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No clerk for first meeting of the new council

0 votes
Our parish clerk resigned at the last meeting.  Our parish council has been unable to appoint an interim clerk to take over. The new council are elected on 9th May, when there will probably be new individuals in the council.

The first meeting (annual parish council meeting) is on 18th May. There will be no clerk to issue summons or public notices to this meeting. There will be no clerk to respond to emails, or requests for burials etc. for the period 9th May to 18th May.

Having examined a number of potential scenarieos, none of which are 'allowed' under the various rules of standing orders (eg no of days notice of meeetings/agenda items and/or new covid rules and rules for public meetings etc...)

The least problematic solution seems to be for two current councillors to call an extraordinary meeting for the NEW council to appoint a interim clerk, immediately after the election. . This would have to be held in person (gov says it must after May 7th) but would be restricted to 6 people outside (adhering to gov covid rules,) and as is related to staffing, is confidential, so public would be excluded anyway. There will be only 6 councillors elected so none excluded.

In summary: My question is can two councillors of the current council call an extraordinary meeting for the next council to appoint a clerk, before the annual parish council meeting?
asked by (370 points)

2 Answers

0 votes
Are you saying that you have identified someone who is willing and able to serve as interim clerk until you are able to appoint a permanent clerk? Unless you can persuade the outgoing clerk to continue until a replacement is found, the simple solution would be for a member of the council to deal with emails and correspondence, issue the agenda etc and to confirm the appointment of the interim clerk as the first item of business at your next scheduled meeting.
answered by (33.4k points)
Thank you Dave for taking the time to answer my question. Yes there is someone willing and able to act as interim clerk, but the existing council did not want to appoint them. The new council may however agree to the willing candidate. However the new council will not have signed acceptance papers until 18th May, and so are not officially council members at that point. This is also the problem with your suggestion, (and I realise I've answered my own question in working through it!)  is that there won't be any council members to do the job because acceptance papers will not have been signed until 18th!
(There is no option for the outgoing clerk to continue until a replacement clerk is found.)
The extraordinary meeting isn't an option unless the chair is willing to call it immediately. Otherwise it takes too long for other members to call it. It's appalling that the council rejected an interim clerk when they had the opportunity. Somebody needs to fulfil the role of clerk for a few days to enable you to convene a meeting to sort this out.
Is anyone qualified to fulfil the role of clerk, if only to arrange the first meeting? Any willing volunteer?
Yes. A member of the council or any member of the public may perform this function.
Thank you Dave.
0 votes
It is also appalling that the xclusion of press and public is so readily (and IMHO inappropriately) invoked.
it sounds like there is the notable absence of a credible recruiting procedure and that the only reason press and public might be excluded is to facilitate inappropriate speech or action.
Just because the discussion is recruitment, it does not automatically follow that it should be a closed meeting
answered by (6.3k points)
Thats an interesting observation. Our council do frequently exclude the public from their discussions. They were excluded from the last extraordinary meeting discussion about the plans for the interim clerk, when they couldnt reach a decision, so I just assumed that was what should be done next time.
The reference is:

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Eliz2/8-9/67/section/1

(whenever publicity would be prejudicial to the public interest by reason of the confidential nature of the business to be transacted or for other special reasons stated in the resolution and arising from the nature of that business or of the proceedings;)

and I see if frequently misapplied / abused by my PC.
The default starting position "should" be open and transparent and any movement away from that needs to be clearly stated and wholly justifiable.
That does mean though that the Parish Council will definitely be without a clerk until 18th May. Can the newly elected council organise their own meeting?
A PC can have an RFO who is not the clerk if they want to.  They can also have a person nominated to record and publish the minutes that doesn't have to be the clerk if they want to.  As for issuing summons, not sure about that other than to say, since all Cllr's are volunteers it seems somewhat odd to me that they need to be the subject to a formal summons.  The clerk for my PC took great delight in introducing a formal summons and requiring that apologies be the subject of a vote of acceptance (or otherwise.)  Procedural no doubt, but it was just another demonstration of a sociopath taking delight in the perception that a degree of power and control had been achieved.
Hang on a minute here....  the Clerk is required by the LGA 1972 to issue summons - it is a legal requirement to do so, it is not a reflection of a sociopath.  Neither are councillors 'volunteers'.  They sign their declaration of acceptance of office and have a legal obligation to fulfil their duties as councillors without remuneration.  One of their obligations is to respond to the summons to a meeting.
Did you read this part:

"...Procedural no doubt, but it was just another demonstration of a sociopath taking delight in the perception that a degree of power and control had been achieved..."

I'd highlight that the procedure was recognised and noted, and I'd highlight that this was ONE in a long line of examples which support the assertion that sociopathic tendencies were apparent.

Those very same sociopathic tendencies were also noted (and communicated) by member(s) of the  previous (rather short and undistinguished employment) at a previous PC.
@MrsAbster: Exactly. We don't have a clerk. How can we appoint a clerk without having a meeting to appoint a clerk??? Circular argument, unresolvable. I can't imagine being taken to court for having a meeting without a summons from a non existant clerk .. But the rules of this land befuddle me.

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