Chairman’s Report – issue 4.
First of all, may I wish you a belated happy new year and I hope that soon we may all put the pandemic under control and get back to our day jobs in providing services for our electorate.
I am sorry to say that the help line is still well used by members seeking advice and it does surprise me to the lengths that Council members go to, to make our members lives a misery.
The SLCC have just commissioned a survey to see what extent bullying is still affecting our sector, I am disappointed that the SLCC has not asked us for anecdotal evidence. The ALCC has the details of those clerks who have left the sector due to the manner which they have been treated. I do not know how this survey is going to capture those statistics. Without those very meaningful statistics I feel that the final outcome will be flawed.
On speaking to clerks of the help line one of items that I am finding is that there are a number of clerks whose employers have yet to issue them with a contract of employment (or written statement of employment particulars). It is a legal requirement that: –
An employer must give employees and workers a document stating the main conditions of employment within 1 month of start. This is known as a ‘written statement of employment particulars. It is not an employment contract.
The written statement is made up of:
- the main document (known as a ‘principal statement’)
- a wider written statement
The employer must provide the principal statement on the first day of employment and the wider written statement within 2 months of the start of employment.
The Unions have submitted their 2021 pay claim to the Local Government Employers. The claim calls for:
- A one-year settlement running for the period 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022
- A £2,000 flat rate increase to all spinal column points, or 6%, whichever is greater (based on a 37-hour working week).
- An underpinning minimum rate of pay of £10.50 per hour.
- A separate, additional payment towards pay restoration.
- An equivalent percentage or, the median paid where the base salary increase is paid as a flat rate, uprating of all allowances.
- All professional costs associated with the role to be met by the employer.
- A commitment to exploring ways in which to achieve a no-detriment reduction in the working week.
- An assessment of the pay gap against all protected characteristics.
Unfortunately, bad behaviours still continue to affect our members with calls and emails to the advice line an average of just under 300 contacts per month, which is worrying. If you start having issues, please take this one piece of advice start keeping a diary. Put in it what happened, where, when, who was present and importantly how it made you feel. With the passage of time, things get blurred, this will help you with a timeline either to support your grievance of defend your disciplinary.
Many of you will have seen the video of the Handforth Parish Council meeting on the media and many of you will be, rightfully, horrified at the behaviour. No doubt many will have found it very funny as well, but just give a thought to the impact of this upon Handforth’s Clerk.
ALCC was first contacted by the Clerk back in July 2020 and we have been supporting and advising him ever since. The treatment he has received at the hands of these few councillors has been appalling and credit is due to him for his resilience.
His problem started when he, rightly, notified his principal council that one councillor had failed to attend for 6 months, thus breaching s85 of the Local Government Act 1972. Several Handforth PC councillors accused him of wrong-doing and fought tooth and nail to overturn the process of declaring a vacancy. They threatened to dismiss the Clerk and the sheer nastiness over the intervening months has been palpable.
These councillors would see no viewpoint other than their own and the help of Jackie Weaver, the Chief Officer of Cheshire ALC, was sought in an effort to convince them otherwise. Jackie’s help has been invaluable as has the Monitoring Officer of Cheshire East Council, who was willing to take this problem on board and deal with it forcefully. This all resulted in the meeting which you have seen on video, and I would draw your attention to the front page of Handforth Parish Council’s website which displays a statement by the Monitoring Officer, warning councillors of the consequences of personal liability should they incur expenditure unlawfully.
All is not yet resolved at Handforth and I suspect that it will not be until an election is held. I wish I could say this is an isolated case in our sector, but bullying appears to be on the increase and we really do need the support of changes in the law to enable such people to be ejected from their councils.
Please see the link below to view the video of the meeting