Follow us on Twitter

I am a resident and I have been banned from contacting the parish clerk directly.

0 votes
There have been numerous short comings in the PC for at least 4 years. I reported the PC to External Auditor when the RFO/clerk failed to produce accounts on time, hold the public scrutiny of accounts ,answered AGAR questions incorrectly, failed to issue Agendas 3 clear days before meetings etc etc, Until Oct 2019 the Chairman refused to allow recording of meetings which in turn led to incorrect minutes being produced and signed signed off, the Monitoring Officer refused to do anything about it. I withdrew my complaint with EO when a new clerk was appointed thinking it unfair to inflict the stress on him. It now appears that I am not allowed to contact him directly although no reason has been given as required by the Vexatious Complaints Policy. My point of contact I have been told is the Councillor who produced the incorrect minutes and was responsible for the financial /Agar irregularities. I had blocked this Councillor from my email contacts but she used a new email that was not recognised-breach of Data Protection?
asked by (120 points)

1 Answer

0 votes

Yes…

The inappropriate use of the “vexatious customer” process - not at all uncommon but a well trodden path for the avoidance of Openness, Honesty, Integrity, Accountability etc…

Whereas there “may” be genuine occasions of inappropriate, persistent or malicious contact and/or action, I’d suggest it is genuinely rare and easily managed.

What seems to happen however, is that ANY form of critical analysis of PC performance, even when measured against published statutory or ‘good practice’ metrics, is treated (by the PC and/or staff) as malicious, vexatious etc and the person that raised (often) legitimate questions is then “black-listed” from any further contact.  What a gold-plated means of suppressing public scrutiny and accountability.

Such circumstances are actually facilitated (in the first instance) by community apathy - nobody really cares about the PC.  This allows the repeated return of uncontested candidates, often over successive election cycles, and ‘cements’ in place the people and processes that have become normalised through the lack of scrutiny.

Because the incumbents have been in post, often for extended periods, they come to ‘believe’ they are there because they somehow ‘deserve’ to be rather than because they have been elected to be.

Add to this (which may or may not be the case) a clerk that is ‘happy’ with the status quo and an easy life with malleable councillors and the seeds are sown.

As if that wasn’t enough, you then have specific guidelines - as often as not promoted by local authority and county association of local councils - to “black-list” anyone that asks an ‘inconvenient’ question.

It is the perfect cycle of suppression of openness and honesty.

All that said, and it is worth noting that you are still only at the very start of your journey where there are many more mechanisms the PC can bring to bear to try and stop you continuing if they so decide, the actual question was about data protection.

If you have provided an email address to the PC as a point of contact, then they may use it.  Until you notify the PC that you do not wish to be contacted by email and specify exactly what electronic data they may hold about you and how they may use it - they are free to use what you have provided to them for that purpose.

Don’t give in and don’t give up!  There are plenty of mechanisms for publishing PC incompetence and bringing it to a wider audience.  They can’t stop you audio/video recording meetings and then providing commentary after the event. 

answered by (4.9k points)
Based on past experience of myself and many others to  be accused of being vexatious is a badge of honour and its also a warning that the Parish Council that issues it is dysfunctional

Although letsbehonest and I come from different areas of the Country we share almost similar experiences as I'm sure many any others do.

I always advise people to do what I did when I was accused of being vexatious and that was stand for election.
Much common frustration with Jules, but I never 'wanted' a badge of honour.

I started out as a co-opted councillor with the very best of intentions - probably like the 11 that have followed (and subsequently resigned since 2017) did.

It was only after gaining (against hard fought and sustained opposition) access to information within the PC that I really became aware of the dysfunction and ineptitude that actually existed.

Exposing, challenging and, where necessary, criticising this dysfunction led to the "resignation" of a +/- 20 year served clerk, the chair and 1 Cllr.  The remainder were too rhino skinned to realise or acknowledge the degree of their complicity ineptitude.
Within 12 months, I had been the subject of a PC motion 'demanding' that I hand over control of a Facebook page I had created (https://www.facebook.com/StCleer)
been the subject of a bullying complaint {upheld by the MO} for correcting empirically incorrect information distributed by the clerk to all Cllr's, received letters from a legal firm appointed by the PC demanding that I cease the Facebook page, I was the subject of a PC motion to remove me from a public meeting for recording the meeting - I stayed, they abandoned the meeting, I've also had the local PCSO turn up and try and serve me an ASBO warning for writing to the chair of the PC.  Yes, just writing with entirely appropriate, business like and relevant questions of public interest.
All of that just got laughed off.  The letters sent back to the legal firm were - if I say so myself - hilarious, the PCSO told to sling his hook and take his paperwork with him...  All quite comical in an abstract kind of way because I am the sort of character to lap all of that up and send it back with bells & whistles.  But that's not to suggest that it isn't a sinister, underhand attempt at intimidation and bullying - it's just that every time they pulled a stunt, it made me MORE determined.

And now here we are weeks away from an election, and for the first time in memory, there are more candidates than seats.  There are 13 seats, 9 of the old duffers are standing, we have 5 like minded candidates that have 'come together' (in an IfF style - reading the book now Jules) to effect change and there are 2 other candidates.

All you can do is stick with it - you get the government you deserve!
Your advice is much appreciated , I too am a dogged individual and will not accept injustice. However I would be pleased to learn what other mechanism there are for publishing PC incompetence to see if there are any avenues I have not explored.
On the subject of data protection, the email banning me was not sent by the clerk or from a PC email. I do not object to contact from the PC I do object to this particular councillor having my email and object to it being passed to her.
'Based on past experience of myself and many others to  be accused of being vexatious is a badge of honour and its also a warning that the Parish Council that issues it is dysfunctional'

I'm sure some councils are dysfunctional - but I know of several cases where a member of the public has been insulting, abusive and basically bullied staff at councils persistently. Often under the 'I pay your wages 'cos I pay tax' sort of approach which they seem to think gives them the right to behave how they want and how they wouldn't behave to other people in different jobs.

Unfortunately there are  real issues with bullying of Clerks - it's widely recognised by SLCC as one of the main issues with the role where both public and councillors treat staff badly and often the Clerk has no proper support.

Welcome to Town & Parish Councillor Q&A, where you can ask questions and receive answers from other members of the community. All genuine questions and answers are welcome. Follow us on Twitter to see the latest questions as they are asked - click on the image button above or follow @TownCouncilQA. Posts from new members may be delayed as we are unfortunately obliged to check each one for spam. Spammers will be blacklisted.

You may find the following links useful:

We have a privacy policy and a cookie policy.

Google Analytics Alternative