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No chair or clerk help please!

0 votes
Our clerk has just resigned. Our annual  town meeting is coming up and the current chair and vice chair will not be seeking re election. For personal reasons the most experienced of our councillors incuding the current chair and vice  cannot take up these posts. We have a number of very new inexperienced councillors who will need training, and a few elderly ones who struggle with zoom. With no clerk in the short term, (obviously the town council will re hire and look for an interim) and the threat of no leadership, this seems a recipe for disaster.  In short of the most experienced candidates none are willing to act  as chair and may resign soon, and the council needs some stability and direction. I know the meeting can elect a chair if none is appointed, on a meeting by meeting basis, and that the principal authority can intervene if there are not enough councillors for the parish to act, but here we have a case where no one is particularly able or willing to. Can the principal authority still intervene? Or does everyone have to resign to effect this? Advice gratefully received.
asked by (130 points)
edited by

2 Answers

+2 votes
Your local association should be able to provide you with a locum clerk to guide you through the process of recruiting somebody on a longer term basis. If not, speak to the clerks of neighbouring councils and ask them whether they are able to assist. The election of chair must be the first item on the agenda for the annual meeting and you cannot continue until somebody is elected. The ad hoc arrangements are merely a fallback for those meetings where the elected chair is absent unavoidably.
answered by (33.7k points)
edited by
Incidentally, whether re-elected or not, the current chair continues in the role until a successor is elected!
Thank you, very helpful!
0 votes
All I’d say is your post presents a rather negative consideration of “new and inexperienced” councillors.
Are they just inexperienced in relation to TC MO, or are they inexperienced in life / business / moral compass type issues?

If it is inexperience of TC business but they are otherwise well rounded people, I’d think of that as a positive opportunity rather than as a threat.
“Experience” (particularly in relation to T & PCs) simply equates to “time served” which, as often as not perpetuates BAD habits/practice.
fresh eyes, fresh ideas, fresh energy and fresh thinking is a pretty good building block in my opinion....
answered by (6.3k points)
Thanks, I agree - it's always good to have a healthy turnover of people and new ideas. There's a long backstory and I was trying to brief, but in essence this will literally be the first meeting for the "inexperienced" councillors, who need training on procedures, limits etc so to chair as well without the certainty of a clerk is a concern.  I think essentially it's an interregnum problem.
I can't help but feel naturally averse to the apparent presumption that new councillors need to be trained to assume the role - it places an immediate label of inadequacy and inferiority upon the prospective candidates and this in turn must be a disincentive.

I prefer the starting point that assumes new candidate equals new skills, new ideas, new energy and has the potential to break a cycle (if such exists) of repetitive, unimaginative and often stale status quo.

Of course I accept the realities that certain procedural issues may be unfamiliar to many and need to be adopted - if they can read then they can read SOs and that pretty much puts them in a good starting point.

When I was co-opted I'd read SOs, all the good councillor guides and as much info as I could find online.  Then I joined a PC where literally NOBODY - including the Clerk - appeared to have any idea of the content of their own SOs or how to apply them.

Coming from a strong training background, it was obvious that these people were simply not qualified, capable or prepared to train themselves let alone anyone else.

Embrace change - really, there are good people out there that SHOULD be engaging with T&PCs but don't because it is those very organisations that are putting people off.

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