The Clerks Toolkit 2021

Welcome to the Clerk’s Toolkit presentations

To book on any session please contact

All presentations start at 9.30am via Zoom and end at 12.30pm / 1pm. The zoom link along with the relevant hand-out will be sent to all attendees the day before the event.

When attending please keep your camera turned on and your microphone unless you are in a noisy environment. Everyone attending is encouraged to join in, ask questions and contribute your experiences and knowledge. Please note the training room is a safe place to share experiences and all attendees are expected to respect anything shared in confidence.

There is a lot to get through at each sitting, but we will have a 10 / 15 minutes comfort break at 11am to stretch our legs and grab a coffee.
More than anything it is hoped you will enjoy this learning opportunity!

Understanding Core Roles in Parish Councils and introduction to councils’ legal powers
Identify the legal status of the parish council & its purpose.
Introduction to the statutory nature of the council; review the council’s powers inc S137 and General Power of Competence (covered in more detail session #3).
Position of councillors and chairman; expectations on council members.
Council as employer, HR policies inc Equality Policy, staff management & training, clerk’s contract, job description and person specification.

Meetings Administration and Management
The Council’s governing documents: standing orders, financial regulations, members’ code of conduct
Preparation of agendas, meeting with chairman, where to publish & for how long.
Admission to meetings, standards in meetings (declarations of interest and dispensation procedure), minute taking – format, numbering, powers recorded etc.
Casual vacancy notice, new councillor’s first meeting requirements (induction).

The Clerk’s Year: Administration & Selfmanagement; Essential Paperwork, Records & Archive Documents
Self-management – identify how we work; could we work smarter re office set-up, placing of telephone, filing cabinets, use of IT and e-storage
Review the “clerk’s year” and establish an annual programme of work including asset review and control.
Check the council’s publication scheme & relevant Transparency Code.
Review the council’s Document Retention and Disposal Policy, ie what to record, copy & keep, archive access, computer back-ups to comply with both Freedom of Information Act (FoI) and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
List of essential paperwork and documents all councils need (the most useful handout ever!)

Legal Powers, policies and committees
Refer to what MUST be done (duties) and what COULD be done (powers). Refer to NALC LTN01 Council powers to discharge their functions.
Following on from presentation #1, understand difference between Local Government Act 1972 s137 (the Free Resource) and Localism Act 2011 s1 (General Power of Competence)
Review need for policies & examples of policies. Make use of the Local Council Award Scheme as reference tool.
New/annual council procedure, creation of / need for committees & committee terms of reference and other schemes of delegation.

Finance: from Bookkeeping to Budgets
Identify the RFO, review financial regulations & internal controls.
Basic finance admin including book-keeping, spreadsheets, local council accounting software, procedure for payment of invoices, receiving income (use of purchase orders and receipt books), petty cash, VAT, PAYE, online banking, pension records Use of contracts, why they are needed and when we use them.
Preparation of budgets and ongoing budget comparisons. Ensure ongoing compliance with relevant Transparency Code.

Budget review cont. Precept and Audit preparation
Review preparation of budgets and appreciate the relationship with the precept calculation. Identify precept procedure and calculate its impact on council
Review of Annual Governance Statement and the accounting statements required for the annual audit. Put into context with relevant Transparency Code.
Identify the risks facing the council; review the council’s Risk Management Policy and prepare to carry out risk management & assessment procedures.
Review appointment of independent internal auditor and the work they are expected to do.

Community Engagement and Planning
Communications, interaction with residents via social media, websites, notice boards, annual assembly, newsletters, meetings. Identify the council’s Community Engagement strategy (implicit or explicit?); look at existing examples. Note Local Council Award Scheme requirements.
Events Planning & project management: what to include and who to involve.
Review NPPF and national framework; identify the parish council’s statutory role in the framework and expectations on the parish council. Strategic planning,
neighbourhood plans.
Development planning; material & non-material considerations, examples of best practice. Identify how to write an objection / approval to a planning application.

Interaction with Stakeholders and community engagement (builds on previous session)
Working with unitary/county/district councils and their representatives; identify the principal authorities’ officers that we might contact most often, eg Monitoring Officer, Highways Liaison Officer, Planning Officers.
Identify how to build relationships with those whose influence affects the parish eg statutory undertakers (such as WPD), transport providers (bus services/Network Rail), health authorities (your local PPG and CCG).
Building on relationships within the parish eg businesses and shops, local charities, village hall, sports club, school, school PTA etc. Identify the best form of communication that is most applicable for reaching these different groups.
Review and round-up of all eight presentations

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