r,

I think the 'line' I'm trying to explore is whether it's appropriate to promote the idea that a parish councillor who is also a borough/county councillor makes the political process more convenient.

To me, this is borderline campaigning - as when the elections come up in May for the county, locals may use this insight as part of the reason they vote for the councillor in question.

I'd just like to add that the promotion in question was distributed on a parish council newsletter. And 3 entire a4 pages have been used up for the county councillors (who are also parish councillors) to promote what they've been up to - however, they signed off as "Councillor xxx" rather than "County Councillor xxx". Although it's evident the topics in question are 'county level' matters.

In your case, it seems the borough and county councillors in question aren't necessarily parish councillors. And, even if they were, you haven't said that you promote this is as a benefit.
0 votes
County Councillor is a paid political appointment, in other words, it's a job. But it's a job unlike any other, as the employer is the general public. It's human nature for these folks to trumpet their achievements in order to win another four years' employment. If your Parish Council doesn't want to see its newsletter being use for political campaigning, it should say so. There are no rules or guidelines governing this.

All of my parishes have strong relationships with our district and county councillors, including attendance at meetings, which enables us to work with them on issues more relevant to them than to the parish council. I have one district councillor on my own parish council and she is a hard working member of the team. Individually, most of us support her election campaigns, as we can see the difference she makes, but our public communications don't single her out from the rest of us. Our website includes details of each of our district councillors, our county councillor, our MP, our PCC, our elected mayor etc etc.
by (40.6k points)
We have the total opposite I’m the only Borough Councillor on the Parish and I’ve been publicly criticised at meetings  by Parish Councillors “ for wearing two hats “
The agenda item where County and Borough Councillors give their reports was arbitrarily removed
Our Borough, Parish and County Councillors have never sat down together for at least 10 years

The result is a Parish in decline with no plan yet other Parishes are getting huge grants for improvements
The last time I suggested that the three tiers sat down to resolve a dangerous situation that was a joint responsibility the Clerk refused to allow my proposal on the agenda

I look in envy at the City we share a border with who only have one tier of Local Government
It has long been accepted that Parish Councils are run on an Apolitical basis in that party politics are not allowed. Now I am sure someone in the know will correct me if this is not the case. Parish Councils and councillors are not serving for their political agendas but for the benefit of the council. It is for the council (via the chair at meetings) to ensure that councillors wearing more than one hat do not stray into preaching or allowing promotion of a party line or doctrine at PC meetings.
Jules - that's just bonkers! We're so much more effective when we all work together. In my councils we strive to build strong relationships, not only with members, but with officers too. We're all in this together, as the over-utilised saying goes.

Mentorman - I agree that the Chair has a role to play, however, in some instances, the Chair is the dual-hatted individual, so the responsibility for being apolitical must be part of the organisation's culture.
There is no reason why any bloc can’t control a Parish Council be it a political party or say a residents group
I know one very effective Town Council that has political blocs and every single vacancy is contested which puts pressure on every Councillor to perform and to be seen as performing which to me can only be a good thing
However at a local level at Parish and to a certain extent Borough to me it’s all a matter of common sense and listening to residents
I cant imagine what difference it would make at Parish level if there was Conservative or Labour majority but I should imagine a Green majority might make a difference
It becomes more problematic on a Town Council where one party has total control and much of the work of the council is political empire building. In a one-party area, where many district seats are uncontested, the electorate can be overlooked in the quest for personal glory.
0 votes
The strict answer is no, with regard to commenting on actions, criticism or possible co operation etc.  However, libelous statements should be avoided.
by (30.4k points)

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