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Money making

0 votes
Does anyone else get the feeling that when obtaining help from The relevant association of Local Councils, it appears to be a licence to print money. Every enquiry seems to come with a recommendation of one of their training courses
asked by (3k points)

5 Answers

+3 votes
Long beheld the belief that the affiliated "local offices" have very questionable "credentials". They are set up by individuals who (in our local associations case) are answerable to no one. They (until very very recently) did not produce accounts , produce a code of conduct  or have specific complaints procedures or be seen to carry out any professional standards advise by them to Parish Councils. In fact our local association was dropped by the county council several years ago. A complaint dismissed by them was found to be carried out by a person who turned out to be a closely tied person to the association and not anyone independent. Bit smelly that!

They have as you point out moved to providing a list of different "services" to PC's including clerk relief, internal auditors, training for councillors and more importantly clerk training or as I see it, indoctrination. Unfortunately to have a clerk who is trained and qualified through  a local association and later seeks guidance from that association must put into question  the depth of examination of that advice on a factual basis vitally worth exploring.

When our PC looked for a relief clerk the person sent was then also presented as an internal auditor but the association would not present any accountancy credentials. We also received reports from other PC's in our area that the person running the association who carried out relief clerk work totally failed to meet even the basic of deadlines for production of minutes etc.

The subscription charged is never fully explained and these "icing on the cake services" are pure money making exercises for the local office to sell on to who they see as cash cows, the Parish Council.
answered by (4.7k points)
+2 votes
I share many of your concerns. My local association has given incorrect advice that has cost a local council thousands of pounds. The clerk challenged their advice and asked them to check with the NALC, but they refused. The advice simply looked incorrect and, as it turned out, it was. The subscriptions we pay are one of the largest items of expenditure for a small council and for most of the time, it gives us little more than access to document templates on the NALC site. The temptation to share one subscription between several councils is overwhelming. The training is expensive and follows a one-size-fits-all principle, so we don't always get what we really want from it. I've not attended any of their Clerkship courses, but I've seen several inexperienced clerks come away from them with a very combative attitude towards the members of their councils, which, in every case, has ultimately cost them their job, as the relationship became unworkable. Our county council is losing faith in the association and awarding contracts to other organisations to provide support services. A merger with another organisation would be the obvious solution, but the association will not even discuss it. As a one man band, they're clearly not up to the job, but the only way we could force them to change would be a boycott by all councils. That's unlikely to happen.
answered by (22.3k points)
+1 vote
"The relevant association of Local Councils" are local agents acting on behalf of the National Association of Local Councils  - NALC.

If you visit the website it seems that the Corporate NALC claims to represent the "interests" of Local Councils, but it isn't obvious how they do this. They provide documentation or certificates for their self created training courses and award schemes (which are not known of by the general public) and seem to want to heap praise on Councils just for complying with some of the legislative obligations.  They do not seek interaction of any kind from the public.

I can give two examples of why I feel membership of NALC ought to be questioned.

My Town Council got quality council status a few years ago.  It was clear that the relevant local association hadn't carried out the assessment properly, and had credited the Council for achieving several of the criteria items that they hadn't  (e.g. Full up to date minutes posted on the website).

I challenged NALC on their Council of the week award.  After ignoring E mails they finally admitted that it isn't subject to any kind of evaluation or assessment.  https://www.nalc.gov.uk/news/entry/86-council-of-the-week-saughall-and-shotwick-park
answered by (16.4k points)
0 votes
What I find frustrating is that they won't give advice to individual Councillors, only to Councillor appointed who gives no updates on anything NALC related.
answered by (3.9k points)
As Hans Christian Anderson commented. The little boy shouted " the Emperor has no clothes on" despite the con artists manipulation and use of smoke and mirrors. Wonder if Hans has a local NALC office in his home town.
Their lack of knowledge in employment law is frightening
+1 vote

I’ve not been impressed until I saw this governance review which I think is a great piece of work although I doubt my views are shared by some of the Parish Councillors concerned

https://www.mountsorrelparishcouncil.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/review-of-mountsorrel-pc-governance-final-draft-23-4-20.pdf

answered by (2.4k points)
Thank you for providing a link to this comprehensive governance review.  I agree with you, Jules, that it is a great piece of work.  It highlights some serious issues, many of which are relevant to our local PC.
This sounded like an interesting read. Unfortunately it seems Mount Sorrel's web site is now 'suspended' !
It appears that the domain is active until 8th August 2022 therefore the web site company has either taken it down or the council themselves.
It’s not my Parish but I’ll let you know when access is available again as I think a lot of subscribers to this site will find it useful
It’s been reinstated

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