The Role of the Clerk
The Clerk is the senior officer of the Council, and along with all other staff, is employed by the Council. All staff are employed under the terms of the employment contract negotiated between National Association of Local Councils (NALC) and the Society of Local Council Clerks (SLCC).
The Clerk’s overall position is to carry out policy decisions of the Council. The Clerk will also advise the Council on aspects of Law and Procedure. The Clerk is not however, expected to be an expert on all matters and may seek advice as required. Neither is the Clerk legally qualified. The Clerk is answerable to the council as a whole and not to individual councillors.
The Clerk is responsible for:
Issuing agendas and taking the minutes at meetings
Administering the council
Supervision of Staff
Management of property
Health and Safety
Ensuring the Council acts within its powers
Ensuring that the Council complies with all current legislation
The Deputy Clerk is the Responsible Financial Officer (RFO) whose duty it is to determine the form and content of the accounts and supporting records subject to direction from the council and in compliance with Accounts and Audit Regulations, appropriate guidance and proper practices. The RFO is also responsible for payroll, VAT and payments to the Inland Revenue.
The Clerk will issue the agendas three working days before the meeting. The Council or Committee cannot make a decision unless the item is on the published agenda. However, an exchange of information may take place. Members are asked to notify the Clerk before the agenda is issued if there is an item requiring a decision they wish to have included. Members should also contact the Clerk prior to the meeting if they require any further information about an agenda item
Members must declare any interests they may have at the beginning of the meeting, and state whether it is personal or prejudicial. A personal interest is if they know the person who is named in the report (in a village this is often the case). The Councillor declares this and can take part in discussion and vote.
If they have a prejudicial interest –
A prejudicial interest is one in which a member of the public with knowledge of the relevant facts would reasonably regard as so significant that it is likely to prejudice the member’s judgement of the public interest.”
Then the Councillor must leave the room whilst the item is being discussed and can not vote.
If during the course of a meeting a member realises that they do have an interest they must declare it at that point. Anyone who is unsure as to whether or not they have an interest should, in the first instance, contact the Clerk. If necessary advise from the Monitoring Officer at Tunbridge Wells Borough Council should be sought. It is however, the member’s responsibility to declare an interest. It is not the Clerk’s role to remind members to do so. Failure to declare an interest could result in a breach of the Council’s Code of Conduct.